Radio Metal recently conducted an interview with vocalist Denis “Snake” Bélanger of Canadian metal innovators VOIVOD. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Radio Metal: Not too long ago, a year or two, you said that you weren’t sure you were going to continue under the name VOIVOD without [late VOIVOD guitarist] Piggy [Denis D’Amour]. Where are you at with that now? Will the next album come out as a VOIVOD album?
Snake: Yes, we’re working on an album and we’re going to keep the name VOIVOD. We asked ourselves that question when we were starting over, and there were a lot of « “ifs” and “maybes.” But ever since we reformed with this lineup, we really enjoy doing what we do. I think Piggy would’ve wanted us to keep on going, so that’s what we’re doing. We don’t know how to do anything else than what we’re doing, so we might as well keep on going! (laughs) With the album we’re working on right now, there [is] new stuff [already written]. Lately, what we have been releasing is songs with Piggy on them. This is going to be the first one without Piggy. Dan [new guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain] and [bassist] Blacky [Jean-Yves Thériault] write most of the structures, and it’s going to be really cool. It’s VOIVOD and it’s new. A lot of Piggy‘s touches are still here; I don’t really know where they’re coming from, but there are bits where you can recognize him. They’re little winks. Piggy‘s there in our approach and everything. It feels strong, it feels like a renewal of VOIVOD. I can’t wait to start recording. Actually, we are supposed to start recording in January. Right now I’m working on the lyrics, doing some pre-production to get ready for January.
Radio Metal: You’re saying that Piggy is still there, in the writing of the songs, even if he’s not writing them himself. Don’t you think that to finish mourning and to move on, you should turn the page and stop thinking about him when you’re writing songs?
Snake: I think the page is being turned. Mourning takes time, and as you said, we talked about Piggy a lot with the other albums because he was still part of them, he was actually on the albums so we had to talk about it. Now it’s different. Anyway, Daniel has his own view of things, his own style, and I think that’ll bring something new in the band. When I’m talking about winks, I’m thinking about some sounds, some effects, a little bit in the approach, there are still some of Piggy‘s dissonant chords, but these are entirely different songs, with a different guitarist, it comes from another mind so it’ll be something else. When it comes to the style itself, VOIVOD fans will recognize it; they’ll notice it’s not a completely different band.
Radio Metal: Don’t you think Daniel could feel like he’s stuck in Piggy‘s shadow? Maybe in general or from comments from fans?
Snake: I haven’t seen anything like that. I was expecting it, because there are always whiners or people who are going to criticize. But what can you do about it? Piggy is gone, we can’t change that. Then if someone were to criticize Dan Mongrain‘s work… He would really need some guts, because I don’t know anyone who could do it and do it right. We didn’t have a single negative comment. Most of the time it’s, “My God! I wasn’t expecting that, how well Dan can reproduce the songs!” Everyone’s just blown away. I think people are with us in this weirdish adventure called VOIVOD. We’ve had some ups and downs. It was a tragedy, really, but people support us and understand our situation, they understand that we’re doing everything we can to go on, so it’s for the greater good.
Radio Metal: As you earlier, Piggy had a really unique style. It’s true that his playing almost made the band’s identity, and it’s true that Dan manages to play the songs live right, but composing in VOIVOD‘s style is something else entirely. Do you think he pulled it off?
Snake: Yes, what he shows me sounds right. He manages to put everything into perspective. I don’t know how to explain it. Over the years, we learned to know each other on tour. He knows exactly what musical direction we want to take for the next album, there’s no doubt about that. I think the direction we’re taking is the best. I’m sure that when the album will come out, there will be all kinds of criticism, and I hope most of them are going to be positive, but come will probably say that he’s not Piggy. I’m expecting anything but as a band and as a composer, I think he’s following the right path, he understands where to go and how to get there.
Radio Metal: It’s true that VOIVOD has followed different musical directions. Should we expect a more complex style, kind of like you did on the old albums like “Killing Technology”, or should we expect a more direct punk/rock approach like on the latest albums you did?
Snake: I’m thinking more about albums like “Dimension Hatross”, “Killing Technology”, “Nothingface”. I think it’ll sound more like those rather than the latest ones which were more straight-forward rock. We have some seven-minute songs with several musical parts, so there’s a link towards a “Dimension Hatross” album, a “Killing Technology” album or a “Nothingface”, so I think the fans of those albums will be positively surprised by the next one.
Read the entire interview from Radio Metal.
Fan-filmed video footage of VOIVOD performing a brand new song, “Kaleidos”, on April 15, 2011 at Roadburn festival in Tilburg, Holland can be seen below.