Dan Bond of Geeks Of Doom recently conducted an interview with drummer Michel “Away” Langevin of Canadian metal innovators VOIVOD. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Geeks Of Doom: “Target Earth” is sadly the first album to be created with no input whatsoever from [late VOIVOD guitarist] Piggy [VOIVOD used arrangements found posthumously on Piggy‘s laptop for the band’s previous album, “Infini”]. Was that a daunting thing to start?
Away: When we reformed in 2008, we would have never thought about writing an album. It’s only after a couple of years of touring the thrash material from the ’80s, the Blacky years, that we eventually felt confident to give it a go. So early in 2010 we decided to write an album and we were not too sure. Then Blacky and Dan [current guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain] did a demo of two songs, I think it was “Kaleidos” and “Artefact”, and they played only bass and guitar, and Snake and I were blown away because it brought us back to “Dimension Hatröss” and we thought it would be very interesting to work on these songs. It was a trigger for us to do a lot of improvisation sessions that we recorded and many parts from the new album are pulled from these sessions. Blacky and Dan were the ones really involved in reorganizing everything into songs.
Geeks Of Doom: And were you happy to let them go with that?
Away: Yeah, yeah, I was really happy. I was very confident because everything I was hearing really impressed me and after like four or five songs I started to realize that there were a lot of weird time signatures so I had some special requests: one was I wanted one song with the MOTÖRHEAD beat and it became “Kluskap O’Kom” … and I wanted also another song to be reminiscent of “Ripping Headaches” [from the album “Rrröööaaarrr”] and it became our very first French song called “Corps Étranger”. These were my two requests! [laughs] Except for that, I was really happy that it was progressive music, but my roots are anchored in hardcore and so I like to keep the thrash in our music, you know.
Geeks Of Doom: With Piggy‘s passing was it important for you to get Blacky and Snake, the other two founding members, back in the band with you?
Away: Well, actually, part of what brought us together of course was Piggy‘s passing in 2005. We visited Piggy at the hospital and met there a few times, then we met again at the funeral and at the memorial and all that so it really brought everybody closer together. So it’s definitely part of the reason why we reformed in 2008 with Blacky because before that we didn’t cross paths that often. Blacky was away from the band for 17 years and he spent a lot of these years on the West Coast in Vancouver, so we only met when we played in Vancouver so it was really rare.
Geeks Of Doom: What was the process of them coming back?
Away: Well, in 2005, Blacky introduced me to Dan at a memorial for Piggy and then in 2007 Snake and I went to a show where Dan and Blacky were performing a medley of VOIVOD [songs] with members of other bands of Montreal and Snake and I were really impressed. Right before that in 2006 we had finished “Katorz”, which is an album we had started in 2004, but it was a very grueling experience. At this point, we were taking a hiatus, Snake and I, and I know Jason [Newsted, ex-bassist] had in mind we should finish the album “Infini”, which we also had started in 2004. But in terms of keeping on, Jason had a very strong musical relationship with Piggy and he wanted to make sure the music would be available. But as for touring, I don’t think he saw himself keeping up without Piggy and anyhow in 2008 we were offered this show in Montreal and that’s how it started. The first thought for Snake and I was to phone Dan and Blacky for that one show, a big festival in Montreal but it just kept going and going. [In 2013] we are celebrating the 30th anniversary. It’s the fourth line up and it’s going very strong.
Geeks Of Doom: Do you have an idea of how long you can keep it going?
Away: We really want to; well, I do anyway, I would love to celebrate the 35th anniversary. I know that in between tours [in 2013], we will be writing new material and so I will try to keep on keeping on. We’re lucky that we have what we call the Iron Gang [VOIVOD fans] for us, so, like I said earlier, when we show up, they show up, and that’s really cool. They definitely deserve new albums and new tours. We’ve been working with Sam Dunn [documentary filmmaker for “Iron Maiden: Flight 666”, “Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage”, and more] as well; for the past five years we’ve been working on a movie. Now we’re trying to find some funding to edit the whole thing, we have a lot of footage so that’s one of the goals for the 30th anniversary.
Read the entire interview from Geeks Of Doom.
“Target Earth” EPK: