Born of mutual admiration for 90s rock potentates Offspring and Weezer, and the same era’s big screen time travel adventure Jumanji and its star Robin Williams, Paris-based PÆRISH is poised to be the next alternative rock smash hitmakers. “My older sister was a teenager when I was like 8 or 9 years old, and I discovered music through her,” co-founder, frontman and guitarist Mathias Court recalls of the almost ripped from the script of Almost Famous scenario of his first foray into rock. “She was playing some Offspring songs in her room and that changed me for life. The Smash album truly changed my life.”
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With its foundation built on the duel inspirations of music and movies, it practically seems scripted that the original members of PÆRISH – Court, Martin Dupraz (bass) and Julien Louvion (drums) – would first meet and form as a trio five years ago in a Paris film school, where Court and Dupraz were studying film production and Louvion sound engineering. Initially adopting the name Crackity Flynn, in 2015 the three modified the group’s moniker to PÆRISH (based on the awkward, skinny kid character Alan Parrish in Jumanji) and added second guitarist Frédéric Wah. “We love Robin Williams and his characters,” Court explains. It’s kind of a tribute to who we are. We are all kids from the 90s, we’re all big fans of Blink-182 and that kind of humor. The character of Alan Parrish is a kid who’s imprisoned in an adult body. He’s still like a kid, even though he looks like an adult. Like the four of us.”
Their collective primary passion in life for music eventually led the members of PÆRISH to focus on writing songs over scripts and concentrate on performing on concert stages as opposed to working on movie sets. Buoyed by the backing of supportive parents, including Court’s David Bowie-adoring mom and Dupraz’s devoted Beatles-loving dad, a throng of around 300 – including close family members and friends – witnessed the band’s debut gig five years ago at a cool club in “The City of Lights.” Determined to be undaunted by Paris’ paltry rock scene (“It’s in a bad way,” states Dupraz. “It’s pretty hard because France, and especially Paris, is a huge EDM and hip-hop scene and city.”), and refusing to be undone by the fact that there is just one rock station (OUI-FM) in town, PÆRISH turned to social sites such as Spotify and Bandcamp.com to get their music directly into the ears and hands of their ever-expanding fan base.
The band’s hunch that placing their music on Spotify would be an effective way to garner airplay and gain followers proved to be spot-on, with the riff-roaring single “Undone” just topping 2 million streams. “‘Undone’ was one of the very last songs we composed for the album,” says Court, referring to PÆRISH’s forthcoming debut collection Semi Finalists. “I think it was the quickest song I’ve ever composed. I had that riff; I didn’t know what to do with it. I started to play (more) riffs one night and I think it was done in one afternoon. I think it was the quickest song we’ve ever made.”
Armed with 11 near fully composed songs, the foursome packed up and departed for Glasgow, Scotland, where they would complete the recording of Semi Finalists in one of the two countries whose music influenced the group the most: the other being the United States. “I finished some of the lyrics in Glasgow,” Court confirms. “I used to get up very early, before the other guys, and started to write the last verses of the album.” In addition to “Undone,” “Then People Forget” is another track that made the final cut for the album, and according to Court it is “different from ‘Undone,’ but it pretty much talks about the same thing, the same moment in my life. They’re not really happy songs, but they are both about the same person. Even though the riffs are bigger, some people have told me you can still find some kind of Blink-182 influence, so we feel like that’s a big compliment.”
Inspired by a line in the 1998 Wes Anderson film Rushmore, Court says “I’ve Got Punched in the Face, What’s Your Excuse” also “talks about a girl, so I thought it would be funny. Also, Martin and I love the idea of having funny and very long names for songs. Sometimes names that have nothing to do with the songs. We both love the [Long Island, NY] band Brand New and they have so many funny song titles. So it’s kind of influenced by both movies and music.” Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the long song title spectrum lies “7-57,” which Court explains was based on the quirky penchant of an ex-girlfriend who never wanted to set her alarm clock at a precise hour, like 8am.
Universal themes of girls, family and friends are prevalent across the cuts found on PÆRISH’s first full-length offering, but another overriding leitmotif lies just under the surface, and served as inspiration for the album Semi Finalists and its title track. “I tend to talk a lot about coming to the big city, because Frédéric is from Paris, but the rest of us are not from Paris,” recounts Court. “It’s an important part of the writing, talking about leaving our small cities to come to the big city, and sometimes feeling a bit small in that city, and feeling like you’re not a part of that city. That’s the big theme; feeling like you’re not good enough for living in the big city that is Paris.”
Unlike the character in Jumanji that, although slightly modified, served as inspiration for the band name, it won’t take this four-piece from Paris 26 years to reach the musical equivalent of adulthood. Alan Parrish may have started out as a weak, scared, shy kid who eventually developed strong survival instincts, but PÆRISH is well on its way to becoming masters of its own reality, with Semi Finalists serving as just the first major move in the group’s game plan to conquer the alternative music world.
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