At the end of the 1970s, a group of girls from the north of the island of Montreal founded Blue Oil, a nod to the oil crisis that was raging at the time. About forty years later, they would learn to have been at the origin of the first female punk group in Quebec.
How did Manon Fatter get into the drums? “My sister Christiane played the guitar and she thought I had no ear, so I thought to myself: I’m going to play the drums. »
How did Manon Asselin get into bass? “Christiane had given me guitar lessons, but since I had ears, and they needed a bass player, the girls decided that I was going to play bass. »
1979. In the living room of the Fatters’ house, the two Manon and Christiane founded Blue Oil, then quickly landed contracts on the provincial club circuit as well as in certain rooms in Montreal.
“Quebec was never ahead of the rest of the world, we could play covers that passed for compositions, because people didn’t know them,” remembers Marie Martine Bédard, who s joined the group in March 1981, shortly before Christiane’s departure.
In addition to their own songs, their repertoire borrows from that, rebellious and extravagant, of the Pretenders, Sex Pistols, Nina Hagen, Patti Smith, X-Ray Spex and other Devo. Something to contrast with the dinosaur rock that then dominated in these bars where the first four Led Zep composed a kind of small catechism which should not be derogated from.
“But we didn’t want to play Led Zeppelin,” says Manon Fatter, who she met with her classmates in a restaurant in the borough of Saint-Laurent, where Blue Oil was born. “We spread the good news of punk and new wave, one weekend at a time, in Coaticook, in Marieville, in Beauce. And every night, at the end of the third set, we would end up with My Generation and tear down the drum. »
At random from a box of records he bought one day at a yard sale in Verdun, host and author Félix B. Desfossés stumbles upon an unsuspected marvel of banter and velocity: the 45 rpm song Money ( 1982), the only commercially released recording of this incarnation of Blue Oil.
In February 2019, the great specialist in Quebec musical margins devoted a column to girls on the former ICI Première show On dira ce qu’onlik, in which he declared Blue Oil the first female punk rock group in Quebec.
It is this column that will bring their irresistible rants to the ears of the British-Columbian label Supreme Echo, specializing in the exhumation of hidden treasures of the metal and punk scenes. She will launch on May 26 a 33 laps bringing together many unpublished songs, found on cassettes by these pioneers who did not know each other.
“What struck me when I listened to us again was how fast we were playing,” observes Manon Fatter, in her hoodie from the Breeders, a leading alternative rock group of the 1990s.
If they did not know they were the first female punk group in Quebec, the three members of Blue Oil have never had the luxury of ignoring the sex and gender to which they belong. Drinking (or not) guys trying to peek up their skirts?
“We had a technique to chase them away,” Marie Martine (aka Thin Coma) recalls, flashing a smile at her friend.
Distressing experiences that permeate some of their texts, including that of the angry Producer, in which Manon Asselin (alias Nilessa Noname) screams, more than three decades before the Weinstein affair, “ain’t gonna do a special for you, ain’t gonna suck you”.
After the departure of Marie Martine Bédard in 1985, Blue Oil will experience a new life and renew its sound, now closer to Go-Gos and Bangles. Marc Durand, director of Men Without Hats, The Box and Bundock, held the controls of a maxi in 1988, as well as in 1992 of the only album of Ginger Snaps, formation having emerged from the ashes of Blue Oil.
Today ? Since she was widowed, Manon Fatter has been recording music at home under the name Bluchickn. Marie Martine Bédard has never given up on her instruments and will release an album on May 31 entitled Projet Hippocampe, in which she testifies to her healing process following a sexual assault.
And Manon Asselin? The end of Ginger Snaps had marked the time for her to return to studies, in computer science. “But then, the day before yesterday, all of a sudden, I went to a pawn shop and bought myself a guitar and a little amp. »