Gojira Frontman Joe Duplantier Talks Success of ‘L’Enfant Sauvage,’ Freedom as a Musician + More
It’s no surprise that Gojira’s latest album ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ has taken metal fans by storm. The band has been touring nonstop in support of the record and is even up for a few Golden Gods Awards this year.
The album’s title track landed at No. 1 on Loudwire’s very own list of the 10 Best Metal Songs of 2012, and we recently caught up with frontman Joe Duplantier at the band’s New York City show to discuss the success of the album and the freedoms he has as a musician. He also dished on his relationship with his brother / drummer Mario Duplantier and much more. Check out our interview with Joe Duplantier below:
What do you think it is about the ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ album that has caused metal fans to gravitate to it so much?
I don’t know really. We just give our best all the time to be available for our music and I don’t even know where it comes from. I guess the music is good and people dig it — there’s a balance in the music, there’s not too much aggression so if you’re a metal fan you’ll get your fix but still you will have some other moments and a door open for more people to appreciate our music.
When I listen to my record, I’m like, “F— this should be better, this should be like this or that” and then I see all these good comments about the album and I’m just like, “Wow this is awesome.” But I have no idea what [fans] experience when they listen to the record. We’re too close to the damn thing.
What would you say is one of your favorite songs on the album and why?
There’s this song called ‘Pain Is a Master’ and this song is entertaining because there’s a lot of stuff going on and there’s a lot of melodies and strange patterns and this rage also. The lyrics mean a lot to me because I went through some difficulties and struggles inside and it’s really talking about how s—y I felt when I was not in a good place and suffering basically.
I learned a lot from the pain that I felt — it was a moment a couple of years back when I was really super low but I thank the pain and not only do I say thank you to the pain but I call this pain a master because it taught me so much. I wouldn’t change anything, I’m glad that I’ve been through that period in my life because I became stronger and more happy and wiser.
‘Pain Is a Master’ is definitely a powerful song, but one of the fan favorites also seems to be ‘Gift of Guilt.’ At one of your other shows I attended, people were shouting “Play ‘Gift of Guilt'” relentlessly.
It’s funny because we really didn’t see that coming, we thought ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ would be something but ‘Gift of Guilt’ is kind of weird actually. There’s a lot of melody and the rest is very torturing, it’s a pain in the ass to play that song, too.
I read somewhere that you spoke about the album as having themes of freedom – how do you feel musicians should utilize their freedom?
You know when I said that, I remember it was the record company calling like, “Okay we need a statement about the album” and I was writing the lyrics and it was one moment where I was thinking about it and I said that and it became the catchphrase for the album. It’s not really just this but now I think we could say that it’s a reflection on what is it to be free, in this world, in our societies.
Here in New York, it’s like the kingdom of capitalism and it seems like it’s either this or the third world and extreme poverty and to find a balance in this world is really hard for everybody. You’re either rich or poor, how can you be free in your mind, in your spirit, in your everyday life? The thing we do in our life, we do exactly the way we want, we answer to no one, we have no boss, we have management but we’re still completely caught by the reality of the business and paying our bills.
So we can finally make no compromise at all but we make tons of them at the same time because sometimes I’ll feel, “I don’t feel like playing this show tonight,” but you have a contract – if you do that like three times then you’re f—ed and nobody would want to work with you anymore. We choose to be a band, we choose to play this music, but then we’re in prison every day so where’s freedom? Is it the choice of the lifestyle you’re going to have, it’s a big question.
Do you feel that freedom as a musician dissolves with popularity or once you are signed to a label?
It could if you don’t have your head on your shoulders. I think life is a f—in’ war. The hippie definition of freedom is very different than the one I’m trying to stick to. I’m not afraid to have responsibilities, for example when we say we’ll be playing New York in six months, how the f— do I know if in six months I would want to play that show. But this is my life, this is my battle and I’m going to fight for it.
Then all together in the band, we stay together and when we signed this deal with Roadrunner, we took six months to go through all the details in the contract to make sure that it was exactly what we wanted. Some parts of the contract were really tough because the music industry is so bad, we did our best to put our vibe on the contract because we don’t do drugs, we keep our head on our shoulders, we know what we’re doing. A lot of bands when they become popular, they’re f—ed because they’re on drugs they don’t know what’s happening so some people signed contracts and then they’re like, “Really you’re taking all of my money man?” They’re f—ed because they were not awake and present.
Continuing with the theme of freedom, when you have free time outside of music, what would you say you like to do?
Just being with my family and traveling – I know that sounds crazy because I travel all the time but on tour we don’t travel like we would travel normally. For example here, I hang out in this dressing room all day. When we played in Florida, it’s full of beauty, you have alligators and birds and the ocean – I spent the whole f—in’ day in a dressing room that was half of this size, painted black, it was super humid and stinky. It was terrible but that was my trip to Florida this year, in a room, sound check, the show and then bus call and we leave to go to the next city.
How would you describe being in a band with your brother, any sibling rivalries?
Yes but you know we love each other a lot, there is competition of course but it’s not taking over anything. It’s a nice, friendly, motivating competition like who’s going to be the perfectionist and sometimes we can scream at each other for five seconds and then it’s like, “Hey what’s up?” It’s cool because we don’t need to think before we talk to each other, we know each other so well and on the music aspect, it’s fantastic, we just look at each other and jam for an hour.
We’re really connected so I would say it’s mostly positive but sometimes especially at the beginning when I was 20 and he was 15 or even before that when I was 17 and he was 12 years old, I was like, “F— I don’t want to hang out with a kid.” I would try to get rid of him but he was so good so we would jam.
Watch Gojira’s ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ Video