Bands come and bands go, it’s what’s left behind that we remember them by – The Sainte Catherine’s may be disbanded. But their music remains.
Montreal’s The Sainte-Catherine’s made quite a name for themselves during their time, both locally and abroad. Though not their most remembered or best received record, “The Art Of Arrogance” sure opened doors for the boys. Now that record is being reissued to celebrate its tenth anniversary. Shortly after Hugo Mudie and Fred Jacques, former members of The Sainte-Catherine’s, had stepped off stage following their performance with their new band, Miracles, I met up with former guitarist Marc-Andre Beaudet. Over coffee we had a chat at a nearby Second Cup.
With the warmth of the blazing fire place beside us, and with classic Rolling Stones tunes playing in the background. I put my freshly pressed copy of his former bands LP in his hands. “I still haven’t even seen this” he tells me, “ten years.” He says with a smile on his face and his eyes firmly placed on the record sleeve in his palms. There’s obviously a deep routed connection between him and this album. “This was when I started with The Sainte-Catherine’s, actually” he tells me. Eyes still planted on the record cover. “Before that I recorded their first album and they did an EP. Then me and Louis Valiquette joined for the album. So, for me, this album was the start of everything.
It’s when we started touring, when we first went to Europe. We toured so much on that album, it was crazy. There were periods where we toured four or five months straight. We would go to Europe for two months, come back home. And then the next day we would start a Canadian and US tour. All the way down the west coast and then back along the east coast for another two or three months. It was crazy.”
Those months of extreme touring eventually helped the group catch the attention of NOFX. And of course Fat Wreck Chords head honcho, Fat Mike. Helping them earn them a deal on the label. “Yeah, in a way”, reflects Beaudet. “But I wouldn’t say the actual record did. It was the touring we did for that record that got us the deal. Even if we would have sent them that record, they wouldn’t have looked at it. It’s really because we toured so much with Against Me and other bands that were on Fat.
Those guys had our CD’s and our shirts and that got us in the loop and caught Fat’s attention. Then, Against Me were playing a show here in Montreal with NOFX at Metropolis and the guys from Against Me were telling us that Fat Mike was talking about us. And that we should bring some stuff for him. We were recording demos for “Dancing For Decadence”, so we brought him those. A few days later we heard back from him and yeah, that’s how we got the deal. It was all the touring and the work we put into supporting that record that got us there.”
A decade later, that ground-breaking set of tunes is once again unearthed and re-released. Fittingly for the first time on vinyl in North America. The resurgence of vinyl hadn’t yet hit the music scenes at that time in this part of the world. Records that now sell online for a fortune could be found for next to nothing.
See also : Carlos Soria of The Nils
It was all about the Compact Disc in those days and even the iPod hadn’t fully risen to its peek yet. “When went to Europe, we only had stuff on CD. But in Europe they released all our stuff on vinyl, because over there vinyl still sold better than CDs”, recalls Beaudet. “The only thing we had were a couple of records, maybe a box or two that we were able to sneak into the country after the tour. So, besides the few we were able to smuggle in, this is the first time its available on vinyl in Canada.”
Even though the record first saw the light of day ten years ago, it still echoes what current day Montreal is. Mainstream media would have you believe that there is a huge rift between the cities Anglo and Franco populous. But that really isn’t true outside of a few hard lined hardheads on both sides. The Sainte-Catherine’s were a prime example of the real Montreal; the diverse and united people that we really are. Despite what out leader projects to the world. In fact, “The Art Of Arrogance” is a fairly bilingual album, with song titles in both English and Quebecois French.
I’ve often wondered how that translated to people outside of Quebec. To the fans across the rest of North America and Europe. “The songs are all in English. The titles are in French sometimes. But we always thought it was funny to have a French title there. And to wonder if people actually knew what it means or if they would bother to look it up. I guess they know the va chier part” referring to the first track, ‘Va Donc Chier’. Which lovingly translates to ‘Go take a shit’ for any of you that are native to Montreal. “I think they could get it, but it is for sure a very Quebecois thing to write.”
There are other tracks on the album that display another side to local culture; the blending of languages. To create something uniquely Montreal. As evident on the records penultimate track, “Le Funk C’est Toujours Winner”.
Regardless if Punk rockers from around the globe figured out the song titles or not, les boys still toured the planet in a manner few others from this city have. “There were not a lot of bands back then from Montreal or Quebec that would go outside of the province and tour in that DIY scene that we all looked up to. We always felt we had to be touring as much as bands in that scene. So we would be playing all the time, trying to be a part of that but always proud to be that band from Montreal. It was a bit of a badge of honor to be that band from Montreal.”
Throughout our conversation, Beaudet’s eyes would glance over at the LP sat on the coffee table between us. “It’s very special” He tells me when probed about its meaning, “It’s one of my big accomplishments as a guy in a band, I guess. I had minor success with my previous band but this was the one that took it to a whole new level. To me, when I think about The Sainte Catherine’s, it’s all the touring and the fun we had in the van. The jokes and just the good times we had and this record was the start.
It was very exciting back in that time because we quit our jobs and were all like we’re just going to tour. We didn’t care and so it was very romantic, in a way. We don’t care let’s just tour, tour, tour. Everything was exciting and everything was new. We started bonding with other bands and we were all isn’t this wonderful? Look at our scene and, yeah.”
“When I think of the album itself, it reminds me of the time in the actual studio” recalls Beaudet, “This was one of the first albums that I recorded and mixed and everything on my own. My first time in a real studio. The first Sainte-Catherine’s album was recorded in Louis’, the other guitar player, in his Dad’s basement. We had some recording gear so we did it on that. But this was my first time engineering a record in a real studio. So I have a lot of memories for those ten days that we spent in that specific studio. That’s what I do for a living now, I’m a sound engineer and this is where that all started.”
The re-issued album comes with a few surprises, too, and that’s always nice. Included with the LP, is a download card that can be redeemed for a digital copy of a bonus demo recording. And some live tracks. There seems to be some confusion when it comes to the recording being re-mastered for its vinyl release. And given that Marc-Andre Beaudet was the sound engineer on the project, I figured he would be the man to ask. “I think it has to be the same sound, I don’t really know. I think we just sent off the CD and it’s that version. But the demos and live tracks, some of them I haven’t heard in years and years. They are pulled off of cassettes and stuff, it’s kind of weird.” Well, glad that’s all cleared up then.
The question everybody wants to know, though, is if the boys have considered joining in on the current trend of reforming bands. For a few more shows here and there. It has to be said that as far as trends go, that one is pretty bloody good. Although I’m not that young anymore, there are a ton of bands I wouldn’t have seen in my lifetime if not for reunion tours. So, is there any chance of a comeback tour? “We’re still super close to each other and we didn’t stop the band because we weren’t having fun or we weren’t getting along.”
See also : Tony Sly of No Use For A Name
“It was because we couldn’t be the band that we used to be. We didn’t want the band to crumble and die like that. We chose to end it on our terms. We’re not itching to restart The Sainte Catherine’s or anything but maybe to play a reunion show here or there would be fun, who knows.” states Beaudet, with a smile on his. Almost as if to say maybe one day. “We’ll see, it’s not out of the equation because we’re still friends and we still see each other. There’s no feud or bad blood or anything, we just decided that it was a good time to end it when we did.” Are you listening Montebello Rockfest?
Marc-Andre had a few final thoughts to share with me about his former band before heading out. “I think the classic Sainte Catherine’s album would be Dancing For Decadence. It’s the one that really made us step up in terms of the shows we were doing. And the crowds and we were getting attention from the media then. Because at that time we were flying under everybody’s radar and that was at around the time of the MIMI’s. The independent music awards. And we came out of nowhere to win the trophy for most touring band or something like that. That year we had two hundred and something shows in three hundred sixty five days and everybody else had like eighty or something.
We really did our own thing on the DIY circuit so nobody really paid attention. Besides little articles in the local newspapers but then random radio stations would talk about us. They didn’t know anything about us but they started giving us exposure. But this one (taps the “The Art Of Arrogance” LP) is still more special to me. We were such a small band back then that we really felt that it was us against the world. That nobody understood and nobody cared. We played so many shows but nobody came. We would play for twelve people and it was all people from other bands and we weren’t building a fan base or anything. Nobody really gave a shit, but we were like we’re doing it and we don’t care, but ten years later, it’s still here.”
“The Art Of Arrogance” can be had from the fine folks over at Housebreaker Records and is available on limited amounts of colored vinyl, including just twelve copies on white splatter! Which means, don’t delay!