Interview With Gojira
Gojira have harvested success in their home country of France since their initiaton 10 years ago. But only after their last year’s release From Mars To Sirius did they show the world their true potential. The album created a surge in the metal press and was dubbed one of the most interesting releases of the year. Often compared to bands like Morbid Angel and Meshuggah but at the same time setting themselves strongly apart with ecologically inspired lyric concepts, something quite atypical for the genre.
Currently on their first North American tour with titans Amon Amarth and Children Of Bodom, I caught up with enigmatic mainman Joe Duplantier last Saturday during their Worcester, MA stop.
Daniela: How’s the tour so far?
Joe: Uh… good
Daniela: How’s the US crowd treating you?
Joe: Uhm. You know we’re openers so we’re treated like shit most of the time [ laughs].
Daniela: Wow, that’s so sincere.
Joe: I mean, we have to get used to that. Especially in the States we’ve been told that headliners are gods. So when you’re the main support it’s ok but when you’re openers…
Daniela: Well, you’re not the first openers
Joe: No, we’re not. For Sanctity it’s worse but we feel close to them, you know [ laughs]. We feel friends with them in this sense.
Daniela: And how do you get along with the Scandinavians. I understand you’re not the type of person to get drunk often and party?
Joe: No, we’re not big partiers. We learned a new word- it’s party-pooper. That’s what we are [ laughs]. So we just drink water and go to bed very early. Even in France we do that most of the time so we’re not great partiers. We say hello, how are you, to them [we are] pretty friendly but we’re not in the same world really.
Daniela: They can drink a lot
Joe: Yeah, they’re drinkers [laughs] but they’re kind to us and we respect them and they respect us and the way we do things so it’s a good atmosphere in the buses.
Daniela: Obviously, your latest album received a lot of hype in the press. Were you surprised that exactly this and not your previous albums acquired this success?
Joe: Not really. We were very into the music and the composition and we didn’t really try to guess what was going on in the press and whatever but we worked a lot. We do our best all the time so we know that it won’t be unnoticed. People most of the time, in France, they’re touched, moved by what we do so we’re not surprised that people like it. It’s not pretentious to say that we're now an established band in France because we've been around for 10 years. So it’s easier to make it in the States when you have this confidence and we’re pretty confident. But yes, sometimes we’re surprised that people understand our music so well because it wasn’t very easy in the beginning.
Daniela: Nature is the main scope of your lyrics. Where do you stand on the recent ecological issues?. Do you care about that personally?
Joe: Yes, yes, we do. It’s one of the main things of our lives. I mean, we really do care. And we feel concerned because we are and we all are concerned, we live on this planet and there’s nothing we know about anything except this planet. I mean, this is our home, spaceship so if we don’t take care of it, we may be lost...
Daniela: Is that your message as a band?
Joe: One of the messages. We don’t want to preach really, or tell people what they should do but we like to talk about what’s affecting us and what’s important for us, that’s one of the main things we want to say.
Daniela: What kind of a mindset do you put yourself in to write the lyrics?
Joe: Uhm, it depends...
Daniela: Do you have a certain formula to get in the mood for it?
Joe: You know, there’s something very strange when it’s the moment you really have to write lyrics because you have no time left, you have to record songs and you really have to do this. Sometimes its tough but sometimes it just comes very spontaneously and it can be joy, you know, I can be in the state of joy or sometimes very sad, very depressed.
Daniela: Do you write the music first or the lyrics?
Joe: Most of the time it’s the music that comes first. But, for example with the last album, we already knew the subject and issues we wanted to write about so sometimes we were just composing a song and knowing that it was about a certain subject. For example, one of the songs is about a planet covered by ocean, Ocean Planet, and it’s also about planet Earth. When we composed this song, we had to find the right way to create the feeling of softness and flow.
Daniela: Are you writing any new material? Not on the road obviously, but back home
Joe: Yep, in our heads we do. We already have some ideas and sometimes when we do the sound check, we play some of the tunes. Sometimes we have 2 or 3 spare days to compose but since last September ( 2005) we play all the time. We’re on the road all the time and we have 1 or 2 weeks and we need vacation and after that we can always find 2-3 days to compose things. We now have maybe 2-3 songs, at least the main ideas.
Daniela: Do you feel that after a great album there's a certain pressure as far as the expectations for the next release?
Joe: Actually we work a lot on that point- getting rid of the pressure. We try to stay exactly as we are; you know, honest. That’s the main thing in our work because when we’re in the rehearsal room and we grab our instruments, we know what to do because we just let it flow and this is a good feeling, especially between Mario [ drums] and I.
Daniela: You guys are brothers, right?
Joe: Yeah, we’re brothers so since he was 12 yrs old and me 17, we do that- we compose songs, that’s our stuff, that’s our thing. So we know how to do it.
Daniela: Which bands did you first start listening to?
Joe: For my part, it’s Metallica.
Joe: Death, Morbid Angel. At first it was a big shock to discover this music, it was really like – what is that?
Daniela: When I first saw a Morbid Angel video, I was actually scared. I was only listening to GNR at the time and when I saw God Of Emptiness I was shocked
Joe: When I first saw Iron Maiden, I was scared also. Iron Maiden [laughs]. It takes time to get into this kind of music.
Daniela: Whose idea was it to name the band Godzilla at first?
Joe: Well, we had to pick a name [laughs]. We wanted something big and something crushing so we picked that name. At that time it was very mystical, it was not very famous. It was before the release of the big Hollywood movie, it was just like this dark Japanese thing coming from the Eastern world. So we picked that name and when the movie came out, we had to change it for copyright reasons. So we just thought- Gojira is the original name anyway and that’s how we ended up with it
Daniela: Thank you very much for your time, I appreciate you being so sincere. Any last words to our readers?
Joe: Well, take care [laughs]. Take good care and don’t forget your dreams because it’s possible to live your dreams, to experience your dreams. We all think it’s possible so that’s our message.
Special thanks to Gojira's tour manager Sigi for making this possible.
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