Montréal Duo Release Their Latest Batch of Perfect Pop Noise
Montréal’s CRABE have been at work for some time now. Since forming in 2007 in the southwestern Québec city of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, they’ve put out a long string of bizarre and addicting noise pop records. The duo is able to shift seamlessly from dissonant meltdown to poppy singalong, often within the same song. Their latest album “Le Temps F33l” – streaming below and officially available this Friday, May 20 – is perhaps their most fully realized, and most accessible, release to date. The production is full and crisp, and the songwriting is more compelling than ever. The album’s second track, “Ab hoc & Ab hac,” is a perfect encapsulation of their style. It begins as a catchy pop-punk anthem, transitions to a set of riff-heavy breakdowns, then returns to its fantastic melody, ending close to where it started. It never sounds forced together, though, and that’s part of CRABE’s appeal. “Le Temps F33l” smashes together so many elements, but it always sounds cohesive, always part of the same strange and seductive CRABE universe. The band is making some of the most interesting and fun rock music out there, and this release should open up their vision to a broader audience.
Stream the whole record here:
Mertin Höek is the creative force behind CRABE, which also includes drummer Gabriel Lapierre. Beyond his band, Mertin has been heavily involved in building a music scene for and by the people he has grown up with in and around Montréal. CRABE’s lyrics are surreal and sometimes silly, but they’re always delivered with an earnestness that reveals a deeper meaning. From talking to him and listening to “Le Temps F33l,” it’s clear that his music is coming from sincerely wanting to understand himself and communicate that to the world. Mertin also works full time at the Montreal sewage and waste department, which is somehow a fitting job for the man behind CRABE’s sound. The band is beyond punk aesthetics in many ways, so what they do create becomes a genuine production of what is, in Mertin’s words, “living the real deal thing.”
VICTORIA RUIZ: Who is CRABE and where are you originally from?
Mertin Höek: We are Gabriel Lapierre from Alma, a nice place a bit north of Montréal, and Mertin Höek from Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, a nearby paradise west of Montréal where the grillades frizzle.
When did CRABE start and what is the significance of its name?
CRABE started in 2007 and there is not much deepness in the meaning of the name except maybe that we like animals so much and we think that every beings on the planet should be equal and nice with each other like humans with crabs, or mouse with elephant, etc.
The band toured in the United States before, what is it like being a French Canadian band in the states?
Yup, we toured twice on the east coast with the bestest pals and it was a blast and being a french speaking person felt nice because our bad english gave us an exotic aura and people seemed to like it. Everybody helped us if they felt that we were stuck in a language tragedy.
Many people in the Montréal music scene are recent transplants. What is this dynamic like for you all? Is there a lot of mixing between music scenes in Montréal?
There are a couple of scenes in Montréal, and between the scenes there is some mixing of the elements which is nice, I think. With our band we are neutral enough in a way that we can fit in the English world, noise avant garde thing, French and poetry realm, and birthday parties. But yeah humans tend to stay in groups whatever the activities which is life but as a group or individual it is nice to make the effort of reaching out to new groups and be a better person/band by living the real deal thing.
What are you all going for with the messages of this new album?
On this album the main messages are love, loving, learning, being a better person with yourself and the others. Also, we talk about religion, history and pizza. For real it is so personal and straight from the heart and brain that sometimes when I give a listening to someone I get super shy because I feel 100% exposed musically and lyrically. Especially the part when we can hear our friends Chris Burns and Janina Pessoa having a conversation about life, which is pretty much a private moment of my little life.
[The record] is so personal and straight from the heart and brain that sometimes when I give a listening to someone I get super shy because I feel 100% exposed musically and lyrically.
What thematically are your influences?
Like I said before the composition process is really about what goes inside the heart and the brain so it is really emotional and personal. The words are always about down to earth things, super simple but maybe not always easy to understand from someone outside my world And with the music sometimes stop/go/cry/laugh – the contrast is high in the sky maybe and that’s what I like, contrast is my favorite surprise.
We know you work for the city sewage department? What is you job there? I saw some short music videos you filmed there, those were awesome!
I’m working for the city of Montréal as a water treatment technician. This is cool because it is good for the fishies to get the human waste out of the water but at the same time depressing because we work in the poopoo and peepee. Whatever. I filmed a video at work once with my co-workers who are quite unique in a good way, intellectuals, body builders, conspirators etc., but I was not allowed to film, so I hid the thing in the deep web so I could keep my job. P.S. our waste water plant is one of the biggest in the world and we will have the biggest ozone treatment in the world, and can you imagine that I make it all work?