Hailing from the suburbs of Montreal, Les Cowboys Fringants – which translates to “the Frisky Cowboys” – have amassed a worldwide following since founding members Karl Tremblay and Jean-Francois Pauze began jamming together in 1995. They were soon joined by Marie-Annick Lepine, whose contribution of the violin, accordion and other instruments was a key factor in shaping the Cowboys‘s trademark sound. They found a bassist and drummer, Jerome Dupras and Dominique Lebeau, but after a decade of playing together, Lebeau left the band for personal reasons.
Les Cowboys Fringants mix rock with Quebecois folk in the neo-trad style, combined with the politically active songwriting characteristic of the chansonniers of the 1970s. The songs, which vary from light and fun to serious and sombre, deal with everything with personal problems in the home and relationships to larger issues like consumerism, environmentalism and modern Quebec. Another characteristic that stands out in their songs is the use of Quebecois slang or joual in the lyrics, which draws on the influence of dominant English Canadian and contains contractions of words that not all francophones would necessarily understand. Nevertheless, their unique sound and style have come together to make them a cult sensation in Quebec and French-speaking Europe.
Joyeux Calvaire – Les Cowboys Fringants
You can listen to the live Les Insucces album here.