Hugo Mudie Concerta Fantasio

Montreal punk Mudie gets immature on his new album Concerta Fantasio

An interview with the former frontman for the Sainte Catherines.

Speaking from the belly of confinement in Hochelaga a few days prior to launching a new solo record, Concerta Fantasio, Montreal singer-songwriter Mudie, the former frontman for the Sainte Catherines and punk rock man-about-town, is remarkably upbeat for a guy who loves playing shows more than anything.

“I have two kids and we have to keep them busy but that’s pretty much standard,” Mudie laughs. “We’re all okay. I have no problems with this, really, other than I’d like to be able to get out more, go for walks and stuff. But we’re fine.”

Here’s what he had to say about dropping an album during a goddamn pandemic.

Darcy MacDonald: Can you please tell me a bit about how the album came together and how the current situation affected the release plans?

Hugo Mudie: Actually, the label asked me if I wanted to delay the release, but I think that, by contrast, it’s a good time to release an album, especially the type of music I make. For one thing, the everyday challenge in the music industry is to be heard. Standing out is harder and there’s a lot of good music out there. Getting people to listen is tough because we’re bombarded with media.

At a moment like this, I think people may have more time to pay attention, and also to think about supporting local talent. We can see that happening with online shopping, people looking to buy local. I think that could have a positive effect. 

Also, we always need entertainment in life, but even more so now with all this free time, trying to keep our minds on things. It’s not enviable, but it may be strangely good timing.

DM: That’s a very positive outlook on all of this. Do you find yourself checking out live streams and stuff like that? 

Mudie: Not too much, but some. I’ve done some of my own and I’ve been checking out Vic Ruggiero from the Slackers, who I think is super talented and whose voice I love. Even if it’s low-budget or whatever, I think it works well. 

I’m not a huge media consumer, personally. I make music and art and of course I enjoy other people’s work but I don’t go to tons of shows or stuff like that.

I actually checked out a couple of Post Malone’s (recently streamed) Nirvana covers and that was pretty good and there’s other stuff I’ve checked out out of curiosity and all that stuff is super fun. If you’re a young fan it’s a cool time because artists are seeking ways to reinvent themselves. But personally, I haven’t been super absorbed by the phenomenon, either.

“With Concerta Fantasio, I wanted to keep things a little niaiseux” — Mudie

DM: So Concerta Fantasio is a little ironic as an album title, given that we won’t be seeing any “concertos” for a while.

Mudie: Well, Concerta is my daily attention deficit medication, so it’s a play on words with the Tchaikovsky work (Concerto Fantasia). 

Not playing live sucks, for sure. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I’ve never spent more than a month without playing a show so I’m already really feeling the itch to play. When I put out a new album, the fun part is playing it live and chilling with my friends. It’s almost like it’s coming out but not coming out, but it’s a new challenge to find ways to promote it.

DM: I think when shows come back we’ll all remember our first post-COVID show!

Mudie: I’m not so sure. As it was, people are more into staying home and watching Netflix. At first, people might not feel as safe going out. They may keep staying home. I think it’s going to hit hard on small venues and small bands. 

But I personally enjoy that part of life in general anyways, finding ways to stay fresh and inventive. It’s a challenge we could have done without, sure, but one whose outcome will be interesting to be a part of.

DM: So how do you personally keep things fresh with punk rock?

Mudie: (For albums) I always change directions, and I’ve been on over 40 records in my life. If you listen to my previous solo record, it’s a lot different from this one. Between various group and solo albums I’m always playing with other artists, and I’m concerned with keeping it interesting for myself. It can confuse an audience or a listener, maybe, but I don’t really care. They can like it or not, it’s their decision.

But with Concerta Fantasio, I worked with Alex Ortiz from We Are Wolves and Adrian Popovich to produce it and they both have an encyclopedic knowledge of what makes for good sound.

I really dove back into what I listened to when I was young: the Queers and the Muffs and Weezer and Green Day — the easiest ways to make punk rock. I’ve traditionally always tried to keep it quote-unquote “mature,” but with this (album) I wanted to keep things a little niaiseux, but touch on serious subjects at the same time. There were never really many great pop-punk bands in that particular style doing it in French, so I wanted to go there with it. ■

Sample/buy Concerta Fantasio by Mudie on his website.

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