The Dukes are a duo made up of Francois Maigret and Greg Jacks. The French band takes an all-engrossing angle to their music. Their live shows feature crazy artwork projected onto drums and guitars and their identity outside of Jacks/Maigret features two plain-white teeth-heavy dog masks. We recently talked with Dukes drummer Greg Jacks about working on the band’s debut album, “Smoke Against The Beat” and how the guys came up with their crazy art direction for the band.
“Most of the time things start with an idea that’s in Francois’s head,” said Jacks on how The Dukes’ start their songs. “Then, we would start work across the Atlantic – I’m in Phoenix and he was in Paris. What we would do since we’re not always together, we would demo the songs as far as we could. Then, we’d meet and we’d rehearse the song to see how it worked. Then we went into the studio and cut them. That way, we didn’t waste any time when we got into the studio. We recorded this at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles with Jamie Candiloro, he’s a good friend of mind and we always wanted to work together. When Francois moved over and we were fully relocated to the U.S., we decided to work with Jamie. We cut tracks at Paramount and then we cut the rest of the album at Jamie’s personal studio in Melrose. It was very simple, and it was done by people who were passionate about the music.”
To find out more about the cool art direction that the band takes you have to go back shortly after Maigret and Jacks started officially working on the project. They knew lots of producers and directors from their time in bigger bands, but even then, the creation of that content was out of their budget. So, instead of just coming up with something basic, Francois had a eureka moment and the art direction of The Dukes was born.
“This was years ago,” said Jacks recalling the story. “We didn’t have a lot of money when we first started. We didn’t have money for videos, images, or anything like that. Francois drew in high school and he started doing it again to come up with ideas for The Dukes. Francois drew this character that became Smokey in like 3 seconds of animation and he sent it to me. I see it and I freaked out because it had a lot of personality. It was like opening Pandora’s box. It was insane. Four days later and about eight 865 drawings later… here’s the video for one of our songs. It’s insane, because he came up with all those characters and it was this big achievement for us. It’s grown since then. We get to work with famous comic book artists they do a strip for our newsletter. It became such a huge thing of who we are. Our live show is the same way. We do a lot of things, but the way we do it… it’s very simple. Its crazy people think it’s a million-dollar production, but we end up doing it with basically nothing.”
Putting together something with basically nothing is kind of like the encapsulation of The Dukes. After all, they’re able to create a wall of sound and some brilliant music with just two dudes. The Dukes’ debut album, “Smoke Against The Beat” is out in the U.S. today. You can pick it up here