French pop/rock group Dionysos began like most high-school rock bands do, yet have ended up somewhere very different.
The four friends Mathias Malzieu (vocals, guitar), Eric Serra-Tossio (drums), Michael Ponton (guitar), and Guillaume Garidel (bass) came together in 1993, playing shows at local cafes solely for their own enjoyment. Having spent the following summer picking apricots to build up a nest egg, the members of Dionysos recorded a series of demos, ultimately leading to their debut record, Happening Songs. In 1996 producer Olivier Vallon signed the group to a management contract, which led to extensive touring. Joined in 1997 by keyboardist Elisabeth Ferrer, Dionysos played over 100 dates supporting Happening Songs, which had been picked up by the Nova Express label. Modest airplay and a strong work ethic got the band on the independent rock circuit opening for larger acts throughout France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany in 1998 and 1999. As Dionysos gained recognition they were approached by a number of French labels, ultimately settling on Trema for their sophomore release. The band flew to San Francisco to record with producer Dan Presley, a veteran of bands like Faith No More and the Breeders. The resulting album, Haiku, was released in September of 1999, and sold over 30,000 copies. The energetic performances on the tour that followed were captured on the band's live record, Haiku Folk, featuring collaborations with friends Venus, Julie Bonnie, and Dogbowl. Dionysos' breakthrough record, Western Sous la Neige, was recorded by Pixies, Nirvana, and PJ Harvey veteran Steve Albini in Chicago. The album earned the band its first gold record, as well as its best-attended tour to date, lasting through 2002 and 2003. Monsters in Love, their fifth studio album, was produced by another PJ Harvey collaborator, John Parish, and released in 2005 to rave reviews. 2007's La Mécanique du Cœur and 2012's Bird 'n' Roll only increased their following and attendant success. To go with each of these last four albums, Malzieu also wrote a series of whimsical, fantastical novels based in the same universe and featuring the same characters as many of the songs. Dionysos' creative, lighthearted spirit has made them leaders and pace-setters in the French pop/rock world. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez, Rovi