Guitarist/vocalist Joseph Duplantier of French progressive metallers GOJIRA was interviewed on the June 9-11 edition of Full Metal Jackie‘s nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the Podbean widget below. A couple of excerpts follow.
Full Metal Jackie: You built Silver Cord studio [in Brooklyn, New York] and recorded [the new GOJIRA album] “Magma” there. And now it’s available for other bands to use, yes?
Joseph: “That’s correct, yes. It’s a great place. It’s a place that we built around that album, the ‘Magma’ album. We knew the kind of vibe we wanted, the kind of room for drums, ’cause, like all musicians in metal know, that’s the key, really, to a good album is to have the proper room to record drums. So we kind of built the whole studio around that, so it’s definitely a rock/metal studio. But it has, like, this ’70s vibe and stuff. I knew from the start if I was gonna do this, I would have to have to work with other bands sometimes and try to find clients for the studio to be able to pay the rent and stuff. So I’m doing it. It’s a bit of a pain. It’s difficult, because between tours, I have to take care of the studio a lot, but I’m getting to a point where it’s really, really cool now and we have a lounge area and we have two different control rooms, a live room. I have a few people helping me, and it’s really cool.”
Full Metal Jackie: “Magma” opened the door for GOJIRA to incorporate different musical ideas and try different techniques. Why was this album the time for you to change the definition of what your band does?
Joseph: “It’s something that’s a bit hard to define or to explain. It’s like when you need to go to the bathroom. It’s just time. It’s just time. You’re just going. [Laughs] We never sat down around a table and decided, ‘Okay, it’s time to do new stuff or to change or to calm down on the music.’ It was just like a completely natural, organic thing. And we still argue a lot in the band; we bring up ideas and sometimes the rest of the band doesn’t like them. So there’s always this common ground that we have to find between all of us, and ‘Magma’ is the common ground between the four of us at that particular time. So that’s what it is — it’s like being spontaneous and being natural and trying to find the common ground in the band. And we’re lucky enough to have that same desire — to be more mellow, I guess, and more melodic too, and more emotional. We’ve always been very emotional, you know, but this time more than ever.”
Full Metal Jackie: Joe, you took chances with “Magma”, which paid off, of course; the album was very well received. How has that reaction made playing so much of it on tour even more rewarding?
Joseph: “It’s so incredible what’s happening right now. The two last tours we did, the two last headline tours — the one in the States we did in October, I guess, and the one we just did in Europe — were both incredible. We played venues that we played before opening for bigger bands, and all of a sudden we were headlining these venues and more people are into the band. And that’s probably thanks to a few of the songs on ‘Magma’, like ‘Stranded’ and ‘Silvera’ and ‘Low Lands’, even ‘The Shooting Star’. They’re kind of challenging, but way easier to understand than the intense death metal we were playing before that, and I’m really glad it worked out. At first, a part of me was a bit concerned, like, ‘Our fans are gonna be so disappointed, because they want that crazy, technical energy, in-your-face kind of thing.’ But at the same time, I was, like, ‘If they’re disappointed, it doesn’t matter. The only thing we have to do is stay true to ourselves.’ So we were a little tense when it came out, and few comments were, like, ‘Ugh, oh my God.’ But then, now something is really taking shape — we’re feeling more and more comfortable with the new songs, and I’m not scared to sing anymore onstage, I go for it. And it’s great. It’s really great. It’s a journey.”
Full Metal Jackie: GOJIRA lyrics have always reflected spirituality, which isn’t the typical message of most metal bands. What makes metal a good vehicle for transcendent ideas?
Joseph: “Hmm, I don’t know. For me, it just makes sense. There’s something super free about metal. You know, the whole gore, satanic imagery that you see in metal a lot of times is, in a way, like science fiction. There is science-fiction aspects to metal. The music is really like ‘Back To The Future’. Metalheads like to try things that are a bit alien to more traditional genres, and I think, for me, it means also imagination, spirituality, trying to invent worlds through music, and I like all of that. I like the freedom that I feel when I listen to metal. You can say anything you want, you can swear, you can talk about the most horrible thing. There’s no limits when you listen to metal, and to me that is what it does — it makes me wanna talk about whatever I want to talk [about], and spirituality is… I guess you could do that with any kind of vehicle, you know? It could be through cinema, it could be through different genres of music, but for me it’s metal. And there’s no rules, really. I love metal, I love talking about spiritual stuff, so, for us, it’s how it is.”
Full Metal Jackie: GOJIRA is going to be touring with METALLICA this summer and that tour is going to introduce GOJIRA to lots of people who don’t know the band. What’s the biggest thing you hope people take away from seeing you for the first time?
Joseph: “I hope they will see an original band. I hope they will see something they’ve never seen before; it could be subtle. And the energy and our sound, I hope they will take away something cool and original and refreshing, ’cause I know METALLICA draws a huge crowd. They have the old-school metalheads, they have the new fans, and then there’s almost like random people that don’t know anything about metal but they know METALLICA, they know a few hit songs. And I hope that these people will be, like, ‘Oh, wow! What is this?’ Maybe they never went to a death metal show and they’re just here for the big hits. I hope these people will experience something original. We’re not able to bring the full production and all that, so we’re a bit limited, so it really comes down to the songs. So we’re just gonna try to play really well.”
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