PyPy unites local weird rock royalty

Members of Duchess Says and Red Mass reassemble as freeform rock ‘n’ roll unit PyPy, launching a record tomorrow night.

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PyPy aims to disturb and confuse, on stage, on record and even in print. In English, you can call them “pie-pie,” as in pi, the mathematical term, but in French it’s “pee-pee,” because that’s how pi is pronounced — their first recording was called Caca, so if you were thinking human waste, you’re not mistaken.

Pagan Day is the debut LP by the band, which unites supreme synth-punk trio Duchess Says with longtime local garage rocker Roy Vucino (the Spaceshits, les Sexareenos, CPC Gangbangs, Red Mass), and it’s a raucous pile-up of ’70s styles: krautrock, classic rock, punk and post-punk are all represented in a manic series of musical mood swings. The players are clearly pedigreed, but part of PyPy’s power lies in their raw, spontaneous and labour-light M.O.

“We don’t work on this band, that’s the point!” says singer Annie-Claude Deschênes, laughing away. “We’re not rehearsing at all. We’re gonna have a launch, we’re gonna do maybe two practices, but we want it to be more jam-band — more free.

“There are no limits, we just fuck off and do whatever we think is funny,” she explains. “We don’t overthink stuff. We laugh a lot, we’re having fun. It’s extreme in this way.”

When I spoke to Deschênes in a Plateau café in mid-January, she told me that they were considering jamming at their album launch rather than playing songs from the record. She further illustrated the band’s random tactics by one-woman brainstorming a second mascot on the spot (a whale chewing bubblegum, maybe, in addition to the homemade Oscar the Grouch guise she wears from time to time), and pondering papier-mâché Stonehenge props for the show — she’s been known to paint backdrops and project images onto the band, ensuring that no two PyPy gigs look alike. There have even been boys-only shows, where she’s sat it out.

But as open and free as PyPy can be, that freedom only exists internally. When they started talking art and promotion with their record
labels, Black Gladiator and Slovenly, their spaghetti-hair band photo and striking cover illustration by Elzo Durt were initially rejected.

“We chose this company because they told us we can do whatever we want. But when we arrived with our aesthetic, they said, ‘Oh, we were imagining something else for you. More rock, more trash.’ That’s such a cliché. We don’t want to do like all the other bands on the label, that overdone rock ‘n’ roll style. We said, ‘This is what we are, and that’s it.’ And they said, ‘Oh, we don’t want it.’ So we said, ‘Oh, you don’t want it? Fuck off, we don’t do it.’ So they took it, and this cover? People love it.” ■

PyPy launches Pagan Day with openers Crosss and Maica Mia at TRH-Bar (3699 St-Laurent) on Saturday, Feb. 15, 9 p.m., $10

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