As Gojira begin to wind down their tour in support of the Grammy-nominated Magma, they’re certainly ending the album cycle in a different way than they began it. As of now, they’re a band easily capable of playing festivals like Camden’s Rock Allegiance, where they found themselves just a few days after playing a sold-out show in Brooklyn near their studio at Brooklyn Steel. WMSC/Montclair’s The Metal Teddy Bear Experience caught up with Joe Duplantier to talk about what goes into choosing their opening acts, why you won’t see them playing an album in it’s entirety, and the status of the Sea Shepherd EP. You can hear the interview below via SoundCloud.
Great show at Brooklyn Steel a few days ago:
Yeah, it was our first time playing that venue and I was pretty excited because I live in Brooklyn, so now it’s what I call home, you know? And I’ve heard of this venue before but never got a chance to go there. I have kids, you see, so I don’t go out too much. (laughs)
You guys have Silver Cord Studio there, right?
Silver Cord is in…technically it’s Queens but I don’t have a problem with calling it Brooklyn because I live in Brooklyn, the studio is on the edge of, you know, Bushwick, Brooklyn, Queens but really, technically, it’s in Queens. But yeah, it’s in Ridgewood and it’s a studio that we built to record and produce our latest record and the next one – that’s the plan, you know, to have our own space to produce our music and it’s a great place to work.
Have you had any other bands go there?
Yeah, I produced Car Bomb. And a band from Canada, Decatur, that just released the record and they’re on tour now in Canada. So I helped on this on this record too and there’s a few more projects coming.
Right now, I know Car Bomb is blowing up too because they’re playing with Periphery, they played for you guys with Tesseract at Terminal 5.
That’s right. Car Bomb is one of my favorite bands ever.
That’s a strong statement coming from you.
Yeah, they’re absolutely incredible. I can’t listen to their record two times in a row though, you have to listen to it one time but it’s so intense and challenging but for every metal head out there, I strongly recommend you listen to them. I don’t have points on the record. (Chuckles) That thing doesn’t apply really any more. Records don’t sell really but just check him out they’re incredible .
You’re known for bringing on [developing] bands. You guys have Code Orange with you on your tour right now and Torche right?
Yes, yeah Code Orange and Torche are opening on this run.
And you specifically sought them out to put them on the bill?
Absolutely. Yup. First it’s very important to bring the bands that we like and we like to introduce to the audience, sometimes we don’t know the guys personally but we just like the music or sometimes, you know, the agent or the management will, you know, send us a list of bands and there’s always one or two bands that stick out sometime. We have to check him out and make sure we like them but we always bring bands that we like to introduce to our audience and also it makes a great experience for the fans when they come see Gojira and discover new bands.
I also love the heavy element, because both those band, like Car Bomb was heavy, Forever (Code Orange album) that whole albums is like ridiculously heavy, so it’s like a great build of just heavy bands.
Yeah, we grew up listening to Sepultura and Chaos AD, in particular was a big influence when we started playing shows.
You guys played “Territory” too at Brooklyn. That was fun. Was that improvised, or did you plan to do it?
We’ve always played that song, you know, it’s a song that we played on our first shows a lot and it’s easy for us to switch and go back to that. We know it by heart even better than some Gojira songs that I have to relearn. This one I don’t ever need to relearn. It’s like in my bones, you know? So it’s easy to switch to that song, “Hey, let’s play that tonight”, but it worked so well at the Brooklyn show that we kept playing it on some of the shows on the tour, so it wasn’t just a one thing.
So you’re going to keep doing it?
Magma came out not too long ago. Maybe like a year now?
June 2016. So yeah, over a year.
Okay, so now that it has been out for that long, has anything changed for you about the album? Do you still feel the same about it?
We’re excited. It’s a life. We go on tour for years and then we put out a new record and then go on tour and each album brings some fresh blood, some fresh energy. So we’re still enjoying playing these songs. They’re not new songs anymore but we just…we play them better. After a year playing them now, we own them. That’s the feeling.
Definitely. Opening up with “Only Pain” is killer.
Yeah, I like “Only Pain”. It’s like an explosion right away. “Okay this is what were about now!” (Chuckles)
The Way of All Flesh came out back in 2008. So with the 10th anniversary is coming up, are you guys doing anything?
No. We’re not into whole anniversary thing. Maybe we’ll release something, you know, like a special edition but I don’t think we’ll play a gig where we play the whole album or something like that. I like when bands do that but I don’t feel like we’re capable of doing that. There’s always that one song in the record that we will never play because it’s too challenging. (chuckles)
For that record, which one would that be?
“Esoteric Surgery.” There’s these few seconds that are super challenging. As a guitar player, I can play the whole song easily. As a singer, I can sing the whole song. But doing both together is a bit challenging. I could do it but I’m just super lazy. Sorry.
It’s all good. I know, From Mars to Sirius, came out before that, and you guys didn’t really do anything for it.
I know that one day we woke up on tour and we’re like, “Hey! It’s “From Mars to Sirius” tenth birthday or whatever.” And that was it.
You said in Silver Cord studios you want to write your new record there. Have you guys been writing and doing anything yet?
We always think about the next step, like every other band. I guess it’s hard to put a date on, “Oh that’s the day when we started to work on the record.” We always work. We always have new ideas, always riffing or jamming. Always searching, you know? I see it as doing research when you’re a musician and you try to come up with new flavors, new ideas, new tones, new patterns. We always do that. So it’s hard to tell when exactly we started to work on this new record. We actually have ideas that we were going to use on Magma that I think we are going to use on the new record.
Anything you want to share? Any ideas?
Um. Do you want me to sing…?
Yes! Right now! Let’s go!
(Chuckles) The one that goes like, “Da! Dadada Da!”
A while ago, you guys released the Sea Shepherd EP, with “Of Blood and Salt.” Is anything ever happening with that?
So, we released one song that…the goal of that whole operation was to put the spotlight on Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Which I think is important as an artist to put the spotlight on something more important than just being your band and promoting your band always. There are other things to promote and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are doing an amazing job at protecting the oceans. They’re trying their best to save the few whales left alive. There’s a few tunas, I think they’re still alive in the ocean. Stop eating that please, right now. We like to talk about them and somehow, mission accomplished because we brought a lot of people to their cause and brought more attention to them. They told us that too, “We noticed we have more metal heads now subscribing and sending money.” They work only with individual donations. No corporations or anything like that. So we like also the way they do things in their etiquette. We recorded four songs, one was released with Devin Townsend and Fredrik Thordendal from Meshuggah. The song is called, “Of Blood and Salt” and it was released in 2011. There are three other songs that were on a hard drive that crashed at the time and it was a huge pain in the butt to retract all of this. But it was done two years later. We were such on a roll with the band and we were doing an album and going on tour, that it was difficult to go back to that. But right now as we speak, I have an engineer in my studio putting all this all back together and were trying to make this happen finally. I don’t want to make a statement, “This is the release date”, because I learned my lesson. I’ll talk about it when it is ready but I’m still working on it.
Of course. That’s great to hear though, that you guys are working on it. I actually never heard of Sea Shepherd before you guys, so you guys did do your part.
During my show I ask Three Random Silly Questions, are you ready to take part in that?
If you can take any of your albums and make it into a movie, which album would you choose and who would star in it? It’s a tough one.
Umm…That’s a tough one. I could say anything really. Uhhh….Christopher Walken starring the Magma movie. That could be interesting.
I like it.
Surfing on a lava wave or something. (laughs)
Biggest pet peeve while on tour?
One of the worst things for a singer is when you lose your voice. If I don’t practice enough before a tour, which is the case for that tour, I didn’t practice enough because I was on vacation in Mexico for a week. I didn’t get to practice. At that time my vacation was more important. Being with my family, my kids, it was vital for me. It’s been such an intense year but as a result I started the tour by blowing my voice right away on the first show in Brooklyn, actually you were there my friend. After three songs, I lost my voice. You know, when you’re in that moment when you’re trying to talk to the crowd and be like, “Hey we are Gojira! Super happy to be here! We’re super strong!” and it went like, “we’re happy to be here” (voice cracking, whispering noises). I was like damn, darn! It was terrible. That’s my worst nightmare, is to lose my voice right away on a tour and then it could go either way. I could rest a lot, sleep a lot, drink a lot of water and be better the day after, or it could get worse and worse for three days and then it’s a total nightmare. On that tour, I mean, between somewhere in-between so, it’s not too bad but that’s my worst nightmare and it happened a few times. Maybe three times.
Question number three, final question. What is your favorite thing to do while on tour? Other than playing shows.
Taking naps, man. It’s something that I never enjoyed doing when I was a teenage-super hyper and starting the band and all, you know, always super, super active on top of everything. Napping was never a thing, even when I was a kid. But now when I’m on tour and it’s grey and we’re in a parking lot all day and there’s no dressing room…the bus looks, like from outside, looks pretty nasty. There’s twelve guys in a bus for a month. It can be kinda scary and stinky but I got to say man, when you go in your bunk and close the curtains and there’s nothing else to do, just rest before a show, I find that nap very amazing. That’s what I’m going to do next after this interview, I’m going to go for a nap. And you know what? It’s always too short. It’s always too short.
Well, I won’t keep you anymore. Any plans after this? After Rock Allegiance and your tour? I think you end in October, right?
Yeah, October 22nd I believe is the end of this tour. My plan is to be home and…
Take some naps?
Take naps, nah. I don’t take naps at home, I have kids. So….just be with my family.