An Interview With Away Of Voivod
It’s been over a year since Metal Underground.com has talked to Away, drummer for the long-standing band Voivod. Through decades of changes in personnel and sound, Voivod has remained a metal icon, recently playing at Maryland Death Fest IX and Roadburn Festival to screaming fans. They premiered a new song live at the fests which is part of a new album currently being written. I was able to talk to Away for some time about the album, Voivod's history, and the many influences that have shaped their sound.
Buick McKane: How are you doing today?
Away: Good, thank you very much.
Buick: Great. You released a live album this summer, shortly after Maryland Death Fest, and everybody is talking about a new album that yall are working on, and will this album be in the same vein as the album you released in 2009?
Away: Well, it’s going to be….it might be a bit different. The thing is with the live album is because Blackie, the original bass player came back, we were concentrating on the 80s thrash metal material live. And it just happens that the new material that we are writing is pretty much rooted in that prog and thrash metal that we were doing back then. So it might be a bit similar. It has a lot of thrash metal energy and intricate beats mixed together.
Buick: That’s awesome. And yall have gone through so many different genres of metal and rock, it seems like, through the years. Do you think that all those different sounds yall played have come to make your current sound?
Away: Yeah, yeah, definitely. We wrote a bunch of tracks for the next album and we performed one of them live on the last tour this year, and that’s what people thought of it; all the ingredients are there, a little psychedelia, a lot of thrash metal and prog/tech, industrial all mixed together. And so, yeah, I guess that’s what we are right now. It’s a combination of everything we went through musically all these years.
Buick: Well that just makes you completely unique cause most people only play one kind, and yall have everything.
Away: Yeah. It has probably played against us at times in the sense that we were never part of any big, mainstream thing, and pretty much stayed underground. But, yeah, we really play the music that we love.
Buick: What would you call the music? I know it’s a mixture of so many different things, but if you could call it a name, what would you call it?
Away: I mean, there is a lot of metal involved in it, of course. That’s our roots. When we started, we heavily into Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Venom, but we were also listening to a lot of hardcore like Discharge, Broken Bones, lot of types of alternative music like Killing Joke, Bauhaus, and also a lot of obscure, progressive rock and krautrock like Faust, and Can. So all of that mixed together with the fear of the nuclear war of the 80s, it’s a bit hard to describe, but I saw the term nuclear metal back then. I thought it was pretty funny. Quite often we were labeled progmetal, but somehow the main word is metal.
Buick: I think nuclear metal is a very good name and it still fits for today with all the crazy stuff going on in the world.
Away: Yeah, what I like about the fact that we were a part of the thrash metal scene of the mid-80s is they were all, like, socially-oriented regarding nuclear war because pretty much everyone was influenced by hardcore music back then also. And it’s still relevant today.
Buick: Absolutely. Well does the album have a name yet?
Away: No. We make great progress on the writing, we have about ten songs in progress, and four of which are pretty much done. But there’s no title yet.
Buick: I see. And do you think it will come out, I guess, next year, hopefully early next year?
Away: Yeah, we’re aiming for spring 2012. So for that we need to record in the winter, so we still have a lot of work to do til then writing-wise.
Buick: Right. Are you going to do any shows while you’re recording it?
Away: We are hoping to play the west coast of U.S.A. before the end of the year because last year when we played in U.S. with Kreator we only did the east coast. We have nothing planned right now, it’s just something we would love to do. But if it doesn’t happen, we’ll just writing.
Buick: Right. I think you’re fans would love to see you too.
Away: Yeah, we would love to go back there. It’s been…I think the last time we played on the west coast was in 2003 when we did the Ozzfest. That was with Jason Newstead and Piggy.
Buick: Right, and that’s such a, not necessarily big festival, but there’s so much going on…I’m sure a lot of people would like to go to a show and yall are the main thing, and they can just focus on yall.
Away: Yeah, we just did that all across Europe, playing our own headline tour, and it went really well. So hopefully we can do that across U.S.A. in the near future.
Buick: I like festivals, but they can be pretty distracting when you’re trying to watch a band or go see another band, and another band is playing that you want to see at the same time.
Away: Yeah, and quite often there’s restrictions on the setlist, and you get about half an hour. And in a club, you can play an hour and a half easy. Yeah, the festivals are really fun, and I always get to see other bands that you like also. My favorite lately was the festivals on the boat, 70,000 Tons of Metal. We had a great time on the boat, and I got to meet a couple of my heros like Raven and Saxon. I also saw Trouble, they were great.
Buick: That’s awesome. I wanted to go so bad.
Away: It’s really worth the trip. I hope we get invited back there.
Buick: Well, hopefully they’ll see this interview and they’ll know that. Well, are you going to play any more new songs that you’ve written before the album is released if you do go on tour?
Away: Probably because four songs are pretty much done, so there would be opportunity to play more new stuff. That’d be great actually.
Buick: You mentioned so many bands, what bands would you like to tour with one day?
Away: Wow, that’s a great question. I mean, you know, in terms of touring with a band that I have a lot of respect for, that would be Tool. Maybe…I guess that’s it. I really do like Mastadon, that would be absolutely great.
Buick: Definitely prog bands, not so much thrash though.
Away: Actually, lately, since reforming in 2008, we’ve been playing festivals with the likes of Destruction, Testament, Forbidden, and all of our old friends like Kreator. It’s been great. Especially in Chile, Mexico, or Japan, and places we’ve never been before on tour. So that gives us the new territory to explore.
Buick: That’s great. Metal is huge worldwide. It really is a universal thing.
Away: The metal community has always been healty, even when it took a bit of a low-profile in the early 90s. It was still possible to go to Europe and play huge festivals, that’s what we did.
Buick: Right, it’s amazing. And yall have a really great history to tell about that. You’ve seen almost everything.
Away: Well, we covered quite a few decades now that I think about it; the 80s, the 90s, the 2000s. And now we’re jumping over right into the next one. Ups and downs, crazy times, fun and all that, and a lot of mistakes along the way, but still we have a pretty good catalog of sixteen albums, and working on the seventeenth one. So it’s pretty fun.
Buick: Great. Keep that enthusiasm up, definitely.
Away: Yeah, yeah, it’s all good. Now that we are back on the road, and there are many younger people who never thought that they would see Voivod live, so it’s good to see these people all around the planet.
Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Away: Yeah, actually, there were a lot of demands for the noise catalog of the 80s, like, it’s been out of print for a while. So just wanted to say that “Rrröööaaarrr,” “Killing Technology,” and “Dimension Hatröss.” are going to be rereleased for Christmas, remastered with bonus Iron Gang???demos. And also our very first demo which came out in 1984 is going to come out on vinyl sometime this year also. So we’re slowly making everything available, but surely.
Buick: That’s really awesome. Those kids, those younger people, some of them really love the vinyl. I do too because, to me, it’s just sounds better.
Away: Yeah, “War and Pain,” our very first album, just came out last month on vinyl again. It’s doing very well. So I’m pretty sure that “Rrröööaaarrr,” “Killing Technology,” and “Dimension Hatröss” are going to come out on vinyl as well.
Buick: That’s great. It sounds like yall are doing really, really well.
Away: Yeah, well, we keep busy and we want to make the most material available possible because we think that the people who love Voivod deserve it. Everything is self-poduced and we have a company called Iron Gang Factory. And it takes time because we do everything ourselves. We’re getting there.
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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