This is an article I wrote in March 2009 when I interviewed Joe Duplantier of Gojira.
After travelling across all areas of the world for the past 13 years, it’s easy to cut Gojira front man Joe Duplantier some slack for not remembering exactly where he’s been.
“We played already in Portsmouth, I think it was in 2005, but I’m not sure?” he said.
I duly remind him that they made the trip to Portsmouth two years later, in 2007.
“Oh yeah, with Trivium” he recalls. “It’s our fourth time in the UK, but our first as a headliner. We had a co-headlining tour with Hatesphere in 2005. I thought we played here, but no, probably not!”
Gojira are rapidly becoming a household name for metal heads all over the globe. Having formed in 1996 in Bayonne, France, this 4 piece released Possessed, a raw, low key demo which gave them a foothold into the world of Metal. Their rise to fame has been years in the making and they have finally hit the big time after a tough work ethic and a rigorous touring schedule, some of which have lasted many months. They never seem to stop working and this ideal is no different for their latest release, The Way Of All Flesh.
“We started to compose this album right after the last From Mars To Sirius [Gojira’s third album] US tour,” says Joe. “It was in 2008, and we started five days after the last show in New York City. We went back to France and five days after, my brother (Mario Duplantier, drums) and I were in the practice room composing new material. We had some stuff in mind already that we had played on the tour bus, or during sound check, but it is very hard to compose on the road so we have to take this time off. Usually its five months to work on an album, and that’s what we had.”
In some bands, every member has to make a contribution to the writing of an album. Getting input from each person can help boost creativity and democratize the writing process but carving an album within the Gojira studio is slightly different.
“It was mostly my brother and I because the other two guys don’t compose that much” he claims. Sometimes they bring in an idea and riff or something, but on that particular album, we were so tired of all this touring we just went straight to the practice room and worked without talking. We just looked at each other – we don’t really need to talk. We’re brothers and we understand each other easily. We have our own technique and it went pretty fast.”
The Way of All Flesh was released in October 2008 to critical acclaim from fans and publications alike. They may just seem like another metal band, with their crushing guitars, powerful riffs and intense drum beats, but Gojira have a hook. While lyrics about brutality, suffering and other heavy metal clichés are ten a penny, Gojira distance themselves from the ‘by-numbers’ bands and instead write about something close to their heart. From Mars To Sirius was a very organic, ethereal album which spoke about the environment, the planet Earth and the, as Joe puts it, journey from “war to peace.” The Way of All Flesh continues this tradition, albeit in a darker way.
“I’m considering the state of the planet. The fact that we destroy everything all the time as a race. We build, we try to think, and there is good in humanity but there is also destruction and bad things and competition and anger. So this album talks about the idea of death and decay and the fact that we have to accept that part of us. We also have to accept that one day we will disappear. Our body will return to dust.”
“There is a question – what is the soul? I like to talk about the soul remaining in the afterlife. I believe in reincarnation. It’s a personal belief that I have, but probably 80% of the planet is into that belief also. It must be something, it means something. We need to consider that we are more than just bones and flesh and blood, y’know, there is something else, there is consciousness and memory and somehow that we remain after death.”
These natural, down-to-earth lyrics have attracted a number of admirers, including Randy Blythe of groove metal outfit Lamb of God. He appears on the new album singing on the song ‘Adoration for None’ after previously meeting the band on a tour of the US.
“He is a big Gojira fan and he would get on stage every night and sing a song with us, and I would get on stage and sing a Lamb of God song” he recollects. “I was in America before the tour. I was spending some time there to see some friends and the guys from Lamb of God because we became friends, and he told me “hey, I want to scream on the record, motherfucker!” and I was like “no problem.” (laughs). He came to France to record the song just for one week and he slept in my apartment on the couch with my cat (laughs). It was very funny because I was like, “Take my bed and I’ll sleep on the couch” and he was like, “No way! It’s your bed, I’ll sleep on the couch.” So I took him to the mountains and to the ocean. We live in the South West of France; it’s a pretty nice area. He ate some French food and he said, “Oh my god, this is amazing!” So, really, really good atmosphere in the studio and we had a lot of fun. He is really easy going.”
Once again, Gojira begin another rigorous touring cycle in support of The Way of All Flesh, culminating in a number of European festival appearances for this summer.
“We might play one, at least one big festival in the UK. Sonisphere or Download Festival. We’ll see. We’re in touch with these two organisations and we’ll see what happens!”
These may be some of the last times you’ll be able to see Gojira for a while, according to Joe.
“I think we need a break. Since 2004, we never stopped between From Mars To Sirius and The Way Of All Flesh, we didn’t take a break. Just five days break, and that was five days in my bed! So now I think we need a break, the band needs to do something else for a little bit. In 2010, maybe for six months. After that, we’ll compose, we’ll feel fresh because for the moment we’re a bit…there’s saturation. It’s a fatigue, but very deep. We need to really think about something else. Even if we love it and every night on stage we’re like “arrgh this is our life!” y’know, and after the show we’re in the dressing room and we feel good to be playing on stage. It’ll benefit to this band to have a break.”
So make sure you buy a ticket for their next show, as it’ll be one of the last times you’ll be able to see this truly original, innovative metal band.