The Electropop Frontman on Fights in France and Boxing in Beirut
Beirut-Parisian electropop duo Slutterhouse makes glam rock flavored electropop that’s just right for any occasion. The lyrics to the songs on their 2009 debut album Made in Dance are thoughtful and clever enough to keep you company if you happen to be relaxing at home, and the cool but club-friendly beats could keep you dancing all night — if that’s what you’re in the mood for.
The tunes are shaped by two enigmatic personalities: retiring producer Nabil Saliba and not-that-retiring frontman and songwriter Rabih Salloum — who provides a lot of the glamor and drama that surrounds the group. He also provided us with the answers to all of our questions after Slutterhouse won our Artist of the Week competition by a shockingly wide margin. We were dying to know about their forthcoming second album, Saliba’s shyness, and all the scandalous rumors we’d been hearing.
We got all the information we wanted and then some, including how boxing (not music) helps Salloum cope with life in turbulent Beirut. Read on for the truth about everything!
What’s the story on this naked concert poster we hear about?
Photographer Caline Chagoury — who had also shot the cover of our EP Inside the Station – called me up one day and said she wanted us to shoot a remake of Yves Saint-Laurent’s nude shot, taken by Jeanloup Sieff in 1971. I absolutely love that photo so I didn’t hesitate one second. The photo shoot took place in a studio in Paris, and it wasn’t meant to go on a poster; but then we had a concert coming up in Beirut and we thought that this particular photo had a huge eye catching potential.
The idea was never to do something provocative, it really is a beautiful shot regardless of the nudity, but it’s the fact that we used it on a poster for a concert in Beirut that was scandalous. I was a bit worried that the promoters would refuse it but they loved the idea, and that concert ended up being the most crowded one we’ve ever done in that city!
Did you really get into a fight with members of The Libertines, and, if so, what was the fight about?
Ha ha, that’s part true, part rumor. One of my bandmates and a friend — who sings in another band and is extremely allergic to The Libertines — got into a fight with them, yes, but it was before I actually got there. Here’s the story:
Paris 2008. Libertines guitar player Carl Barat and some of his entourage were at a private club where we used to hang out all the time. We were touring Europe then with this other band and when the singer saw Barat in the VIP area playing guitar he got very angry. He ran to him, snatched the guitar and yelled: “This is not fuckin’ London, this is Paris, this is our city, and we don’t like you here!” Then, obviously, a small fight broke with basically Barat’s bodyguards teaching our friend a lesson, then it all stopped. And when I actually got there, everyone — including my bandmate Vincent Vargas and Carl Barat — was happy, playing music, and singing along!
But a story close to this one was when Jared Letto was in town during Paris Fashion Week. He had a huge mohawk and I was very, very wasted so I kept calling him Tokyo Hotel. At some point one of his boys comes and goes like: “Do you know who this is?” and I was like: “Do you know who I am?” and then things got a little out of hand. But when it all stopped Mr. Letto had disappeared so I don’t know if that guy was directly linked to him or not. Anyway it doesn’t even matter, as long as there’s always funny stories to tell!
Did you have a muse for the song “Drummer Girl”?
Yes. It was in Paris in 2007 and a friend took me to watch a British band called The Sugars. I was completely charmed by their drummer Jodie; she was as feminine as feminine can be, wearing a beautiful classy dress and stilettos, pretty hair and proper makeup — and yet she was drumming like Tommy Lee in 1985. I met her backstage after the show, and back then I used to be a heavy consumer of cinnamon drops. We started talking and then she said: “Oh! you smell like cinnamon … you’re like my boyfriend.” So I was like nice … goodbye! She asked where I was going and I said: “I’m going to write a song about you.” I usually keep the promises I make.