Interview with Joe Duplantier of Gojira
The French progressive death metallers that form the monster Gojira has been astounding the people of Earth during their constant touring for the past five years. Gojira is currently on tour with Metallica and Lamb of God, playing headlining shows on the off-dates. I caught up with vocalist and guitarist Joe Duplantier on their stop in New Orleans to talk about touring and future plans. A text version of the interview follows.
Buick Mckane: Welcome to New Orleans! You released your latest album “Terra Incognita” last year, but you’re re-releasing it. You already released it in Europe and will release in the U.S. in October. This version includes three bonus tracks.
Joe Duplantier: When you release an album, an old album, it’s always better to add some bonuses, and it’s a label thing. It’s something that we do because people can just get the songs on the internet. It’s a little plus for fans to buy the cd, actually. But we work on that; it’s not just something for marketing. We’re happy to present those songs. They’re all songs from this album, so it makes sense.
Buick: You’re on tour with Metallica right now, and I know you like Metallica a lot.
Joe: Yes. Metallica is a part of our structure as human beings. You know, it’s really, really something deep because we were not only inspired musically, but it would help us every day when we go to school or whatever. Metallica means a lot. When we were kids it would give us the strength to go on in our lives in general. It’s just amazing to be on tour with them. It has been a dream for years and years when we started the band. So now, it’s a dream come true for real.
Buick: They were big in France?
Joe: They’re huge all over the world. They’re the biggest metal band, I think.
Buick: You’re doing so many shows that are off-dates that Metallica and Lamb of God aren’t doing. Why did you decide to do these shows?
Joe: Because we can not afford spending days doing nothing. It’s as simple as that; that’s the first point. It’s a reality, and because we have to pay for a whole bus for the crew and we don’t want to send the bus back then take it back three days after. So we have to stay in the bus. So that’s the first point and the second point is we need to play some headline shows in the states because we have to meet our own audience and we have to build up what we have here. So it’s a good thing. Metallica can afford going home for three days then going back on tour because they’re comfortable technically and money wise. It’s easier for them. And they’re old, too. So they need to rest more. We can go play every day for five weeks. We have a couple days off, like three or four.
Buick: Well you do so much touring and you’ve been on this tour for a while, what are you going to do after this tour?
Joe: We have a couple of gigs in France, like four gigs in France. And then we’re going to take some time off; little vacations that we deserve, I think, because we toured for five years constantly. Intensively. It was really, really exhausting, tiring and challenging too. You know, being in a bus, 12 people all together all the time. Not like a family. It’s more than that…stuck in a box. You know, it’s crazy! We need to take some distance from the band and think about something else. And have a normal life, regular life for a couple of months, and then we’ll compose the next album, I think.
Buick: With all of this touring you’ve done, you’ve played with some great acts already like Metallica, Children of Bodom and Behemoth which is when I saw you a few years ago. Who’s been your favorite to tour with?
Joe: We also toured with Lamb of God and Machine Head. That was probably the best tour we did in the states because it was so big. It was like 45 gigs in the states with Lamb of God headlining, and the crowd was so big every night. It was really challenging for us to catch the attention of the people. It was only our second tour, and it’s the tour that made us more famous in the states. It was [during] the album “From Mars to Sirius.” We learned a lot from that experience.
Buick: Who would you like to tour with in the future?
Joe: Tool. I love Tool. And Meshuggah. I love these guys. Mastadon. They’re great, we know them. We hang out with them some times. For example, Bill from Mastadon was there in Atlanta yesterday. We got to talk to him. And we were talking about the fact that it would be pretty cool to tour together. And sometimes we chat on the internet. We feel close to these guys, you know. They have a unique approach to music; at the same time old school and at the same time pretty new. We like the vibe.
Buick: You were saying it’s hard to catch the attention of the people in big arenas. And you’re playing a really small venue tonight. Which is your favorite to play; the big arenas or small venues?
Joe: It depends. Playing before Metallica is probably the most challenging thing we’ve ever done. I mean, opening for a band like that is really, really hard because people want to see Metallica. They pay a certain price to see a show and they want the big show with big lights and big sound. When you open for them, people just come in and take their seat. They barely pay attention to what you do. It’s hard to catch them. But when it’s challenging like that, we like it because we have everything to prove. There’s a couple of people who know the band already. When we play a headline show in a small club, it’s only the die-hard fans that come to the show, and they know the lyrics, they know the songs, they know the name of the album. They are so into it. And at the same time, they expect something from you, because they come to see you and not the opener. And it’s more pressure, but I like it. Its two different things. I couldn’t tell which one I prefer. It’s just different.
Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Joe: I am so glad to be here today in New Orleans. The weather is incredible. The clouds are so beautiful. I took a lot of pictures today of the clouds. What can I say? I’m just stoked to do what I want to do in my life. It’s really awesome.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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