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Interview: Gojira

mit Joseph Duplantier vom 2. April 2013 im Batschkapp, Frankfurt a. M.
Direkt vor dem Auftritt von Gojira, traf sich unser Redakteur Adrian Erben mit Joseph "Joe" Duplantier - Sänger und Gitarrist der französischen Death/Progressive Metal-Band - im Batschkapp in Frankfurt. Grund für die aktuell stattfindenden ausgiebigen Touraktivitäten ist das 2012 erschienene Album L'Enfant sauvage, welches sowohl von der internationalen Presse, als auch von der Fangemeinde positiv aufgenommen, bzw. zünftig abgefeiert wird.
Und wie reagiert man als Band auf solch positives Feedback? Kann man als Musiker vielleicht schon im Studio spüren, dass man gerade etwas entstehen lässt, was das Potential dazu hat, sich zu etwas Großartigem zu entwickeln? Oder ist man dann als Musiker doch völlig überrascht von den Reaktionen, die man mit seine Werk auszulösen vermag? Darf man sich auf solchen Lorbeeren den Bauch pinselnd ausruhen, oder ist die eigene Zufriedenheit im Bezug auf die musikalische Kunst eher schädlich bei der weiteren stilistischen Entwicklung? Fragen über Fragen ...
Damit wir nicht ahnungslos sterben müssen, hat Joe uns die zu den Fragen passenden Antworten geliefert! Außerdem berichtet er über die Erfahrung mit einem Genregiganten, wie Metallica on Tour zu sein, was er von Black Sabbaths neuem Album "13" erwartet und ab wann die Fans mit einem neuen Studioalbum der französischen Umweltrocker rechnen dürfen. Auch sein Gastspiel bei Cavalera Conspiracy - die beiden Cavalera-Brüder zählen als Mitglieder von Sepultura zu Joe's musikalischen Vorbildern - und die doch ziemlich unerwartete Trennung von der Band im Jahr 2008 werden näher beleuchtet.
Viel Spaß beim Lesen!

The Interview:

Adrian Erben: Hello folks, this is Metal Trails! Today we're at the Batschkapp in Frankfurt and we're talking with Joe Duplantier, the frontman of French Death Metalers Gojira. Hello Joe!
Joseph "Joe" Duplantier: Hello folks!
Adrian: Let's start! So your current album has been released last year and was critically acclaimed. Did you expect that?
Joe: Well, you know the band is progressing. After each album there is a bigger recognition for the band and so it was going either up or down and you know there was like 50% a chance that the press and the people would get it. And it happened! It's not that I did not expect this, you know, we give our best and then hope for the best! And it went really good, it's true that the way it was received was beyond the expectations. It was better than expected!
Adrian: So you are really satisfied?
Joe: Yeah! We are never satisfied completely as musicians, you know? We always want artistically and ... you know, we make a living and just enough ... if Gojira would get bigger, maybe I could buy a house! (laughs)
And being completely satisfied is dangerous because then you fall asleep. But I can say I'm happy!
Adrian: The album title means in English "the wild child". In what way does this reflect on your own identity? Does it have something to do with looking for freedom?
Joe: Yes, but also it's a way of life, you know? We're musicians, we're on tour all the time, we chose this lifestyle with no compromise and ... it's a statement! You know, this album ... we are wild children! The reason why it's in French is "l'enfant sauvage" means something a little different than wild child. It's really the child who grew up in the forest, or get into ...
Adrian: ... like Mowgli, for example?
Joe: Exactly! So we feel like that inside, you know, we don't know how it works. How do people work, how society works, being polite with people like all this rules we have in society. Sometimes we feel like completely strangers to these rules and so I feel like I was raised by wolves sometimes.
Adrian: Aren't there sometimes days when you want to life a "normal" life?
Joe: Yes, sometimes I have this fantasy that normal looks really good! You get to see your family all the time, you have money, regular income, a nice car, you can talk to a beg and you know you can get alone from the beg – which is not the case for us right now. We struggle a lot, but good. We don't give a fuck to get on the cover of a magazine, you know, they just want to see your papers ... So it's attractive, but a little attractive sometimes. Most of the time I'm like fuck that life man, I live the life that I want right now.
Adrian: Nice attitude! (both laugh)
So what's your favourite song on the new album?
Joe: (deliberates)
I like to play "Explosia", the opener, and I like "Pain is a Master"! It's a little different, there are lot's of different things happening in this song... I like it! We practiced it to play it live, but it just didn't fit in the setlist. Maybe one day we'll play it, I love this song!
Adrian: Why don't you play it? What's exactly the matter with this song? Is it to difficult?
Joe: It is difficult, but it is also charging to get the right spot for that. We don't open the show with this, you don't close the show with this, it's to heavy! The atmosphere is really melancholical and sad. And I'm happy that this song is on the record, but it's not a necessarity to play just because it's my favorite.
Adrian: But if it fits on the album, why doesn't it fit here?
Joe: Because we have five albums, you know, to have a mix of all these albums and make a show that is entertaining and that keeps the attention of people is really hard. I wanted to play it, but Mario, my brother, said that it doesn't work on the setlist. Whatever! He's good at putting together songs.
Adrian: So he is some kind of mastermind in the background?
Joe: We do it together, if I say no to something, it will be no, if he say's no to something it's the same. But Johnny, the bass player, is sometimes like "fuck that song, we don't play this". (both laugh)
Adrian: Always the bass players ...
Joe: Exactly! (still laughing) It's a joke! We try to listen to each other!
Adrian: When can we expect the next album?
Joe: We are already thinking about it. You know, trying to compose riffs, but it's in the very beginning! It's to early to talk about it, but I would say some time next year ... a year and a half I would say. Roughly!
Adrian: So you don't write during the tour?
Joe: We do that. We start now. It's not easy, because normally we have to jam, but we don't have a place to jam, because on tour we don't have practice place. We have a bus and we have a dressing room, so on the bus we have the guitar, a small amp, but we don't have drums, so it's a little hard to write songs on tour.
Adrian: Let's switch topic. You're touring very much?
Joe: Yeah, quite a lot.
Adrian: I read that you joined Metallica on their World Magnetic Tour. What was it like?
Joe: It was amazing, we all grew up listening to Metallica, like lots of other metalheads. And with touring with these guys a dream came true. They were really nice and they invited us at the restaurant and we ate fish and ... it was just great! Well, we did three tours with them: In US and tow times in Europe.
Adrian: But it was also in promotion of Death Magnetic`?
Joe: The first time was Death Magnetic, the second time was also Death Magnetic and the third time was the festival tour when they were headlining all the festivals.
Adrian: Last year also, I guess?
Joe: It was last year, yeah! Last summer ...
Adrian: Yeah, I've seen you at Rock am Ring!
Joe: Yeah, it was also part of this tour!
Adrian: I liked your show, it was really intensive.
Joe: That's cool!
Adrian: A few weeks ago you also toured with Ghost in the UK on the Jägermeister Tour. They are a newcomerband, what do you think about them?
Joe: (deliberates)
Nothing. I don't know them really well, they are nice guys and that's all I can say. I don't know the record, you know, I'm not a Ghost fan. I don't mind Ghost, I don't really have an opinion about them.
Adrian: But you know who's behind the masks?
Joe: Yes! And I can tell you they are human beings. (laughs)
Okay, one thing I can say is that I like their concept, you know, the fact that they don't show their faces is not new, but if they keep that it could get really cool! Because it's just about the music and not the people.
Adrian: This is also a previously successful method, I guess. Slipknot is doing this since about 15 years. We'll see were it leads! Let's go back. You also toured the album with Lamb of God and this tour was canceled "cause of Randy Blythe's" arrest. How do you feel about musicians getting arrested in a case like Randy's?
Joe: I think it really sucks. It was a nightmare, I was so worried about him, but I'm sure, that justice set the final word in this.
Adrian: So luckily he wasn't found guilty!
Joe: Yeah, that's great news! He didn't deserve it, it was an accident. I pushed so many kids from the stage, like all musicians and security people. It's kind of usual!
Adrian: Let's talk about metal music in France!
Joe: Wait one second! (jumps up and hurries to the near stage to tell the Road Crew to jam with less noise)
Adrian: In Germany very little is known about the French metal scene! Could you tell me some important bands, especially these who don't get enough worship?!
Joe: (Deliberates)
There is an underground Black Metal scene! I can not name bands, because I'm not a fan of Black Metal, but you can see online lot's of people talking about the Black Metal scene. Other that there's Clone, Tripalium and so on. Have you heard of Tripalium?
Adrian: I think I've heard about Clone!
Joe: Okay! Clone is a very good band, Tripalium is technical-groovy Death Metal with a lot of amazing things in it, you know? Tripalium is amazing, you should check them out!
Adrian: Okay I'm gonna give them a listen! Now let's talk a bit about contemporary music: What do you think about the current trend of electronic music?
Joe: What do you mean exactly, are you talking about dubsteb and all that stuff?
Adrian: Yeah, Dubsteb, Gangnam Style and all this garbage? (both laugh)
Joe: I don't mind electronic music, I won't mind, but I mind shitty music. It's not because of computers and machines that it's bad, you know, but there's good music and there's bad music. I mean good music is about 0.5% of everything we hear around, right? But, what can I say? I'm 30 something, I give up. I just do my thing, I used to be very angry at TV and Radio and all that, and you know what I do now? I just don't have a TV, I don't have a radio. I do my thing and that's all.
Adrian: This is actually a nice solution! And you wouldn't take electronic elements and put them in Gojira's songs?
Joe: Yes, I thought about it. We kinda did it on the album before, "The Way of All Flesh", the third song "A Side to Behold" contains some keyboard stuff, you know it's a small thing. Yeah, I would definitively do it, but for now we are just a rock band with traditional instruments. And it's good like that.
Adrian: Well I think, most of the fans would think that this would be crazy ...
Joe: Yeah, but I like crazy!
Adrian: Actually, you are the band and you can do whatever you want.
Joe: Exactly! I can lose my fans if I want! I could get rid of them. We could make some kind of Reggae album with computered drums and think fuck you! (both laugh)
Adrian: But I hope not ...
Joe: We'll see. (blinks)
Adrian: How do you think music will develope in the next few years? Will there be a new kind of Nirvana?
Joe: Are you asking if there will be a new Nirvana?
Adrian: Yeah! I mean, the situation is similar to the 80s. There was lots of electronic stuff and then this band came and everything crushed.
Joe: Well yeah, that would be great, man! I really hope there will be one. But ... I don't know! I really don't know what's gonna happen, man, but we'll see, I guess. If we don't die in a car accident, we'll see!
Adrian: I hope not!
Joe: Me too... (both laugh)
I'm just sayin'!
Adrian: Are there any releases this year that you're looking forward to?
Joe: Eh, no.
Adrian: Why?
Joe: Why not? (both laugh)
Adrian: Even not Black Sabbath?
Joe: I don't know! I don't expect anything. If I hear something I like, I will get excited, but I'm not waiting for something right now, you know?
Adrian: This is actually an interesting attitude, so you can't get...
Joe: ... disappointed!
Adrian: Exactly!
Joe: It's very, very rar, that I'm like "Oh my god, this band is great". I know that Tool is working on a new album right now, I'm not lookin' forward to it, I'm interested, and if I like it – great!
Adrian: I should think this way, too. I always get disappointed. (laughs)
Joe: Yeah, you know that's why ... It's tiring getting disappointed! It takes your energy out of you, so ... but how old are you?
Adrian: I'm twenty one years old!
Joe: Twenty one years? Okay, so you can get disappointed a bit, and then we'll see! (laughs)
Adrian: So let's talk a bit about your personal career. You're half-American I guess? Do you feel more American or French? I mean, you sing in English!
Joe: I sing in English, but I wasn't born in France, I was raised in France, right now I'm living in America, but I have both in me, I guess. Sometimes in the States I feel very French, when I'm in France I feel American, you know what I mean? Because there's a contrast in one part of me and the place where I am, and ... definitively I feel both, American and French. And I feel also some kind of Chinese, and Brazilian and fuckin' African. I mean I feel like I'm from this planet and that's all. The countries ... you know, sometimes I don't know what it means being German or French.
Adrian: I mean, you're on tour all the time ...
Joe: Exactly! It opens your perspective. We change countries almost every day. You know, today we are in Germany, yesterday we were in Holland and before that we were in England and Norway, then we will go to France, and sometimes when I'm in France I'm like "so this is me, I'm from here?" There's no way, it's to different. If you connect to someone in Norway it's like wow, and he's becoming your best friend, then you realize that you're more similar to Norway. I think traveling does that to you. You lose the world where you belong to, you don't belong to a country anymore! You become a road dog or something.
Adrian: Does this influence also your attitude about saving the environment? I mean, you see the world and the mistakes that are made.
Joe: Yeah, of course. This is also definitively an influence on some of our lyrics.
Adrian: What was the worst thing you've ever seen done to the environment?
Joe: (deliberates some time)
Well, you know we take planes, being in a plane is already some kind of pollution. I see the cities, the shit that's around the cities and oil on the water, plastic in the water, you can see it from the sky, you can see it - I mean it's everywhere. When I was a kid, I grew up very near to the ocean, and once there was a ship that sank we would see the oil and waste coming on the sand, you know, when I was a kid I saw that like many times. So I cannot tell what's the worst, really. It's not only the pollution of the earth, it's also the pollution of the sounds. Look at the cities, they are so ugly. We have promotion for everything, this is the worst pollution, I think. There's also some kind of intellectual pollution through the media, there's a lot of pollution goin' around, pollution, pollution. I cannot tell what's the worst, it's all really bad.
Adrian: Okay, let's move on. I read Sepultura was a big influence on Gojira.
Joe: Yeah, they were a really big influence!
Adrian: So how did you feel when the Cavalera brothers asked you to join their project?
Joe: I felt like a kid at christmas, like "oh my god!" while opening a big present. It's like a big excitement when you meet your favorite actor or ... I don't know, I felt great, man, it's hard to describe the feelings. I was just excited. Pretty excited!
Adrian: But you're not with them anymore?!
Joe: No, I quit! But from the start I told them that I was excited, but the same time I played in Gojira. This is good for me, it's something I built up for several years with my brothers, you know, so I not gonna disappear just like that and be their bass player, even if they're great. I said "I do this, but I cannot go on tour with you guys". They said "okay, that's alright". And when we finished the album, they asked me "come on tour with us" and I said "fuck, don't ask me that, I'm workin' on an album with Gojira, sorry guys!" and I just went out.
Adrian: This is kinda sad!
Joe: Yeah, but ... No, it's not sad! For me I have a great time, I'm building this thing with my band and that stuff and on top of this I had the opportunity to work with great musicians that I love. It was also good for me to see that I don't depend on other people, to do what I like. And I like I'm able to say "I'm done, thank you very much, you know, I'll see you on tour" and it was good! It means my band is more precious for me than the prestige of working with the Cavalera brothers.
Adrian: It's really great that you put Gojira on the top!
Joe: Yeah, they were scared for a second like "Oh, okay he has this thing with Max and Igor. Oh my god! What is he going to do?". And then I came back home and told them that I was done. It was also another perspective to see that "Wow, my band is good, too!" Because the way we work here is not really my way doing things with my brothers, it's something even better.
Adrian: What can you tell us about the future of Gojira – besides touring?
Joe: The future? I don't know man! I have a vision when I look out the window, but the window is fuckin' bright. Can I make a short answer?
Adrian: Yes!
Joe: Yeah, the future is fuckin' bright, like this window!
Adrian: Could you explain it a bit?
Joe: When it's bright, it's promising and also like you said it, I cannot see it.
Adrian: It sounds like lookin' into the sun!
Joe: Yeah! I mean this is a good image! That's what I see, that's what I feel. It's comin' in really good for us, I think. And not because we've good reviews in the press, but because I feel, that we've more to give. More great songs, more new sounds and song structures and that kind of stuff to offer. So I feel very good about it!
Adrian: I'm pretty excited to hear about this! Unfortunately, I think we'll have to quit. Thank you very much, man!
Joe: I appreciate it!
Moderation: Adrian Erben; Fotografie: Khanh To Tuan, Adrian Erben

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