This August Sweden was graced by a visit from San Diego’s finest, Louis XIV, a band that shocked parents groups in Alabama and who have enticed numerous girls with their classic rock’n’roll moves. But behind the media image the band is bursting with creativity and musical ambition. Louis XIV not only have lots of attitude but are also endowed with a great sense of humour, with also a tiny bit of humility as well.
“We didn’t get that it was a festival that we were playing at”, says Brian Karscig, flicking through the Way out West programme. A mixture of surprise and disappointment can be detected in his voice. No wonder. Festival gigs are something that they love. They are sitting at Sticky Fingers, an old rock club in Gothenburg, where they will later play one of the club gigs at Way out West. At Brian’s side is Jason Hill, singer and songwriter of the band. They lean back in the black leather sofa and look just so relaxed and chilled out, exactly how you want rock stars from the US to be. We talk a bit about the festival and they are impressed by the bookings. Most of all they want to see Li’l Kim. Not a big surprise, they like her for her extrovert vocabulary. “She’s got a dirty mouth”, Brian grins behind his big fat sunglasses.
Louis XVI saw the day of light in April 2003, in a rehearsal venue in Paris, where the band’s front figures Jason Hill and Brian Karscig were living temporarily. Eventually Mark Maigaard and James Armbrust joined the duo and since then band, currently based in San Diego, released three full-length albums, have toured with The Killers and supported The Sex Pistols. Since the third album, Slick Dogs and Ponies, was released in January they have been on the road. They first covered the US and then worked themselves exhaustively through Europe with a solid gig schedule. Apparently not too grueling, though, as they do what they love the most. Life is about playing music and no one in the band dreams about doing anything else. Everything during the tour is about music. It doesn’t matter what country it’s in, so why be disgruntled? That they were joined by a string ensemble that, other than break some tour tediousness, gave their post punk, glam rock sound a touch of a harmonic lushness, had not so much to do with it. “It was great having them with us but after awhile we realised that we wanted to get back to our normal set up. We like doing our own thing”, says Jason with a serious tone in his voice.
It’s a stuffy day and the little room where we sitting in at top of Sticky’s is lacking in oxygen. The skin clings to the black leather sofas. I don’t know if it’s due to the heat, but Brian can’t quite decide if he should have his shades on or off. Maybe he is annoyed to once again repeat the story of how the band was banned in the state of Alabama in 2005. It was during the tour for The Best Little Secrets are Kept album, when the band was on the bus from Miami to Alabama, that they were told that they were not welcome. Louis XIV has become famous for their lyrics with some sexual and coarse themes and where album covers with female nudity have become the standard. The back cover of The Best Little Secrets are Kept has, for example, the list of songs written on a nude woman’s back. Offensive or not, the gig that was supposed to take place in a school yard in Alabama was cancelled indefinitely after the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) had had their say. “Bah…we never got a proper explanation for that”, says Jason wearily, “but we were happy anyway. It’s a helluva trip between Miami and Alabama”, he laughs before he continues: “It’s pretty typical for the States. If someone is on a running streak there is always someone that wants to muck it up. We’ve been called racists, sexists”, says Brian, “The list is long.” “It is an incident that happened but that we haven’t really focused on. It happened and it was amusing. Unfortunately it seems like everyone else remembers it”, Brian points out and I immediately feel touched.
Do you set out to provoke with your lyrics? “No, it’s all about us having fun! That we write about sex and stuff that people find offensive is really not our problem. It’s about these issues because our lives revolved around that at the time”, Jason recounts and continues with an example of an incident that inspired him in his song-writing. ?”This girl got a bit too much to drink one night when we were out and when we got home I had to carry her up the stairs. She wouldn’t stop talking and everything was just incoherent rambling…well, yeah something like that”, he finishes. To prove his innocence Jason also explains how the song list on The Best Little Secrets are Kept, ended up on the back of a naked girl. It was a harmless deed that was mainly a laugh, according to him. He thinks that people read too much into everything that has to do with artistically creativity. They are painters, musicians that let the creativity and the desire to have fun lead them.