Jacquemort, a local band you should know

A branch of the Malajube family tree, this local quartet is set to play their first major Montreal show since the release of their debut LP, La montagne de feu.

Jacquemort_credit Raphaël Ouellet - crop

Jacquemort. Photo by Raphaël Ouellet

Thomas Augustin’s onstage demeanour doesn’t exactly scream precision. The tall, lanky guy’s unforgiving keyboard-bashing and approximate wailing suggest he’s aiming for impact more than science. But in the studio, he’s all about the details.

“I’m always buying gear, trying out new things, fiddling with my sound, giving it a little detune, a little decay… It’s what makes all the difference,” says the man we got to know as a member of indie rock behemoths Malajube — they’re currently on hiatus after years of non-stop recording and touring action.

At a time when synthesizers are as much a part of rock as their stringed or skinned cousins, Augustin’s approach seems more meat and potatoes than, say, Purity Ring. He says most of what he hears on college radio puts him to shame, on a technical level. But there’s certainly as much thought going into it. “It has to have warmth. I don’t like when it sounds all jock-y and MDMA,” he laughs.

Augustin is using Malajube’s downtime to push his other band, Jacquemort, which he started with pals Julien Michalak and Julien Bakvis (of Méta Gruau fame) around 2003. When Malajube was going full speed, Jacquemort was only able to drop the Dent de lait EP in 2007 before going back into hibernation. Now Jacquemort lives for real with a first proper full-length, La montagne de feu, released in November.

Produced internally with a hand from Ryan Battistuzzi and mixed by Jace Lasek, it sees the band slightly realigned with the addition of keyboardist Melissa Di Menna (also of Méta Gruau) and bassist Rémy Nadeau-Aubin (ex-Malajube, ex-Hot Springs, Bateau noir etc.). Augustin previously played bass in addition to his singing in Jacquemort.

“Rocking out is much more fun on the bass,” he points out, “but I wrote those songs on the piano and the Wurlitzer. I had to take over the synths to stay close to the songs. Rémy is better than me on bass and there was certainly enough synth parts to add another keyboard player.”

And so La montagne de feu is a tribute of sorts to the synthesizer, which Augustin says is his “first love.”

“I’ve been playing it since I was 12, 13. I recently found a video of me playing with my first band. My friends were bashing out Nirvana riffs on guitar and I was doing the basslines on keys. It was ridiculous,” he laughs, remembering a time when John Paul Jones and Ray Manzarek were his idols.

As was the case with the Dent de lait EP, La montagne de feu is pretty close to the Malajube universe, suggesting the mothership had as much an influence on him as he had on it. So what would Augustin sound like had he not joined Malajube years ago?

“I used to be into weird stuff like Mister Bungle, with crazy tempo changes and stuff like that. And I still am. I guess you could say Malajube has taught me the dynamics of classic rock bands and gave me some songwriting chops.” ■

Jacquemort play with opener Bovine Eye (aka Jacquemort guitarist Julien Michalak) at l’Escogriffe (4467 St-Denis) on Saturday, March 29, 10 p.m., $10

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