Radio Metal recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Joseph Duplantier of French progressive metallers GOJIRA. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Radio Metal: How do you feel about the last six months, after the release of "L'Enfant Sauvage"?
Joseph: Things have been mostly positive, I would say. Several aspects have to be taken into account: how do we feel about the songs, and how the public, the journalists and the labels react to them. The album is well received, the reviews are good too, it's a good sign. [laughs] There is some kind of argument about the record, but overall, and especially in foreign countries, it's very well received.
Radio Metal: What are these arguments you're talking about?
Joseph: It's about the fact that the band is now signed on Roadrunner, which means for some people the band has changed: "The first record will always be the best one," that kind of thing. But that's okay, that's normal, I don't really care, especially since what we live from the inside is totally different. Regarding Roadrunner, we're finally on a label that fits our position as an international band, and that we actually get something from, for instance in terms of promoting the record and so on. It's always a bit complicated to work with a big label — Roadrunner is now part of Warner — but our heads are still screwed on and we know the music business enough not to get eaten or let people get in our way. We're vigilant. We studied our contract for almost six months before signing it. We know what we're getting into. Now, what's important to us is to see if the songs work live: our focus is artistic above all, it's not about seeming honest or selling records. We make so much compromises in our everyday life to make this music, we can't get away with songs that disappoint us. It works: the tracks rock live and what's happening is amazing.
Radio Metal: "L'Enfant Sauvage" was released four years after "The Way Of All Flesh". After so long, the reactions of the public tend to be more extreme, whether it be positive or negative. Is this something you noticed?
Joseph: Yes. It's pretty much the same for every record: we wrote them with a lot of attention, and every record is a chapter in the band's story. Because of this, the whole thing's importance is very different than it would be if we'd have a record out every year or if we'd throw away new tracks all the time on the Internet. For us, each record is a big deal, then afterwards we usually spend a lot of time on the road. Between the release of "The Way Of All Flesh" and "L'Enfant Sauvage", there's been a lot of things changing around the band, our management or our signing on Roadrunner, for instance. All of this cost us time and energy to rebuild a team. All of these things took us about one year. We could have released "L'Enfant Sauvage" before if we didn't had to sign a new contract, to take care of the new management and so on. "The Way Of All Flesh" was the end of a cycle: with "L'Enfant Sauvage", a new one is starting. The next album won't take so long.
Radio Metal: Not long after you signed on Roadrunner, members of their staff and bands left the label too: what did you feel about that?
Joseph: I can say it on the radio: it pissed me off. [laughs] We were just back from a big, 10-day-long promotion tour all over Europe and guys from the New York office, Monte Conner [one of Roadrunner's former vice president of A&R], for instance, who signed SEPULTURA, FEAR FACTORY, MACHINE HEAD at the time, who came to the studio while we were recording the record, left. I've met wonderful people at Roadrunner, I've even been surprised to find out how much they loved music and how much they were involved with their bands. It really boosted me, I was like: "Awesome, we took the right decision!" and then there's been a change of direction. Long story short, the owner of Roadrunner sold his company to Warner. It was time for him to move on. Of course, it unsettled me a little bit because every time something change, you don't know what's going on and where you're going. Some people have been fired, too, and among them were some of the oldest art directors. Even now, nobody understand what happened and why all these changes happened. I was really shaken when I heard about that; these people had a strong character and were what made Roadrunner special. On the other hand, all the people who were working on specific tasks, for instance the Internet, the design, the promoting of the bands and so on, the second teams if you wish, stayed. Roadrunner's entity remains thanks to these people who've been working for the label for twenty or thirty years. We deal with them on a daily basis, like Karine and Manon in France, for instance, who've been working with these bands for years and years. There's a family spirit at Roadrunner, even if it belongs to Warner. I think that all these changes in the labels are the consequence of the situation of the music business all over the world: everything is changing and transforming. No money comes from the record sales anymore: everybody's freaking out a little bit. We tend to demonize the labels, especially when they're successful, but we have to remember that the people who are working to get the records out in stores, who are working with metal bands and who are having the current situation of music business blowing up in their face are music fans too. I don't want to dig down further to know why these people have been fired, it's not my job. I concentrate on the music. New people have come, it takes time to meet everybody. We'll see.
Read the entire interview from Radio Metal.