HOW IT ALL BEGAN
I just love music. I really do. That’s all. It took me a while to figure it out, though. When I was really young, I always had better things to do. Drawing comics was my first love, and the one thing that made me popular enough at school to compensate for the chronic bullying I was submitted to.
And then, like so many before and after me, I discovered the Beatles. And the Rolling Stones. And Dylan. And Led Zeppelin. Yup, I’m a ’60s (and ’70s) man. I was born in that period and I still feel a deep connection to it. Always did, always will.
But although I really loved listening to music, writing songs wasn’t my forte. I was learning how to play the guitar, but I had zero inspiration when it came to songwriting. The few simple melodies I had written for the garage band I was in were far from convincing, to say the least. And anyway, drawing, reading and watching movies were still much more important to me. When it was time to decide what I was going to do with my future, I chose to study French literature at McGill University, here in Montreal, rather than to pursue any kind of musical career or studies. In fact, I wasn’t even thinking about it.
This time, it wasn’t the music of the Beatles that changed my mind (and my whole life, I guess), it was the voice of Russian folksinger Vladimir Vysotsky. Have you ever heard of the guy? Google him, it’s well worth it. Although I didn’t speak Russian (I still don’t) I was so mesmerized and deeply touched by that voice, and those songs, and the way he would play the guitar, that I started buying all the records I could find of him, as well as a Russian dictionary and grammar to help me translate (or at least try) the songs I was listening to daily! I even seeked the help of a Russian teacher at McGill. I can still remember the morning I showed her one of my (very poor) translations. There were a few words I couldn’t figure out at all. They weren’t in any dictionary I had. I said “Can you tell me what that means?” and she blushed. “Oh, that’s very nasty, she said. It means “Motherf***!” Ok, no wonder I had not found it anywhere!
But anyway, the whole Vysotsky thing lighted a spark in me. I took the guitar out of its very dusty case, and for the first time in my life, I wrote a few songs I felt proud of. They didn’t sound anything like Vysotsky’s, but they were sincere and more inspired than anything I had done previously. They even led me straight to the finals of one of the most famous music competition in Quebec.
In the process, I learned that music was the only activity that made me feel I had some kind of discipline. I wasn’t all over the map anymore. I could write and arrange a song all day long without getting tired and, sometimes, almost without eating. It became visceral. It became the most precious thing to me. It became my world.
The ’90s were good to me. Grunge brought back guitars and truthfullness to the front, something I was really glad to witness after the horrendous last years of the 1980s. I gained more stage experience, met wonderful musicians in the process, produced two albums at a friend’s studio, and improved my arranger chops by self-recording demos with an old Atari computer a friend had sold me. Good times.
The next decade was something else. Around 2000 I decided to stop playing live for a while to concentrate on teaching French literature, a job I had accepted mostly to pay the bills (I must admit) but that I quickly learnt how to love once I succeeded at making a real connection with my students. In the process, I lost my dad to surgical complications after a heart attack and met the love of my life. Together, we bought a small condo in which we have lived for ten years with our
two, three… four dogs!
In 2006, I took another listen to a late ’90s album I had recorded alone, containing the best songs I had written between 1995 and 2000. I hadn’t done much with the album except giving out a few copies to friends and contacts. A lack of self-confidence at the time had kept me from doing more. With the rise of the internet, it was about time I returned to all these songs nobody knew about. That’s when I created Infinite-Lane Highway, the virtual one-man band that would serve as a vehicle to promote my music. I recorded a first album in 2008 and a second one in 2010, both of them containing some of my old songs and a lot of new ones written between 2002 and 2010 (including “Close to you” and “Walking on the Ceiling”).
When my mother died in 2011, I was pretty devastated. It took me a while to get back on my feet, and when I did, I decided to concentrate on my personal life more than on another Infinite-Lane Highway album. I still wrote a lot of songs during that time, but I was so busy elsewhere that I couldn’t find the time to make a record. Now time has passed and I’m working hard to complete Night Cab, my third ILH CD.
Music is still so important to me. No matter what I’m going through, I know it is a lifesaver, and I know that playing the guitar, the bass, the keyboards or the drums brings out the best in me. Of all the arts, this is the one that has kept its aura of mystery and all its magic. I don’t know where all these songs come from, good or bad, but I know they’re an extension of myself.
I hope you like some of them too.