Hugo Mudie, frontman for Montreal-based punk band The Sainte Catherines, sat down with The Inertia earlier this week for a candid (albeit satirical) interview where he discussed the band’s new album (Fire Works), their recent fallout with Fat Mike, and why the punk scene is “sold out.” In case you’re wondering, yes, we got a good laugh out of Hugo’s sense of humor. Hopefully, you will too.
Your latest record, Fire Works, is more uplifting and less aggressive than your previous efforts. Can you discuss this change of direction in your sound?
Actually, we didn’t want to offend our parents anymore. We wanted them to listen to our record and enjoy it without thinking that it was only “noise.”
The new album includes collaborations with several other artists. Specifically, how were you guys able to connect with [Lagwagon frontman and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes guitarist] Joey Cape on this record? What was it like to work with him?
When we decided to leave Fat Wreck, it was a big legal battle and in the end we ended up with a deal along the lines that our next album would “feature one of the legends of Fat Wreck’s back catalog.” We wanted [Russ Rankin] from Good Riddance, but we ended up with Joey Cape. We didn’t meet him. He recorded the tracks at his place in Los Angeles. Apparently, he puked while recording because it was so bad.
What was behind the decision to part with Fat Wreck Chords in favor of Anchorless Records for the release of Fire Works?
[Fat Wreck Chords founder/owner and NOFX bassist] Fat Mike didn’t want to release our record, so there was no decision really. Apparently we were not punk enough and we changed our sound too much. “My ears didn’t change, your music did,” is what he said. Fucking crust punx.
In a recent interview with Alternative Press magazine, [Epitaph Records founder/owner and Bad Religion member] Brett Gurewitz was quoted saying that he doesn’t really listen to much punk rock anymore. Do your music interests stretch much beyond the punk/hardcore scene?
I enjoy pop-opera. I really like IL DIVO. I also really enjoy everything that is “something-core” – crab-core being my favorite. I REALLY like aggressive but beautiful music.
As an activist punk band, what would you tell a politically conservative kid who’s a fan of your sound but doesn’t necessarily agree with the beliefs behind the music? Is there room for conservatism in an anti-establishment punk scene?
I think there’s no more room at all in the punk scene. It’s sold out.
Canadian punk bands have a history for being recognized as much for their nationality as they are for their music. What role, if any, does being from Canada play in your sound?
We are not from Canada, we are from Montreal, which is in Québec. I think being from Québec just gives us the possibility of talking shit in French behind almost everyone’s back.
How do you guys stay busy when you’re not touring or in the studio?
Jogging, sailing, surfing, drugging and pro-wrestling.
You manage to successfully incorporate three guitarists in your band when most bands only have two guitarists. Why add the extra guitar?
We thought that it would make us “louder” but it didn’t work. Now we are stuck, but luckily for us, most of the time one of the three guitarists is either hungover, under a panic attack or working. So we get to play with two guitarists, which is enough.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job as a professional musician? What is the most difficult aspect of the job?
Unfortunately, this is not a job. We are not getting paid ok… please tell the borders…we are not getting paid. I think the most difficult part is to sing in tune with the music. Damn [music] theorists.
You have toured with several established punk and hardcore acts including NOFX, Hatebreed, Madball, Against Me!, Millencollin and many others. What is your most memorable tour and what is the strangest thing that has happened to you guys while on the road?
I don’t remember touring with Hatebreed or Madball, but it’s possible that we did. If it happened, I’m sure it was my favorite tour that we ever did, but for the stuff I remember, I think, having sex with the girl from Paramore at CBGB was my favorite moment of being in a ska band.
(The Sainte Catherines did, in fact, play a show with Hatebreed and Madball in London, Ontario in September 2003)
Having played hundreds of shows across the globe, how would you compare the French-Canadian punk fans with their American and European counterparts?
Well, they speak French better and even English a little better too. The [French-Canadian] girls are more beautiful and the men are not as fat. I think the Germans are better sexually and the Americans are better at sound systems.
What’s one thing you think your fans would be surprised to know about you?
We are not actual “punks.” We are jazz musicians.
We like to end interviews with a little free association. Say the first thing that comes to mind in this series of random words…
Goat, String: Ska
Eyeball, Swimsuit: Intimidation
Blue, Pudding: Crass
Bait, Celebrity: Ping Pong