Interviews : Gojira – Ready to kick some ass in Australia! (An interview with Mario Duplantier)
Gojira – Mario Duplantier
Gojira have been moving from strength to strength ever since the release of ‘From Mars to Sirius’ in 2005 and ‘The Way of All Flesh’ in 2008. The rhythmic French metallers have moved rapidly from the underground shows of France to opening stadiums before the likes of Lamb of God and Metallica.
Metal Obsession’s Sam Maher caught up with drummer extraordinaire Mario Duplantier in anticipation of Gojira’s first shows in Australia on the 2012 Soundwave lineup to talk about the massive year that French juggernaut has planned for 2012.
Metal Obsession: You guys are about to head to Australia for the first time to play on the Soundwave festival, what are your thoughts on finally getting to play here?
Mario Duplantier: Oh, how can I say? Just amazing, we are very excited. We’ve never been to Australia before and we really want to give our best and do a strong show and we want people to understand our music. We will prepare, right now we are rehearsing for this tour, we do a lot of exercise and we want to be ready to kick some ass in Australia!
MO: On the new song that you released recently, “Of Blood and Salt” from your [forthcoming] Sea Shepherd EP, you’ve got guest appearances from Devin Townsend as well as Fredrik Thordendal from Meshuggah, both of whom are also playing at Soundwave. Is it possible that we’ll see any sort of live collaboration with either of those artists?
MD: I think it’s a great idea but we just have to set something up you know? We have to ask them, and we know that they are very busy with their own projects and so we didn’t ask about this but for sure, maybe, we would have to sort something out. I am certainly very open to this!
MO: As I understand it you have a lot of stuff happening this year. You are supposed to be having an EP, an album and a live DVD all coming out in the near future, is that correct?
MD: Exactly, yep, that’s correct. I don’t know exactly the dates for the release of the three, but for sure in 2012 we have the three of those.
MO: At what stage of completion are the different projects at?
MD: So right now we are finishing the voices in New York for the new album, it’s almost done. The next step is mixing everything but the album is almost done, we just have three or four more songs with the voices to finish. For the DVD we are, right now, just trying to fix everything together but everything is almost done. The DVD will be released with Mascot Records, it’s not with Roadrunner…they are friends together, both labels, but the DVD will be released with Mascot. It’s about how ‘The Way of All Flesh’ was carried out, it’s like a résumé for all this material we have for ‘The Way of All Flesh’. For the EP we have to talk to Roadrunner to find a way to release it properly, but everything is on its way.
MO: Why are you releasing both an album and an EP? Will they have significantly different styles?
MD: I think they are not the same. We recorded the EP with Logan Mader in Los Angeles so the sound is very specific, it sounds like Logan Mader and it’s a very interesting sound. But for the new album we wanted something different, a new approach, so the sound is different and the intention is different. We really want to separate both because I think Sea Shepherd is a really specific sound, not like a real Gojira sound, in fact we have some guests and we took a direction on the EP… it’s perhaps more simple…I don’t know, it’s hard for me to explain. I don’t know, maybe in the future we can release a bonus for Sea Shepherd, we would have to talk to the record label about it.
MO: Are you able to expand upon the style of the new releases? All of your albums have had a particular style about them, particularly From Mars to Sirius and The Way of All Flesh. How has the sound evolved with this new album and new EP?
MD: With the new album we wanted something more organic, more…like, when we play live there is something very simple and sometimes we lose that in the studio. It’s a rule you know, a lot of bands have found this, in the studio maybe sometimes it’s too clean, too perfect. On this album we wanted a direction more like a live performance, something true where you can show the band, where you can feel the band live and we have tried to preserve some of that on the new album. For the Sea Shepherd EP…I don’t know what the intention exactly was…it was do something with guests. How can I say…you know, I think it’s very organic too. On the last album we were very inefficient about it, we put a lot of time just into the sound so our goal is to do something simple, powerful and organic.
MO: Are you able to reveal who the other guests on the Sea Shepherd EP are going to be?
MD: Right now we are have Max Cavalera for sure and Brandt from Mastodon on guitar and we have a guy from a French band as well…and for the other guests I would like to keep it a secret because it’s not sure, not 100%.
MO: I want to ask about the lyrical approach on these new releases. You’ve always had environmental concern weaved through your lyrics which was evolved a little bit more on The Way of All Flesh, which had a commentary on the nature of death and that sort of thing, what can we expect in that department on these new releases.
So Joe [Duplantier, guitar and vocals, Mario’s brother] is writing all the lyrics, I’m just the drummer so I don’t write the lyrics but we share a lot of ideas and we talk about it all the time, he always shares his ideas. This album will be different. He told me it will be about freedom…to be precise he told me that every person has a ‘wild child’ inside, somewhere, somehow, and we try in our life and in our band to keep this different life in our music. So this album is about our state of mind and our lifestyle, it’s like our quest for honesty and human freedom, freedom of the mind and the heart, and how we don’t want to fade away as we grow up, we don’t want to disappear.
MO: Sounds like something a little bit different for you guys.
MD: Yeah, little bit different. Very prospective, very post-human.
MO: What is the writing process like in Gojira? Is it everyone in a room jamming things out or is a lot of the writing done just by you and Joe?
MD: For this album we jammed with the four of us for months and months to create this album but Joe and I compose things mostly. Personally I’ve been very inspired in this period with tons of melodies and ideas for the songs. I was so inspired that for some songs I created the drums part first and Joe had some riff on it. For this album I proposed a lot of dynamics, ideas, riffs and stories, I was on fire [laughs] it’s not for attention, but just at times I felt like I couldn’t sleep, I was crazy I had all these ideas, I was drumming on these guitar riffs. Every day I went to the practice room and I said to Joe ‘Hey please try this riff on this pattern of drums’ and he’d say ‘yeah ok’. We have this connection between he and I, very efficient, straight to the point. For this album it was like this.
MO: I would like to ask about the writing process for one song in particular from your last album: “The Art of Dying”. I’ve spoken with a lot of people about that drum intro and I want to ask about how you went about writing that, what we’re actually hearing, all that sort of thing.
MD: It’s like for the last album, when I told you that I wrote some drum patterns…”The Art of Dying” was like a drum exercise for me that I created. My goal was to create a complex exercise for my legs…it was kind of complex because each group of notes starts with a different leg. It’s like [sings the pattern] right foot, the first bit is right foot and then on the second group of notes the leading foot is the left foot so it’s like right, left, right, left. So I proposed it to the guys and the first thing they said to me was “hey, it’s like Meshuggah!” and I said “no, it’s just a rhythmic exercise…so let’s try something original on the guitar for this and so Joe came up with the [sings the guitar riff] with harmonic on it, something simple on the guitar. But it first it was a drum exercise like I do all the time.
MO: So the main pattern is actually played on your feet?!
MD: Yeah, the goal was just to start with the left foot, right foot , left foot…there is a balance, a complex balance, between the two [laughs].
MO: You guys have recently shifted to Roadrunner Records, having previously been with Prosthetic and Listenable. Why did that change come about?
MD: We really needed a bigger platform for the band to be promoted and distributed properly and Roadrunner offered us an amazing deal. The fact that our contract with Listenable had finished meant we had this opportunity to jump on this label and they expressed how enthusiastic they were about our music in a very intelligent way, they really get what we are trying to do. We really wanted to keep our freedom and they are very cool with that, they let us have everything we want to do in the music, so that’s a main point. So this is a better platform for us now.
MO: So you have been happy with Roadrunner so far?
MD: Yeah, very happy, of course.
MO: I would also like to ask about what the relationship with Sea Shepherd is like at the moment. You have been very close in the past, you obviously named your EP after them and I believe they named a ship after you as well. What is that relationship like at the moment?
MD: I think it’s more Joe. At the beginning Joe proposed the EP to the rest of the band, he said to us ‘Hey I really want to do something for Sea Shepherd because I think they do something very good and very important and I think their goal is very pure” so he proposed to us to do something with them. So he contacted them first and he sent an email and had the meeting on the tour, when we played in Vancouver, with one of the women that worked with them and he felt very close to them, the description was very cool, they shared the same ideas so we decided to do this project. But it’s not like an arching relation, we are not always with them…sometimes we are like friends, you know, if they release a movie in the cinema then we’ll go with them and watch the movie and we share with them some ideas, and we talk a bit with them you know. But it’s more like a support with the music you know, it’s not a ‘relationship’ as others might expect.
MO: I would like to conclude things by asking if you have any amusing live stories, accidents that have happened on stage, that sort of thing?
MD: Um…How can I say…[laughs]…yeah there was this one time we were playing in France and there were a lot of stage divers and the security thought my brother, the singer, was a guy who wanted to slam so they took the legs off my brother and tried to put him in the crowd and my brother fell on the floor with his guitar [laughs]. Yeah, we had to stop the song because in the confusion we thought he was beating my brother! The stage manager came and he pulls him up on stage and we had to stop the song. It was a crazy moment…it’s my only souvenir!
Make sure to catch Gojira at the Soundwave festival across Australia this February. You can also catch them, along with Mastodon and Kvelertak at their triple bill sidewaves. Details below.
MASTODON, KVELERTAK AND GOJIRA SIDEWAVES
Monday 27th February – Billboard, Melbourne [18+]
Thursday 1st March – The Hi-Fi, Sydney [LIC/ALL AGES]
Tickets on sale now via respected ticketing outlets and venues.
SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL VENUES AND DATES
SATURDAY 25th Feb – BRISBANE, RNA SHOWGROUNDS – SOLD OUT!
SUNDAY 26th Feb – SYDNEY, OLYMPIC PARK – SOLD OUT!
FRIDAY 2nd March – MELBOURNE, SHOWGROUNDS – SOLD OUT!
SATURDAY 3rd March – ADELAIDE, BONYTHON PARK
MONDAY 5th March – PERTH, CLAREMONT SHOWGROUNDS
Keep in mind strictly limited Soundwave festival tickets for Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne will be available via www.oztix.com.au at 6pm AEST this afternoon (Tuesday, 24th Jan). Don’t miss out!
For more info, head to: www.soundwavefestival.com