Hailing from across the borders into Europe, Gojira are easily one of the biggest exports to come out of France since their cheese. All stereotypes aside, the band have slowly been churning away their Metallic maelstrom. Hard to believe that fourteen years ago their now eponymous The Link was released. Slowly gaining momentum the band would be leading to their most important release of their career, Magma. Unveiled last year the second the mystical single “Stranded” hit the airwaves, immediately the music world was speculating Gojira’s momentous return. Now almost one year on the band have not only grown but understood how to use their magnified power to devastating effect. In celebration and after a long stint of supporting slots the band at long last made their return last month with a headline performance in London.
“Playing London is such a mythical place. It’s always a good show, the crowd is always amazing and it’s a very prestigious city to play in so we are very, very happy and concentrate to make a good one!”
The intelligence of the quartet that is Gojira is manifold. Understanding the band’s potential reach, they decided to try and chip away at fans. Last year alone the band performed at Download, Bloodstock, The Golden Gods and rounded off the year with an appearance supporting Alter Bridge. A plan to slowly assimilate themselves into the British audience. Reaching a wider variety of fan, given their accessible sound, even in their more technical fledgling steps that was Terra Incognita and The Link. Nevertheless the tactics worked as tonight’s and many other shows on the European leg were completely sold out.
“We focused on promoting the band a lot. We opened for Slayer, we opened for Mastodon. We made so many tours just as openers and actually the plan worked because we got new fans! Alter Bridge was an idea from the management and also we love these guys, before touring with them we knew them. It was a great opportunity also to get new fans and new people who never heard about Gojira before and actually it worked! Yesterday was a sold out show and for Birmingham it’s great and we saw many people with Alter Bridge t shirts. The plan was to just make sure that people who had never heard about us. Finally we are here with a headline tour and after we had our US tour last year. Of course we will go back in the US as a coheadlining tour with Opeth, a short one and some headline shows. We are on our way to just headline as much as we can now. Because we did all these opening tours and it was a great thing to do.”
So what is the product of all these huge support slots, how have they gotten to where they want to with Magma? Put plain and simply the band know their audience. Understanding the potential scope for new fans with support slots as big as both Mastodon and Slayer it’s no wonder it worked. Yet herein lies Gojira inherent genius. Able to appeal just as much to the Thrash mad Slayer fan or the far out spaced proggy frequenterof Mastodon. Nevertheless with the release of their 2016 record, Gojira have well and truly created a niche for themselves. As much as fans might have penned the album as their most experimental to date, the limitless sense of curiosity is precisely what Gojira’s “sound” is.
“I don’t know it’s just spontaneous. We enter a room and we played. We never know what’s going to happen, we had a want to create something new. Sometimes we feel a bit frustrated to be limited by this kind of music. We love music in general we love Rock, we love The Beatles so many different kinds of music. It’s very important for us, because we’re not twenty years old anymore. We became older and older so we had this feeling that we had to go deeper into the music and be more in sync with our age. This album reflects Gojira in the modern day as well as us as human beings also as musicians.”
Despite their initial label of being on the more extreme ends of the spectrum, over the years Gojira have slowly dialed it back all the while retaining their identity and most importantly their integrity. Wherever you might be, you spot anyone with a Gojira t shirt, the Metal head nod is given. Even the most stubborn of Metal heads accept Magma for what it is. Originally written before the taking ill of their mother, the band completely rewrote the record following her passing. Wanting to explore different techniques and ideas the band weren’t familiar with in this venture of discovery.
“The challenge for me is to play a simple part. It’s not so easy. Sometimes we say Ringo Starr for example from The Beatles was a bad drummer but actually he was a genius because he knows how to play for the music. It’s a real challenge so my goal on this album was to play for the music more and just put the little touch of technique here and there but most importantly was to serve the music for the song. A different approach than before.”
“The four of us are exactly on the same page. We don’t have prove anything anymore you know? We were a technical band when we started the band and we have changed! We had new ambitions. We thought the same. We want to get rid of all the extreme, the technical side, we felt a bit tired of it. 90% of our life is on the road. 10% is going in the studio and composing but the rest is touring and we always play the old stuff. So if you want to see Gojira live, you’ll always experience the technical stuff because we will always play the old songs. Just when it’s about composing new stuff we have new ambitions.”
However as fantastic for their career as extensive touring may well be the realities soon set in. Particularly after the three week mark, the venues blur into one faceless entity everyday. Becoming somewhat of a recluse, perhaps not to the level of The Shining’s Jack Torrance, Mario did draw inspiration from the archetypal Kubrick film however. The fiercely creative force doesn’t just extend its arm to that of the music world, already a prolific artist of the band’s album artwork brother Joe Duplantier has rooted himself in the arts. Nevertheless Mario isn’t far behind in the cinematic world with his portrayal of “Evil Mario”.
“I got an app, very easy to shoot and then you push with your finger for another shot and at the end you have a real montage directly. You don’t have to edit. On tour instead of playing video games like pigs I always try to stay creative. For me it’s very important to stay fresh and creative. I don’t like bands who play video games all day. It depresses me a little bit. I prefer to read a book or painting or I always try to do something interesting during the day. Instead of becoming a zombie, it’s a long day, you have to wait, you’re far away from your family and you’re always in the bus. This little movie was also a good way to get rid of stress and after a few weeks touring you start to become a little bit asocial. It’s great to tour but after three weeks there is always a phenomenon where it is hard to communicate to each other. I think it’s almost everybody in the crew and band, we all feel a bit tired and in a bad mood. It’s a long tour! I remember when I did Evil Mario actually it was a good way, instead of killing people I was doing it on Instagram haha!”
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Aside from the backstage antics when the band arrive on stage their force is absolutely unstoppable. Renown for their absolutely fearsome live show, no doubt soon, if not already the man himself is seen as an inspiration to those young drummers in the Metal world. Combining technique and understanding Mario works in sync with brother Duplantier to a scary level of accuracy. When asked who some of the drummers biggest influences are, Mario has no problem reeling off a list of some of the crème de la crème of Metal drummers.
“Lars Ulrich from Metallica, Igor Cavalera from Sepultura, Gene Hoglan from Death, Sean Reinert from Death. Pete Sandoval from Morbid Angel, David from Korn, Abe Cunningham from Deftones… Cypress hill even! Even if there are no drums I really love the beats of Cypress Hill. Many more! These guys are the biggest.”
Not one to pigeonhole himself, the drummer takes influence not only from music but art as a visual representation itself. Filling the tedium that can be touring with unique creations on his very own drum skins! Rooted in the accidental the man has an aptitude for creating something in exactly that moment. It seems that it stretches to sibling Joe as well. Whilst penning lyrics, the man often doodles whilst creating the lyrical idea behind the songs.
“The album cover was made by Joe, Joe is a very good drawer too. It fit with the lyrics, it’s almost the same process. When he is writing lyrics, he is always sketching some drawings so most of the time I say to him “Let’s do the cover!” its coherent, it’s a package. So Joe has made all of the covers except the first one. That was a picture from our sister but the rest was always Joe. On the L’Enfant Sauvage album I did the first sketch, when I am drawing, when I’m painting I express everything within my mind. From our existence, from religion, from politics but in the most simple way. There is also however something that is subconscious, something that is captured in a moment. For example I would throw a coffee, I would place a bit of ink there and see what happens! It’s a lot of experimentation. It’s the easiest way you can imagine, I’m not thinking too much.”
The ethos found in the simple things carries on from the band’s music. Subtle nuances create fantastic, unique sections that trick and tease regardless however many lessons you have. For example the trickster fidgeting of “Stranded” makes you think you’ve got the song entirely mapped out or the precise unpredictability of “Only Pain“. Living in the moment the man takes this sentiment into his ethereal art which at current relies on a drum skin and toothpaste…
“Everyday it can be something different. For example on my Instagram I have one picture. I brushed my teeth and then spat out the toothpaste on the drumhead, then I put some ink on there and I let it dry for two hours.
Then I thought OK interesting! So I put two characters on there. It’s spontaneous art. (Motioning towards a globe) at first I thought it looked like a skull and then I stopped and thought he maybe it could be a planet! So I placed two small men there. It’s very simple you couldn’t get more simple. Here there are some animals, I have something with animals. This one, I really enjoy texture so I put some little characters there. I love when it’s a bit mysterious. I love when there are many faces, I don’t know why, maybe there’s an explanation! Because we are many personalities I guess haha!”
Owing to their stratospheric rise, Gojira have the potential to become one of the biggest Modern Metal bands to date. Rising up through the ranks, following an absolutely devastating sold out Forum show. If they carry on, the halls of Wembley Arena could well be calling but as it stands Gojira can quite comfortably be happy knowing their doing all that they can. With this year seeing the band capitalise further to what many argue to be the album of their career, remaining open to creativity and constantly improving, the band have not only the ability to truly become one of the biggest in the world but the hunger. If in doubt ask the sold out cries two thousand strong.