VOIVOD Frontman On Guitarist CHEWY: ‘If You Closed Your Eyes, PIGGY Was In The Room’

Anthony Morgan of Metal Forces recently conducted an interview with VOIVOD vocalist Denis “Snake” Bélanger. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

On MARTYR guitarist Daniel ‘Chewy” Mongrain joining VOIVOD, and bassist Jean-Yves “Blacky” Thériault returning:

Snake: “Blacky was living in Vancouver for quite awhile. At [VOIVOD guitarist] Piggy‘s funeral he let us know that if he could help in any way, he would be there. Time went by, but we kept in our minds that he wanted to do something for Piggy. The tribute show to Piggy with Chewy and some other guys in Montreal went really well, and that’s when we saw Chewy playing VOIVOD. When we saw Chewy playing these songs, we were, like, ‘Oh my God. Does he fucking nail it or what?’ After that, Blacky came to us and said ‘If you want to do something together with me and Chewy, it’s possible.’ In the meantime, we had an offer to play the Heavy MTL festival [June 22nd, 2008]. We wanted to turn a page, so me and Michel [‘Away’ Langevin, drums] sat and talked about it. ‘What do you think? Wouldn’t it be cool to get Blacky back in the picture, and Chewy?’ We were kind of scared of the reaction though. Some of the fans said that nobody could replace Piggy, and that it would be impossible to do it. We weren’t sure about the reaction, but then we finally went for it and played that festival. The show was amazing, and the response was so great. That’s when we realized that Chewy could do the job. Blacky was back and was playing bass like the old days, and the vibe was so cool. The reaction of the crowd was crazy, and the next day the phone started to ring from everywhere in the world. We had offers to play at festivals in Europe and so on, and so from that point we didn’t stop. [laughs] That was in 2008. That’s how it happened, like that. [laughs]”

On the exit of ex-METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted:

Snake: “I think after Piggy‘s death, it became complicated to continue. I think he wanted to do just studio stuff with us. He didn’t really want to get out touring, but he did really cool bass lines on ‘Infini’ [2009] and ‘Katorz’ [2006] as well. Now he has a new project. Back then it was, like, ‘Okay, we have something to finish,’ but we didn’t want to get this work left on the shelf collecting dust. We wanted to finish that, so we did. It’s great, but as for getting the band out there he didn’t see it that way. In the meantime, Blacky came back and Chewy came into the picture. It came naturally, because we live quite far apart. [laughs] He lives in California and we live in Québec, Canada, and so the switch kind of went naturally. Back in the day, he was doing many studio projects and he was into painting. He was into a lot of different stuff, but he really contributed a lot to the two albums ‘Infini’ and ‘Katorz’.”

On Chewy being a VOIVOD fan from the age of 11:

Snake: “He bought a guitar, and started to learn how to play Piggy‘s parts. VOIVOD was his favorite band, and that’s how he’s so good at it. Because he’s younger, we were his main influence. When Piggy died and he did a tribute show, I think he saw it coming, that he could do it. He did it just for a show in the beginning, but he was so good at it. We had goosebumps. When he was playing Piggy‘s stuff, we were, like, ‘Oh my god.’ If you closed your eyes, Piggy was in the room. We were so amazed. Piggy was such a unique player with a unique technique and a unique sound, and it’s pretty hard to reproduce. He’s feeling great about doing it. He honors Piggy every time he plays the guitar; I think he respects Piggy a lot. I think he was the best candidate to fill those big shoes.”

On latest release “Target Earth” sounding like ’80s VOIVOD albums:

Snake: “I think that it really sounds a bit like ‘Dimension Hatröss’ [1988], ‘Killing Technology’ [1987], and ‘Nothingface’ [1989] era, but like I said earlier, it’s fresh. It isn’t like we’re doing the same stuff over and over. It sounds fresh, but it’s in the same vein of those albums that the fans wanted us to come back to. We realised when we were touring that most of the kids there were hooked on ‘Killing Technology’ and ‘Dimension Hatröss’, so we wanted to go back to those kinds of songs. I think we achieved that, but it’s more like 2013 VOIVOD with all of the elements that VOIVOD are known for. I would say some of it is taken from those albums, just in the way that the construction is done. The musical construction is more complex, has different tempo shifts, and has the same approach that we had during the ‘Killing Technology’, ‘Dimension Hatröss’, and ‘Nothingface’ period. During that period of time, we were really focused on and crazier about using more complex stuff. It’s really hard to explain. [laughs] The new one is fresh though, so I don’t think it’s the same as it was back in the day. It’s the same kind of complex structures though, and the same weird way of putting stuff together. I think Chewy really understood what a VOIVOD album should be for a fan. His favourite album was ‘Dimension Hatröss’ and stuff like that, so I think that’s why it sounds a little like those albums. It’s the new VOIVOD as well though.”

Read the entire interview at www.metalforcesmagazine.com.

“Target Earth” EPK: