It’s Friday night at La Flèche d’Or, and I’m here to see a band that’s been gathering attention in France: The Dodoz. No, not those guys, these ones – Vincent, 23, (guitar, vocals), Géraldine, 22, (lead vocals, bass), Adrien, 21, (drums, vocals), and Jules, 21, (guitar, vocals).
It’s the Paris stop of the Inrocks Indie Club, a concert series coordinated by French magazine Les Inrockuptibles, and The Dodoz, who are originally from Toulouse, are playing alongside The Joy Formidable, Divine Paiste, and The Airbone Toxic Event.
The moment they start their set, The Dodoz, who are third to take the stage, bring the high energy they’ve become known for. The foursome livens up the room, and soon enough, the heat rises, windows fog up, and everyone starts to feel the steam. By the end, and with encouragement from the band, the fans are rushing to the stage, jumping, crowd surfing, and singing along to “Bet,” their last song of the night.
I spoke with the band before the show and found them to be really warm and friendly. I followed them backstage, where they tried to sneak me some “strictly bands-only” food, and at one point, I found myself in the bathroom with them, as they brushed their teeth post-dinner.
Here’s how it went.
BYT: You met in middle school?
Adrien: We were about 14 years old. I used to skateboard with Vincent and Jules, and we would play music at home. Then, we met Géraldine at school and decided to make music all four together. We started by playing covers and then created our own songs.
BYT: I heard your cover of 50 Cent’s “Ayo Technology.”
Jules: That’s a more recent cover. It was a song we all really liked, so it was fun to play it.
Adrien: It was a fantasy. I loved the song, so I learned it. Then, I told the other guys to play it at our gigs, and they said OK. I would go in front of the stage, pretending I was a rapper.
BYT: So, you’re from Toulouse. How would you describe your hometown to an American?
Jules: It’s the Miami of France?
Adrien: No, it’s not.
BYT: People constantly in thong bikinis?
Adrien: (Laughs) No. It’s really old and really pink everywhere.
BYT: So…is it the Florida of France?
Adrien: Not really. There’s Middle Age architecture, and we don’t have the sea near Toulouse. It’s at least a two-hour drive. It’s really cute. It’s red and pink everywhere, with bricks. It’s quite small. The streets are really narrow.
Jules: It’s like a big village, and in the center of it, you can walk anywhere.
BYT: Your first shows were in Toulouse?
Adrien: Yeah, at every pub we could find.
Jules: We used to organize our tours in France and England by our own ways.
BYT: Do you remember your first show?
Adrien: Yes, we do. It was something our grandparents booked for us. It was in a little village called Montgiscard, near Toulouse. Everyone in the audience was like 70 years old.
BYT: That’s awesome.
Adrien: It was our first show and the funniest one.
BYT: Where did the name The Dodoz come from?
Jules: It came from an English test I had in middle school. I had to translate the sentence, “The last dodo was spotted in the South of Africa.” I didn’t know what a dodo was so I asked the teacher, and he said it was this big chicken that couldn’t fly and was eaten by all the other animals. It made us all laugh, so when we had our band, we decided…The Dodoz.
BYT: I read that you were part of the CQFD competition…
Jules: It was a competition run by Les InRockuptibles, the same magazine running tonight’s show.
Adrien: We sent a song called “Monster,” and it was selected to appear on an album sampler. We ended up third in the competition, so we didn’t win it, but it helped get us noticed by labels.
BYT: Is that how you got attention from [manager] Peter [Murray]?
Jules: Yes, he got the sampler on his desk, listened to it and fell in love with the song. He called us right away and came to Toulouse to see us rehearse. He signed us [to MurrayField Music] two months later.
BYT: You’ve toured quite a lot. (They’ve shared the stage with Hole, Babyshambles, The Virgins, Siouxsie, Stereophonics, The Hoosiers…)
Adrien: Touring is what we appreciate the most. We love recording, but touring is a holiday.
Jules: We always play songs on tour before recording them. It’s special to us.
BYT: Your EP [“DYLB”] came out in 2008, and you’ve released videos for two of the songs (“Do You Like Boys” and “Werewolf in Love”).
Adrien: For “Do You Like Boys,” we wanted something very simple with close shots. We did “Werewolf in Love” with a friend and wanted it to be really crazy, fun, and messy.
BYT: What was the recording process like for that record?
Jules: It’s been the same process for the EP, first and second albums. We like to play live and record the songs as they are without adding any overdubs.
BYT: What would you say is one of your favorite songs off your self-titled record? (“The Dodoz,” 2009)
Jules: I think, for me, it would be “Werewolf in Love.”
Géraldine: Me too.
Jules: “Werewolf in Love” is important to us, because our fans really love it. It’s one of the songs that fans go the most crazy for when we’re playing, so we have great memories on stage.
BYT: You seem to have a lot of American and British influences – Talking Heads, David Bowie, The Clash. What about French music?
Adrien: There aren’t many French bands we love. We love Phoenix, Daft Punk, Justice…
BYT: There is somewhat of debate about being a French band singing in English versus French. Why did you choose to have English lyrics?
Jules: We haven’t listened to a French rock band in our life, so it was natural to write in English.
BYT: Géraldine, what is it like being the only girl in the band?
Géraldine: It’s nice, because they’re like brothers to me. We’ve been friends for a very long time.
BYT: What kind of dynamic do you guys think she brings to the band?
Adrien: I think she brings sensuality. If it were just the three of us, it would be really messy. Géraldine brings a pop atmosphere with melodies, something we all love.
Julien: She brings something more sexy – not short skirts or something – but she breaks this very male feeling.
BYT: What is it like having twins (Jules and Adrien) in the band? Are they crazy connected?
Adrien: I think, we’ve got this feeling with all four of us.
Jules: What’s great about this band is we’ve known each other for a long time, so we all have the same link as twin brothers.
BYT: How would you describe your sound?
Adrien: The rhythm is quite dance-like, powerful. Guitars are really sharp, the voice is melodic, and the structures are a bit complicated. It’s always hard for us to describe our music. I guess, it’s pop with rock and punk energy behind it. We really love the energy that punk brings on stage.
BYT: What would you say has been one of the most memorable parts of being in this band?
Adrien: I guess, when we met Franz Ferdinand. We played with them in France.
BYT: There’s that video of you playing together.
Jules: That wasn’t expected at all. Adrien went to Alex, the singer, and asked him to play with us for an interview. It was really special for us.
BYT: This must be an exciting time. Your new record [“Forever I Can Purr”] comes out in March.
Jules: It’s cool to finally get these songs out, because we’ve been working for a while.
BYT: “Happy Soldier” was the first single to come out…and then, “West Coast.”
Jules: Yeah, “West Coast” came out in January. We’re looking forward to the album coming out and really excited to play gigs again.
BYT: Do you like seeing shows?
Adrien: Yeah, we love to discover new bands. Recently, we saw Warpaint.
Jules: We saw them in Toulouse, and it was a huge kick in our asses. We saw Deerhunter in Paris, and that was really overwhelming too. We sometimes come to Paris just to see shows.
BYT: So, you’re all still living in Toulouse?
Adrien: Yeah, it’s important to us to stay there and not move to Paris. We prefer to be near our family, friends…the place where we grew up.
BYT: Your grandmas must be happy to have you close.
All: (Laughs) Yeah.
BYT: Do you have a favorite venue in Paris?
All: This one. (La Flèche d’Or)
Adrien: We have our best memories here. We’ve played many times, and each time the fans and friends from Paris were really crazy.
Jules: The funny thing is, when you ask bands about playing Paris, a lot will say the Parisian audience is pretty calm and cold. I think it’s kind of true, but in this venue, we’ve played gigs that were really fun, with great energy from the crowd.
BYT: Have you been to the States before?
Jules: Just on holiday.
Adrien: It’s kind of a dream to play there one day.
BYT: What’s your image of D.C.?
Adrien: White House….
Jules: I think the hardcore scene started in Washington, D.C…
BYT: Lastly, if we were to end this interview with one of your songs, which would you choose?
Géraldine: “West Coast.”
Adrien: Yeah, we’re starting the gig with “West Coast.”
“Forever I Can Purr” comes out this month.