An Interview With Away From Viovod
Voivod has been one of the most important names in thrash since their 1984 debut War and Pain. Now touring for their final studio album with original bassist Blackie, Metalunderground.com had the opportunity to talk to drummer Away about Voivod's history and the band's upcoming performance at the 2010 Wacken Open Air.
Dasher10: Any reason why Jason Newstead isn't on this tour?
Away: Well, he's more of a producer nowadays and does studio work. Yeah, he doesn't tour much any more. Also on this tour we wanted to do some sort of eighties revival and we called Blackie and we're concentrating on the first six albums and that's why Jason is not involved right now.
Dasher10: Since Infini was stated to be your last album, do you care to explain the story of Voivod in your own words?
Away: We met in high school in the 70s but Piggie and I started jamming together around 1980. We were very influenced the the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and then found Snake and Blackie and by early 83, the band... we all had full members, you know. We started writing material pretty much influenced by Venom, Motorhead and hardcore music like Discharge, Broken Bones, stuff like that. A lot of progressive rock in France also. We signed to Metal Blade in '84, then did War and Pain.
We moved to Montrel in 85 since we're from North in Quebec and then we signed with Noise in 86 and released three albums, Rrröööaaarrr, Killing Technology - which was recorded in Berlin - and Dimension Hatröss which was also recorded in Berlin. Then we jumped to MCA in 89 and released Nothingface.
Dasher10: Do you have any interesting stories about the Nothingface era as that was really your breakthrough?
Away: Nothingface was pretty popular because we did a cover of Pink Floyd called Astronomy Domine and the video was playing a lot on MuchMusic and MTV and so we got to tour with Faith No More and Soundgarden and Rush in 1990 and then we started recording our sixth album Angel Rat. Before we got to mix it, Blackie left the band.
Dasher10: What contributed to Blackie leaving?
Away: By the time we hit the early 90s, the spirit wasn't there anymore and Blackie wanted to do some other kind of music and so he left he band and moved to Vancouver on the West Coast. We sort of hired a bunch of bass players in the meanwhile. We recorded The Outer Limits in '93, did a lot of touring and when we finished touring for The Outer Limits in early 94, Snake also wanted to do some other... stuff with his life. So he left the band and we found Eric Forrest who replaced both Blackie and Snake, both bass and vocals. Then we did a bunch, I mean a lot of touring with Eric and released three albums, Actually four. Negatron, Phobos, Chronic and then the live album Voivod Lives. At that time we had a couple crashes. In one of them, Eric was seriously injured.
Dasher10: Where exactly was he injured?
Away: We were touring in 98 for Chronic in Germany and we were headed for the Wacken Festival. We crashed and rolled five times so all the gear went out of the van and so did the singer so we took a year off Eric was a year in the hospital. He came back and we toured with Iron Maiden and Neurosis for a while. By early 2000 when we released the live album, we decided to split the band because we wanted to do something else with out lives individually and a couple years later we reformed but Snake came back and then Jason Newstead joined the band. Then again, we did a bunch of touring with Sepultura and Ozzy and at this point Jason was playing with both Voivod and Ozzy. We released an album in 2003 called Voivod with this lineup and in 2004 we wrote a bunch of songs and demoed two albums and in 2005 Piggy was taken ill and passed away. So in 2006 we finished one of the two albums and it came out. It's called Katorz and in 2009 we finished the other one Infini, which came out last year.
We have material for a live album because when reformed again in 2008 with the original bass player Blackie and Dan Mongrain on guitar we went and toured Japan and Mexico and USA and Canada and recorded a bunch of shows for a live album. We're going to Russia in April. We're going to record a few shows there. As for a studio album, I really can't tell what's going to happen with that. It's hard to say.
Dasher10: What's your favorite tour story?
Away: We toured with Motorhead and they're heroes of mine but I think that going to Japan for the first time in 2008 was one of my favorite moments in my career and we filmed a concert and just released it on DVD. Touring with Rush in 1990 was pretty overwhelming also. There were a lot of pretty good moments. It was quite a roller coaster ride so there were quite a few down moments but overall I had a great, great time.
Dasher10: Are you looking forward to playing the Wacken Open Air in Germany?
Away: It's something that I really wanted to do since like '98. We couldn't play there since we crashed on the way there so were were pretty bummed out about it. While Eric was in the hospital in Germany in a coma we were watching the Wacken Open Air on MTV in the hotel room and the bands were dedicating songs to Voivod on stage which was quite nice but were quite that we didn't make it there so the fact that we are going there this year is sort of a victory in itself.
Dasher10: So this is something that you've wanted to do for the past twelve years?
Away: Yeah. Always wanted to go there to get rid of the sense of defeat.
Dasher10: What was your favorite album that you recorded?
Away: Probably Killing Technology. It has all the elements that I like. Hardcore, prog rock and metal and a little Killing Joke and Bahaus thrown in there.
Dasher10: After Wacken do you have any other tours lined up?
Away: In June, July and August we are doing all the European festivals again and we want to come back to USA in the fall.
Dasher10: So this is not the last we've seen of Voivod?
Away: As far at touring goes we want to keep going as long as we can. It's just in the studio department that's a bit uncertain right now.
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