Gojira have become a huge driving force in the metal world. Their last two albums, ‘The Way Of All Flesh’ and L’Enfant Sauvage’, received widespread critical acclaim from fans and music critics alike. Their new album, ‘Magma’, is out today and it’s definitely a little bit different to anything that the band has done previously. I recently got on the phone and had a chat with the band’s drummer, Mario Duplantier, to ask him what prompted these changes, among other things.
Hey, Mario, it’s good to finally get a hold of you, how are you?
I just woke up but I’m good! I’m in Switzerland on tour at the moment.
That’s good! Who are you on tour with?
We were in France yesterday, we played a couple of festivals in Europe. Download Festival in Paris, Download festival in the UK, we’re going to play Hellfest and we’re also on the promo trip at the same time, everything is doing well.
Some of my friends who were not familiar with your band have said that ‘Stranded’, the first single off ‘Magma’, is the song that made them want to check you guys out. Have you found that that song or ‘Silvera’ has seen an increase in new fans?
Yes. We feel that it’s because of another vibe in our sound. We changed a little bit on this album, we needed to change and adapt our sound to personality nowadays. We feel that this album is more accessible. For sure Stranded and Silvera are catchy and now that we’ve played them live we see it works very well. It’s groovier. And for us, we have a lot more fun playing these songs.
I’ve noticed that a lot of the songs on ‘Magma’ are much shorter than we’ve come to expect from you, was it a conscious decision for the band to start writing shorter songs or did it come naturally during songwriting?
When you compose, you never know what’s going to happen. We had a feeling that we wanted something more simple and straight to the point. It’s not mental, it’s just natural also, so there is an organic way to compose and I assume that we just made what we wanted to hear without thinking too much and the songs were born with this process.
The ‘Silvera’ music video used some really interesting imagery, what was the aim for that video from a visual standpoint?
So I found Drew Cox on the internet. He’s from the UK and he’s very talented and focuses a lot on aesthetics. I contacted him by myself and asked him to work with us. He’s never made a metal music video before so Silvera was his first. So we thought it would be interesting to work with someone from another world, and usually, we love to work with people who aren’t metalheads for the videos, and it was the same for Stranded. We have a new video coming very soon, and we worked with our uncle who is a French film-maker, and it is totally another atmosphere. We love to try new things, we used to use a lot of black and white with stop motion. We also wanted to change the rules with the composition, so we thought it was great to have the band playing on another background instead of a forest. It came naturally. This time, we were in New York because we were recording and mixing the album there.
You mentioned the production and mixing being done in New York. Did you find it challenging to self-produce and mix the album, and did it provide any added freedom in the process?
Yeah, definitely. When we started as a band, we made our first three albums Terra Incognita, The Link and From Mars To Sirius almost all by ourselves, after that we made two albums with a producer because we wanted a big sound. We went to the US and worked with Logan Mader for The Way Of All Flesh and Josh Wilbur for L’Enfant Sauvage. We got a huge sound, but this time, we thought we needed to go back to our roots and take more time. That way, there is also nobody between us and our fans, and the music.
Many of your songs focus on environmental themes, and you’re well known to support Sea Shepherd. What is it that made your band want to bring attention to these issues? And do the lyrics on ‘Magma’ include these themes?
Magma is another approach lyrically. The lyrics are more about everyday life and are more like poetry. The previous album and The Way Of All Flesh focus a lot more on the environment. We also did not want to caricature ourselves. Our needs were different on Magma, so it focuses on sensation and everyday life. We also addressed a lot of our lyrics to our mother (Mario and Joe’s mother Patricia passed away in July 2015) so it’s a lot more personal and emotional. You still have Silvera with lyrics like “Time to open your eyes to this genocide” and “when you change yourself, you change the world” which is one of the most important sentences the band has written. It can relate to trying to be responsible, your everyday life, how you behave with people, and how you treat the planet. The majority of the album is more poetic and emotional I would say.
That’s really interesting. On another topic, are you familiar with many Australian bands?
I know Parkway Drive, and I love that band. They’re into bodyboarding and surfing, and I am a huge fan of bodyboarding! I was a huge fan of a Silverchair as a teenager, and of course AC/DC. I know there is quality in Australia, a lot of good bands. There’s many, many more than I can’t remember right now!
Which band in your 20-year history has been your favourite to tour with?
Metallica! We grew up with them and we toured with them a lot. I would love to tour with them again and we are friends with them. I would say to us they are the most important band.
That’s definitely a good call. They are a great band. I’m sure you get asked frequently about your influences, but have any younger bands come to you and the other members of Gojira and said that you have influenced them? Also, have you noticed other bands that use aspects of your sound in their music?
Yes actually. There are many bands. We feel very honoured and it’s amazing. Sometimes we listen to CDs and here Gojira ‘tricks’ in their music, and not even just younger bands, sometimes it’s older bands. Tremonti for example [Alter Bridge/Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti], I love that band and sometimes I hear our influence in their sound. And the same for Logan Mader’s new band Once Human. There are many bands in France also. We created our sound, and to see it influence others is an amazing feeling.
This may seem like a little bit of an obvious question, but will we see Gojira back in Australia in the future?
We really want to! We always say to each other that the best quality of life in the world is in Melbourne or Brisbane. Every time we come to Australia we don’t want to come back home, so we need to come soon! For now, there is no precise plan but we always ask our agent to book us in Australia because we love it there and we love the people.
That’s great to hear Mario. Thank you so much for your time and enjoy the rest of the tour!
Thank you! Have a great night or day!
‘Magma’ is out now through Roadrunner Records/Warner.