“I was not popular [in high school], rugby players would beat me up because I was sensitive and shy, and my parents didn’t have any money so I was wearing shitty clothes.”
Gojira are a contradiction to stereotypes. Granted, typecasts are usually negative and misguided at the best of times, but the French outfit reinforce this to the extreme.
Frontman Joe Duplantier might just be the nicest guy in metal. Backstage in Melbourne he is personable, polite and carries an enthusiasm that is simply infectious. You can forget any offensive concerns about Frenchmen presenting as snooty, pretentious, coffee and croissant consuming characters. Equally, you can dismiss the harsh generalisation of metal musicians as angry and anti-social. It’s fundamental and pure – Duplantier is affable and understated.
It’s the music that is the outlet, the primary purpose. The tail doesn’t wag the dog with this experienced band. The music’s therapeutic benefits always prevail as the musician explains.
“All metalheads are super nice because we get rid of this anger in the music and it’s a wonderful therapy for our kind,” Duplantier says.
The frontman is honest when revisiting growing up in France and playing a style of music, which seemingly shares a universal quality of being in the minority.
“We always ignored the criticism and people that didn’t understand. We just focused on the 10, 15, 20 people in front of us having a blast.”
“You get to a point where you need to express a certain fury in the music and [subsequently] people in front of you are like, “fuck yeah!” I feel good [as a result]. If you have just two people in front you, you feel good.”
“The fact that 99.9999% didn’t care about our music, I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be famous. I just wanted to express myself. The fact that people in front us enjoyed it, it was always very rewarding.”
It’s refreshing the sentiments shared by Duplantier. In an era where a lot of young bands directly copy what preceded them and make no effort to try something original, Gojira deserve all the recognition and praise delivered. The craft is most important, not the superficial popularity.
“The aim was never to become rock stars, it was all just about the music,” Duplantier further asserts.
The passion is as strong as it is self-evident. The sincerity and sheer intensity of the music itself is reflected in the unconditional love the band has for their art.
“I know why I’m doing this. It’s not only for the money; it’s not only to pay the rent. I have to do this. If I don’t do it, I die.”
“If I make compromises, I feel like I’m going to throw up on stage,” Duplantier says.
However, with all pursuit comes sacrifice. There’s no payoff without expense. Duplantier though is at pains to point the opportunity afforded is well worth the cost.
“The part of touring that sucks is being away from our families, but that’s the only thing. Everything else is super good. I’m with my friends, playing music and meeting people.”
There’s no false modesty. When reflecting on Soundwave and Gojira’s time in Australia, Duplantier’s response is indicative of his excitement.
“ everything! I would love to run around and see every band. I want to see them all. But, I can’t – I’m still having a good time [though].”