Gojira: ‘It’s a Challenge to Deliver a Perfect Show Night After Night’
The French metal giant’s drummer Mario Duplantier talks about the importance of discipline in becoming a great band, their long-due album, and memories of India
In July and August last year, French metallers Gojira had a special guest on stage to get them through soundcheck on their Europe tour – Bengaluru-based drummer Abhinav Yogesh [from death/thrash metallers Inner Sanctum]. After following them on tour for a good few weeks, Yogesh recorded a video of his soundcheck jam, which has now garnered over 63,000 views. Soon enough, he became a Gojira superfan, with jokes going around that the band outsourced Mario Duplantier’s job to India. Says Duplantier over email, “Abhinav is a pretty special human being, we love this guy! He is one of our most dedicated fans and has traveled to all four corners of the globe to see us play.”
A memory like that also ensures that India never drops off Gojira’s radar. Since the band made their India debut at the Indian Metal Festival in Bengaluru in December 2012, Duplantier says there have been more offers, but nothing that has worked out yet. Now they have a reason to look again, considering they’re at the last stage of completing their yet-to-be-titled sixth album, something that frontman and Duplantier’s brother Joe has called “perfect.” Joe said in an interview in 2015, “It sounds really pretentious to say it’s the greatest album of all time, but, to us, it is.”
With the album slated to release in Spring this year – sources indicate April or May – Mario Duplantier spoke about the band’s previous run of shows promoting 2012 album L’Enfant Sauvage, and India.
First off, please share with us whatever you can about the upcoming album at this stage – how is it coming along?
There is a lot to share, but at this present moment everything is tracked, and we are about to begin the mixing phase. We recorded the entire album in our own studio, Silver Cord studios in Brooklyn, New York. For this album, we really wanted to go back to our old ways and produce it ourselves. It has stayed true to the original vision we had when we began the writing process. We are in our own universe and being in our own studio is comforting. In my opinion, Gojira has matured a lot throughout this experience and it has allowed us to create better songs overall. I think our fans will really connect with the new material and we are very excited to share it with everyone.
Gojira has been playing L’Enfant Sauvage for years now – has it been a big scale up for you guys in terms of the production and the number of people you play to now compared to before this album was out?
We toured more on the L’Enfant Sauvage album cycle than any other album. It was a huge step for us; we got to play in over 40 countries across the planet. The quality of that album combined with the great job our label did on its release, allowed us to gain a lot of new fans. L’Enfant Sauvage was an important and defining moment for us in our career.
Did it feel monotonous to play that one album for so long? How did you avoid that?
We try to vary the set lists and keep things interesting for the audience so it’s not exactly the same each time. A lot of our songs are physically very hard to play so regardless of whether we play some of the same songs more often, it’s still a fun challenge for us and we enjoy it. It kind of reminds me of a martial art sometimes, the art of precision.
“We’ve definitely expanded in terms of social media outreach and have learned how to communicate with our fans a bit better.”
And now when this new album comes out, it feels like Gojira will play to even bigger audiences – how do you prep yourself before going out to a sea of people?
There is a lot of preparation that will go into our next headline tour. Not just on the production side, but the physical side as well. It is a real challenge to try and deliver a perfect show night after night in front of so many people. It takes a lot of discipline. But the most important thing is to have fun, and communicate our love and our passion for playing our songs to our fans.
Joe mentioned in an old interview before L’Enfant Sauvage released that you guys were not “super good at business, we’re just about the music.” Has that changed or do you prefer to concentrate on just the music?
We’ve expanded in terms of social media outreach and have learned how to communicate with our fans a bit better. We also keep a close eye on tour expenses, merchandise contracts, and all aspects of the business really.
There’s been no word on the famous collaborative EP you were going to release for Sea Shepherd – is that going to continue to be in the vaults for now?
Let’s not talk about it [laughs].
How were you affected by the terrorist attacks in Paris? Did it make you guys worry about the security behind your gigs?
Yes it’s worrying, but I feel like we have a duty to keep carrying on in honor of those lost that day. We played two nights in a row at Le Bataclan in Paris in 2013. It is an amazing venue, and the Parisian fans are always incredible. We are so sad for everyone affected by the senseless violence that day; not only in Paris but everywhere on the planet.
I heard it was quite a crazy time for you when you played in India in 2012 – what is the one memory, good or bad – that still sticks out in your mind?
Our experience in India will remain unforgettable. I personally loved it. The fans were so passionate and enthusiastic. Everyone who hosted us was very hospitable and kind-hearted. India is such a fascinating country, in fact I listened to a lot of traditional Indian music in my house growing up. My mother had traveled to India and felt a special connection to the country… We can’t wait to go back and play the new album there!
Have more offers come your way since you played in India? Any chance you’ll make it here to promote the new album?
Yes, we did receive a few offers since, but they didn’t work out with our previously scheduled planning. We will be back in 2016 or 2017, I promise!