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Gojira - Chatting at Paaspop 2013
Last year Gojira released their shortest album, entitled ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’, in the history of the band worldwide through Roadrunner Records. It took the band more than half a year to come to the Netherlands but last week they played an awesome show at the Melkweg in Amsterdam and during the Easter weekend they played the festival season opener in the Netherlands called Paaspop. Enough reasons to sit down with front man Joe Duplantier and have a nice little chat in the tour bus on the festival.
Roadrunner Records
When Gojira signed with Roadrunner Records last year the front man Joe Duplantier thought they made a career changing decision. The band already finished preparing their fifth album and they were ready for the next step; “We had around 14 offers from different labels around the globe. Besides that we were seriously considering doing everything ourselves. But we realized we could really use the power of the well-known marketing machine that Roadrunner Records is known for. Besides that they just had the best offer for us”. And even though the results are everything they hoped for, things just did not work out as they planned. “Signing with Roadrunner Records and Monte was like the perfect plan for us. Right after we signed and finished recording the album we did a big press tour. During this tour we met all the amazing, dedicated and professional Roadrunner people and were delighted to work with them. Three days after we got back home we got the news almost every single person we met got laid off. It was horrible news for us. For me personally it was unbelievable to see Monte leave the company.”
Touring the US
In the beginning of this year the band did a full blown headlining tour in the United States with main support act Devin Townsend and The Atlas Moth. “This tour was unreal and we are going back at the end of the year to more or less proof to ourselves of what happened this time was real. Venues were bigger and the ticket sales still were amazing. This time we played a sold out 2000 capacity venue on Manhattan what blew our minds. Because that show was sold out we decided to do another show in Brooklyn what almost sold out. Next to that one all venues were big, in Vancouver we went from 400 to 1400 in the past couple of years.” The fact Devin Townsend was opening for Gojira might seem strange in Europe but he is just not as big in the US. “People are always surprised when they hear they opened for us. But it was great having him supporting us. He is a very friendly and sensitive person next to being this awesome singer. During the tour we have become good friends and we had a lot of conversations about music.”
L’Enfant Sauvage
Before signing their new deal the band already had the new album ready. “In our heads we had all the songs ready and knew what we wanted to record.  We eventually recorded the album with Josh (Wilbur) and this was not a pre made decision. We met and there was a click so we just worked with him. Here and there he did improve the music by being critical or telling us he missed a riff in a song. But we just knew what to make.” The end result is the shortest album the band has released so far (it used to be The Link). “It was exactly what I wanted this time. Our music is very intense and it takes you through a journey and it needs to end somewhere. I noticed long albums are not always good, sometimes people lose their concentration listening to a long album. I wanted to create something people would want to listen in one straight go and repeat it when it is done. There should not be any compromises on the album and no weak songs. We wrote a lot of riffs that did not even make it to this album. They were good but we just wanted to make this shorter album.”
Influences and the ‘environment’
Joe and his brother Mario grew up in a small city called Bayonne in the south west of France. While growing up they were surrounded by music. “The house was filled with music all the time. I grew up with The Beatles, Michael Jackson and country music. Both my parents were crazy about music and they gave me my musical education. But then a cousin of mine gave me CDs from Metallica and other bands and I had no idea what to think of these bands. I told him it was noise and he told me to learn to appreciate it. I was 14 years old. From then on out I was surrendered to the genre. And as it goes I ended up in the metal heads group at high school.” And being the older brother Joe also introduced metal to his brother. “I am five years older than Mario and when I was with friends he started to play the drums on kitchen accessories. We all thought that was amazing so my mother, friends and me put together some money and got him a drum kit. And he was amazing from day one, when I tried to learn him patterns he was already ahead of me.”
Gojira has also been placed in the environmental spotlight several times. The band however does not really feel they belong there. “We are a more spiritual band than environmental. A couple of our songs are about the environment but most of them are about my dark side but also my brighter side. Somehow we just got pushed into the environmental box because every now and then I sympathize with the Sea Shepherd organization. But we are not really.”