Bruno Pelletier | Balance sheet time

“In my head, I’m the biggest fraudster alive,” sings Bruno Pelletier on the first excerpt of his album. …because the time has come, will be published in autumn. “I knew that phrase would make people react,” he confides when I meet him at a hotel in Old Montreal.

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Bruno Pelletier suffers from Impostor Syndrome? “You have to understand it in the second degree,” he said. But I pretended to be strong. So much. I can say it today. »

Pelletier turned 60 on Sunday. Balance sheet time for whoever takes up the famous role of Gringoire, which he created 24 years ago in the musical, this Tuesday evening in the Wilfrid Pelletier room Notre Dame of Parisand which gave him his greatest success, The time of the cathedrals.

“I’m excited,” says the singer. A very simple sentence that he utters publicly for the first time in his 40-year career. Because he comes from a generation, an era, an environment – that of the bar circuit – where these things were minimized.

“It’s unsettling to go on stage and say to yourself, ‘I don’t think I’ll be able to do this,’ when everyone behind you thinks you’re going to rock the house. I said I was nervous but it was fear. »

He would get sick and sometimes not sleep for several days in a row for fear of disappointing the public. “It’s calmed down a bit over the years,” he says. I’ve been through it my whole life through preparation. »

Although he may have played the character of Gringoire hundreds of times and knows the repertoire Notre Dame of Parishe rehearsed the role alone in his living room for months before returning to the stage in Moncton in late July (he missed the New York premiere last month).


Bruno Pelletier

I put this pressure on myself because I was made that way. But it was clear that I didn’t want people to buy a ticket to see Bruno Pelletier again Our lady and that I’m not as good as I was 24 years ago. I’m glad I did. I had seven shows to get ready to go back to Montreal. It’s not a luxury!

Bruno Pelletier

We knew it from the moment we met him that the “sex, drugs and rock and roll” diet was not part of his everyday artist life. He keeps fit, protects his voice and avoids air-conditioned places as much as possible. After our Monday morning interview, he told me he would not be speaking before Tuesday’s performance.

“I trained for this for six months Our lady. A chance there’s a physical therapist on the show because I’ve injured myself everywhere! I feel 25 years older. At 35 I pumped a lot less! he laughs. On the other hand, at 35, he was less open to the comments and opinions of others. “I was a control freak! “, he agrees.

Pelletier is particularly excited about reconnecting with Daniel Lavoie – the youngsters of the troupe call them the “Originals” as they were on the first version of the show – and the ping-pong match between their Gringoire and Frollo -Resume characters, experience , wrinkles and gray hair that give them even more depth, he says.


Daniel Lavoie and Bruno Pelletier are the “originals” of the cast of Notre Dame of Paris.

“Now people know what they’re buying when they come to me or something. There are people who love you and people who don’t. It does not matter. It runs off me like water off a duck’s back. »

I caution this talkative singer that there’s a paradox between the composure he exudes at 60 and the performance anxiety that has been secretly eating away at him for the past 40 years. That discrepancy, he tells me, is at the heart of the book, which includes interviews with journalist Samuel Larochelle, The time has come…which he will release on Libre Expression in the fall.

This biographical book, in which he reveals his vulnerability more than ever, has inspired a new album of original songs entitled ….because the time has comewhich he practically redesigned from scratch. During the pandemic, he saw young artists writing their own songs in their living rooms, with their computers, and he said to himself: Why not me?

I set up a studio at home. And how I play all instruments – bad, but all instruments! – I took my time and made a whole album by myself. I arranged, directed, wrote, composed, 95%. I’m pretty proud of it!

Bruno Pelletier

This is the first time Bruno Pelletier has invested so much in the production of one of his albums, he who has been rolling his belly down the showbiz highway for four decades.

“I worked in bars for ten years,” he recalls. I’ve done all the competitions: The Empire of Future Stars, Rock Envol, all of that without winning anything. I sent demos to record companies and didn’t even have a receipt. I was in my thirties, I had a kid and I was wondering if I could move on. I wasn’t discouraged. »

In 1997 his third album was released, misery, changed everything. A year later, with over 200,000 albums sold, a Félix for Pop-Rock Album of the Year (as well as Male Artist of the Year) and phenomenal success Notre Dame of Paris, the proposals skyrocketed. France and the United States took an interest in him.

“I always say that I started my own business because I wasn’t willing to be in France as often as my record company would have liked. I didn’t have the success of the post-Our lady that Garou knew, for example. Or those of Isabelle Boulay and Lynda Lemay. »

He still filled the most prestigious Parisian halls, including La Cigale and Olympia, “but in one evening, not four”, unlike the others, he specifies. “The biggest stars have made other sacrifices that I wasn’t willing to make. The more modest success is more like me,” he says, a philosopher.

For 25 years he has been making “saucettes”, as he calls them, internationally. A week in South Korea, a week in France, two weeks in Ukraine, Russia or Poland if it was possible. During performances, he has interpreters translate his interventions into the local language. “ Notre Dame of Paris opened the world to me,” he admits.

Pelletier, whom many met in the early 1990s star madnessShe is preparing to be in the musical Al Capone by Jean-Félix Lalanne, which will be presented at the Folies Bergères in Paris in January.

The ups and downs

The turning point of the sixties, the period of balance sheets, is also the opportunity to take a clear look at the more hollow phases of a career that endures but has known its setbacks, its hard blows and its bad years. “I’ve seen venues with 4,000 people and festivals with 40,000 people, then venues with 200 people and festivals that don’t bother you anymore. I knew all that. »

“What do you call it when you’ve reached the limit of your abilities? Oh yes: the Peter principle! “While he was preparing the musical in the mid-2000s Draculawhich he co-produced, of which he was artistic director and in which he starred Lost His Life Savings, Victim of Fraudsters in the Mount Real affair, revealed shortly after the Norbourg affair.

At the suggestion of a friend and neighbor who was a financial advisor, he had invested $240,000 in Mount Real products over six years. Little did he know that the organization operated on a Ponzi-style pyramid structure. Like 160,000 other investors, he lost everything. ” One year later Dracula, I was still burned out. I, who used to cycle 4000 km in the summer, only managed 800. I’m not fat and I’ve lost 25 kilos. It was unhealthy. »

He often told himself that he would drop everything because fear made him suffer too much. “I’m not independent of wealth, but I don’t need much to live well. I’ve always lived like this. Maybe because I was bad at tabarouette and played in bars in my twenties. When success came, I lost the money I had set aside to a scam! »

Today he is grateful for the chance to reunite with his audience after the enforced pandemic hiatus. “There are things you have to accept when you’re 60. If you’re still here, you’re in luck. If someone asks you for an autograph or a selfie, say thank you. And you accept that you are part of the nostalgia. As Ginette Reno often says, the important thing is to hold on. »

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