The roots of Je Suis France date to the late 90s, when DJ Hammond and (aka OJ) and Ryan Martin (aka the Darkness) moved to Athens, GA and decided to put together a band. Inspired by friends in the Masters of the Hemisphere, they recruited an early incarnation of the band amongst friends at the UGA radio station. With members OJ, the Darkness, Chris Rogers (aka Crog) and Ryan Bergeron (aka Ice), the France was up and running.
The band began gigging in Athens and quickly earned a reputation for their entertaining and unpredictable live shows. While sonic comparisons to classic indie rock like Pavement abounded, the band courted a level of absurdity and whimsy that set it apart. Soon Je Suis France was recording its self-titled first album for David Lowery’s (of Camper Van Beethoven) Pitch-a-Tent label.
With the addition of drummer Jeff Griggs (formerly of the Masters of the Hemisphere) in 1999, however, things really started to gel for the France. JSF began gigging a lot and became a faily well known entity in Athens. The band then added Sean Rawls (aka SA, also of the Masters of the Hemisphere and later of San Francisco’s Still Flyin) and recorded their second album Fantastic Area for Orange Twin Records.
As the France began recording their third full length album, they gradually added three more members. First was second drummer and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Wheatley (aka the Lord, of the Low Lows and Parker & Lily) then Jon Croxton (Flip Scoldjah and the Wee Turtles) and keyboardist Ken Henslee (aka the Tinkler). Je Suis France was now a 9 person collective and their musical vision was quickly widening.
The result is Afrikan Majik, a sprawling 12 song arc that captures Je Suis France at the pinnacle of their powers. Raging, 10+ minute krautrock jams lead into short garagey nuggets that bring to mind Here Come the Warm Jets played by Superchunk. And while such a description might suggest an air of crippling pretension, the band’s mission is anything but.