CD 'Monom', '69 Stereovox'
& Live per'formance

Monom #
(Butcher's Wig)

Melody Maker, july 10 1999
(Trevor Baker)

Petit Vodo is a little upset. To put it more accurately, he's got the blues. Bundled into an old oil drum with only a battered harmonica, a well-thumbed copy of sing along-a-The Fall, an out-of-tune guitar and a broken radio, you'd have the blues, too. Well, that's how "Monom" sounds like it was recorded anyway.
It's a heavily muffled blues explosion drawing on the afterbirth of rock'n'roll, all the messy stuff that got left behind when Elvis cleaned up. Ten Benson probably love it, because Petit Vodo have a similar affinity with the misfit, but being French. he's somewhat less tongue-in-cheek.
It's the sort of unholy noise that suddenly makes sense when you're least expecting it. Like when during "Somebody's Dream", your scummy old blue suede shoes suddenly dance you across the room. Or when the big riffs of "About My Gun" and the big drums of "Timber Bo" suddenly outweigh the most can't-be-arsed of vocals. Wrong place. Wrong time. Right attitude. Petit Vodo is, in a strange kind of way, some sort of original.

KERRANG! (Ben Myers)
DAMN, WHY didn't someone think of this before? Petit Vodo is miniature French man Sebastian Chevalier, a blues-crazy dude who concocts frantic modern blues blasts with a selection of traditional instruments that he plays. All by himself. All at the same time.
Borrowing heavily from the sassy garage rock rhythms of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and many more, "Monom" is Petit Vodo's debut offering and it's f * *king fantastic.
While many are doing similar things, none are doing it by themselves and with quite so much panache. With dirty beats and plenty of slip-sliding guitars, the likes of "Kingdomgirl" and "Somebody's Dream" are true corkers.
One man bands: the new rock'n'roll, obviously.

KERRANG! (Ben Myers)
ON PAPER he may sound like a joke, but Petit Vodo (aka Sebastien Chevalier) ain't laughing. Standing a mere five feet tall, this wee Frenchman is a one-man band extravaganza who happily plays drums, guitar, harmonica - and, oh yes, radio frequencies all at the same time.
Spotted supporting Penthouse in Bordeaux, Petit Vodo was snapped up by the Butcher's Wig label and has just released "Monom", a debut album that's a thrilling mixture of Jon Spencer sass, the grinding rhythms of Morphine and the modem blues twang of Beck. Throw in some more traditional slide guitar sounds and you've got 40 minutes of beautiful mayhem. Hearing is definitely believing.

NME (Kitty Empire)
Pint-sized Gallic wonder Petit Vodo is a one-man rock'n'roll circus. He plays a battered guitar, a few drums, the harmonica, fiddles with radio waves (well, he is French) and sings the blues, all at the same time. He's inspired by an authentic hillbilly called Hasil Adkins who did this sort of thing during the Depression.
Live, the raw charm of this self-sufficient blues explosion is considerable. Part circus sideshow, part rock'n'roll epiphany, it's quite a spectacle. This, however, is a record. On record, it ceases to matter if Sebastien Chevalier, the man who is Vodo, hits, honks and twangles all at the same time. We can't tell.
The sleeve denies this, but for all we know, Vodo might have rattled his drum for a bit, gone off for a coffee, come back and churned out the riff from Jon Spencer's 'Wail', called it 'Somebody's Dream', had a fag, and then started adding some stray valve-radio whines - just like ordinary people do. On record, Vodo cannot be a marvel.
For Petit Vodo to exist, we must see him flail. It's a profound existential irony that probably gives Chevalier the blues.
There are many slivers of lo-fi brilliance here, like the Beck-ish galumph of 'Kingdomgirl' or the low-rent Jon Spencer mash-up of 'Special Secator'. But 'Monom' is still an audience short of a phenomenon.

www.terrascope.org (Steve Hansen)
Petit Vodo's album is a scratchy messed-up scribbled-down blues stew of a record. For references look up the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, early Beck and Gallon Drunk, but be prepared to throw your preconceptions straight into the bin. Petit Vodo is Sebastien Chevalier (how un-Rock'n'Roll sounding is that?!), a French drummer in a blues band who likes to experiment. No kidding. The nasty atmosphere loungecore of 'Timber Bo' simmers and boils like an east-end speakeasy. The hard attitude and Gallic roots make me think of his contemporaries on the smashing Larsen label. There's a lot of badass tuneage across the channel at the moment and this is one of the finest examples so far. 'About My Gun' has a delta swamp echo that makes Gomez look still wet-behind-the-ears. The cover of 'Morning Train' amps up the vocal noise from Led Zep's 'Hats Off to (Roy) Harper.' The slide and harmonica stomp of 'Border Line' is more conventional in a fuzzy photocopied way, but 'Special Spectator' throws everything into the mix, smears it in overdriven fog and chucks another five songs worth of equally blurry ideas over the top for good measure. Great, great stuff.

Somebody's Dream
(Butcher's Wig) 7"

www.splendidezine.com - 5-apr-99
by Jimmy Possession

There's handy summaries under each of the three titles on this jukebox 7". About "Somebody's Dream" the sleeve says: "a no pop'explosion walk featuring Fats Waller talks." You can't really beat that except to say it's pleasingly short garage trash with distorted harmonica recorded badly by a French man. Sounds exceptional.

69 Stereovox
(Butcher's Wig)

STEWED - May 2000
A French one-man-band's go. Petit Vodo is a genius. Blut his startling gift isn't solety reserved for that unlikeliest of aft niche genres, oh no. The tiny Bordeaux boy wonder's startling talent spills out into the world of real live rock and roll, and leaves all innocent bystanders that cross his path reeling in his mighty wake. But is he just come busking clown with a big bass drum on his back and a comedy cymbal on his back? Ooh no. Far from it. This little fella is a complete, hard trashing rhythm and rock band concentrated into one single small and perfectly formed frame.
Yes you heard right, Petit Vodo has the tradional (old skool) garage band constituents of guitar, drums. harmonica and fractured vocals, with the added bonus of all manner of sampled sounds and kettle solos, but with one major difference - he plays them all himself... at the came time. Really it's a splendour to behold, and even though that mighty weird spectacle is nearly impossible to imagine on record, believe me, this is how he does it, live or on record.
Stylistically the nearest reference points would have to be the likes of Jon Spencer, Doo Rag and early Boss Hog, only with added verve, energy and bonkers in the nut sampling shenanigans. A lot more polished and together than his last disc, this one may have lost the rough edges, but it's by no means lost it's rough as fuck guitar frenzy and staccato one hand drumming. But much like you'd never have guessed this was the work of one meek looking fellow, you'd never have guessed it could have ever emanated from the dark heart of France, steeped as it is in the deep like of the delta blues, wrench through seven shades of distortion and cranked up to rocket fuel strenght. But then again, music this special, this unique could only ever have been made by a five foot nothing French one-man band. One listen and it will all make perfect sense.

Ever wondered what you'd get if you crossed George Thorogood with Doo Rag and The Blues Explosion? Listen to the distorted harmonica, jerky drums and scratched out slide guitar of Petit Vodo, and you'll be given an inkling of what such an outburst might sound like.
What makes this album all the more extraordinary is the fact that Petit Vodo is a one-man band, playing to sold out shows on a regular basis. Even the jumbled titles - such as "Spam Cow", "Sucker Dog" and "Ladies In my Head" - hold promise, and with his unique, messed-up blues compositions Petit Vodo is in no danger of disappointing.

CRACK - Jun 2000
The One-man band love child of Jon Spencer and Beck Hanson is back; playing drums, guitar, harmonica, sampler and vocals, Vodo delivers another red raw rockin' stonker. From the lightening strike of electric guitar on "Grey" to the beat driven riff-tastic "Scotty Cherry", there isn't a second to breathe !

OBSERVER - 23 Apr 2000 - Neil Spencer
Low-down dirty blues have been making a comeback of late, whether it's Moby pinching scratchy old records or Jon Spencer taking the 12-bar form for a crazed ride. On his second album, this French one-man band sounds like a cross between Slim Harpo and Beck - all clanking boogie and growling, treated vocals. Cult status is assured.

EVENING STANDARD - 20 april 2000
More of that Noble Rot as Bordeaux's Petit Vodo pours a glass or four of French lunacy and comes up with an inspired, often perplexing fusion of lo-fi Beck with a side order of Bobby Conn supper-club nightmare. Being an ardent lover of American cheese and Anglophiliac landmarks, Petit Vodo does that English-as-second-language thing rather well. An acquired taste but a pungent little bugger nonetheless.

INDEPENDENT - 29 Apr - 5 May 2000
A welcome new album from this diminutive French one-man band and his unpredictable rumble of blues bashed up against twang and garage rock. A delightfully exciting noise akin to setting a cross-fader midway between an Alan Lomax field recording and Jon Spencer, with ADF and Johnny Cash fighting for control.

ONE MAN AND HIS GUITAR, drum, harmonica and kettle, 30 June, 2000
Reviewer: Andrew Neal from Preston, England

As a live performer, Petit Vodo tends to be treated like a circus freak. Sebastien Chevalier, who is Vodo, is a one man band dexterously playing guitar with one hand, drums with the other, triggering samples with his feet and adding harmonica or vocals on top so that he cannot be accused of laziness. On record, it's impossible to know whether he cheated. He might have laid down a single guitar track then lounged on a sunbed and nipped out for a slap-up meal before returning to record drums.
This has the advantage of allowing 'Sixty Nine Stereovox' to be judged purely on its musical merits which are often impressive. 'Grey' lays down a Bo Diddley beat, adds howling harmonica and Vodo's vocals in prime Listerine gargling form. 'Scotty Cherry' has 'Walk This Way''s riff heavily disguised by wah wah pedals. Vodo is at his best when completely uninhibited as on 'Georgia Woman''s racing guitar or with the Beefheartian growls he unleashes during 'Sucker Dog'. In contrast, the chugging 'Spam Cow' is notable only for its use of a kettle as percussion.
During 'Shake It', he gasps, 'Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, yeah'. The following 'Big Like That' has back-up vocalists, Nejme and Caroline, calling Vodo's name Blues Explosion style. Such referencing makes comparisons inevitable but at its most primal, 'Sixty Nine Stereovox' recalls the raw excesses of Spencer's earlier group, Pussy Galore. That is no small achievement.


NME - Feb 27 1999 (Stevie Chick)
London Islington Hope & Anchor

"I don't play no blues", hollered Jon Spencer last year. And he was right. These guys do, though, just not like any you've heard before.
Equal parts frantic garage, malevolent Black Flag hardcore and fractured Coltrane fallout, Monkey Island have droplets of the bleakest, blackest comedy running down their spines. Songs like 'Cha-Cha Champion' slash away with vicious, deranged intent, 100 per cent proof and no dilute. But, as the last pitched riffs unravel, there's no doubting that Monkey Island's blade cuts beyond sheer kinetic experience and goes deeper. There's pathos here too, an impassioned, inchoate rage directed at society and its hypocrisies, leaving you as much disturbed as electrified by their serrated scrawl.
Sequencer. Guitar. Mouth organ. Drumkit. Microphones. Petit Vodo, Bordeaux-based one-man blues explosion, uses many or all of these, simultaneously, to whip up his crazed feedback blues, while his manic vocals ricochet around the room like a train announcer from hell, as violently disorientating as, well, modern urban life.
Catching early Beck must've been something like this, a mind-blowing Frankenstein hotchpotch that somehow works. As Monsieur Vodo plugs into his 'Someone's Dream' single, all old-school jerkiness and transplanted Delta sleaze, you realise the genius isn't in the concept, rather its successful execution, Vodo assuredly reaching for past gimmickry to snatch a warped funk from the nasty, hand-stitched mess. Let's see where he takes it next.

NME - APR 1999 (Paul McNamee)
London Highbury Upstairs At The Garage

You better believe it, ladies and gentlemen, there's a lot of loving in that little man. Watch as Petit Vodo peels off the coat, sashays those hips and drops a shoulder. Can't you just feel the sap rising?
Drawing mostly from the recently released 'Sixty Nine Stereovox' LP, the French, ahem, rocker is here to elegantly sleaze us. While looking like a muppet. Flailing wildly behind a tiny kickdrum, he plays guitar, drums and harmonica all at once, the flaps on his deerstalker hat clapping time.
It all teeters close to shambolic breakdown, but sounds marvellously lean and controlled. '1969' is Royal Trux on poppers, male and female voices trading politely horny, scattershot insults in broken English. For the rest, he's a little bit Prince, a little bit Beck, a little bit Keith Moon - and all love machine. He's ace.
Labelmates Bone-Box, Jay Gold Blade's side project, don't move about quite so much. Mainly because there is no room. Up to nine of them crush onstage at once. They look like The Bad Seeds, sound like Tom Waits-lite and though far from the finished article, suggest that given time and bad whiskey, something of meaty worth will follow.
But it's Petit Vodo you remember. He lectures in art back home in Bordeaux. It shows. The little man with the big ideas knows exactly how to attract your gaze.

KERRANG ! (James Sherry)
Upstairs At The Garage, London Wednesday. April 5

A night of killer garage swamp-rock. FEATURING JAY Taylor from trash rock' n' rollers Gold Blade, the sound that ebbs and flows from the speakers is not what you'd expect from someone associated with those switchbIade rockers. Instead, Bone Box play a very down-beat, sleazy take on blues that always threatens to break loose, but absolutely never rocks out. Like a heavily sedated Cramps, Bone-Box are definitely out there on their own.
Petit Vodo is one of those talented bastards who is good at everything. He plays drums, amazing blues guitar, harmonica - you name it, he plays it. And while there may be many multi-talented musicians around, not many of them would be able to play all these instruments at the same time ! Mr VODO sits behind a drumkit with a guitar on his lap, a harmonica and microphone in his face and a bank of samplers to his right. And then he goes on to sound like an incredible one man Blues Explosion. "I am Petit Vodo and I am from France - he says by way of explanation. You have to see this man play before you die.
By the time Penthouse are up onstage wrenching manic sludge rock from their battered instruments, it starts to feel like that the whole night fits into a nice new genre in music that we're going to call wibble-rock (0h are we? - Ed).
As always Penthouse are insane and play so hard they look like they're about to spontaneously combust, while singer Charlie Finke falls around the stage demonically screaming into his mike. This band won't go far - they're far too scary for that, but they rule and, indeed, they wibble.

MELODY MAKER - March 20 1999
Sharon O'Connell)

HE'S tiny. To catch even a glimpse of the French mini Steve Albini, who's surrounded by several Tin Pan Alley's worth of gear, the crowd has to practically sit in his lap. But we can't do that - there's a drum kit in the way. And a couple of guitars. And a mini sampler. And a mic stand with harmonica.
Y'see, the half-pint-sized Petit Vodo is a one-man band and as such is kept well, kinda busy tonight, performing the sonic equivalent of spinning plates with mesmerising dexterity. And if Def Leppard can manage with a one-armed drummer, then why shouldn't a single-handed (not to say minded) guitarist be allowed?
It's the blooze which explodes when he smashes his kit, blasts his mouth organ or shreds a few fevered chords on his cheap guitars, with tunes like "Try To Fly" blowing in on the resultant hurricane, but although Jon Spencer is clearly in the house tonight, so is little-known white-trash hero Hasil Adkins. And PV tracks the blues along a rockier route, calling up the ghost of Jimi Hendrix as he goes.
This is sexmuzik from the back alley, with "Shake It" and "The Girf InThe Screen" juddering and grunting like a couple of pigs midshag, underlining the point that PV could play with a bag over his head and his fingers would still hit the G (that's for guitar) spot.
Franc-ly, it's fabulous.

CITY LIFE – 5 APR 2000 (Sarrah-Jane)
Previews Petit Vodo & Bonebox
Butcher's Wig Showcase: Night & Day, 13 April

Coiffeur that quiff and buff those winkle-pickers: the white trash rockabillies are returning to town! They're not just coming to entertain you either, they've got a mission to complete. Firstly, they want you to embrace their sultry, jitterbug blues with your whole, twisted little heart. Then, they want you to memorise the words and join them in their guttural howls. Finally, they need you to abandon your 'cool' and give in to the urge to dance and swagger...
Listening to Petit Vodo you could be forgiven for assuming that this boy was born and bred in Memphis, Tennessee, but his press release insists he's from Bordeaux, France. Obsessed by Hasil Adkins. Bo Diddley and Hound Dog Taylor, this one man band excels in swampy, Delta blues and deepfried rock' n' roll. Hell, new song 'Drinking Mary' even witnesses Vodo droning and moaning like Jon Spencer to a score that wavers between nu-country and bluegrass. Whilst "Monom" and "Sixty Nine Stereovox" are proof of an immense talent, Petit Vodo's real forte is the stage. Blessed With the energy of a 12-piece choir, he alternates between drums. guitars, harmonica and mic.
Though he's yet to have the pleasure of being quipped a "noise ejaculation", Jay Taylor divides his time between producing local bands, axe-grinding for Goldblade and nurturing his own bambino. A tighter and darker outfit than the 'blade, Bonebox (pictured) specialise in rumbling blues infected with hints of jazz, Tom Waits and stripped-down garage rock. In fact, the forthcoming single 'Trusty Hound / Cancion' suggests Tayfor could well be Manchester's Harry Angel.

PLATFORM - 8 May 2000 (Richard Crowley)

The small room that is The Maze was slowly filling up, the previous band Bone-Box wore not long off and their departure had signalled a welcome end to the lead singer's on-stage shenanigans. Bone-Box were almost a Nick Cave tribute band, if the singer's voice and antics were anything to go by. His voice surprisingly big for such a small bloke, the music they put out sounded bloody good, just not loud enough and the singer policing about didn't help much. People file to the bar as the stage is made ready for the one-man-band that is Petit Vodo, a huge amount of equipment is being brought on to the stage. I'm beginning to wonder how anyone could play that amount of different instruments, simultaneously.
Petit Vodo is a native of Bordeaux, where he is known not only for his music but also as an accomplished arlist. He has supported such notables as R. L. Burnside on his European tour and France's Noir Desir. He cites blues legends such as Slim Harpo, Skip James, Dan Pickett and Lightening Hopkins as influences along with contemporaries such as Beck Hanson. With a list like that could the man possibly be bad?
Everyone's settling down, comfortable, pint in hand; in steps Petit Vodo wearing Chubby Brown's head gear and a pair of shades, guitar under one arm and a set of drumsticks in the other.
He settles himself behind a drum kit guitar on hip, drumstick in other hand, harmonica round the neck, behind more microphones than a Clinton press conference and arranges the world about him. It makes an odd sight, this man surrounded by a full bands' worth of instruments. There is almost silence as people watch him set himself up. Then the music starts, to try and describe the sound that was going on, would be all exercise in futility, to say that it was incredible would be a huge understatement and not do Petit Vodo the justice he deserves. Playing the guitar with his right hand, drums with his left and the harmonica, was a sight to behold. Most of the music he played came off his new album "69 Strereovox", which was released at the beginning of April. The music manages to combine a bayou blues sound with the contemporary feel of Jon Spencer and makes a sound that a full band would have trouble duplicating. He stays on for a good hour and a half, making full use of the sampler and the orchestra of instruments in front of him. At one point, drumstick in each hand he beats out a melody on the neck of his guitar, drums banging constantly, the man's a stage show, as well as one of the most talented instrumentalists I've ever seen
This was without a doubt one of the most mind blowing musical experiences that I have ever been fortunate enough to watch, if you ever get the chance to see this man in action, fight tooth and nail in order to be there.

White Cube, Petit Vodo, Penthouse - Night & Day - 1/11/00

On the day that our computer system failed at work at 11 am, Jay Taylor had hatched a plot to undermine all forms of pop sensibility on Oldham Street.
Petit Vodo is a mad frenchman who plays a guitar and drum kit and sings all at the same time. Its an amazing act to experience, as sample backing tracks and beats accompany the bizarre one man band act. Its fractured rock and roll, with more than a smattering of really decent numbers in there. Playing a kettle ? Guitar played with drumsticks?. The only problem with playing guitar with one hand is that you can't change chords - and using a capo on an open tuned guitar doesn't make much difference. That said, it is an impossible act, that very few poeple could accomplish. It is brilliant, rather special stuff that despite a slightly overlong set, showed that the spectacle can be accompanied by some rather inventive music. Weird Shit that is worth seeing (recent accolades in NME add to the approval).


It was a Saturday night in February that I first encountered Petit Vodo live. it was their debut UK performance at the broom cupboard that is the Hope & Anchor in Angel, to support the "Somebody's Dream EP". A heaving crowd had turned up on the strength of quality air play by John Peel, the Evening Session and XFM and, having heard Petit Vodo, now wanted to see them perform their brand of trash blues.

What we encountered will stay with us forever. You see, Petit Vodo are a band that consists of one member, Sebastien Chevalier, on drums, electric guitar, mouth organ, vocals, samples and effects. There was genuine amazement as it came to light that the brash blues we had all fallen in love with was all made by the same person. it was a triumph for Sebastien , as his music had been accepted in the UK by a crowd who had no preconceptions, and simply rated his version of the blues. It has been a problem that has dogged him in his native country France where people, upon seeing him perform live before hearing his records, have made up their minds to label the project very harshly, often as a novelty act. Sebastien explains :

'It was a problem during my first two years and people called me "the man who plays alone". I want people to listen to my music first and because people in England listened to my music first they appreciated it before they saw me play on stage. You see, when people see a one-man band there will be an element of surprise and shock. but it is not important that I play everything.

Perhaps he has a point. After all, many of the blues principal players have been one-man practitioners. just think of John Lee Hooker, Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. Petit Vodo, however, stand closer to the jagged music box skulduggery of Bo Diddley, with a sound that fuses together off-kilter guitar frolics and steady beats with occasional forays into howlin' mouth organs and feedback experimentation. Current opus 'Monom' originally came out in France, a full 12 months before the UK release, but a better deal was to be had this side of the water, as the UK version boasts six more tracks. It would be fair to say that the rawedged blues of 'Monom' is a flawed masterpiece, with a few tracks only slightly off the mark. But with numbers like 'Timber Bo', and the extremely full-on (yet groove-orientated) noise of 'Special Secator' up his sleeve, Sebastien can feel contented, for he has written tunes which rank alongside the best records of modern bluesmen like Blues Explosion and Glove & Special Sauce. Even taking into account that 'Monom' is more of a pointer towards future endeavours, I was still stunned that Sebastien views this debut offering as a mixture of seriousness and mucking about. a debuts go, this was a great opening of the account, but our one-man beatibox is, amongst other things, a perfectionist, and he promises to make the next album 'the first great album by Petit Vodo'. with 'monom' as his starting-point, unless he suddenly forgets how to play, the next few releases should build on his musical successes.

When creating the sound, he drums with one hand, strums the guitar with the other (somehow getting real bottleneck sounds out of it), uses his feet to trigger samples, and adds a bit of vocals and/or harmonica just to increase his workload and/or stress level. so, how long does it take a person to play in such an unorthodox way? Sebastien claims to have been playing guitar and harmonica for four or five years, but that his drumming started as a 6 year old, and with the drums being his main instrument, he therefore creates the music around the drums, adding the over instruments after he has law down a rhythm.

That still doesn't answer the fundamental question of why he embarked on a solo project. As if transpired, there were two reasons why he ended up doing so. The first reason was simply a failure to find other musicians who felt the desire to create raw blues, and so, rather than put the project on a back burner, Sebastien decided to go it alone. His lone endeavour is also explained by the fact that he is an egocentric man (something that he freely admits to):

'...Sometimes it's difficult for me to let another person do something for Petit Vodo. People think I am very alone, but there are so many people and around me. I have others working for Petit Vodo; it has more concepts around it than just a one-man band.'

So there we have it. He may be the only man to play the music, but it is derived around others who all in their own way contribute to Sebastien 's creative output.

The future is looking bright on the home front as well, although oddly this has less to do with playing over 100 gigs throughout France and more to do with getting a good response in England, Germany and Spain. Each year in France, the Ministry of Culture awards prizes to French artists who are taking their art abroad, and Petit Vodo were recently deemed suitable candidates. Sebastien was overjoyed by this; it was the first time that his work had been respected in France, and as such constituted the first step to recognition in his home country. Beware The Cat hope he gets the respect he craves from his compatriots, but if this is not forthcomming, he will always be welcome to return to theses shores for another instalmment of his late 20th century blues. On reflection, France's loss is definitely this country's gain.