Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Peverett Phile Interviews: Marc Savoie From Infinite-Lane Highway

Welcome to the Phile on a Sunday with another entry of the Peverett Phile Interviews. Today's interview is with a French-Canadian... but don't hold that against him. He is the lead singer, drummer, guitarist, songwriter, producer, you name it of the band Infinite-Lane Highway who has a really good album available now on iTunes. Anyway, the Peverett Phile welcomes Marc Savoie.

Me: Bonjour, Marc, how are you? Welcome to the Phile, sir.

Marc: Thanks, I’m doing fine! It’s a real pleasure to be interviewed by you.

Me: I interviewed a lot of bands and singers from Canada, but you are the first from the French part. So, do you speak English and French?

Marc: Yes I do. French is my mother tongue of course, but I grew up listening to a lot of American and Brit music, which can’t hurt if you want to develop an ear for the English language. I’ve also studied at McGill University here in Montreal and I’ve traveled a lot in the States (I’ve been to Florida a couple of times, in fact!).

Me: I love that guitar you are holding in the photo above. It's a Telecaster isn't it? It looks like it has custom paint work done. So, what can you tell me about it?

Marc: It’s an old Ibanez guitar. It’s a Les Paul copy and the first electric guitar I bought, back in the day. Its original color was burgundy (a color I find rather dull), and although it’s not a bad guitar, I was feeling kind of uninspired by it until I had the idea to paint the Moon tarot card on the body. I’ve always loved those customized guitars from the sixties, like George Harrison’s psychedelic Strat ocaster and Hendrix’s Flying V. I changed all the electronics as well and it’s now one of my favorite guitars, along with my Gretsch Silver Jet and my Burns Double Six.

Me: I think it's very cool you played all the instruments on your CD, Marc. But when you go on the road are you gonna put together a band?

Marc: Yeah, when the time comes, I certainly will. In fact, I would have loved to record this album with a real band, but sometimes you have to manage with what you have, which at the time was me, my instruments… and my PC (LOL).

Me: Where did the name Infinite-Lane Highway come from and how come you didn't release the CD as Marc Savoie?

Marc: Well, I’ve always envisioned this particular project as a potential band project. In the long term, that’s what I'd like it to be. Plus, I thought “Savoie” was a bit hard to pronounce in English. So I came up with “Infinite-Lane Highway”. I thought it had a nice ring to it and I liked the fact that it could be interpreted as a way of saying that music was an infinite-lane highway, that every listener could hear different things and come up with a different interpretation of what a song means.

Me: I downloaded the whole album from iTunes and really like it, but where is "The Freak From Mars"? That's not on the CD, is it? You do have 16 excellent songs, though.

Marc: First of all, thanks for downloading my album. As for “Freak From Mars", it will be featured on my next CD, along with “Beautiful Stranger” and “Too Much of a Good Thing” which you can also listen to on MySpace right now. I figured that that whole MySpace experience was a nice way to test some of my new material before putting the last touch to it.

Me: I do love the album cover... was that your idea?

Marc: Yes it was. Again, I tried to convey the idea of music being an infinite-lane highway. I was looking for a very simple concept, so I just bought a couple of Matchbox cars and a black cloth, took my favorite guitars out of their cases, grabbed my Canon Power Shot… et voila!!! I also thought the idea of using toy cars was a graphical reminder of the lyrics of “Getting Too Young For This”.

Me: Tell me about The Graduates, was that your first band?

Marc: No it wasn’t. My first “serious” band was called “Prester John”. I recorded two independent albums with that band. They’re well-produced (by Luc St-Pierre, a friend of mine) but the songs are not always up to par. At the time I was trying to go back to rock after writing many French folk songs. I was also experimenting a lot, mixing various influences, from Jane’s Addiction, The Beatles and the Pixies, to The Cure and Velvet Underground. So the result, although quite unique(!) is kind of a mixed bag. Then came “The Graduates” in 1996 which, as the name suggests, was more sixties and pop oriented. That’s when I found my style, I guess.

Me: You took part in something called Le Festival de la chanson de Granby. What is that in English? Some kind of music festival I am guessing.

Marc: Yes, it’s a French songwriting and performing contest. It was a big deal for me because it’s so important here in Quebec and I was just starting in the biz when I auditioned for it. Next thing I knew, I was making it to the finals. I didn’t win but that’s OK. I’ve learned so much from it. That’s when I realized that if I was going to persevere as a songwriter and musician, I needed to do what was really appealing to me: playing rock music and putting together my first band.

Me: Who is Prester John, Marc?

Marc: “Prester John”, as I mentioned, was my first band, right after the Festival de la Chanson de Granby. But the name comes from a mythical medieval character. At the time, a card reader had told me to look for a name with a “J” in it! Success guaranteed! (LOL) I took it as a challenge and thought it couldn’t hurt if I played the game. So I went into a library, picked up a couple of books and landed on that name, which I thought sounded nice.

Me: Also, who are your influences and idols? And have you met any of them?

Marc: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are my biggest idols, along with the Beatles, John Fogerty, Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan and The Beach Bo ys. Unfortunately, no, I haven’t met any of them… yet! I also love KT Tunstall, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Leonard Cohen and a Russian singer and songwriter named Vladimir Vysotsky (amongst many others).

Me: Marc, do you have a website to plug, and anything to tell the readers of the Phile? 

Marc: I’m currently working on my website ( I expect it to be ready in a few weeks, and be sure that I’ll tell everyone when it is! As for your readers, I’d just like to tell them that they’re lucky to have found your page (as I am) and that I’d be glad if they’d visit mine!

Me: Thanks again for taking part, sir. I wish you all the luck, and I still want "The Freak of Mars" on CD. ; )

Marc: Thank you. “Freak from Mars” is a very dear song to me. It was one of the first songs I wrote for The Graduates and I’m so glad I’ve found a way to reinvent it for my upcoming album.

Me: Are you planning on touring the States? If so, come to Florida.

Marc: I would LOVE to tour the States and I would be more than happy to perform in the Sunshine State!

That was a really good interview. When his next CD comes out I will definitely do a follow-up interview. The Phile will be back on Phriday then on Saturday there's another interview and on Sunday as well. So, until then, spread the word, not the turd.