Intervju med Joe Duplantier i Gojira!
Jag har nu träffat och intervjuat Joe så många gånger att vi borde kunna börja skicka julkort till varandra.
Konserten på Göta Källare var utsåld och bandet visade ännu en gång vilken otrolig kraft de besitter i sina liveframträdanden. Några timmar innan konserten satt vi ner backstage och pratade om lite allt möjligt. Bla berättade Joe att det bli en ny livedvd som spelas in i London, hur de gjorde sin egen merchandise i Seattle och var hans intresse för naturen kommer ifrån.
The tour then, all good?
Joe Duplantier: Yeah, all good. Well, it´s the beginning of it so now I´m sick, but this is normal. After three or four shows, my throat is becoming fragile because I scream every night. Especially in winter time, but it´s normal.
How do you take care of your voice? It´s such an important part of your performance.
JD: I´m supposed to sleep a lot and drink a lot of water, but instead I don´t drink water and I don´t sleep, so of course it doesn´t help. I´m hyper active or a special kind of hyper active. I´m not all over the place, but I can´t sleep. Especially after a full day of work. I sneak out to the stage all the time ti check and the guys go “Dude, relax! Go to the dressing room!” and then we play the show and I can´t go to bed right after that. We film the show and I watch the show with the light guy and then I need one or two hours to do other stuff, so I never sleep and that´s a problem. But the tour´s been going great. We started in Moscow a couple of days ago and Russia is fucked up! It´s incredible. We were stuck at the border for 10 hours on our way out, which is surprising. You would think that going out was no problem, but it was. We were very, very late and we thought we were gonna have to cancel the show in Finland. We arrived when the doors opened, so the audience was waiting outside in line in the cold and they saw the bus coming, “What the fuck! You´re coming now? You should be warmed up and ready to go.”. The crew worked hard but we forgot about some of the production we have, but the show was incredible.
What got you stuck there? Passport issues?
JD: There was nothing wrong with that. Maybe they just didn´t like our faces, I don´t know. Things are not put together well and the customs is not in touch with the government.
It´s all corrupt, I guess.
JD: Yeah and you also have to know how to give them the money. “How do I do this? Am I giving it to this guy or is he gonna run away with it? Is it going to work?”. You gotta have a “guy” and we didn´t have a “guy” this time which was a mistake. The result was that we arrived at the last minute and the show was really, really good. We had this tension “Aaaarrgh!” and it was good.
Something good came from something bad.
You´re doing your own headlining tour in the US and Canada with Devin Townsend. A package like that, does that come from you or is it the record company coming up with the idea?
JD: We had to fight for it. We talked to Devin last summer at a festival and it was like “We should play together. My fans always talk about you and you´re fans talk about me. Let´s do something.”. I told him “We need to headline.” And I would never imagine Devin opening for us, but he went “Dude, I opened for you guys.”. It came from the connection and the friendship that we have and mutual respect. He´s stoked. The label had other ideas, but it´s great. We never had such a powerful opener.
Are there a lot of business talk behind such a thing? That his crowd might draw so and so many and you so and so?
JD: Yeah. Actually, it didn´t really fit with the business thinking and that´s why I said we had to fight for him. Everybody respects him to death; the record company, management, the sponsors. Everybody was like “Yeah, Devin man! But wait, you have the same crowd!”, so it wasn´t exactly the best solution for the partners, but oh my god, the experience, the inspiration is the best definitely so finally they went “Alright, let´s do it!”. If you don´t say anything as a musician, everybody will go “Ok, we´re going with this, because his manager knows this manager and so on.”. You have to fight for things sometimes and that´s probably why we´re a bit tired sometimes, because we try to face each problem and be present everywhere. Like right now, I would be on stage checking stuff like “The gaffa tape should be like this!”. (laughs)
I talked to a member of a Swedish band (Bullet) recently and they´ve made a name for themselves but they´re still a small band, but he said that there are so many meetings with the label and managers and stuff, it felt like a regular job. Is there a lot of that stuff?
JD: Yeah a lot of that and it´s more and more complicated. This business is very complicated. All the record companies and even managements are reinventing their jobs because they don´t sell records anymore. Take any business and divide it by 10 when it comes to income. It´s a mess, so everybody´s trying to reinvent it. The record companies are trying to be publishers and the management tries to sell merchandise and they do everything at the same time, so they ask a lot of the bands because they can´t do their job properly. They have to do 10 jobs in order to multiply with 10 incomes plus they have to fire people all the time and get new ones to be able to adapt to all these new mechanisms, so it´s very, very complicated and very tiring and very far from music, really. You have to be strong and know what you want. Be flexible.
Another thing. Playing a tour like this one and you do so many dates in all these different countries, do you change the setlist around a lot of is it the same one all the way through?
JD: This is an interesting question because we´re in the middle of this right now. Our goal is to have a setlist that works perfectly like a magic formula. You start with a song and the next one has to be a little more catchy and you want to keep people’s attention and entertain them. You don´t want to challenge them too much and lose them. You need to keep them in the set. A band who doesn´t know how to do this, gone. It´s the core of everything actually. Get people´s attention, on the album and live. In Russia we played some songs for the first timeand of course we can play some old songs that we´ve played a 1000 times in France, so the setlist is changing a little bit, but usually it stays the same. We try to find the perfect one, but at the same time have some songs that we bring in and some songs that we get rid of, just to keep ourselves on our toes.
As you said earlier, you should be sleeping now.
All this time you have, coming into a new town and sitting around, do you spend some time coming up with new cool riffs and stuff like that?
JD: Hopefully it´ll come in a week or something because we´re still trying to figure out what´s the best option for this and that. There´s a lot of DIY going on. We do not only have a new crew doing their stuff, I´m still a lot on the stage with the guys trying to find the best way to get the light right. We had ideas with this “head” (cover art for latest album L´Enfant sauvage) and we´re trying to put a light behind it. We have something but it´s not perfect so it´s like we have to go to the store and buy something. All these little things are in the way for us before we can relax and start composing. In order to compose you need to have time and we don´t have that yet.
All the stuff with the stage, is that a fun creative process or is it just a big hassle?
JD: Sometimes when you go on tour it´s like “Ok, there´s this tour in the UK from here to here.” and you can go “Ok, let´s go!” and it´s just “Eeehhh…” (makes a bored sound), but it´s also “Let´s do something, man!”. You have to have ideas and you have to want to do something and have energy. Each tour is a new challenge. When we get to the stage there´s no “head” waiting for us. We have to build it, man. We have to get there earlier and find someone who can do it and all that kind of stuff. It´s very DIY. We have paintings, spray paint and stencils and tools in the bus. We repair things, we fix things. In the end, I´m the one thinking about the stage and all these things. To answer your question, at first it´s like “Ah shit, we need to do that.”, but then when you do it, it´s great and it´s a lot of fun trying to make it better and better. I love it.
Cool! Your interest in nature and the state of the world and Sea Shepherd and all that, is that something that came early on in your childhood? Did it come from your parents?
JD: maybe from another life, I don´t know. (laughs) As far back as I can remember, I was always shocked and concerned. We grew up close to the ocean and we would walk on the beach and see the oil and go “Why? Mama you told me not to throw paper on the ground and people dump oil in the sand. What the fuck?”. Something didn´t match and I understood early on that education is very important. You shouldn´t throw stuff on the ground and when you see people doing it massively all over the world I was asking why.
Sea Shepherd, in some countries they´re considered eco terrorists and stuff like that. Do you think that you sometimes have to use certain methods to get across to people?
JD: Yeah, it´s a good question. I think in that case, yes. I´m against violence and aggression and I like to promote communication instead. In that case, when someone is getting killed in front of you and you don´t do something to stop it, you´re killing it a little bit. For example, we have a few whales left on this planet. Some people go and kill them and there are treaties and laws that like a 100 countries have signed. There´s a small window in it that allows to take a whale a year for science, but instead they go every year and take 300 whales when there´s just a couple of 1000 left. In that particular case, I think stopping them without hurting them is good. I don´t think they hurt anyone. Maybe they will cause damage. I would like to be in a boat and fucking destroy their boat, even though I´m a pacifist. I think it´s a little reductive to call them terrorists. No one will blame the police when they stop terrorists from killing people. It´s a bit complex and in a perfect world you don´t need to use violence, but it´s not a perfect world.
Far from it.
With all the cool art you´ve done, have you ever thought of having like a small art show at the venue where you play? For fans to check out before the show.
JD: That´s a great idea, man! You just gave me an idea. (laughs) It could be cool. Mario´s selling drum skins. We don´t wanna throw them away and we like to give them to a drummer like “Hey, use that!”. He´s painting on them and selling them to kids but very cheap. We started together at one show. We didn´t receive the merchandise and we were like “Fuck, we´re fucked!”. It was in Seattle and we were coming back from Canada. We went to Wal-Mart and bought a bunch of black shirts and we did stencils with spray paint and then it was like “It´s not enough.”. We only had like 30 shirts and then to sell them for 20 bucks… we have to make a certain amount and it´s a struggle. We took pieces of wood and plastic, anything we could find and made paintings to sell and for five or six shows we did that together. It was kinda cool and we made the exact amount we needed to fill the gap, you know. It was incredibly entertaining and relaxing and then Mario kept doing this with his drum skins and I stopped because I´m always on stage checking things out or doing interviews. I would like to have the time too to do this. An exhibition is a cool idea. Selling stuff you did in the afternoon is fun and you make a little bit of money and for the fans it´s like “Wow, the drummer made this!”. But we don´t consider ourselves artists.
Last time we met we talked a bit about books. Any favorites?
JD: I have books at home that I like to open up sometimes. “The Tibetan book of living and dying” is my bible. When I feel down or sometimes bad, I open it up and go “Oh my god, thank you!”, you know? It´s a source of inspiration.
Cool! After the Devin Townsend tour in the US, any more plans after that?
JD: Yeah, we want to do more shows in Europe. On this tour we do Scandinavia, Russia, England and France. No Germany or Spain and Poland is amazing for us. First time we played in Warsaw we came to the venue and it was huge. We thought it was a mistake of some sort, but it was packed. It was crazy. We need to go to Poland and we don´t do a Paris show on this tour, so we need that too.
Any more live DVD´s? Anything from this tour?
JD: Yeah, we´re probably gonna film a show in London on this tour. It´s a pretty good venue, like 1500 or something. It´s a decent size and a good place to shoot a DVD and we have the stage set up with projected videos and stuff so we wanna capture that, because it´s so much work putting all that together. Maybe we´re just gonna give it away on the internet. I don´t know yet, but Roadrunner will probably say “Don´t give it away, sell it away!” (laughs) If it was just up to me it would be for free.
Ok. Thank you so much Joe!
JD: You´re welcome!