Gojira’s Joe Duplantier on Touring With Slayer, Plans for a New Album + More
French metal act Gojira spent much of 2013 on the road in promotion of their critically acclaimed 2012 album ‘L’Enfant Sauvage.’ The band started the year off with a headlining tour and rounded off the year on a massive trek with Slayer. 2014 is slated to be a big year for the band, as well, with frontman Joe Duplantier revealing plans for the band to work on a new album.
During Gojira’s stop in New York City while playing the Theater at Madison Square Garden with Slayer, we had the opportunity to speak with Duplaniter about progress on the new album. The frontman also talks all about the respect he has for Slayer and much more. Check out our interview with Joe Duplantier of Gojira:
How would you describe your relationship with Slayer and 4Arm while on tour?
It’s cool, we all respect each other. It’s quiet and we’re working, we’re not partying a lot. We’re here to work, I know it doesn’t sound exciting and fancy. It’s a professional atmosphere and I like that, our minds are at peace. Slayer’s crew is amazing, they help us so much and that’s a huge difference from other tours.
Most of the time it’s great but [on some tours] it could happen that the crew is not happy and kind of tough and behave like d—s and stuff like that. On this tour, there’s nothing like that. [Slayer's] tour manager is making our life easy every day, when there’s something we should know he tells us. He works with our tour manager very closely, it feels like a big family and it’s awesome.
You started 2013 with a headlining tour and have spent the year trekking all around. What for you makes a great touring package?
It could be different things, it’s always interesting to have a nice mix of genres. For example we had that with Devin Townsend when we toured with him. We played the music we played and Devin Townsend is doing his own stuff and Atlas Moth was almost like an alien on that tour. It made the whole thing really rich and interesting.
At the same time it’s cool when bands have things in common too. On this tour, 4Arm, Gojira and Slayer, we definitely have something in common — for Slayer fans it’s probably better … [Laughs] … it’s better than having a reggae band before, it wouldn’t work. 4Arm, their music is close to Slayer’s music, it’s thrashy. We’re more mid-tempo but we still have that aggression in music that Slayer has – no effects, samples or fancy stuff. We’re just four dudes rocking and I think Slayer fans appreciate that.
Slayer are obviously a very influential band in metal; describe the first time you heard Slayer.
Yeah, for me it was something really mystical and scary and deep. I felt the depth of the music right away. Even if I wasn’t a fan, I was kind of scared almost. I was 12 or 13 and I was like, “What is this?” The visuals, the logo, the skulls and all that it was odd. I very quickly got into metal and playing guitar, I’m a big Metallica fan but Slayer in one part of my brain was a huge impact right away. There’s a reason why they’re so big because they have this energy that strikes you the first time. It’s very vivid in my mind.
Your albums and music have been gaining momentum with each tour, every time you come to New York City the crowd gets more massive. What are your visions and goals for Gojira?
Being the biggest metal band on the planet. [Laughs] I’m not saying it’s going to happen but that’s my vision. I also see a big car and a big house, there’s a pool…wait two houses. Right now I cannot even afford a car, even an old piece of junk.
With this tour coming to an end, what are Gojira’s plans for 2014?
We have a lot in our minds. There’s a lot of stuff we’d like to do – some stuff I can’t talk about because it’s too early but definitely a new album. We at least want to work on a new album, that’s going to be really important for us. There’s a platform now for our band to release a record without thinking about anything else because the deal with Roadrunner took a lot of energy and time. It was a big deal for us because we were without a record company, without management, without a crew, without a lot of things. All we had was a lawyer and an accountant and one tech for a couple years until 2009 or 2010.
We found great management, we signed a deal with Roadrunner, we have a crew on the road – it took us a long time to settle down with people. Now we feel like, “Okay, all we have to do now is release another album.” This is the platform for us to do it without thinking about other things.
Do you write new music on the road?
We always wanted to write on the road and never did it. We’re like, “On this tour we have two months together on the road! Let’s use this free time to write.” I remember we toured for three months with Lamb of God in 2007 and all I did was one riff, one riff! [Laughs] It was impossible for us to write on the road. On this tour, for the first time we’re like, “Okay let’s do it this time. What do we need, we need speakers, a computer, keyboards so Mario [Duplantier] can do drums on the bus.”
There’s no room on the bus, it’s so small and we need a guitar and a bass and interface and we got all that together. It’s not easy, when you go on tour you think about the instrument and what’s essential. It’s a bit of work with all the cables and stuff so we created this small studio in the back lounge of the bus and we did write a lot of riffs this time. We have maybe 20-something ideas, cool riffs, atmospheres, intros, outros and all that stuff. So now we want to put all of this together and make and album.
With all of the touring you have done this year and all the touring ahead of you, what is one thing you must have on tour with you, no electronics.
Oh, that’s tough, my pillow, seriously. If I forget my pillow, I have to buy one that I really like or else I’m f—ed. It’s so, so important. We rent a bus and we have bunks and there’s a pillow there but it’s really rare that it’s the right one so I bring mine and then the other one — this is becoming really intimate — but I kind of hug it. It’s not because I need to hug someone or something but it keeps my body from falling off the bunk. [Laughs]