5 Questions With Gojira’s Joe and Mario Duplantier: New Album ‘Magma,’ Building Their Studio + More
When we walked into Silver Cord Studio located in a quiet area of Queens, the steps going upstairs to the second level of the studio weren’t exactly finished. However, once you get up the raw wooden stairs there was a video showing the finished floor on the first level being put together by Gojira’s own Joe Duplantier.
Silver Cord Studio and the new album Magma are both projects in which Gojira put their literal blood, sweat and tears into. We had the chance to talk about the new album, due out June 17, with Joe and his brother and drummer Mario Duplantier at the studio right before a listening session. The two delved deep into the hard work that went into both building the studio and creating the record, as well as the emotional toll it took on them. They also expressed how proud they are of their new material and the freedom that their new home Silver Cord Studio gives them as artists.
Check out our interview with Joe and Mario Duplantier of Gojira below:
What made you decide to pick this particular location in Queens, N.Y., to build a studio?
Joe Duplantier: We had a place in mind to do the record, and I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to create a studio somewhere in New York because we had that in France back in the day when we were starting. We always had our own space to record which is really important for us. We always do the pre-production and the demos ourselves so we always need a space but prices are so high in New York. A friend of mine was managing a project here, the Rockwall Studios, which has like 100 spaces for artists and he showed me this space because he knew I was looking and I was like, “Is this still Brooklyn,” and he was like, “It’s technically Queens.” I didn’t know about Ridgewood at all. I wouldn’t venture outside of Brooklyn in general, so we settled in Queens because of the opportunity of the space. It’s a pretty strategic location to because it’s in the middle of the new wave of artists; it’s an up-and-coming area.
Mario, how did you feel about this idea of building a studio from scratch?
Mario Duplantier: I respect the fact that Joe has visions, we have many examples in our career of where Joe proposes some stuff and at first we were like, “Are you sure? Can we do this?” I respect his vision and I am following him and I want to help if I can. I know it’s not exactly my kind of personality but Joe has these feelings with things. At first I thought, “Building a studio is tough and it will take time.”
JD: Mario is more set on doing the record and writing songs and making that a priority. I guess I was trying to think ahead, the music business now is really, really difficult. There’s no money any more, it’s almost a miracle when bands can get an advance to make a record and we’re lucky enough to have a good contract with a solid record company so we do get a bit of money to do our records, it’s our money but the record company is advancing that money. What usually happens is that we spend all of it on the recording studio so I did the math and it’s pretty much what we would have spent any way to go in a proper studio, we spent the same exact money to build our own. This means next time when we have to put out a record we have the opportunity to make a little bit of money when we get an advance and we will get to take our time when we make our record here. It’s basically a nest for the next advance. [Laughs]
MD: That’s what I enjoyed the most, was the idea. When Joe was building the studio, I focused on the fact that we were building this bubble for the band and I loved this idea to have our own room, we can compose the music, record it, mix it, sit and take the time that we need to do it. Usually when you work with someone you always have to adapt to their vision because we are respectful to that. Sometimes it is tough to work with a producer because we want to work with him and we are ready to make compromise sometimes but I love the idea that we don’t have to compromise because Joe and I have our vision of the music. So I focused on this idea that if we have our own studio we will do everything by ourselves, the music will become more personal and deeper.
JD: It’s a moment of extreme fragility. When we write songs time goes by fast, one day feels like one minute sometimes. We show up somewhere to work on an idea and then it’s time to go and pick up the kids and stuff, we have a life too. Every hour we spent on this record, like Mario said, we spent it in our own bubble, in our own world here and it’s very precious. It’s priceless.
My deepest condolences to both of you with the passing of your mother. How did that life-changing experience affect your approach to this new album?
JD: Deeply, for sure. Everything we go through in life inspires us to write songs and this was like an earth-shattering event. For us being musicians, it’s a way to cope with life in general, so of course for a moment that intense and that important there’s no other way than expressing it in the music. It’s still hard, it’s not because you write about it, it becomes easy but it helps for sure. This album is full of that experience.
MD: It has many other experiences, too. We feel like we are better musicians and we know how to write songs better so we also had some fun writing songs so it was many, many kinds of emotions, joy, sadness, everything.
JD: It’s true our music is a bit like protection, almost like a safety net, if we fall from something or if we feel depressed or sad.
What about who you are as people and musicians now can we hear on this new material that we may be different from past efforts?
JD: Some elements are radically different. Some of the songs are vocally different, Mario’s drumming has evolved and it’s more mature. It’s funny each time we release a new record we say the same thing that we feel more mature but it’s a natural thing.
MD: Also, we cannot be a teenager anymore. [Laughs] I would love to have the fresh energy of when I was 16-years-old, I was just challenging myself with drum parts but now I’m another person. Now I try to stay simple as a drummer and this is my way of being a better musician and better technically, is to play more simple. It’s more challenging this way, it’s challenging to just keep the core of the rhythm, I think the songs on this album needed it.
JD: The live experience, too, touring this world for all of these years, it kind of shapes you. There’s something in us, too, we feel like we are playing bigger stages now, organically the new songs are fit to our new touring reality.
With a new album comes a lot of touring, what does the rest of 2016 have in store for you and the rest of Gojira?
JD: We have one and a half months of touring in Europe for festivals, we will start to play the new songs live and see the reaction of the crowd. We also talked about production that we would like to come with the new shows, we want people to be amazed by the show, so we are working on it.
MD: We have our U.S. headlining tour at end of September and October.
JD: I just wanted to say, we’re very excited and we feel at peace with this record because we gave everything.
MD: Even if people don’t like it, it won’t be a big deal. Joe and I and the rest of the band, the four of us when we listen to the album we are very happy.
JD: It is really what we wanted to express, no regrets, there’s always a little thing here and there. What’s interesting about this album, that I wanted to add, was that, it comes directly from us from A to Z. The only thing that we didn’t do was the mastering, which would almost never happen that a band masters their own record because it’s so specific. From writing the lyrics, to the demos, to pre-production and tracking, we did the whole thing ourselves with our live guy, we did all the tracking and all the vocals here.
We mixed it here too which is very challenging especially after months and months of tracking. We mixed it here and made the studio -- oh yeah, we built the studio! [Laughs] We did everything, the mixing included which was very challenging, we almost went nuts at some point and four masters later we have the one we are really happy with. It’s going to be a direct thing between us and the fans -- there’s no one between us and the fans on this record.
MD: I feel lucky to live this experience, building a studio, making an album from A to Z. I feel lucky because I am doing what I love and that’s enough for me.
Our thanks to Joe and Mario Duplantier for inviting us into their studio and for taking time to do this interview. Check out the dates for their headlining fall North American tour here.
Watch Gojira's Video for Their New Track "Stranded":