Jonathan Horsley of Decibel magazine recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Joseph Duplantier of French progressive metallers GOJIRA. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Decibel: It’s been a long time since your last album: why so long?
Duplantier: There are no rules! It’s been three years since the last album and that was the time we needed to first of all promote our album; we did a bunch of touring, and then we had a band situation to deal with. We were changing management, changing record companies; it was a very important moment in our careers. We had to set up a new team around the band. This took us a long time, and we like to take our time to compose, like a year to create a new album.
Decibel: Has your sound evolved much in that time?
Duplantier: It’s another GOJIRA album [where] we have these ideas in our heads and we never know what’s going to happen. It is another album that we did with this state of mind. There’s something regular about learning from one album to another: there’s a progression, but the essence is the same. I don’t think anyone will be surprised or disappointed.
Decibel: What is your writing process like?
Duplantier: We gather in a room and jam. Sometimes we will have ideas or feelings of what we’re gonna do but we are always surprised what comes out of it. It’s based on jamming. Sometimes, especially Mario [Duplantier, drums] and me, my brother and me, we have ideas, precise ideas of something we want to do and we try it and sometimes it leads to something else. Most of the time it’s jamming. I think it is important to keep that connection with the band feeling. Back in the day, BLACK SABBATH, METALLICA, all these bands, they were jamming; there was no other option. They could not create music on a computer in their bedroom and then show up at the practice room or the studio to record it directly. Nowadays, bands put productions together with samples, they program the drums, then they show up to the studio and everything is quantized. In a way it’s good because you are getting closer to the composition; you have an idea in your mind and you don’t depend on the performance any more you can go straight to the idea. But when you can’t play it live the fans are disappointed and let down. “OK, so these guys pretend to play this music; they can’t really play it.” It means something; it has an importance to what you are going to play on the record, and it is even more important when it is created by the members from the jamming process, from that experience and that energy. Sometimes we play and it’s really shitty; we’ve got the idea in our minds but it’s not working, and then we’ll talk about it, play again and it sounds fantastic, just because we are having a good moment together. I think you can feel this on the record we are making now.
Decibel: This is the first time you’ve worked with a producer: how did that come about?
Duplantier: I am co-producing with Josh Wilbur [LAMB OF GOD]. I met the guy by accident in a studio we were visiting in New York. I was looking for someone to back me up on some stuff and make sure we could get our best-sounding record; I was very concerned about the sound. I was almost ready to produce it alone, like I did in the past, but this time I really wanted to work with someone who was super-professional, with high quality sound. He also had some stuff to say on songs, like, “This part, I feel it is too short; you guys could do something better.” At first, Mario and I were like, “Wait a minute! Nobody ever told us what to do with our songs. But he encouraged us to go further, to experiment. And that makes him a good producer; he’s trying to get the best out of us.
Decibel: It’s good to get a fresh pair of ears.
Duplantier: We know what we want, exactly, but we feel strongly enough to say no. Even sound-wise, if he wants us to play with a certain cymbal, try a certain snare: but we know what to keep so that we have our signature sound but what he suggested was very intelligent, very smart, appropriate: for example, one cymbal on the drum kit was changed because it wasn’t matching the other crash cymbal. That was his recommendation and, wow, he was so right on that. It’s hard to explain to the fans what a producer is, and even for us it’s a little confusing, but somehow it works quite well with Josh.
Read the entire interview from Decibel.