Montreal's latest indie rock buzz band comes out with a first album, almost two years after its recording
Musician Emmanuel Éthier likes to take his time – sometimes a bit too much. "I tried to see The Unicorns twice when I was younger," recalls Passwords’ guitar slinger. "One time, I got carded at the venue. Another time, I missed the bus." His love of Montreal’s indie music scene, followed closely by his friendship with singer Thomas L’Allier and their common passion for 60s rock, led to the creation of Passwords when they were teenagers.
Together, they wrote, recorded and threw away a slew of songs before coming up with the ten songs contained on their first album. "I know it took us a while before releasing this album, but we still don’t have enough hindsight to judge if those early influences had a real impact on it and if it’s a good or bad thing," explains Éthier. "I guess we’ll see when we read the reviews."
While we can argue about Bowie’s or Wolf Parade’s influence on Passwords’ music, there’s no denying that English culture had an impact on their songwriting. "Writing and singing in English wasn’t a choice – it came naturally," says Emmanuel. "Even though we also grew up to the sounds of French artists like Gainsbourg and whatnot, we mostly listened to English albums during our youth."
Over the last two years, Éthier, L’Allier, Carmel Scurti-Belley (on synths), Maxime Castellon (on bass) and their guest drummers spent a lot of time away from the spotlight honing their songs before going out in public with their LP under their arms. "We wanted to have a great live show, complementary to the album. That, and there’s also the fact that since I spent weeks on the road last year, I couldn’t really be here for the band."
Those weeks on the road Éthier is referring to were spent in Europe as part of Coeur de Pirate’s backing band, which helped him become a seasoned musician. "I really know what touring is now! We experienced a lot of stuff together. We played in front of all kinds of audiences in all kinds of places," points out the musician, who will also play more than 30 shows by the end of the year with local folk sensation Jimmy Hunt.
When asked about Passwords’ upcoming gig at Osheaga, Éthier remains composed and humble. "The stress won’t weigh me down – it will be shared amongst all members of the band. Also, let’s be honest, we’re far from being headliners! We’ll probably play under a tent early in the afternoon… But still, we’re looking forward to it. We’ll have fun and we’ll play in front of people who would have never seen us otherwise."
At La Sala Rossa