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People to watch this month: Bruno Bouchard, musician

Mar 21, 2016 Music

Tom Waits and junkyard instruments; two of Canadian musician Bruno Bouchard’s passions.

This article was first published in the April 2016 issue of Metro. Photo by Marc Payot.


The name doesn’t make sense: L’Orchestre D’Hommes-Orchestres. The orchestra of the men orchestras.

“It is a band of one-man bands,” says Bruno Bouchard: four of them, plus two women called the Cackle Sisters. They do deconstructed junkyard melody-making: a golf club on a helmet that whacks a frying pan, a banjo strummed with a gun, dried pasta, megaphones, bells, even the Bible is an instrument, and everything is melodic, everything percussive, while the singing veers from sweet to grotesque, to soaring and even to the odd scream. Musical Dada.

“The idea,” says Bouchard, “is that everyone tries to touch as many of the instruments as possible.” They’re ribald contortionists, with great timing, endlessly surprising musicality and a po-faced attention to detail. They’re thrilling. And by the way, the songs they’re playing? Tom Waits. Why him?

“Why your boyfriend, or your girlfriend? After we fell in love, we discovered the poetry.” Silly to ask.

There are shared influences: garage grunge, hip hop, jazz. Bouchard says, “We don’t play Tom Waits. We play at Tom Waits. We like to mess things up. But we are very respectful of all his words and all his music.”

Will we hear Nighthawks at the Diner? Put it this way: here’s a rendezvous with strangers that might just explode your head.

L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres performs Tom Waits, Q Theatre, March 22-24.


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