French New Wave pop outfit Tahiti 80 has scored a hit on college radio with "Heartbeat," a song from its first full-length LP, "Puzzle," and in the next few weeks the band will look to catch some mainstream ears when the track is serviced to pop and alternative stations across the country.
Tahiti 80 formed in 1993 by then-University Of Rouen students Xavier Boyer and Pedro Resende. The duo added Médéric Gontier and Sylvain Marchand over the next two years and issued its first EP, the appropriately titled "20 Minutes," in 1996.
The Minty Fresh record label has just issued "Puzzle" here in the States, and Tahiti 80 frontman Xavier Boyer recently chatted with MTV News about the sonic inspiration for its "Heartbeat" single.
"There's little stories behind this song," Boyer explained, "because we are really into playing covers. So I had the charts for 'God Only Knows' by the Beach Boys, and I was trying to play that, and I said, 'Hmm, maybe we could do some kind of groovy version of that song.'
"I played the chords and tried to sing it, but it didn't work. But I really loved the chords that I found for that, and I started to play them and sing my own vocals on that, and it became 'Heartbeat.'"
"Also, we are really into black music, like Curtis Mayfield," Boyer continued, "and I think it's really important when you can make people dance, because all the bands from the '60s that we're trying to imitate [did that,] and it was something really interesting.
"I think you have to keep in mind the roots from the music, so I think also it sounds a little like the Jackson 5, 'ABC,' and stuff like this. Maybe it's a blend of the Jackson 5 and the Beach Boys." [RealAudio]
Boyer also talked about "Mr. Davies," another standout track on the "Puzzle" album, which pays tribute to one of group's biggest influences: The Kinks' singer-songwriter Ray Davies.
"['Mr. Davies'] is about our love of pop music," Boyer said, "because we are fans of the '60s, and when you think about a songwriter, you often think about Ray Davies. He's one of the greatest, 'cause he wrote very clever lyrics and very good tunes. That's a good start.
"The idea for this song was to tell the story of 'Mr. Davies' like he told the story of 'Victoria' or 'David Watts' or 'Monica,' all those characters that he had on his records. So I depicted him like a guy living in L.A., but I think he is still living in London.
"I think it's also funny to write a song about songwriting," Boyer added. "It's also me trying to compare myself to him. But it's almost a joke sometimes, because there are a lot of quotes from, like, 'Picture Book,' and there are plays on words, like 'David Watts' and Charlie Watts, then you have Ringo Starr. So it's funny to play with all those words." [RealAudio]
"Puzzle" is currently in the Top 25 at college radio, according to the "CMJ" charts, and Tahiti 80 plans to launch a U.S. tour in support of the record in September.