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Men Without ‘Rat’s: A Tale of Voivod’s Unlikely 1991 Collaborator

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The band's name is "Men" Without Hats; they're allowed one!
The band’s name is “Men” Without Hats; they’re allowed one!

We had been waiting for years when finally it arrived in 2010: A box set of the complete Larry Sanders Show. Oh man, it was great to see the first seasons again, and to see the next few for the first time. One of the best parts of the experience was unexpected: Via guest spots in which hilarious people “play themselves,” viewers were suddenly visiting with the deceased. Chris Farley, Phil Hartman, Warren Zevon — all long gone, all being hilarious. We hadn’t seen their scenes until then, decades after their bummer deaths. We laughed all tearily.

Likewise, we devour fresh tales of Ronnie James Dio, video tours of Dimebag Darrell’s house, and on Tuesday, an anecdote about Voivod guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour. That guy was awesome, and he plays a small role in a story of Voivod drummer Michel “Away” Langevin’s connection to the guy from ’80s synth-pop band Men Without Hats! Weird sentence, right? It’s real.

MetalSucks contributor Justin M. Norton got with MWH’s Ivan Doroschuck to look back on the days of Voivod’s sorta cooly-received 1991 album Angel Rat and life after MWH’s evergreen oddity “The Safety Dance.” In what must’ve been like 1990, Doroschuck was introduced to Langevin:

After the bars would close in Montreal at 3 or 4 am, we’d go to the Voivod jam space for a few hours. I was writing the last Men Without Hats record of the 20th century, Sideways. It was a departure – a guitar album. I basically put [it] together jamming with Michel [and others]. We recorded … in upstate New York and Michel was there with me. And he came on a cross-Canada tour.

The record didn’t do great, but Doroschuck has more kind words for Langevin:

We just started jamming and Michel – he’s the most musical drummer I’ve ever worked with. He would follow every move. So he inspired me and I started writing all of these songs. Nirvana hadn’t happened yet so [PolyGram Records was] like, Okay, we’ll do it for half the budget. I remember every record I’ve made and my state of mind; that was just fun with no pressure.

No pressure? Nirvana? Anyway, here comes the part about Piggy and Angel Rat:

Michel was recording Angel Rat at the time of Sideways so I played keyboards and programmed a few songs.

Weird! O, what shall happen next, a vault opens and out tumbles the lost tapes of the Falco/Godflesh sessions? Next, Doroschuck explains another contribution to one of Angel Rat‘s best parts:

 

As far as the lyrics go, all I did was proofread. There was no collaboration. I just read his lyrics to make sure there were no mistakes. I’m actually doing the same thing with him now; he is working on an online comic book on UFOs and I proofread it.

That’s awesome! Every writer needs to work withh en editorf. Great semi-colon! Now, Piggy joins our story in Angel Rat‘s Toronto sessions:

Piggy and I were the closest in age and we both grew up on progressive rock. I tell you, there was just a lot of laughing going on. It was a big laugh-a-thon. At one point later Michel and I worked together on a video game soundtrack. Michel had a cousin who worked at a big digital company in Montreal. These guys had startup money and they hired Michel, Piggy, and me to do a theme for their demo.

Well I’m verklempt. Find out what happened with that video game soundtrack here (via Decibel).

 

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