French rock band
formed by three Bordeaux sixth form
ers during the Summer holidays of 1981
. The sixteen- and seventeen-year olds were Serge Tessot-Gay
(guitar), Bertrand Cantat
(singer) and Denis Barthe
(drums), and they formed one of the most popular
and successful rock band
has ever seen. Frédéric Vidalenc
joined to play the bass.
The years from 1981 to 1984 were spent largely flitting between bars and studios. The budding rock stars played mainly for fun: never dreaming that they would one day be as famous as their idols (The Clash and co). To fund their music, the band turned to part-time jobs (security guard, waiter...). The best thing to emerge from this time was the band's grim name, meaning Black desire.
The band's first EP, entitled Où veux-tu qu'j'regarde? was released in 1987. The sound was rather American, but there was something distinctly Noir Désir about the feel of the tracks.
Two years later came Veuillez rendre l'ame a qui elle appartient, which was highly praised by the critics. At the same time, the single Aux Sombres Héros de l'âmer was released, and entered the French top 50 chart. Because of this surprise success, the band decided to minimise their television appearances, hoping to avoid being one-hit-wonders.
The third album was released in February 1991, and was called Du Ciment sous les planes. Ten out of the fourteen tracks were sung in French. 120, 000 copies sold. The band launched a tour, which took them everywhere: from Tokyo to Canada - via Paris of course.
After a break of a few months, Noir Désir released the next album (recordrd in England) in December 1992. The title, Tostaki, is a contraction of the Spanish phrase "Todo esta aquí". This was the album which really captured the imagination of young France. The gritty lyrics and searing guitar offered something fresh and exciting. A sell-out tour followed.
The next release was a live album, Dies Irae.
In 1996, the guitarist, Serge Teyssot-Gay made a solo album, whilst the bassist, Frédéric Vidalenc, left the group.
November 1996 saw the release of the enigmaticly-titled 666.667 Club. The band had acquired a new bassist, Jean-Paul Roy before going into the studio. 666.667 Club is the album with the best-known Noir Desir tracks, eg. Un Jour En France, Fin De Siecle. It is arguably their magnum opus.
In June 1997, the group organised a demonstration which drew over 30, 000 youngsters onto the streets of Bordeaux. They were showing their opposition to racism and the extreme right.
In August 2001, a smash single, Le Vent Nous Portera was released. It was taken from the long-awaited album, entitled Des Visages, Des Figures, which went on sale on September 11th, 2001. This album revealed a refined, but not over-stylised band. They are no longer a group of teenagers messing around with instruments, and yet their music retains a raw edge - a certain gritty je ne sais quoi which ensures that Noir Désir continue to attract "la jeunesse de France" in droves.
Bertrand Cantat beat his girlfriend, the well-loved French actress Marie Trintignant into a coma which led to her death on 1st August 2003. A crime of passion? A hot-blooded murder?...