The Infidels were centred around highschool friends singer Molly Johnson and guitarist/keyboardist Norman Orenstein. The band rose from the ashes of Alta Moda, a Toronto funk/pop group that recorded one album in 1987 on Sony that produced the moderate hit “Julian.”
When the group ran its course, Johnson and Orenstein continued writing together, and hooked up with manager Wayne Thompson of Absolute Entertainment, who suggested the material be shopped to the labels for other artists to record. Miles Copeland, president of IRS received a demo tape, and although they specifically had rising stars Candi & The Backbeat in mind for the material, Copeland was so impressed he signed the duo to a recording deal of their own.
They were shipped off to Toronto’s Wellesley Sound Studios, with Johnson and Orenstein producing, they assembled a group of studio musicians that included drummer Randy Cooke (Lee Aaron), Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar) and Etric Lyons on bass (who’d played with them in Alta Moda), and Glen Morrow (Chris deBurgh) on the Hammond B3. A host of guest vocalists also appeared on the tapes, including Billy Newton-Davis (later of The Nylons), Johnson’s sister Taborah, Cindy Matthews, and The Armin Quartet.
Their self-titled debut was released in the spring of 1991 amid much hype, running the musical spectrum and showing hints of their diverse influences that included hard rock, ballads, and funk. The first single “100 Watt Bulb” climbed the chart while the video got decent airplay on MuchMusic. A touring band that consisted of bassist Jeff Jones (Red Rider, Ocean) on bass, and ex-Rational Youth members Washington Savage on keyboards and drummer Owen Tennyson (also formerly of Blue Peter). The band spent the rest of the year, and much of ’92 on the road while the second single, “Celebrate,” which also had an accompanying video produced, climbed into the top 40.
But by the time the third single, “Without Love” was released, Johnson put the band on hold as she established and chaired the annual Kumbaya Foundation, raising awareness and funds for people living with HIV/AIDS, and its accompanying festival in Toronto. They returned to the studio off and on in late ’92 and early ’93, but once the finished product was done a year later, members of the group had gone on to steadier gigs. Savage had moved on to play with Jeff Healey, and Jones returned to the more reliable job of playing with Gowan, and then joined The Carpet Frogs.
To make matters worse, a band with the same name from the US had emerged, and Copeland wanted his signees to change their name, which Johnson and Orenstein politely refused to do. And if that wasn’t enough, IRS was in financial trouble, and had prioritized the budding career of Alannah Myles, which put the need for another female fronted act on the back burner.
While Johnson decided to pursue her charity work, Orenstein decided to concentrate on producing other acts, including Jones’ solo efforts. Johnson returned to the music scene in 2000 with a self-titled album of jazz and pop fusion, and three others since then. She also landed a weekend radio job at CBC and in 2008 she was named an Officer of The Order Of Canada for her charitable work. Savage died in May of 2007.