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'The Hot Sardines' Album: French Fries & Champagne


THE HOT SARDINES: (Singing) Pinkies raised, we'll toast the days coming to an end. My friend, it's time for french fries and champagne.


Beats just another bagel on Saturday morning, now, doesn't it? "French Fries And Champagne" is the name of the new album from The Hot Sardines.


THE HOT SARDINES: (Singing) So let's strike up the band and have us one too many.

SIMON: Elizabeth Bougerol and Evan Palazzo of The Hot Sardines join us now in our studios in New York. She's got the voice. He leads the band. So very nice to be with both of you.

ELIZABETH BOUGEROL: Thank you for having us.

EVAN PALAZZO: Thanks for having us. Yeah.

SIMON: Do I call you Miz Elizabeth and Bibs?

PALAZZO: Please do.

BOUGEROL: Call us whatever you want.

PALAZZO: They do call me Bibs.

SIMON: I have read the story of how the two of you met, and I don't believe it. So do you want to try another one, or -

BOUGEROL: (Laughter) You're not the first. You're not the first.

PALAZZO: We'll happily, but it is the unvarnished truth with no bells and whistles.

SIMON: Well, what happened?

PALAZZO: Well, we met at a jazz jam, actually, right here in New York City. And...

BOUGEROL: It was advertised on Craigslist - Craigslist.

PALAZZO: Yes, it was. As most good things are, I'm told.

BOUGEROL: We were just both two people who had always loved this music, had played it privately and were looking to do something with it. And really, originally, we just kind of wanted - each of us wanted to find one other person who would - you know, kind of - to kind of jump in the pool with.

SIMON: Well, let's listen to some of your music now. Elizabeth, I want to ask you about one of your songs.


BOUGEROL: If you could set up "Here You Are Again"?

BOUGEROL: Absolutely. So I think everyone has had one of these relationships where you're with someone who's just so wrong for you. And you're just bad - they're bad news for you in every way. And you try to break up with them, and it doesn't quite stick. And this tune is a tune I wrote about the moment when this person tries to come back to you one last time after treating you like dirt, and that kind of moment where you realize that you just are done with them. And it feels so good to be done with them.


THE HOT SARDINES: (Singing) So you're begging to come home. Say you can't bear to be alone. And after all this time, I see that I don't want you here with me.

SIMON: So this is kind of a good-time anthem at this...


SIMON: ...At this point in the experience.

BOUGEROL: It's a good-time anthem. It's a revenge anthem. And the great thing is, we started playing it live, and, like, you can just feel the people in the room who've had this exact thing in our lives. Because they just start, like, kind of squirming in their seats, and their spines straighten. And it's really fun. I don't think that empowering is too strong a word, but it really feels - it's a...

SIMON: I think it's empowering.

BOUGEROL: It's a good feeling. It's a good feeling.

SIMON: It feels celebratory...


SIMON: And empowering to me. It's got swagger.

BOUGEROL: Yeah, it feel celebratory to realize you're better than - yeah.

SIMON: Than - here this is, just like we thought. And it's got swagger.


SIMON: Evan Palazzo, I want to ask about one of your songs, which really got to me. Let's listen to "Gramercy Sunset."


SIMON: What are you writing about here?

PALAZZO: A couple of things in my head at the time, but I had the great fortune of living technically in Gramercy, though Peter Cooper Village for New Yorkers is on the very east border. And the best sunsets were in that neighborhood, really, and you could sort of look out and see Gramercy Park, at least in your imagination, if your eyes could go around the building.


SIMON: Yeah.

PALAZZO: But my grandmother was a resident there for many years before my wife and I got to live there, and it was my, you know, salute to her and all the inspiration she had given me. She was a New Yorker at her core and a lover of the neighborhood and of theater and of the dramatic. And she lived to be 98 years old, and right to the last, she was going strong. And here it is.


BOUGEROL: It's like a little, mini soundtrack. It's like a little movie. It's like a little movie - that piece. I really love it. I love that kind of...

SIMON: Exactly. I don't think there's a great New York song without strings.

BOUGEROL: Oh, I love that.

SIMON: I could be corrected on that.

BOUGEROL: That's good. I'm going to be thinking about that all day.

SIMON: Yeah, no, yeah, me, too.

PALAZZO: I'm going to be thinking about that, too, but you're right. Many have them.

SIMON: I'm going to ask you about a song here - "When I Get Low, I Get High."


THE HOT SARDINES: (Singing) My fur coat's sold. Oh, Lord, ain't it cold, but I'm not going to holler 'cause I still got a dollar. And when I get low, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I get high.

ALAN CUMMING: (Singing) My man walked out. You know that ain't right. He better watch out if I see him tonight 'cause when I get low, oh, oh, oh, oh, I get high.

SIMON: That's Alan Cumming.

BOUGEROL: It sure is.

PALAZZO: Yeah, there's the man himself.

BOUGEROL: It sure is.

PALAZZO: In all of his glory.


SIMON: So how did you get Alan Cumming to...

BOUGEROL: We asked nicely.


PALAZZO: We asked, and he said yes. And it was such a surprising, quick response, and it was a joy from beginning to end. We found out he was a fan of the band, which was - just blew our minds. And him and Elizabeth had what I thought was one of the best collaborations when they laid down that harmony. It was...

BOUGEROL: Is was really fun.

PALAZZO: Quite fun.

SIMON: I ask this question metaphorically, but also literally 'cause you've - it's a hot day, and you've both worn conspicuous hats to the studios.

BOUGEROL: (Laughter).

PALAZZO: Yes. Well, I always -

SIMON: Evans's is still on. Yours, Elizabeth, is parked over - that is your hat, right?

BOUGEROL: It's my hat. That's my hat. I just came from the beach. That's my excuse.

SIMON: It's a good one.

BOUGEROL: Thank you.

SIMON: OK. Are your hats over the wall on music now? Is there no going back?

PALAZZO: Yes, all in. It's been such a great adventure. I always say, you know, we're very lucky to get to create, make and have people listen to music that we love. And we just wait - and with anticipation - for each new opportunity. And we will be - on Saturday afternoon, we will be at Summer Stage in Central Park, here in Manhattan.

BOUGEROL: Four o'clock.

PALAZZO: Four o'clock show. It's - we're going to have our string quartet, so a lot of the sounds we get from the album, we're going to get to do live, which is very exciting. It's a shindig.

BOUGEROL: It's going to be a raucous time.


SIMON: Elizabeth Bougerol and Evan Palazzo - they're Hot Sardines. Their new album, "French Fries And Champagne." Thanks so much for being with us. Bon appetit.

BOUGEROL: Merci. Thank you for having us.

PALAZZO: Thank you very much from New York.


THE HOT SARDINES: (Singing) Always going, don't know where -

SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.