söndag 22 april 2012

Intervju med Joe Duplantier i Gojira!

I tisdags satt jag åter på Warners kontor för ännu en ny intervju. Den här dagen var det dags för ett av de senaste årens mest intressanta band i mitt tycke, franska Gojira.
Joe och hans bror Mario var i stan för lite promotion och jag fick åter igen nöjet att sitta ned med Joe. Vi sågs första gången för några år sedan när Gojira hängde på Unholy Alliance-paketet och då som nu var han trevligheten själv.
Det blev bl a prat om allt kring nya plattan, hans måleri och om man kan tröttna på sin egen musik.

The idea for the ”The wild child”, where did it come from and is it a wild child as a positive thing or negative?

Joe Duplantier: That´s the thing… We couldn´t call it “The wild child” because it´s hard to translate “L’enfant sauvage”. It´s not really the wild child as understood in English, because a wild child for me, has an aspect like someone out of control somehow. “L’enfant sauvage” in French… sauvage is something that is not educated or something that is like free and completely free in nature. A wild flower that goes wherever she wants and becomes something beautiful. The idea with “L’enfant sauvage” is like with a human that would grow up in nature, raised by wolves for example, without the influence from others and the influence from institutions or society in general. Without a social security number. (laughs) Not even a name. This is what you are and I am on the inside, right? How much the education and the culture, emotions and the guilt are interacting with us and it changes us and how far are we from this pure child inside? That´s the question we had on this album.

Using a French title, was that the initial idea?

JD: It sounds really good to me.

Yeah, it sounds a lot better than “Wild child”, which makes you think of WASP.

JD: Yes, so many things are related to the wild child, like songs and characters and TV-shows, whatever. With “L’enfant sauvage” there´s one big reference and it´s an old black and white movie. It´s a French movie and it´s called “L’enfant sauvage” by Francois Truffaut, but it´s something that is very common in the French language. To describe someone that is without reference and I liked that idea. To be honest, that´s how I feel most of the time. I don´t know how to deal with things, people and stuff, you know. When I´m not the singer in Gojira, I´m just someone and I don´t know exactly what I am. Now I feel comfortable doing this interview and stuff, but it´s hard to know who you are outside of your condition. It´s a lot of personal reflection on what am I? Am I free and what is freedom anyway? Maybe I think too much? (laughs)

Are you a bit of a searcher? Those questions come with age and the older you get those questions arise and the usual question is why we are here and the purpose of it all. The band, are you spiritual people or religious?

JD: No, we´re not religious for sure. None of us have received and education in that or been baptized and we don´t go to church. We´re not against it, maybe just a bit allergic. (laughs) It´s not for me definitely and I´m glad my parents didn´t force me, but we´re not against it. I mean, if it´s good for someone, then it´s good. Maybe it can prevent shit from happening…

Sure and it can also cause shit to happen.

JD: Yeah, it causes a whole lot of shit. I like to describe myself as a spiritual person in the sense that I think there is much more meaning in every little thing. I think that things are not empty. The gaps between things are not emptiness and I believe in the potential of the spirit of human beings and I like to imagine that everything is possible, you know. Those kind of things. I like to put words to this or try to put words to this and the other guys in the band feel close and we´re on the same page and that´s why we´re a band and why we´ve been together for such a long time. It´s like a family that I chose and among these guys are my real brother and it´s a very strong relationship, so I would say yes, we´re a spiritual band and when we get on stage we have an intention to do something good for the people. We talk about the energy…

That was another thing I thought about, that it´s been the four of you for a long time now which is quite unique these days.

JD: Mainly we all love what we do and we talk a lot. It´s not some mystical vibe uniting us against the challenges of life. Mostly we work on our relationships and we talk a lot and if we feel someone is sad or frustrated, we try to understand why and it works because we´re still together. We had some difficult moments with exhausting touring and some tensions and stuff, but we always overcome the tensions by talking.

I can see getting along as people, but as you are in a band, there´s always the classic break up reason with musical differences. As you become older you find different things that inspire you and you might feel like taking the music in another direction, but still you have to focus on keeping Gojira what it is. That´s gotta be pretty difficult as well?

JD: Yeah, true. Sometimes I just wonder how it is to do exactly how I feel, but I do it on the side. I record my own stuff. I have never released anything, but I´m pretty active and do my own songs and I keep in touch with what I want to do on my own, which most of the time is pretty close to what we do together. And Mario likes to be technical… I don´t know, it works for us and somehow there´s a balance.

Going back to the first album, what would you say is the biggest difference with the band and writing songs today? Is there a big difference?

JD: Yes, of course. It´s better. (laughs)

Obviously. (laughs)

JD: I was 19 and now I´m fucking 36. (laughs)

Does it become easier writing songs or does it get harder?

JD: It is harder, but I´m way more picky. If I come up with a riff and it´s good, it´s not good enough. 10 years ago it was good enough, you know. A lot of people think that bands in general become lazy and sometimes it´s true, but in our case it´s that we work more to make a song because we have more experience and we want to raise the bar higher and higher. We´re the same people, but we try to raise the bar. We make that effort to go deeper and deeper. Somehow it´s strange because the music becomes easier to understand and there are less things to understand and it´s less technical and stuff. It´s not because we want to sell more records, it´s just we take things more easy. What we played 10 years ago is not what we wanna hear anymore and we want to create more sophisticated things and more simple at the same time. It´s a very complicated balance. With this album I´m pretty happy and still I cannot grasp what we did and that´s the beauty of it. You work so much on every detail and then “Wait a minute, what is this beast?”.

Writing songs for an album, do you start off thinking “Well, we´re gonna make 10 songs and that´s it!”. When do you say stop and do you say stop, like "We´ve got enough.” Or do you ever run out of ideas and that´s what makes it 10 tracks or whatever?

JD: It´s an interesting question because it was a big thing actually. We knew that we wanted to make something a little bit shorter than usual, because we think it´s too tiring and I had this idea that we need to release a record like “Master of puppets” with eight songs. If you listen to it you want to listen again. It´s a good feeling when you´ve made it to the end of the album and your brain and your emotions can´t take it. We have a tendency to add three songs after that and it´s a little too much so I was a convinced that we needed to record like nine songs. There´s an interlude which makes it 10 and then there´s one that we wanted to put on the album so bad, but we pay a lot of attention to that. It´s not like we record a lot of songs and we put them all on. It´s like cooking. You don´t put all the salt in, you just put a little bit of it. It´s not just a bunch of songs together, it´s a piece. Sometimes we can talk for three months about how this song should be number four or five and we send e-mails to each other and we do another intro to see if it works. It´s a very precise balance. The last song on the album was almost not on the album. It was just a couple of weeks before mastering and finally we went “Well, it goes pretty well at the end.”. There´s a lot of that stuff. A lot of discussions.

For all the different markets, are there gonna be bonus tracks and stuff like that?

JD: For the first time we have bonus material. We have two songs.

Written at the same time as the album?

JD: Yeah, yeah. It´s the same sound and it could be on the album but we didn´t want something too long. The people that are gonna buy the album and our diehard fans, they can take it. Add two songs and it´s no problem, so we´re gonna release a limited edition with two bonus tracks. We worked with the label on that and they asked us what we thought about the idea and stuff. We want to make the CD attractive when it comes out and that´s the business side to it. We all know how it works, so we have two bonus songs and a t-shirt because you can´t download a t-shirt. (laughs)

Not yet, but give it a couple of years.

JD: Exactly. (laughs)

The artwork for the album isn´t out yet. Are you doing that one as well? (The interview took place one day before the artwork was revealed. Editor´s note.)

JD: Yes. I´m finishing it now. I did the cover and I sent it yesterday actually. I was on a plane when I finished it. I still need to send them the rough ideas for the layout inside and all that and then we´ll have someone at Roadrunner putting it together. I need some help with that. Usually I do it myself.

Is the artwork gonna tie in with the title of the album?

JD: Oh yeah, absolutely. Of course.

Is that as much fun as writing songs?

JD: Yeah. It´s different but when I do both, there´s something that really comes together in a very nice way. Actually for this album we asked someone to do it, but it just didn´t work out. There were a lot of good ideas and stuff but for some reason it didn´t work and as soon as I started to do it I said “You know what, I´m gonna do it.”. Instead of trying to explain for hours, so I started to work on it and right away I sent it to the guys. We were far away from each other and they said “Yeah, now it works!”, so it seems like I´m condemned to do this forever.

I love the last one for “The way of all flesh”. It´s really cool and would make a great painting for the wall.

JD: Thanks!

I interviewed you when you played here with the Unholy Alliance and we talked about your art. Have you ever done a show or like an exhibition with your stuff?

JD: No never.

Would you like to do it?

JD: Why not. My stuff is completely spread over time and I don´t really know where they all are. I would love to paint more. I mainly paint when we release an album and it´s like “Ok, I need to buy some paper, a pen…”. I have to buy everything again because I become a touring musician for a couple of years and then we need to do another cover and I have to start all over again. I don´t have a lot of material.

When you paint, like working on this one for the new album, do you constantly listen to the album to get ideas and inspiration or do you need it to be all quiet?

JD: I like to listen to the album when I paint, sure. Sometimes I forget what I´m listening to because I´m so focused on the art. I might have something I like and then I redo it. It´s a lot of work. With “From Mars to Sirius” I spent one month working on it and trying out a lot of stuff and failing a lot. I lost faith and it was like “I´m not gonna make it, I´m not gonna make it!”. It´s very stressful, but I love to do it. On this one I was pretty fast actually. I did a painting and I´m happy with it. It´s cool.

As a musician, do you ever get tired of your own stuff?

JD: Yes, yes, yes.

Do you go back and listen to your older albums?

JD: Yeah, sometimes I do with the intention of being surprised and it just doesn´t work. (laughs) Like “Oh, I had a better memory of that.” And like “I put on this song and it´s gonna blow me away”, but nope. (laughs) “What have I done for all these years?”. Sometimes it´s very depressing so I just go on the website and see all the good comments and I´m like “Yes!”.

Touring wise then? I know you´re playing Metaltown in Gothenburg this summer, but is it gonna be a full blown world tour with this album?

JD: Yes. We still need to book 2013, but we´re booked till the end of 2012 so we have a lot going on. We´re going to the States and then we´re coming back to Europe. I don´t have all the details, but we´ll come back to Scandinavia for sure, finally. Finland, Norway, Denmark and here in Sweden, all have very good audiences and is a very good home for metal. For us it just makes sense to come here. When we come here it´s like “Yeah, this is right!”. I´ll bring my Flying V and it´s awesome! People get it and they understand and the interviews make sense and everything is perfect. We played a lot in the States and it was a challenge for a French band to make it there.

Freedom fries.

JD: (laughs) Yeah, Freedom fries, but we´ve had enough of that, ok. (laughs)

Well, hopefully I´m gonna be at Metaltown, so I´ll catch you live there.

JD: Great!

Thank you Joe!


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