INTERVIEW – GOJIRA

Roadrunner’s French metal titans Gojira are readying latest album L’Enfant Sauvage for release next month and we’re stoked to be able to bring you an interview with Joe and Mario.

The album’s lead single and title track is already making waves on the metal scene and the band will be hitting the road with familiar tour buddies Metallica again soon.

Look out for a full review of L’Enfant Sauvage next month! 

 

 

rushonrock: What was it like recording in New York with Josh Wilbur?

Gojira (Joe): It was great! Recording with Josh was a very good experience because he’s a good person, first of all, and he’s honest. He’s really into music, into details. He’s a great engineer also.  He knew how to use the microphones in the right way, to get the right sound out of Mario’s drums, for example and to give  the power to the kick drum, to the guitars and to keep the natural sound of the cymbals. Especially the ride, we have a wonderful ride on this album. Also Josh would always make sure we gave our best on every part that we would record. For example, when I was singing, he was telling me “You can scream louder “, “You can sing more in tune” and “You can give more emotion” and stuff like that.  For me, at first, it was really surprising because were used to doing things ourselves – from scratch. Having someone with you, pushing you the whole time, can sometimes be a little annoying. But in the end it’s for the better, so Josh for that was really good, really amazing.  He knew how to observe what was happening, and found his role in this album, in a good way. We’re not easy people to work with. We know exactly what we want, so Josh did a good job, I think.

rushonrock: Josh has worked with a variety of acts – Hatebreed, Shiny Toy Guns, and of course Lamb of God – but what were the reasons why you chose to work with him for this album?

Gojira (Joe): We didn’t really choose to work with Josh.  We didn’t really have an idea of a producer we wanted to work with.  We were talking to several people in Los Angeles and it just didn’t work out, so we decided to find someone, to find a studio first, and then to put a team together. We were not sure if we really wanted to work with a producer anymore. I started to visit some studios and the first one I visited was in New York. Josh was there and we met.  So, in the very first studio I visited Josh was just hanging out and working on stuff. We connected pretty well and he seemed to be a passionate guy, so that’s how it started. We just met randomly.

rushonrock: Talk about the album title L’Enfant Sauvage – what it means and the reasons behind the choice of title?

Gojira (Joe): L’Enfant Sauvage means the feral child, or the wild child. I’m not sure what the best translation is. ‘Enfant’ is the kid or the child, ‘Sauvage’ means wild. In French, it would mean uneducated and not altered by society in general. For example, in terms of a wild flower, it would just be a flower that grew in the forest, with an interesting shape and colour – most of the time. ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ would be the symbol of our true nature. It’s a reflection of the balance of our pure nature; of what we are inside, the instinct, our animal side and our civilized side. It represents the society, our identity and the interaction with others and all that. This album is a big reflection on freedom and our true nature. I would say that it’s a message to our fans, or whoever’s going to read the lyrics or listen to the album, to be careful and to stay to keep your ‘state’ like a treasure because it’s really important. It’s a lot about the present about being true to oneself and to others.

rushonrock: You’re well known for having environmental themed lyrics – does this statement still stand for this record ?

Gojira (Joe): We’ve been called environmental fighters or environmentalists so many times. It’s for a reason because some songs are undermining environmental themes or are environmental orientated, I guess. We care about the environment, of course. I would say we’re not special. We’re normal people. We live on a small planet, in the middle of the infinity of space, so we should just take care of this planet – this ship. It’s both ours and our children’s, so we’re nothing special. I just think were normal people.

rushonrock: Why do you think it’s important for bands to talk about those issues?

Gojira (Joe): I think it’s important for artists in general – musicians, writers, movie makers- to talk about these issues, because they are everybody’s issues. I think when you have people’s attention; you have a responsibility to bring the light on issues that matter. There is an emergency. It’s not just to look good or to have a good conscious. There is an emergency on earth right now.  There are so many of us on the planet and we’re losing some very precious things that could lead to chaos. Sharks are disappearing, and so is water. I mean, it’s a critical moment in history, as a species.  So people that are here that are entertain, as performers, should also feel the responsibility to bring light to these issues.

rushonrock: How would you say you have progressed musically speaking over the past five albums, and how does this album differ from the others?

Gojira (Mario): Throughout these five albums, I think we have learnt how to get straight to the point. When you are young, you want to play technical stuff.  You want to play fast. With maturity, you just leave the techniques outside and focus on what’s essential. I think, the main progression is about keeping the essential elements and keeping everything that’s necessary. That’s the progression we have made.

rushonrock: What are your favourite tracks from the album, and why?

Gojira (Mario): My favourite song is Mouth Of Kala because it’s heavy, atmospheric and emotional. It’s almost close to the sensation you have when you dream.  I love this song.

(Joe): My favourite song is Pain Is A Master.  I mean, it’s hard to say what my favourite song is. I mean an album is like a whole piece so it’s hard to take one song. I like playing Pain Is A Master because there are a lot of different things happening in it and a lot of emotion.

rushonrock: Your last album entered the US Billboard chart on first week of release, do you hope for the same reception?

Gojira (Joe): Yeah, the release of our last album was very good. It’s a matter of luck sometimes, to be honest. Like, if you release your album at the same time as another famous artist, you become lower on the Billboard. I hope the configuration will be good this time, and that nobody will release anything. Then we’ll be first on the Billboard! But no, it’s true that the last release was amazing and I hope it’s going to be even better this time.

rushonrock: Your music videos are always filled with impressive, artistic cinematography. What can we expect on this album cycle?

Gojira (Joe): We are working on a video right now. It’s for the title track L’Enfant Sauvage. We’re keeping the same idea of something dreamy, like something very black and white and very arty.  It’s far from the clichés of metal. We’re not trying to be original, and were not trying to stay away from the clichés of metal, really. We’re not even tempted to use these clichés.  We just stand where we are and we just try to be ourselves. When we make a video, it just comes out like this. It’s something experimental with photos and stuff like that. Yeah, the next video has the same idea, and hopefully we’ll bring something new also.

rushonrock: You went on tour with Metallica in 2009. How did it feel to be handpicked by one of  ‘The Big Four’?

Gojira (Joe): Playing with Metallica was definitely a dream come true. It’s even hard to talk about it like this.  It was just amazing. It was something so big, that when it happens you’re like “okay”. You just don’t realise.  Even today, when we talk about this experience, it’s like a dream. Like we’re not certain it happened but it did happen.  We were opening for them in the US and in Europe and we’ll do more shows with them. It’s great! It’s a great feeling.

rushonrock: Are you looking forward to playing with them again this month?

Gojira (Joe): We cannot wait to hit the stage with Metallica again, of course!

rushonrock: You grew up in the west coast of France, how would you say that the growing up in the countryside has influenced your music?

Gojira (Joe): Growing up in the countryside was a good thing for us, I think. It kept us away from the trends and from, you know, a certain vibe in the city that we were missing. But as a band, as composers, it was good to start just like that. Just with a few bands that influenced us. We were not trying to look like metal heads. We wouldn’t go to school and we were not worried to be trendy or to look good or stuff like that. I mean, I don’t want to exaggerate. We were in the countryside, but still we were wearing clothes!  There’s less influence there and I think, for a band, it’s a good thing because you’re truer. You’re more yourself, I guess. It was not only being in the countryside that was a good influence though. We had a good influence from our families. Our parents were into art, music, painting, yoga and all these things. They were good influences. You can be also from the countryside and be a total asshole.

(Mario): I would like to say that oceans and mountains are also big in France because they create very powerful and strong energies. This you can feel in our music.

(Joe): Yeah, Mario likes to surf. Almost every day of the year he’s in the waves. Jean Michael, our bass player, is always mountain biking. When we have a break from touring, we like to go back to nature and feel this energy. I live in New York right now so it’s very different, but it’s kind of a jungle too.

rushonrock: Tell us about the French metal / hard rock music scene and if it is hard to break out into other countries?

Gojira (Joe): There is a metal scene in France. There are tons of good bands. Although not a lot of them are going past the border. It’s not something that French people do – they tend to stay in France.  Not all of them actually. Bands like Justice and Daft Punk – these guys are French and they make it so there’s no curse on France with international success. It’s just that metal didn’t quite make it. But it’s changing. We have a lot of very good metal bands now.

rushonrock: When can UK fans see Gojira live?

Gojira (Joe): UK Sonisphere has been cancelled, so we unfortunately won’t be able to play that this summer.  I think we will come back in November. We’re looking forward to touring Europe at this time of the year. Worst case, we’ll come back at the beginning of 2013. But we’ll come back to the UK for sure. We’re booked right now until mid September, but then anything is possible. I know our agent is trying to see if he can sneak a couple of dates in there sooner!

 

I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.

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