Old Slayer and Fresh Fruit: Gojira Frontman Joe Duplantier’s Metal Musts

Joe Duplantier of Gojira

Joe Duplantier of Gojira

On October 25 in Las Vegas, French metal beasts Gojira kicked off a North American tour they’ll spend tenderizing audiences as the opening act for their heroes, Slayer. “It’s amazing to be on this tour,” says the band’s elated frontman, Joe Duplantier. “It’s Slayer!”

At this point, Duplantier shouldn’t be surprised to find his band opening for the thrash legends. Gojira’s 2012 release, L’Enfant Sauvage, was both sublimely technical and utterly brutal. Filled with unrelenting beats, neck-snapping speed, and throat-shredding growls, the effort made SPIN’s 20 Best Metal Albums of 2012 list.

The Frenchmen will be on the road until November 30, but on his day off, Duplantier chatted with us about some of his favorite things.

Slayer’s South of Heaven
It’s the first [Slayer album] I listened to. I was in high school at the time and I had to take the damn bus every morning. Listening to this album, it’s so evil and dark, punk and thrash at the same time. It was very helpful for me to face the day. Going to school was torture for me, and listening to Slayer at this moment was very helpful.

Slayer Bassist-Vocalist Tom Araya
I learned a lot from Tom. I’m very impressed by his charisma and how he communicates — he doesn’t care, he is just himself onstage. He doesn’t need to play hard to be metal. He doesn’t need to try. He can just be himself. He’s not scared to talk about love — for example, several times already during the shows, he talks about a Slayer show being all about love.

Death
I think [Death guitarist-vocalist] Chuck Schuldiner was a genius. The way he put words together was very mystical and interesting. The way he cut a sentence, a line is just one half of the sentence, and the second line is the second half of the sentence. That signature I really love, the images that he is using and the way that he is talking about modern society. Death was always a one-man band, it was all him. The way I work, the way I compose riffs and put my voice on it and stuff, is heavily influenced by Chuck Schuldiner.

Lowlands Music Festival
We played Lowlands in Holland this summer. When I saw, the bill I didn’t know half of the bands: I was like, “What is this — it’s going to be a shitty festival.” And I was blown away by the vibe. Nick Cave was headlining, Bonobo, Slayer, it was huge and very interesting, very eclectic. Sometimes [eclectic] doesn’t work — the crowd is not really open-minded because the bands playing are too mainstream, so we’re not really welcome. We feel like the crowd is watching us like strange animals or something. But this festival, it was very artistic and good quality; people were open-minded, and we had a blast.

Metropolis
I’m pretty fascinated with Metropolis by Fritz Lang. It’s a very old movie, but it’s a masterpiece. It’s about modern society, and it is very ahead of its time. The music is incredible, and it was actually an inspiration when I was writing the lyrics for L’Enfant Sauvage. There is something really magical and beautiful about old art in general, paintings and drawings. This movie is very symbolic of the older times, with a lot of magic. I like to be inspired by older art.

Fruit
It’s so difficult to eat on the road. We eat so much shit, you know? We stop somewhere, and that’s our only opportunity to eat on travel days. We have a very hard time to digest, and we’re always a little sick with food on the road for some reason. We don’t really choose when and what we eat, so each time I eat an apple or banana, I feel great.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
It’s my bible! It’s about reincarnation and the process of dying. It’s something that is not morbid for me. The last step of our life in this body is when we leave this world. It’s something very sacred. Almost everyone is scared of dying. It’s taboo to talk about death; when someone is going to die, we don’t know how to react, what to say to this person — we kind of try to avoid the subject. In reality, it is something really beautiful, like a birth, but it’s just the other way around. I’m not saying we should all die right now and it’s going to be a great party, but the most common thing on this planet is dying. This book, it’s mostly about life at the end of it. It’s a beautiful book — I love it.

Gojira, metal Land(es) + Dates de la tournée

008-Gojira-2013-vancouver_with_logo

Né en 1996 à Ondres, dans les Landes, le groupe des frères Duplantier a atteint une renommée internationale qui l’emmène pour un mois de tournée aux Etats-Unis, de Las Vegas à Boston, en compagnie des mythiques Slayer.

Qui aurait pu imaginer qu’un petit groupe du sud des Landes, deviendrait un jour le plus international des groupes de rock en France ? Après dix-huit ans d’existence, Gojira, né à Ondres (40) d’une fratrie (Joseph et Mario Duplantier) et d’une bande de copains est devenu une pointure de la scène metal internationale. Gojira joue partout dans le monde, avec les plus grands (Metallica pour ne citer qu’eux) et bénéficie d’une aura et d’une respectabilité en acier trempé. Comment peut-on en arriver là ? Éléments de réponse avec Mario Duplantier, 32 ans, le batteur du groupe.

« Sud Ouest Dimanche ». Vous jouez partout dans le monde. Vous avez encore du temps à consacrer à vos terres d’origines, les Landes et le Pays Basque ?

Mario Duplantier. On ne vit pas tous à Ondres, mais le QG du groupe reste à Ondres, dans les Landes. On s’y retrouve pour préparer les tournées et ensuite on part sur la route. Mon frère a un appartement à New York où il passe du temps. C’est une ville qui l’inspire énormément. Et puis, le statut et l’emploi du temps du groupe le permettent. Nous sommes devenus un groupe international et nous tournons autant aux États-Unis qu’en Europe. Prendre un avion pour sept ou dix heures, maintenant c’est devenu la routine. Lorsque l’on rentre, le temps consacré à nos familles et à nos vies personnelles est devenu de plus en plus important.

Il faut bien s’entendre lorsque l’on est toujours ensemble, sur la route…

Il y a une sorte de fluidité entre nous qui est très précieuse et qui fait beaucoup pour le succès du groupe. On essaie de ne pas avoir la grosse tête car il y en a toujours un pour ramener l’autre sur terre. Je suis avec trois amis en permanence. Un frère et deux très bons amis et mon frère est aussi un ami. Et on a cette chance de voyager dans le monde tous ensemble.

Vous avez déjà joué aux États-Unis, mais la tournée que vous allez entamer en première partie de Slayer semble encore un niveau au-dessus…

Tourner avec Slayer, qui est une légende du metal, c’est jouer dans des salles prestigieuses. Donc oui cette tournée fait rêver. Surtout quand on vient de France et que l’on sait que l’on va jouer à Las Vegas, à Los Angeles, dans des salles de 5 000 places, que l’on va jouer au Madison Square Garden à New York, pour nous ça reste incroyable et on est émerveillés par ce qui nous attend.

L’an dernier vous avez joué avec Metallica, cette année avec Slayer. Comment un groupe français se fait repérer par ces légendes du rock américain ?

Metallica est un groupe très observateur. Ils sont à l’affût de ce qui se passe dans le milieu. Ils avaient constaté qu’il y avait quelque chose autour de Gojira, donc ils nous ont appelés et nous ont proposé de jouer en première partie. Peu avant notre tournée avec Metallica, le bassiste est venu nous voir jouer à San Francisco. Il était dans le public et sa présence m’avait marqué. J’ai l’impression qu’il était là pour voir si vraiment notre groupe tenait la route. Donc c’était vraiment un coup de cœur de Metallica.

Vous êtes aujourd’hui presque plus connus à l’étranger qu’en France. Nul n’est prophète en son pays ?

On a fait nos armes en France et il y a eu une période où l’on ne tournait qu’en France et où nous étions très populaires. Je me souviens de la sortie de notre album en 2005 où l’on a fait quasiment 40 000 ventes, ce qui est bien dans le metal. Il y avait énormément de critiques positives et nous étions une sorte de fierté nationale. Maintenant, le fait que l’on ait percé à l’étranger, qu’il y ait moins d’exclusivités pour la France, ça titille pas mal de gens, mais je trouve que l’on a quand même beaucoup de soutiens en France. On l’a vu notamment au Hellfest (NDLR : qui a réuni 100 000 festivaliers en 2013) où nous avons joué sur la grande scène. Les gens étaient là. Du moment où l’on s’expose, on est critiqués, mais je trouve que le public nous respecte.

La musique que vous jouez, le metal est parfois montrée du doigt, mal comprise. Comment le vivez-vous ?

Je pense que tout ça c’est une apparence. Il y a pas mal de tabous dans notre société. Quand quelqu’un dit qu’il va mal, ça embête les gens, quand quelqu’un parle de la mort ça embête les gens. Et puis beaucoup de ce qui est diffusé à la radio ou à la télé est assez médiocre. C’est de la musique easy listenning pour ne pas déranger les gens, pour ne pas rajouter des tracas à leur quotidien. Le metal, c’est une musique particulière et il peut y avoir des amalgames car on entend des hurlements, il y a une violence sonore donc physique aussi, mais c’est dommage parce que beaucoup de gens qui ne s’intéressent pas au metal pourraient adorer cette musique en grattant un peu. Il n’y a pas de tabous avec le metal. En tant que batteur, cela me permet de lâcher de la joie, de la peine, de la douleur. Pour moi c’est vraiment une expérience.

Savez-vous qu’une pétition circule sur Internet pour demander que vous représentiez la France à L’Eurovision ?

J’ai entendu dire ça. Mais pourquoi pas, si on veut bien de nous à l’Eurovision, je suis d’accord. Mais je n’ai pas envie d’avoir comme mission de faire connaître le metal à la masse. Sinon ça pourrait être marrant si on nous faisait cette proposition.

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How to Appreciate Death Metal

Gojira - L''enfant Sauvage - 2012

Gojira – L’enfant sauvage  album – 2012

Listen beyond the tearing guitars and unusual vocals. Although the rough guitar sound and guttural vocals that permeate much of death metal can take a little getting used to (especially if your ears are accustomed to softer sounds), it’s more than just idiotic noise. There are melodies, patterns, and complexities to be realized and appreciated if enough time is spent soaking it all in.

Watch a live death metal performance. Observe how the group members manipulate the instruments. It can be quite an experience especially since the shows are often small and you can walk near or behind the stage to observe the musicians up close. If you’ve ever tried to play those instruments yourself, you’ll probably be amazed with how skillfully they play. It takes practice and dedication, which challenges the stereotype of metal heads being lazy and careless. You might also be surprised about how energetic some of the performers are.

Remember that in death metal, unlike many other genres, each band almost always writes their own music.  That includes the riffs, drums, solos, and lyrics. Writing your own music demonstrates another dimension of instrumental mastery and talent, as well as making the music more personal and less manufactured.

Don’t take the context and subject matter personally. Death metal lyrics and themes aren’t intended to be taken literally. They document the outer extremes of human experience which other genres don’t dare touch, such as the motivations of serial killers, the activities of the walking dead, death itself, and isolation. Also, many bands will cover other topics not usually associated with death, such as Norse mythology. Many bands explore political and religious issues, and write about historical events.

Keep in mind that some death metal lyrics, especially the gore and brutal varieties, often, but not always, elaborate on the details of extreme acts, including mutilation, dissection, rape and necrophilia. Use your best judgment, including independent online band and album reviews, as well as skimming lyrical content before buying, if you are particularly concerned about the issue.

Be careful not to completely rule out a listening test based solely on lyrical content. Many online music stores have thirty-second clips that can demonstrate the groove of a song, and if the musical content sparks your interest, perhaps the lyrics can be taken more lightly.Look up the lyrics. A common misconception of heavy metal is that all heavy metal bands lyrics are very vulgar, using a lot of bad language. You might be surprised by the complexity and large vocabulary found in the lyrics in some death metal bands.

Look up the lyrics. A common misconception of heavy metal is that all heavy metal bands lyrics are very vulgar, using a lot of bad language. You might be surprised by the complexity and large vocabulary found in the lyrics in some death metal bands

Learn about the sub-genres. Not all death metal is the same. The genre contains many sub-genres that can frequently mix and intermingle with each other. As a result, it may be difficult to ascribe a band under a single sub-genre. Here’s a general guideline to get you started:

  • Blackened – adopts thematic and musical elements of black metal: Akercocke, Behemoth, Belphegor, Dissection, God Dethroned, Firdous Angelcorpse, Sacramentum, Zyklon, Crimson Thorn and many others
  • Brutal: Aborted, Cryptopsy, Blood Red Throne, Deeds of Flesh, Degrade, Deranged, Disavowed, Disgorge, Guttural Secrete, Hate Eternal, Immolation, Internal Suffering, Origin, Skinless, Spawn of Possession, Suffocation, The Genocide Architect, Wormed and many others
  • Death/Doom – slow tempos, melancholic atmosphere, deep growling vocals double-kick drumming: Anathema (earlier works), Asphyx, Autopsy, Disembowelment, My Dying Bride, Swallow the Sun and Winter.
  • Goregrind/Deathgrind – intense, brief, rare guitar solos, more prominent shrieked vocals: Regurgitate, Carcass (earlier work), Terminally Your Aborted Ghost, Dead Infection, Anal Bleeding, Decomposing Serenity, XXX Maniak
  • Melodic – Iron Maiden-esque guitar harmonies and melodies with typically higher-pitched growls: Children Of Bodom (earlier work), Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy, The Black Dahlia Murder, At Odds with God, At the Gates, Carcass (later work), Dark Tranquillity, Desultory, Dethklok, Disarmonia Mundi, Ensiferum, Hilastherion, Hypocrisy, Immortal Souls, Kalmah, Norther, Souls, In Flames (earlier work), Sacrilege, Wintersun, Scar Symmetry, Insomnium, Noumena, Rapture, and Daylight Dies.
  • Symphonic – Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Nightsleep and Septic Flesh
  • Technical/Progressive – dynamic song structures, uncommon time signatures, sometimes includes clean vocals and acoustic guitars, atypical rhythms and unusual harmonies and melodies: The Agonist, Amoral (earlier work), Arsis, Beneath The Massacre, Brain Drill, Cryptopsy, Cynic, Death, Decapitated, Gorguts, Immolation, Job for a Cowboy, Necrophagist, Nile, Ominous, Opeth, Origin, Pestilence, Psycroptic, Sleep terror, Spawn of Possession, The Faceless, Visceral Bleeding, Meshuggah, PsyOpus.
  • Deathcore – Low-tuned guitars, Pigsqueal (bree) vocals, Breakdowns, Includes Metalcore/Punk Elements: All Shall Perish, Betraying the Martyrs, Born of Osiris, Bring me the Horizon (earlier work), CARNIFEX, Chelsea Grin, Cryptopsy (later work), Dr. Acula, Emmure, In Dying Arms, Job for a Cowboy, iwrestledabearonce, KING CONQUER, Knights of the Abyss, Oceano (later work), Suicide Silence, Thy Art is Murder, Upon a Burning Body, Veil of Maya, Whitechapel, and Winds of Plague
Respect the artists. The greatest death metal musicians almost can’t make a living with what they do, and yet the musicians in these bands continue on in spite of their obscurity. Death metal is so non-mainstream that its musicians have to work incredibly hard for their career sales to reach even a million copies (which very few death metal musicians have actually done). Many death metal musicians are highly intelligent people with comprehensive musical training.

Tips:

  • Keep in mind that all genres and sub-genres are under heated debate, so do not adhere to a single definition too seriously.
  • Many excellent death metal bands never had a big record company behind them to support and promote their music. They are hidden treasures. Look around and discover what’s mostly ignored.
  • Many people call Death Metal and other genres with guttural vocals “Screamo”. It is not. Screamo is a sub-genre of Punk.
  • If you’re still convinced it’s just a bunch of noise, and you call yourself a guitarist, download a tablature of just about any Vital Remains song and try to keep up.
  • Another great reference is “Metal : A Headbangers Journey.” It is a great documentary and really shows you how metal has evolved.

Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey OFFICIAL TRAILER

Uploaded on Jul 28, 2011

Banger Films, 2005
dir: Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen & Jessica Joy Wise
dop: Brendan Steacy
by: Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen & Jessica Joy Wise

Sam Dunn, a 30-year old headbanger-turned anthropologist, sets out on a quest to explore heavy metal’s origins and cultural impact. His mission? To get to the bottom of one burning questions: Why is heavy metal music so beloved by its devoted fans and yet so controversial?

This ground-breaking film examines the history of heavy metal stereotypes and illuminates the truth behind the music. Witness performances and candid interviews with metal icons and members of legendary bands including Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Twisted Sister, Motley Cure, Motorhead, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, Ronnie James Dio, Rage Against The Machine and Rush, as well as extremists like Slipknot, Cannibal Corpse and more.

Shot on location in the UK, Germany, Norway, Canada and the US, this documentary is an exhilarating tribute to metal’s dark side, and an outsider’s window into a complex spectacle and fascinating subculture.

 

Black metal documentary from METAL a headbangers journey

Gojira – L’enfant Sauvage album –  playlist