VOIVOD's AWAY: 'Even If We Sometimes Try To Do Something More Melodic, It's Still Too Weird For Mainstream Radio'
September 1, 2018
In a new interview with music writer Joel Gausten, VOIVOD drummer Michel "Away" Langevin discusses the band's upcoming 14th album, "The Wake", the band's time with former METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted and some of the highlights of their nearly 36-year career. An excerpt from the chat appears below.
Joel Gausten: One of the things I've always enjoyed about Voivod is that no two albums have ever really been the same. Do you go into a recording project with a general creative goal in terms of sound and direction, or is it a matter of this whole thing just naturally evolving year after year?
Away: "It's really natural, actually. We never really sit down and try to overthink where we are heading towards, because we know that in the end, we're going to be in some parallel universe anyway. We really want to write the music that we want we play, so sometimes it's not in sync with what's going on in the mainstream at all. Even if we sometimes try to do something more melodic, it's still too weird for mainstream radio. We are resigned to really do what we want."
Joel Gausten: You just mentioned VOIVOD being "weird." I think bands have a choice in their careers. They can either go strictly commercial or they can attempt to do something different. Obviously, VOIVOD have always followed that latter path, and you've been at this a very long time. What has been the key to sustaining this band all these years in an industry that isn't always welcoming of output that doesn't instantly appeal to the masses?
Away: "Sometimes, these are tough choices or crossroads where you really have to persevere. I think a key to longevity is probably to try to be original and unique. In the end, it really pays off. You get respect, and people show up at our shows. Especially lately, we've had a momentum, and we also sort of jumped into the classic thrash metal resurgence a few years ago. I think the key is really to be yourself. If you try to adapt to what's going on, by the time you write the song and record it and it comes out, you're already out of step and a bit late. If I would give any advice, it would to try to be yourself and also try to be unique. It pays in long run."
Joel Gausten: It has been 15 years since the self-titled album and the beginning of the Jason Newsted era of VOIVOD. Looking back now, how do you feel that era ultimately impacted the greater history of the band?
Away: "When Jason joined the band, it drew a lot of attention to us. It definitely helped us to get attention outside of the underground thrash metal media. When Jason joined Ozzy [Osbourne] at the same time, all of a sudden we're touring with Ozzy and doing the Ozzfest and all that. Jason really did help the band. From then on, it's been steady in terms of media attention for VOIVOD. We had a lower profile in the '90s at one point. Jason was such a warrior to have done that, because he was playing with us live, then he'd go to the dressing room and go back again on stage and play more than two hours with Ozzy for the whole summer of 2003. I've never seen anything like that. It was quite impressive and a lesson in perseverance for sure."