Les Cowboys Fringants

Popular Québecois band known for its alternative neo-traditional folk-country and rock style, self-produced music, cult following, and eco-activism.

Les Cowboys Fringants

Popular Québecois band known for its alternative neo-traditional folk-country and rock style, self-produced music, cult following, and eco-activism. The name translates as the Frisky (or Dashing) Cowboys, and was inspired by the country song contest founding members Karl Tremblay and Jean-François Pauzé entered as a duo at La Ripaille, a Western bar in Repentigny, a suburb of Montreal. The group has acquired an international following in French-speaking countries.

Band Members

Singer Tremblay and guitarist Pauzé first spoke in 1995, having met at a hockey training camp the year before. They recorded a dozen songs on cassette (12 Grandes Chansons) and finished second in the La Ripaille contest in 1996. Classical violinist Marie-Annick Lépine, Pausé's colleague who would eventually play accordion, mandolin, banjo and piano with the band, joined them onstage. In 1997, the trio acquired a bassist - Lépine’s cousin, Jérôme Dupras, and a drummer, Dominique Lebeau. Steve Gagné replaced Lebeau in 2007, and in 2009, multi-instrumentalist Daniel Lacoste was hired to assist Lépine while Marc-André Brazeau took over on percussion. Guitarist Simon Landry participated in the group’s 2012 tours.

Early Days

In 1997, the band released 500 copies on tape of 12 Grandes Chansons. By 1998, their next album, Sur mon canapé sold 1,000 copies through word of mouth and received air play on student radio. By 1999, the band acquired additional fans through non-commercial stations, won a local contest, and placed second at the 5th edition of the Francouvertes contest in Montreal. However, they were still required to self-produce their third album, Motel Capri, in 2000. The album was licensed by l'Empire Kerozen and had commercial distribution. The band performed at the Francofolies de Montréal in 2000, along with such Quebec luminaries as Jean-Pierre Ferland, Laurence Jalbert, Claude Dubois, Michel Rivard and Nanette Workman.

Success at Home and Abroad

Les Cowboys Fringants rose from obscurity with their fourth album, Break syndical, released to critical acclaim in 2002. In 2003, they produced the DVD Les Cowboys Fringants Centre Bell. Commercial radio stations began to play their songs, especially "Toune d'automne" due to popular demand. After a concert with the legendary Plume Latraverse at Parc Jarry in Montreal, the band released a live album, Attache ta tuque! In spring 2004, the band performed in France and began to develop a European following. The album La Grand-Messe followed, with tours across Canada and France.

Les Cowboys Fringants scored another hit with "Les Étoiles filantes" in 2005, and the same year they started a foundation for nature conservation. In addition to themes on ecology, the group's songs covered such topics as Quebec history (and independence), social issues, and family relationships. Two more albums followed: L'Expédition (2008) and Sur un air de déjà vu (2009). The first led to 3 radio hits: "Entre deux taxis", "Tant qu'on aura de l'amour" and "La tête haute." In 2009 the band performed in in Paris, Lyon, Geneva, Toulouse, Caen, Lille, Le Mans, Brussels, Strasbourg, Reims and Nantes. In 2010, they attended the Printemps de Bourges and the Francofolies de La Rochelle festivals. In 2011, the group were guests at the Paléo festival in Switzerland.

Awards

The band has won numerous Félix awards from the Gala de l'ADISQ. They were named Group of the Year 3 times (2003, 2004, 2011) and won the Félix for Alternative Album 3 times as well: for Break syndical (2002); Attache ta tuque (2003); and La Grand-Messe (2005).

Other honours have included Félix awards for Single of the Year (“Les Étoiles filantes,” 2005), Show of the Year (2003), Video of the Year ("Plus rien," 2006) and Contemporary Folk Album of the Year (2008).

In addition to their ADISQ awards, the band has won the "Lanaudière sur tous les tons" festival award (1999) and the Miroir Award for French-Language Song (Festival d'Été de Québec, 2003).

In 2012 the group continued to tour internationally in francophone countries.