Michel Langevin, aka "Away," drummer, artist, and spiritual heart of Canada's prog metal icons, Voivod, talks to Louder about the albums that helped shape him as a musician.
As drummer with Canadian visionaries Voivod, Michel 'Away' Langevin was there at the birth of both the thrash and prog metal scene. Fittingly for someone with a casual disregard for musical boundaries, his tastes run the full spectrum. "I really didn't have a problem buying Kiss, the Sex Pistols and Genesis or Gentle Giant all at the same time," he says. We asked him to dig deep into his record collection and pull out the albums that mean the most to him.
Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden (1980)
The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was very popular where we are from, in Jonquière, northern Quebec, so we were able to find albums by Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden, the bigger names.
With the first Iron Maiden album, the front cover really stuck out in the record store. I grabbed it and looked at the cover, then flipped it over and looked at the song titles and immediately they became my favourite band. I had no idea what they even sounded like.
I went back home and put the needle on the record. Prowler started and I was, like, 'Yeah, they are my favourite band.' They had everything I liked in music, from punk to metal to prog to goth – everything was in there.
And of course, Eddie was an influence on me. I created the Voivod character before forming the band, because I wanted to be an artist, but when I came to draw the War And Pain [Voivod's debut album] cover, I wanted it to be immediate like the first Iron Maiden album. The cover of War And Pain comes directly from that.
The Beatles – Twist And Shout (1964)
It's an old Canadian compilation of The Beatles' really early songs. The first song was I Saw Her Standing There, and that's when I first felt the energy of Ringo Starr – that's what made me want to drum.
Later on, I saw the movies Help! and A Hard Day's Night. There's footage of them live and you can literally see the drums shaking – Ringo banged the drums and cymbals as if they were about to fall apart. The way he moves and keeps the beat with his head really helped me to understand how to get the groove going. To this day I still drum keeping the beat with my head sideways. That's from Ringo.
Rush – Hemispheres (1978)
Prog rock was huge in Quebec. A lot of progressive rock bands formed here, singing in French slang. But in terms of Canadian bands, Rush had the most impact. People talk about 2112, but Hemispheres has some deep prog stuff on it. I learned to play drums in my parents' garage. So when I was learning to play long songs, I had to go to my bedroom, listen to the song, run back to the garage and try to play it. The fact that I was able to memorise 20-minute songs really came in handy later in my career.