Mystik Motorcycles is like a gorilla in stilettos. The Toulon, France-based band blends the seemingly incompatible: snarky punk rock with joie de vivre. The group displays a sense of humor without being a joke; and while Mystik Motorcycles might at first glance appear to espouse a punk ethic, trust me you would love to have dinner with these guys.
Established in 2001, Mystik Motorcycles consists of Rondi (lead vocals, guitar), Billy (guitar), Andre (bass), and Dorian (drums). The quartet is prolific having released seven studio albums at a steady pace from “F**k off and Die” (2003) to “Rock and Roll Died in Paris” (2010) to its current dark-period inspired record “Decorum.” Tunes about burlesque girls (“Jiggly Tassels”), obnoxious blond groupies (“Platinum Blah Blah Blah”), and musically untalented bands (“Empathy”) blend bouncy melodies with high energy. It’s a beautiful celebration, stripped down to the bones. It’s a fun mash up of punk and pop and new wave with a 45 RPM salute to The Strokes or CBGB-era groups like The New York Dolls.
I shot out some questions and lead singer Rondi shot back some answers via trans-Atlantic email. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.
Q: What one word describes Mystik Motorcycles?
R: The word “anti” is perfect for us.
Because we are anti everything.
What does Mystik Motorcycles sound like?
Like a teenage girl finding her G-spot for the first time.
How has being from Toulon, France affected your music?
In a very effective way, we use to hate French and south folk French music since we were kids and did everything to not sound like a Toulon / French band.
What’s the music scene like in Toulon?
It’s like a crappy bunch of inbred people, very self indulgent and excluding. If you are not a Toulon “native band” you are not very welcome there.
Where have you felt the most welcome?
No doubt that Germany and Eastern Europe (Serbia and Romania especially) have a more welcoming crowd, bookers and venues owners.
Do you sing in both English and French?
In English only.
Is there a reason for that?
Yes. French is a very linear language with no variations of rhythm; it’s not very musical. French is good for poetry or intellectual movies.
What would you say is the definitive song by Mystik Motorcycles.
“Ooh La La” from the 2006 album “Gay L.A. Music !”
That is a very lively song. What is a good video that captures the essence of your band?
I think that “Pirates” videos, filmed with cell phones and posted on You Tube give a good idea of the real Mystik Motorcycles – more than any official video clip. That is, if you can handle crappy sound and shaky footage, of course.
Can you tell me about your current album?
We wanted to surprise ourselves first. That being done, no doubt our fans would be surprised too. This album was created while we were in our “black period” listening to Joy Division, The Adverts, Siouxsie and the Banshees. I think it shows.
Do you think your current album “Decorum” makes Mystik Motorcycles sound like a completely different band?
Not at all. This band is always Mystik Motorcycles, a darker Mystik Motorcycles but always the same group. The energy, melodies, the special voice and sound of the band are always recognizable immediately.
Can you describe you favorite show as a member of this band?
There is no easy way to answer this as each band member has his own favorite memory:
Bovine Sex Club 2007 Toronto, Canada for myself; for the place, for an English talking crowd who sung along to a lot of our songs and for the crazy after show party.
Gare aux Gorilles 2014 Paris for Dorian; we managed to make the whole hung up “we have seen it all” Parisian crowd go crazy and dance.
Divan Orange Montreal, Canada 2010 for Billy; An epic show with Billy and me fighting and throwing punches in the crowd towards some rude guys while our bassist and drummer kept on playing. There was blood everywhere and people talked about it the day after.
Festival du Château 2004 Sollies, France for Andre; nude girls in the crowd, girls trying to rip off our clothes, crazy crowd, prosecution for indecent exposure after the show.
Do groupies exist?
Only in the eyes of the one who consider himself having groupies.