Métal Urbain were Francophone contemporaries of the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Formed in 1976 by Clode Panik, Hermann Schwartz, Pat Luger and Eric Debris, the French punk rock group’s harsh and noisy sound replaced the rhythm section with a synthesizer and drum machine. Sonically, they came across as aggressive—if not more so—as their English or American counterparts with the exception of maybe Suicide or The Screamers. Lead singer Clode Panik sounds a bit like a French version of The Fall’s Mark E. Smith.
The group’s second single, “Paris Maquis” was Rough Trade’s very first record release and John Peel showed his support on his BBC 1 Radio show, going so far as to record a “Peel Session” with them. Sadly they never really made it and broke up in 1979 as there was no appreciable French punk scene to begin with and the media in their home country just couldn’t be bothered with them. Métal Urbain’s distinctively raw guitar sound is said to have had an influence on Big Black’s Steve Albini and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
Métal Urbain reformed in 2003 and toured the US. The New York-based Acute label compiled Anarchy in Paris! that year gathering up their complete output during the life of the band with a few outtakes and alternate versions. In 2006, Jello Biafra produced their album, J’irai chier dans ton vomi, in San Francisco. An EP followed in 2008.
Below, Métal Urbain lip-synching “Paris Maquis” on French TV in 1978:
Métal Urbain’s doing their Gallic synth punk anthem, “Panik” in 1977
The insanely wonderful b-side of the “Panik” single, “Lady Coca Cola,” 1977