French heavy metal quartet Gojira continues to push the boundaries beyond the metal genre. They have championed fusing metal with the human subconscious, creating a strong voice for head bangers. Their last album, L’Enfant Sauvage received high appraise from fans and critics alike. They recently began touring with metal icons Slayer and have been writing new material while touring.
mxdwn had the chance to speak with Joe Duplantier (vocals, guitar) before their tour with Slayer. We talked about music festivals, the English language and tour life.
How has touring with Slayer been?
Well, it’s just the beginning. We knew Slayer from before. We toured in Europe before and it was great. Their audience knows us pretty well. They understand the message behind our music. I know artistically, musically, and all with the crew and band, it’s going to be a really great show.
How did the idea of going on tour together come about?
We were invited by the band to go on tour. We also have the same management, so it made sense for us to tour together. We were actually planning on going on a headline tour but we couldn’t pass up this offer to tour alongside Slayer. We couldn’t pass up touring with Slayer because they are legends.
The band has been touring for some time. Any highlights thus far?
We did some shows last year in Eastern Europe. The fans were so enthusiastic. In Croatia, for example, we played in someone’s backyard and the dressing rooms where wooden cabins. It was pretty amazing to play in front of super excited fans.
What’s your favorite part of touring?
There are a lot of aspects of touring that I love. Just playing in front of a live crowd every night is an amazing experience. Getting on stage is a challenge within itself. You have to perform and conquer the crowd. The rewarding part about it is that you get to be yourself. The more you give of yourself on stage, the better. We are just on a tour bus going from town to town. We have to give our best every night. It’s kind of like going on a mission. The whole thing is really exciting.
Do you have a new album in the works? Do you have any new material releasing?
We are working on a live DVD that will be released by the end of this year. We did a show at the Brixton Academy in London. It is a very beautiful place. We filmed the show and will hopefully be releasing it by Christmas. We are starting to compose riffs on our tour bus. We really want to make a new album hopefully by next year.
L’Enfant Sauvage was released in 2012 and received high acclaim. Do you feel any pressure releasing new material?
We always have this type of pressure from the fans. It is a positive pressure overall. We were talking about it this morning, since we started composing new songs for an album. We gave ourselves two years to release this pressure to just play shows, jam and record ourselves. Yes, there is pressure, but the biggest pressure is the one we put on ourselves. Each time we compose, we want to give our best. We are used to the inside pressure that we put on ourselves.
If you could collaborate with any artist/band who would it be?
We would love to perform with Meshuggah and Deftones. That would be amazing to work with. We have had the opportunity to tour with Metallica, Lamb of God and Slayer. We have been really lucky.
You have been on tour for a while now playing numerous of festivals including HELLFEST and Monsters of Rock in Brazil. Will you be performing more festivals?
There is one festival in Austin called Fun Fun Fun [Fest] with Slayer. We will be performing there. The festival season is pretty much through, but we are looking forward to playing more festival shows next year.
Do you prefer performing larger music festivals?
It is definitely a different thing. Festival shows are very interesting because it is so wild. People are drunk and have been out all day. You need to be very entertaining in a festival setting. Otherwise, people will just take off and go to another stage. It is almost more challenging and also more fun. Festival shows are a great way to expose your music to a larger audience. On the other hand, club shows are the most intimate experience. It is something close to a ceremony. People buy their tickets to see just two or three bands, so there is a higher expectation. The bar is set a little higher. Performing at a venue, we are able to perform full sets. I think these shows are more exciting for me.
A lot of the contexts of your songs are centered on darker themes. Can you explain this inspiration?
When I write lyrics I am very shocked by other human beings and the world in general. The world is so crazy and is very shocking. Our audience in general, metal heads tend to be deep people. They suffer because of the world. Being born is already something really hard. The first thing we do when we are born is cry. It is something really essential that touches people. For some reason, when I first started writing, I expressed anger. It’s not that I hate people or the world. It is actually the opposite. I dream of a world where there is complete peace and understanding. I guess I’m a misanthrope. When I look at the world I get mad because of the constant competition and lack of consciousness in humanity. I need to express something dark and the same with my band mates. That’s why we have a band together.
Can you tell us about the French metal scene? How does the scene look like today in comparison to a few years ago?
I would say in the last ten years a lot of bands gained confidence in France. There was always a small scene mostly underground. For example, people mention the black metal scene in France quite often. I am always surprised to hear because I don’t know the black metal scene that much. Apparently there is a very rich and courageous scene in France. French people are more into good food and good wine and traditional rock and roll. There is definitely something awakening in France. Hopefully in a couple of years there will be more bands touring internationally.
I have articles arguing that France’s lack of hard rock bands is due to the French language. What is your take on this argument?
For me, English is the language of rock and French would be the language of poetry. I have tried to sing in French a couple of times and it just didn’t work. I think English is the perfect language for rock. It is also the language for communication. For some reason when we start to play together and I start to sing, I sing in English. I write my lyrics in English because I want to send this message to the world.
L’Enfant Sauvage was the first album released with Road Runner Records. How has it been working with a larger record label?
It is a little different. In the past when we had an idea or any concerns, we would go to the label manager. Now we are working with a big organization and there are so many faces and names. Sometimes you get a little lost. It is definitely a great feeling because the band has grown. Now we are getting the proper structure to work with a bigger budget to produce albums. We are at a good place with Road Runner.
What is next for Gojira? You mentioned a live DVD and a potential album next year?
It is formidable. We put out albums and then we go out on the road. It is like a machine process that we like. There is nothing negative about it. It is a very healthy process for us. Of course we have started to work on a new album, but the release date has not yet been set. In a perfect world, we would like the album to be released now, but it takes time.
Don’t miss them on the road! Check out their full tour schedule with Slayer here.