Barrasso’77 Montreal is a festival that is based around the history of punk rock. In many ways celebrating the unofficial “40th Anniversary” of the genre. With headliners like Rancid and The Dropkick Murphys having been around for years, and local acts like Genetic Control and The Kingpins heralding from the 80’s and 90’s you might think that the whole festival is just based on nostalgia.

You would be wrong.

There are a few new faces to the Montreal punk scene who will be representing what a “new”  punk band is all about: Barrasso. Barrasso released their first album in 2015, so compared to the likes of Madball they’re fresh on the scene. Also, they’re the only band that will be performing primarily in French (with honorable mention to The Kingpins who have a few French tracks).

I asked singer Jonathan Beauregard about what it’s like being a punk band in Montreal:

Keith: You’re a relatively new (from what I can see) as a punk bank, only being around for a few years. How did Barrasso get together?

Jonathan: I wish I had a cool story to tell about how we all met and formed the band. The truth is I barely knew these guys when I showed up to their practice space (at Cité 2000 back then).

I remember coming in the locker room for the first or second hockey game of the year for a team that I just joined. I didn’t know anybody really, I just wanted to play. It was the same with the band. So the first thing I saw was this bearded guy, wearing my old punk rock band’s t-shirt (Suck La Marde) and I said to myself; “Well, at least I’ll have this dude to talk to!” That was Frank, our drummer. Thierry was also playing with us. Once they knew who I was and the fact that my other band, The Dirty Tricks, was dead, they invited me to one their rehearsal with Etienne, to see if I would be interested in joining the band.

I was ready for a new start. New band, with new bandmates. But I didn’t know if they were good or if they sucked!

So I sat there in the couch, just wishing that they didn’t suck! And they didn’t. In fact they played these Hot Snakes type of riffs, down strokes, exactly the way I always did. I think it took 1 song and I was like, “I’m in!”

Louis came in later, when Thierry left for several months to travel the world. When Thierry got back, we didn’t know he was in town, and so he simply showed up to a rehearsal, without telling us. It was great to have him back and so now we have 3 guitars since then.

K: What does the band name mean? Is there something I’m totally missing here?

J: It doesn’t really mean anything. It’s a last name actually. We just thought it had a nice ring to it.

K: Obviously the punk scenes of London, New York and LA are the things of legend, with countless documentaries and books devoted to the history and current state of those scenes. Montreal might be a little less internationally recognized as a punk city, but still has always had a strong punk rock scene, what do you think makes Montreal’s punk scene unique compared to other cities?

J: You can’t put aside the fact we have a scene with 2 languages. That’s what makes the Montreal punk rock scene unique. Not really original for an answer but it is what it is.

I guess Pouzza Fest makes Montreal unique also. How lucky are we to get to see all these bands for a reasonable price, right here in downtown Montreal?

But I have to admit that it’s just not what it was 10-15 years ago. That scene, when all these Montreal bands were friends and played basement shows all the time, or at l’X. I speak for myself, but those were dangerous shows, exciting shows, where anything could happen, and it was fucking great.Barrasso_dinette_magazine1

K: The Francophone punk scene in Quebec has always been an important part of Montreal’s punk rock history, with bands like Vulgaires Machins, Grim Skunk, Groovy Aardvark and you guys (Barrasso) all performing at least some songs in French. What (if anything) do you think are the differences in the scenes, or are we at the point yet where it doesn’t matter which language a band is performing in if the music is good?

J: It doesn’t matter at all. I mean we played in Toronto 2 or 3 times and I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. Turns out the crowd loved it and thought it was refreshing, and different. 3/4 of the people there didn’t even realize I sang in French anyways!

I don’t think we ever played a “francophone bands only” show. It’s always mixed up. Like in Europe, you probably have line-ups with 3 different languages more often than we think. Pretty cool.

I remember when I toured the US with The Dirty Tricks, I had one song where I didn’t have any lyrics at all. I was just singing gibberish and nonsense syllables for all 30 dates. I told the rest of the band when we were in Texas, and they didn’t even know. No one talked to me about it after a show, or even asked what the hell I was singing about. It sounded great and the music was good, that’s all that matters I guess.Barrasso

K: Punk is still going strong, but not quite as big as its been at various times in its history. What’s you advice to Montreal punks who want to start their own band?

J: You don’t need the big amps, the pedal boards or the best guitars to sound good: Your hands and your attitude are the main thing (of course you need some ok gear at some point… but you know what I mean).

Oh and don’t eat too much poutine before you play, you’ll regret it, every time. Unless you play keyboards, then you’re good. But you’re a keyboard player. Sooo, I guess you better grab a guitar or something and eat whatever the fuck you want, whenever you want.

Good advice.

Be sure to get to ’77 Montreal early to see Barrasso hit the stage at 1:00 pm, July 28th. Tickets and more info HERE.

In the meantime check out the video for “Fil de fer” off their debut album “Des x, des croix, des pointillés”

Keith does all sorts of things here on 9to5.cc, he works with the other founders on 9to5 (illustrated), co-hosts our two podcasts: The 9to5 Entertainment System and Go Plug Yourself and blogs here as The Perspicacious Geek.

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