“Les Négresses vertes”, the famous French rock group to whom we owe “Voilà l’été” or “Zobi la mouche”, is the third concert of Musi’Cale, this Wednesday in Villeneuve-sur-Lot. Interview with Stéfane Mellino, the band’s guitarist.
In August, “Les Négresses vertes”, one of the best-known alternative rock groups of the 1980s, will make two stops in Lot-et-Garonne: in Villeneuve-sur-Lot for the Musi’Cale this Wednesday ; and in Agen for the “Fêtes d’Agen”, Friday August 26th. For this first concert in the department, the seven members of the group – Paulus (bass and vocals), Stéfane Mellino (guitar and vocals), Iza Mellino (percussion, vocals), Matthieu Paulus (trombone, vocals, vocals), Miche Ochowiak ( trumpet, backing vocals), Cizzko (accordion, backing vocals) and Matthieu Rabaté (drums) – will perform on stage at the Cale de la Marine, on the banks of the Lot. Stéfane Mellino, the historic guitarist of the “Green Negresses”, confided in the group’s tour which started in 2018.
You play in Villeneuve-sur-Lot then in Agen in the space of a few weeks. Have you taken out a subscription to Lot-et-Garonne?
It’s true that we play in Lot-et-Garonne twice in a very short time. This is the first time since the group has existed that we are going to come to Villeneuve-sur-Lot. It’s cool by the way because it will be a great discovery. Agen, we are a little more used to it. When we played in Condom, in the Gers, last May, we were at the hotel in Agen. We know this city well.
What are you going to play at your next concerts?
This tour started four years ago with the celebration of the thirty years of the first album. There will therefore be a lot of songs from the first album, such as “Zobi la mouche”, “Voilà l’été”, or even “La mer à potable”. There will also be tracks from the other albums. We will sing “La bodega”, “Facing the sea”, and “Large family”, for example. To sum up, in our next concerts there will be songs from three out of four albums: “Mlah” (1988), “Large Family” (1991) and “Trabendo” (1999). In our repertoire, we have songs that are known and that people come to find. It’s great for a band to have songs that people want to hear. We are happy to have songs that everyone knows. Pieces in which people recognize themselves and which are, in a way, a part of their lives.
So you’re not going to play songs from “Zig-zague” at all, released in stores in 1994…
No, no “Zig-zague” for the moment on stage, but it will come.
What should Villeneuvois and Agenais expect when they come to see you on stage?
There will be atmosphere. We may be in our sixties, we’re going to send pâté. Of course, we are more the same than thirty years ago. But musically, people will rediscover the spirit that animated us when we started and which is still there. And in addition, our songs have been expanded with small arrangements of which we have the secret. They will find out all that the day we go to play. There will also be a few little surprises.
Villeneuve and Agen are two dates in your very important tour…
When we made the decision to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of “Mlah”, we didn’t say to ourselves that we were going to do this gigantic four-year tour. We had gone on about forty dates at the base. There, we do a great summer tour with about thirty dates between June and August. And then, we will have about the same number of concerts between September and December. In 2022, we will really have played all the time.
“Les Négresses vertes” separated in 2002 before reforming at the end of 2017. We have the impression that with this return, you wanted to find the music of your debut…
We don’t lose sight of who we are and where we come from. We wanted to get back to what we were when we started. These songs, replaying them with the energy and the spirit of the beginning, it rekindled a little flame in us. And she is always present. When we started, we were carried away by the same kind of thing. The first tour of the “Négresses”, nobody knew us. And, from town to town, we had been towed by a kind of musical trail of powder. We prefer this somewhat confidential side to over-media coverage. We did big festivals and we continue to do so. But when we are contacted for a free concert, in a small town or a medium-sized town, we go there because it completely corresponds to the spirit of the group: popular and which goes towards people.