Breton are a band in the old style – their emphasis is on the artistry, not the cool factor, as frontman Roman Rappak tells Jim Carroll
IT’S ALWAYS AN interesting experience to see a relatively new band play on a big stage. While bands are always willing to talk the talk about wanting to take their music to the masses, it’s often the case that they only warrant such an elevation much later in their career.
Then, there are bands like Breton. At last December’s Transmusicales festival in Rennes, the London-based band peformed on the main stage in a huge warehouse as if they did this kind of gig all the time. The visuals, the production and, most of all, the tunes worked like gangbusters in that impressive setting. It’s a far cry from the shoddy, crummy down-at-heel venues they’re used to playing.
Frontman Roman Rappak remembers that Transmusicales show with satisfaction.
“The idea behind the band was always to do something on as big a scale as possible,” he says. “We grew up around the indie circuit and playing squat parties. The visuals for the early gigs were projected onto a piece of cloth pinned to a wall from a crap projector.
“But the idea was the same. We wanted to respond to people complaining about downloads and how freemusic was devaluing music itself by saying that this put more of an onus on a band to put on a great live show.
“A show like the one at Trans was the kind we want to play. It works so much better when you’re in a room with 2,000 people and big screens and it’s part cinema, part club and part gig. That show was a big step in having the stage to put on the kind of ambitious show we were always talking about.”
Rappak is an articulate frontman, well able to deconstruct the ambitions behind the band. Those ambitions have already produced an excellent debut album, Other People’s Problems. Its rich, evocative, challenging suite of accidental pop tunes, wayward electronic grooves and enigmatic twists and turns work on every level.
To Rappak, the idea of releasing a record and interacting with what he calls the “unpleasant” music business is a bizarre notion to begin with. “You can’t talk about music culture and the role of the musician without going back 75 years to this weird thing called the music indus-