‘I don’t know. I just like the idea that if you can remember the name of the band, it means that you like our music’ says Paul, lead singer and guitarist of Mister Soap and the Smiling Tomatoes, when I ask about the band’s interesting name.
Self-described rock ‘n’ roll musicians, Mister Soap and the Smiling Tomatoes differ from hard-hitting 60s rockers such as The Kinks – a key influence to the band – through soft, almost slurring lyrics from singer Paul (who sings in English) that are very easy to listen to and contrast really well to the band’s rich guitar and drum sounds.
If it’s Paul who is Mister Soap, the Smiling Tomatoes are bass player Alexis, guitarist Maher and drummer Nicolas. The Parisians who still live in the capital, began as a band during secondary school; ‘In Paris all the kids started to play in a band. It was exciting’.
It’s easy to see where the band get that unique, recently woken sound from; “I listen to lots of music, all day and all night” Paul says when I ask about the band’s musical influences, “I can say The Velvet Underground, Leonard Cohen, The Kinks, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Beach Boys… I just discovered Philamore Lincoln today. It’s really good!” Paul’s voice contains the slack-jaw sounds of Cohen and Dylan’s whimsical, airy tone – making for a unique and pleasant sound that you can’t help singing along with once you know the words.
It’s a unique voice which makes songs like ‘Good Time’s Coming Back’, with its climbing guitar and constant drum beat, and ‘Me and My Shadow’, with crashing symbols and mix of gentle vocals and jerky guitar solos – into great, catchy tunes. The stylish video for ‘Me and My Shadow’ shows the band at a trendy Parisian party (very much Lacoste L!ve campaign inspired) and it doesn’t seem to be far from the truth with this band:
Mister Soap find themselves securely in the Parisian bohemian art scene, brushing shoulders with actress and singer, Lou Lesage (who features in the video for ‘Me and My Shadow’ and was in a relationship with Paul), actor, musician and model Warren Guetta and French super-band, BB Brunes. Paul told me that this can only be a good thing;
“Living in Paris means that we are far from the music industry. It’s like a filter; we only have the real [sic] best. Here we feel we don’t have to go against our parent’s influence, we don’t care about finding something new, we want to stick to the old rock n roll. Sometimes it’s good.”
The French capital also acts as an influence on the band’s look; “I like the centre of Paris, there are a lot of young people there” Paul tells me, “If I see a guy with a hat who looks good, the next week I’m wearing a hat!” I ask what the style of the Parisian male is, “That traditional striped t-shirt, slim jeans and boots”.
Fashion names eponymous with Paris style – Lanvin, YSL, Givenchy
We could learn a lot about fashion from the band themselves who often dress in vintage, worn shirts and battered shoes, clearly loved. They have kept that Parisian bohemian look of old alive, giving an image of romance to these men, which is often reflected in their music.
Having released an EP, ‘Hawaii’ through the label Bonus Track Records, they have much more material online. Although the band sings in English, I think it may be difficult for the lads to gain a big following over the channel; their music style not currently being the mainstream. However they have the talent and some great songs, so it could certainly work out for the four men.
I ask Paul what the future is for Mister Soap and the Smiling Tomatoes; “I want to play all over the world, I want to make some great albums, I want to find the love of my life, I want to wait for the inspiration”. The question is must they look broader than their bohemian Paris lives or are they happy where they are?
Listen to their latest music here: http://soundcloud.com/soap-priv/sets/soap/s-41kQm
Buy the debut EP here: Hawaï EP by Mister Soap and the Smiling Tomatoes @ Amazon £3.45
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