France Has the Bomb talk nuclear balance and the benefits of age

France Has the Bomb
Emily Utne

Over bottles of fine domestics with France Has the Bomb in a Northeast dive, the topic of thermonuclear tensions is in play. "Now they're like everyone else," says bassist Jacques Wait of France's status as a nuclear power. "They sold out." After a sip of Budweiser, Wait corrects himself. "They bought out."

"It's like Columbine," says guitarist Srini Radhakrishna. "When the nerds that everyone picks on go out and get the weapons, it's scary."

"It's no worse than having only the tough guys have them," offers Wait.

"I feel it's worse," said Radhakrishna.

Across the high top, drummer Danny Henry reclines with disinterest. "I don't know," he says. "Do you want to know anything about the band?"

The French menace might be placidly imperiling the global power dynamic just across the pond, but the Minneapolis rock four-piece has better things to think about.

"I'm old," says singer Hideo Takahashi offhandedly. Then, gazing at Radhakrishna, he adds, "Srini hates new music. He stopped listening after the '70s. He hates all young bands."

Radhakrishna laughs, and then gives a glib shrug. "They're younger than me."

For many, rock music and all its social and performative rewards can be little more than a figment of adolescence prolonged. It's a proud few that cannot be stopped, that can weather adulthood and make a profoundly meaningful venue out of the raked coals of bygone youth. France Has the Bomb, drawing from bountiful experience accrued in the Soviettes, Sweet JAP, Rank Strangers, and the White Outs, do just this, with grace and with genuine potency. By most meaningful measurements, one would be hard-pressed to find more collective experience and accomplishment in a single local band, and on the matter of musical survival, Wait insists there is no substitute for a simple need to create.

"People get into music for all sorts of reasons," he says "There are a lot of folks that, when they don't become a rock star by the time they're 30 years old, they shed a few tears about it and go sell insurance. But if it's something that's in you, what the hell else are you gonna do?"

"Age is an advantage," offers Radhakrishna. "Right away you know what you don't want to do."

"With a little bit of perspective," says Wait, "it's a lot easier to call bullshit on bullshit."

The wisdom of experience beams in France Has the Bomb's pop craftsmanship. Whether performing on the Triple Rock stage or on their eponymous debut 7-inch, they are a band elevated and energized by the exhaustive musical histories they continue to compose. Their four-minute nuggets gleam like uncut gems, and ring with the well-informed sincerities that arise naturally with enough years and tour mileage.

"I'm old," repeats Takahashi. "I've seen so many bands. Good bands and bad bands. We make less mistakes writing songs."

As a particularly disappointing selection whines from the jukebox, Takahashi shakes his head dolefully. "So many bad bands," he says. "But they're young. They have hope."

Poll Winners:

  1. Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles (74 points)

  2. Gospel Gossip (72)

  3. France Has the Bomb (39)

  4. The Wars of 1812 (35)

  5. (tie) Lookbook, Private Dancer (32)

  6. (tie) The Dynamiters, Voyager (31)

  7. Bouncer Fighter (30)

  8. Muja Messiah (24)

  9. Yer Cronies (22)

  10. (tie) Black Audience, the 757s (21)

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