Canada’s science fiction metal legends Voivod’s latest offering Synchro Anarchy, arrived on February 11th via Century Media Records. We caught up with drummer Michel “Away” Langevin to discuss the new album, looking back on challenging recordings, and more.
How would you compare Synchro Anarchy to 2018’s The Wake?
Well, I guess it’s a continuation, but it’s a bit different because it was made differently where we had to socially distance. We did the demos at home sharing files and had to program the drums for the demo. It was built differently. But when we got together in the studio with more Voivod material, we didn’t have much rehearsals before getting in the studio. So we were sort of writing while recording. There’s an urgency to it that might be a bit different than The Wake.
I figured with the pandemic you probably had more of a challenge to get the album made but, has this time had an influence on the record?
Yes, in a way because of the fact that in early 2020 we were starting the process of writing the album but by mid-March 2020, that everything stopped and lockdown happened. So that’s where we were forced to find this formula. To, to keep moving. But we had just snippets of ideas and were trying to stick bits of ideas together and so it definitely had an influence on the whole thing by the end.
But also eventually we missed playing live and we couldn’t tour. So we started to play online shows where we revisited classic albums. And I think that the fact that we played Nothingface and Dimension Hatröss probably rubbed off on the writing as well. And also, of course, the atmosphere, the atmosphere of the planet influenced both the music and the lyrics, I’m sure, and which ended up influencing the visuals for when I did the drawings for the album.
You can see this atmosphere in your video for the song “Sleeves Off.” It was very Voivod mixed with a pandemic-like state. What was it like creating the video for “Sleeves Off?”
Felipe Belalcazar was doing the documentary about Voivod and we’re lucky because every time somebody does a video for us, it’s always a fan who knows exactly the aesthetic, the way to approach Voivod. And so I think he did a really good job because it’s difficult these days to just get together to film the band. So he had to use his imagination. Luckily he being the one who was doing the documentary, he has a lot of archive footage of Voivod right now, so he was able to do that, at least put some live footage. A lot of it is made with 3D graphics, which I really love.
The archived clips definitely worked out well mixed with the graphics for this video.How has the overall response been with the new album?
Amazing. It’s quite a release because last year when we started recording in June of last year, it was also the period where the festival started again in the province of Quebec. So we were playing during the weekend and recording during the week. It was super intense and by the end we had no idea what we had done. When we finished recording everything, it was hard to take a step back so we were pretty nervous and as soon as the first single came out , “Planet Eaters,” the reaction was absolutely great. And all four singles went over really well. Now people seem to really like the album, which is great for us.
Throughout your extensive career, which album would you say was the most challenging for you as an artist?
I would say the album Katorz, that we did after the unfortunate passing of Denis D’Amour, our guitar player. and it was hard because with Jason Newsted and Snake, we had decided to finish recordings that we had started in 2004, and so we ended up doing two albums after Piggy’s passing, but Katorz was the most difficult one because we could hear in the headphones but he was not in the room with us. And so it was hard to finish this album for sure.
I can only imagine the difficulty but powerful to follow-through with it. This year you guys are booked for Metal and Beer Fest do you have any other shows or live streams that are coming up?
We had a Euro tour already moved to the fall which was supposed to be happening right now. And that’s the North American leg of the world tour. It’s still going on at this point. So we will organize shows around the beer fest and try to go across the USA and Canada. And after the Euro tour in the fall, we want to do the whole thing as usual, like we did for a week, like Japan, Australia, South America and so on, fingers crossed.
How are things happening in Europe with tours either getting cancelled or happening?
It takes a while to get the visas approved and all that. And when we were trying to organize the Euro tour. There were already talks about the omicron variant and all that. And so the promoters decided to move the whole thing to the fall, which was a bit of a relief because we were pretty nervous ourselves. Every country has its own rules right now. And so it’s difficult. I think that by the time we get there things should hopefully be back to semi-normal. We’ll see.
It’s still a confusing time. You’re right, each country, even here in the States, each state has a different set of rules.
It’s the same in Canada, where every province has its own rules and so on. If we sit on a tour if there’s a new variant and all that and touring becomes impossible, I think we might have to go back to revisiting classic albums online. We might even play the new album. We’ll see.
I guess the good thing in this pandemic is, artists have learned to use social media as a way to have live shows and stay connected with their listeners.
I think this is going to stay. When touring starts to fully happen again, I think online shows are here to stay where they are. There are a lot of platforms right now that you can use to do online shows and personally, I think it’s great. Like, let’s say my favorite band is Van der Graaf Generator. If they decide to play an online show, I’m going to buy a ticket for sure.
Exactly. I mean, it’s fun and it’s like people are going to be safe. And, you know, some people don’t even like going out. So it works for that fan base as well.
Yeah. Not to mention if you have kids and all that it’s difficult for some people to go to a concert. I think it’s a useful thing that we have developed during the pandemic and it’s also working in the sense that we sold enough tickets to make it happen. And so because you do have to rent a studio and hire people that are going to film it and an engineer and all that. So there’s a budget but a production cost we’re covered. It’s doable.
Yeah. It’s good to have flexibility. Is there anything else you want to say or add about the new album?
I can only say that there’s something for everybody on this one. I think there are elements of all the eras of Voivod plus this new fusion metal twist that we have. So we’re still trying to explore new avenues. There is something for everybody and all the ingredients on this album, from punk to prog rock to metal, you name it.
I hope everybody’s enjoying it as much as you’ve been hearing from people, too. I love the videos.
It’s pretty fun. And lately a lot of my art has been animated in the videos, and I just think it’s really representative of the Voivod Planet.