September 24, 2008 / 4:21 PM / 11 years ago

Teen French rockers come of age with debut album

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Parisian punk rock band Second Sex will remember 2008 as a crucial year.

Three of its members graduated from high school in June and the band is launching its debut album in October.

Second Sex, which formed in 2004, is part of a new wave of French bands the media have dubbed “Les Bebes Rockers” (The Baby Rockers) because their average age was only 15 when they began.

With its raw and fresh energy reminiscent of the birth of punk rock in the mid-1970s, Second Sex quickly emerged as one of the scene’s most promising acts, along with The Plasticines, The BB Brunes, The Tatianas, Kid Bombardos and The Molly’s.

The band, which sings both in English and in French, includes Tim Bernelle, 18, guitarist and lead singer, Arthur Verret, 18, guitarist, Vincent Naigard, 18, bass player, and his brother Sacha, 21, drummer.

Verret, Bernelle and Naigard spoke to Reuters about their album “Petite Mort” (Little Death) and the band.

Q: It looks like 2008 was a busy year for Second Sex?

A (Verret): It’s a turning point, a very important year with a debut album we have been working on for so long. It’s the achievement of the three years we spent together. On top of that, we reached the age of majority!

Q: When do you think will the media stop calling you the “Bebes Rockers” ? Aren’t you a bit tired of that?

A (Verret): That ‘Bebes Rockers’ tag gets on my nerves. When we started, we benefited from the hype, it helped us sign with a music label. But the media were not interested in our music, they focused on our looks. We hope the album will change that.

Q: The media hype also triggered great expectations. Do you feel that pressure ?

A (Naigard): It’s true that because of the media hype around the ‘Bebes Rockers’, some people did not like us. They were saying ‘it’s all talk but where is the music ?’ Now the album is here. I want people to say: okay, there was a hype but it was legitimate.

Q: You selected your record label very carefully. Was it important to you that Because Music had offices in Paris and London and a roster of international artists ?

A (Verret): It’s very important. The album will be released first in France on October 27 with an even balance of songs in English and in French. Then there will be a launch later on in Britain. It will be a different album with the bulk of the songs in English and one or two in French for the exotic touch.

Q: What sort of sound were you looking for ?

A (Verret): When we started in small Paris clubs, our sound was more raw, more punk, more garage. Our inspiration came from acts like the White Stripes, the Hives, then it broadened to soul and other things. For the album we wanted to sound more American, more 70s, with big guitars, big drums. When I say a 70s sound, I think about the Stooges.

Q: Why call the album “Little Death” ?

A (Bernelle): It’s a good summary of what’s in the album, lots of songs about sex and death. It’s also about being 18, the death of our old life and starting a new life.

Q: How did you manage to get gigs opening for acts such as Muse, the Kooks, Razorlight, Babyshambles so quickly?

A (Naigard): We got very lucky. Initially we were not ready to record in a studio, but the live performances have always been our strength. This is why concert promoters did not hesitate to let us open for big acts.

Q: Any exciting memories from these gigs ?

A (Verret): When I was 14 I was a Buzzcocks fan, so when after our gig we drank champagne with them, I was really impressed. We also met with the Hives and it was cool. We would love to meet Jack White from the White Stripes !

A (Naigard): After the gig at the Olympia with Babyshambles, I ended up in Montmartre playing harmonica with Pete Doherty at the guitar. Otherwise I danced next to Mick Jagger once.

Q: Are you going to juggle a music career and university?

A (Verret): I am going to study economic and social sciences in university. I think I can do both, but music is a priority.

A (Bernelle): I did not register for university. I am dedicating one year to music.

A (Naigard): I already spent two years in commerce school. The headmaster agreed to let me have a break from school so that I could tour to promote the album.

Q: What about your parents? Are they your biggest fans?

A (Verret): We are 18 now. We did the hardest part. Parents can give us advice, but it is our business now. It’s our own little enterprise. We are faced with choices, obstacles. It’s very interesting, it’s a great experience.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, editing by Paul Casciato

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