GOJIRA's JOSEPH DUPLANTIER On 'Magma': 'I Love The Record And I Cannot Wait To Play The Whole Album Live'
July 10, 2016
Guitarist/vocalist Joseph Duplantier of French progressive metallers GOJIRA was interviewed on the June 17-19 edition of Full Metal Jackie's nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the Podbean widget below. A few excerpts follow.
Full Metal Jackie: Joe, what was the most difficult thing about incorporating sadness into [the new GOJIRA album] "Magma"?
Joseph: "You know, it was a rough time for me and my family [following the death of my mother]. Mario [Duplantier, GOJIRA drummer and Joseph's brother] and I were in the middle of recording the first [few] tracks. The drums were [done] and I was doing the guitars when my mom was in the hospital, and that was a really, really rough time. So, as usual, when we compose songs, we try to be honest with ourselves and our emotions and deliver whatever is in us in the songs. So it was not an effort to put any kind of emotion in the songs; it's just what we do naturally. There is sadness, yes, but there's also other things. It was a learning experience, the passing of our mom. It taught us a lot, and the way she faced her own departure was really a big lesson for us, 'cause she was very brave and loving. This album is really, really about that experience in the end, even though it didn't start like that, but it became that. And I'm really glad that I was able to express myself and to write and to come up with atmospheres and melodies and direction to this album while I was in that process, 'cause it was really helpful. Every album is a page we turn in our lives and very therapeutic — a real therapy for us, this music. So, yeah, it all makes sense in the end. It's like steps in life, and that's one more step."
Full Metal Jackie: You've been living in New York. Tell us, how has New York culture changed the way you express yourself through music?
Joseph: "Well, New York is… I mean, New York is incredible. The entire world meets in New York and that's what I like about the city. I've been living in New York for almost six years now and raising a family there. It's a bit crazy, it's a bit expensive, [and] it's an urban jungle. But it is a big influence on the music, of course. Every single thing that we go through during the day when we go in the studio and we are surrounded by a different atmosphere or landscape, different vibes, it influences the music, for sure. I couldn't really say how exactly, but for sure my life changed, and it's more of a hassle every day to make it and to pay the rent and to get all these parking tickets. [Laughs] So, in a way, the music, I think, is more electrified and connected to the international community somehow. My neighbors… I live in a building in Brooklyn where I think there's almost no Americans; there's just people from all over the world. So it is in America, but at the same time, the whole word is right there. And it's a good influence. I like it. It's very stimulating."
Full Metal Jackie: Joe, half the band lives in the U.S. and the other half still lives in France. What are the best and worst things about that distance?
Joseph: "The worst thing is that we can't see each other all the time, but the best thing is that we don't see each other all the time. [Laughs] I mean, at the end of the day, we still spend half of the year together on a tour bus or onstage. Sometimes, yes, we'd like to have a band meeting or to hang out and talk about something, but for that there's Skype, and there's other ways [to keep in close contact]. Really, I don't think we suffer from that. The reason why I moved, also, to the States six years ago is because I wanted to. A part of me needed a change, and I was really attracted by New York City, and I've been in love with New York for years. So, for me, being there, it makes me feel better, it makes me feel like I belong there, and I needed that in my life. I needed a change, so, in the end, it's better overall, because every member of the band is exactly where he's supposed to be. And the first years, I remember we were rehearsing every Wednesday or every weekend and we'd play a show together and build the foundations of the work together, our music. And after a while, we started to go on tour so much that wouldn't really hang out between tours, because we needed to experience other things outside of touring. So, it's good. And now, when we tour, what we do is we get together for a week or ten days and practice and rehearse and prepare the show and then go on tour, and that didn't change. For example, [I'm] right now in France with my bandmates. My family came with me, and we've had this moment where all is dedicated to that, and then we go on tour. So it's working pretty well. A lot of bands are in this situation anyway."
Full Metal Jackie: What was hardest about spending so much time working on "Magma" and how did that make it better?
Joseph: "We started to compose the first things, to write the first riffs and write the first lyrics and ideas, when we were on tour back in 2013, a year after releasing 'L'Enfant Sauvage', the previous record. And since then, it's been small steps and little by little, coming up with ideas that really make sense for us and taking a very organic direction. I wanted to sing since a long time and I started to sing on this record, finally. I've been trying to sing on the other records, but it just wouldn't work, because the music wouldn't really fit with what I wanted to do, and this time, it all came together really nicely. And I'm happy with the way it turned out, 'cause it's really what we are today. So it took us a long time, yes, but we toured a lot and there was a lot going on and we built a studio in New York City. So all of that kind of fed the whole process of writing and fed the music with experience and taking time. I think it takes time to release a good album. If we would rush things, we would release albums faster, but it wouldn't be the same quality, I guess."
Full Metal Jackie: I know that sometimes bands have to rush records to meet timelines, but I've always been a fan of just… it's done when it's done, and you guys, obviously, took the time you needed and that's what worked.
Joseph: "Yeah, we really ignored a lot of deadlines [Laughs]. And we [felt] the stress, we [felt] the pressure, and we want[ed] to please everybody. And some of the fans, they were like, 'Guys, put out some new music! How difficult can it be? Just record a song in one hour and put it online.' Obviously, the record company would like to put out more records, but even us, we would like to put out a record every year; that would be awesome. But that's the way it is for us; it just takes time. We're not lazy or anything; we work pretty hard. It's just… Yeah. [Laughs] It's done when it's done, exactly. I like that."
Full Metal Jackie: What's the biggest risk that you're taking with "Magma"?
Joseph: "Maybe to have some of our true fans a bit disappointed because it changed. That's the only thing I could see. The fact that it's changing, the fact that there's less demonstration in the music. It's not as death metal-y — it's a little groovier, it's more atmospheric. So, I guess, the biggest risk that we take is being ourselves fully and completely. Even catching up with what we are, because on previous albums, for example, I had things in me that I didn't really express, and I was a bit frustrated. I was still happy with the record 'L'Enfant Sauvage', for example, but a bit frustrated. I really wanted to explore other things. And I guess it is a risk when you have a band — you have a fan base and people expect things from you and you kind of belong to your fan base, to some degree, where they buy the records and they pay the tickets to see you play live. So it's difficult to ignore that and to keep this pure attitude, this joy of playing music and just being a band. Being a band is just getting together and jam. And that's what we try to do. So, in a way, it is a risk, because some people will be, like, 'Eh, fuck that!' But we ignored that. So, in a way, it's a risk, I guess."
Full Metal Jackie: You've got TESSERACT for the "Magma" North American tour. Looks like you're gonna have a very busy 2016.
Joseph: "Yes, absolutely. Yeah, we're already looking at 2017 to book shows and to decide what we're going to do, since 2016 is pretty much booked. And I know there will be more stuff coming probably before Christmas, after this U.S. tour and stuff, but we wanna make sure to take a nice break for the holidays. [Laughs] But, yeah, it's a blast. I'm really, really thrilled. I'm excited. I love the record, and I cannot wait to play the whole album live and to share this with the fans. 'Cause it's a different experience — the record and the live experience are always very different. It's challenging for us, too, to come up with new songs and a new sound and a new vibe and to try to translate that live. So we're completely focused on that now — trying to translate that new thing, that new era live, and incorporate all the old songs, of course. So, yeah, it's gonna be a busy year and intense for us, for sure."
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