Interview with Felix Desfosses, author of No Speed Limit:Quebec Metal.
Tell us how this book came into fruition? I understand it was a long and collaborative process with several people involved.
The idea came from Ian Campbell (ex-singer of Neuraxis) and a few people who were involved putting together a show that was celebrating 25 years of metal music in Quebec. I believe it was in 2007. They considered the birth of Voivod, in 1982, was also the birth of Quebec metal. At that moment, I was a music journalist for a radio show and web platform named Bande à part, with CBC/Radio-Canada. We were covering all thing alternative in local music. I also specialized in music history while studying journalism in university. Campbell and me are from the same town, Rouyn-Noranda. He asked me if I wanted to write a chapter of the book. Something like the first chapter, the roots. The sixties and seventies. I said yeah and wrote my part. Campbell approached various other people who didn’t deliver their chapters. My chapter remained in my computer for a few years. Every now and then I would had a few informations about newly discovered obscure albums and artists in it. Until I realised that I was sitting on something quite interesting. I told Campbell I was going to publish my chapter on my blog if nothing was to happen with the book project. Some other people had similar projects, we tried working with a few people, but it didn’t work out.
In the meanwhile, I had put out a huge web documentary about hardcore music history in Quebec for Bande à part. To do so, I had to find and digitize dozens of obscure demo tapes. That hunt for demo tapes became something like an obsession. I found not only punk, hardcore and crossover demos, but also a few really tough tapes by speed and thrash metal bands and even rougher sounding outfits that I could barely describe because they were simply too chaotic! Anyhow, I thought with all these infos and demos in hands that I could probably be able to write another chapter for the book project, about the 80’s local scene. Little did I know, this chapter would become a heck more and turn out into a full book!
From inception to coming off the printing press how long did it take?
I first started doing research around 2007, as mentioned above, worked on and off on it until 2013. In 2013, I started working full speed on the project and was able to complete it by august 2014.
Is this your first book?
Yep! Prior to No Speed Limit, I contributed to a book about country music in Quebec. I wrote one chapter. But as a journalist, I wrote many articles for many of different medias and platforms, from fanzines as a teenager to cultural newspaper and magazine as a professionnal. In 2020, I put out a second book about the roots of hip-hop in Quebec.
Did you have any particular writing routine; late nights, lots of coffee or early mornings etc?
My son was born in July 2012, so during 2013 he still was very young, went to sleep very early at night and needed silence not to be woken up. So, as soon as the baby would be in bed, I’d jump on my computer and write as long as I was able to, before falling asleep myself.
What type of soundtrack was accompanying you during the creation of the book?
During the first part of the work, I was listening to tons of heavy rock, heavy psych and heavy blues, either from Quebec or from worldwide stuff, as I needed comparisoon points. During the second part, I was listening to any demo tapes I could find, but I was strongly into D-beat hardcore and crust punk at that point in my life, so I really fell in love with bands Outrage, from Trois-Rivières. They sound like Motorhead a lot! Motorhead is a fixture in my life. Inepsy was my favorite band during that period. Their singer, Chany Pilote, is also from Rouyn-Norands, and they are next best thing after Motorhead, if you ask me, mixed with a classic crust punk look and attitude.
How has initial reception been?
Huge! I coudln’t even believe how huge it got right away! All the biggest mainstream medias picked up the story and wrote about the book, which led us to the biggest talk show in Quebec, named Tout le monde en parle. It airs at 8pm on Sunday night and gets millions of viewers. I was invited along with Away from Voivod and Paul Sarrasin, an ex-MusiquePlus (local equivalent of MTV) anchor who covered the metal scene in the late eighties.
Were there any people you really wanted to have participate but just could not, or even would not?
Jason Newsted. The guy played with Voivod right after he quit Metallica. His views on Voivod and their importance in metal history would have been so interesting to had in the book. His PR agent refused the interview request, sadly. But hey… the offer is till up, Mr Newsted!
I would also dream about discussing Voivod’s story with Dave Grohl. The guy loved them as a kid and I respect him a lot.
For you, what was the most unique revelation about Quebec Metal that emerged during the research of the book?
That the progressive rock flavour was highly important in Quebec before Voivod. They were inpispired by local seventis prog rock bands, added that to their sound and then inspired many local bands like DBC, Oblivion and Gorguts to add that flavour to their music. High technical prowesses are still a trademark in Quebec metal music.
What are the plans for Part II?
Louise Girard, who ran a fanzine in the nineties and early 2000s and Ian Campbell are writing it.
How can fans find and order No Speed Limit?
I suggest people to order it from Temple of Mystery records and distro. Annick Grioux, who runs this ToM, is one of the best humans I have ever met. She is one of the main driving forces behind this project. Not only as she done the graphic design (that’s her day job, she’s a graphic design), but she’s done a lot of fact checking, quality checking, reading, re-reading… she put so much passion into this book. Honestly, she deserves a lot of credit. She even worked on a cassette box set of cult Quebec metal demos of the eighties put out by Nuclear War Now records a few years back. I believe only 50 to 100 copies of this box set were made, but now would be a great timing for a second run!