Gojira are one of the most unique, heavy and interesting bands currently operating in the metal world, they have toured the world and are now starting to conquer it. This year has seen the band release their most accomplished album yet, in the form of “L’Enfant Sauvage”, as well as getting themselves back out on the road obliterating venues the world over. It was on the band’s second UK trip this year that we caught up with Joe Duplantier to discuss the new album, touring with Slipknot and Metallica, the songs he feels best defines them and the status of the long awaited “Sea Shepherd” EP.
2012 has been a great year for you guys. You released L’Enfant Sauvage back in June and are now back out on tour, how is the current feeling in Gojira?
We feel very together in the band. It’s not easy to be on tour and to be away from the loved ones, but we’re brothers, we started this band 17 years ago and we know each other pretty well. We know how to talk to each other. We have different personalities, but we know the keys to how to fix the tension, that’s a very very important part.I couldn’t imagine being on tour with assholes who I couldn’t stand.
Then we have the crew which is a different story because we always have new people coming in so we have to adapt. We have a very solid crew now, so there won’t be any changes, but don’t tell them that… I want to keep them on their toes. (laughs) I fire people all the time man, I didn’t think I’d become a boss and fire people, but we’ve got pretty good at that.
I’ve seen you in both big and small venues, is it strange for you guys now that every time you come back here the venues keep getting bigger and bigger?
It’s a wonderful thing, like being the success story in a movie, it’s also very rewarding. We headlined KOKO in London and it was sold out, and that’s the kind of thing that tells you that you are on the right track. I don’t know where we are going, but we are going somewhere for sure.
L’Enfant Sauvage came out in June, it was really well received by fans and critics alike. In hindsight is there anything about the album you would have changed?
Yeah, there’s always something when we look back on what we’ve done, especially when we start to tour. We change one part, then other parts, we then listen to the album and noticed that parts are missing, but we don’t do that too much. We turn the page and realise that the past, and the album has been well received and that’s a beautiful thing. We just stay focused on each day. We’re really focused on details, like with our light show, we film every show and then I watch them and make little comments to our light guy.
It’s really interesting for us to look at things in a simple way. It’s like a job and we have to do our jobs properly, but it’s more than a job, we breathe this music so it’s more than that. I’m happy with this album though, when we were in the studio I had the feeling it was a good album. I liked the compositions, but I try not to judge too much.
Every album you guys release has its own theme and is unique in its own way, is that something you put a lot of thought and effort into to try and make them all different to each other?
It’s funny, we talked about this a couple of days ago. That maybe we should release another album fairly quickly. But we always need 3 years to 3 and a half years between two albums because we put so much energy into each album that we don’t have anything left at the end of them and then we go on tour, relearn the songs and give them a new life on tour, which they do, they really take on a new life out on the road.
I know a lot of bands don’t do it this way, they can release new albums almost every year and then they go out on the road and they get spoilt, some of the albums aren’t so good. With us, it’s different they are very important chapters in our lives, and for some reason we cannot compose on the road.
When we are on the road we focus on all the other details, so when we get off the road, we start again from nothing. This is the way we approach things, it’s not necessarily a choice, we are like that, we can’t compose on the road. So each album is more important to us, than if we released one each year.
The writing and recording of L’Enfant Sauvage came very shortly after you’d started work on the Sea Shepherd EP. Did working with other artists on the EP have an effect or influence on the writing of the album?
Yeah, because when we did the EP, which isn’t out, we had some problems with it. We then started on this album, because it was time for us to have a new album out. We let out some stuff that would probably have been on the album, but we also did some stuff that wouldn’t have been on the album.
It influenced us, also we were a little more free in our heads because it was something a little bit special for us. Some of the atmospheres are really strange for a Gojira album. We experimented a little more on the EP, then when we came to do the album we had that in mind, so it was a definite influence.
Do you think the Sea Shepherd EP will ever see the light of day?
It will, yes. Sea Shepherd, the organisation, has been around since the 70’s and they’re not ready to give up yet. We brought the light on them a little bit which was the ultimate goal. We released one song, which was the first one that was finished, the others are almost finished, but we don’t have one second to take care of this. When I had the time, all the music was lost on a hard drive, but finally I got it back so I have all the files again now. I just need to find the time to put the final vocals on it. I am in touch with other artists that are promising to do something, but they’re busy, we’re busy, it’s a shame, because maybe we talked about it too early, but its going to be released for sure.
You played Knotfest over the summer in America, how was that experience for you, being asked to take part in that?
It was cool, it was not the biggest thing for us, we toured with Metallica for example which was a bigger deal for us, Knotfest was just the one show, we only did one of them, but it was a really special show because Deftones were there, we got to hang out with those guys and we’re big fans, so that was really cool, also Randy (Blythe, Lamb Of God Vocalist) played his first show after being in jail in the Czech Republic, and that was incredible man, he went onstage and couldn’t help shouting ‘GOD BLESS AMERICA!’ He was so, so excited to be back home, and the crowd went nuts, from that point on the show was really really out of control, it was great.
You have a lot of input in the design of the artwork for your albums, and various things. Does the artwork inspire the music or does the music inspire the artwork?
That’s an interesting question, it actually goes both ways. When I write lyrics I also draw a lot, I draw a lot of sketches and I have a feeling of what I want to say but I don’t know how to put it, so I just do a drawing. Sometimes it’s very intuitive and I don’t really know what I’m doing and it inspires the lyrics, which inspires the music as well, it’s an interaction between both things.
What is next for Gojira after this tour?
We have a few other tours booked. We are going to India right after this for one show, then we are off to the US for a long tour headlining and Devin Townsend is opening for us which is incredible. It’s the reality of the market for him, because he changed too many times and did too many things, the Devin Townsend Project is not selling enough for him to headline, but I would totally open for him. He is such a big influence, such an amazing singer and guitar player, but I consider this tour a co-headline one. We are going to play in California for the first time in 3-4 years, it’s going to be a big deal for us, then Europe, Japan and South America, so it’s going to be another two years on the road.
Describe Gojira in one word.
If someone was putting together a time capsule of Gojira’s career, which three songs would you pick to best represent Gojira?
Backbone from From Mars to Sirius, Where Dragons Dwell from the same album, and L’Enfant Sauvage the title track from the new album.
If someone said to you ‘Joe, Gojira can’t be a band anymore, you have to give up’ how would you like to be remembered?
That would be really weird someone telling me that, I would say “Fuck You”. (laughs) I’d like to be remembered as a good band that brought something true, something that came from the guts and the hearts, that’s how I like to think about the band, something honest and with a lot of sweat.
Do You have a closing message for the fans?
I’m going to say to my fans, to our fans, thank you very much, because the fans and the band, that’s Gojira. It’s not just us, we are just four assholes playing instruments, but because of the audience and the fans we become something, it’s an interaction, it comes alive through the ears of the listeners, and the hearts of them, so thank you!