JOE-JIRA AND VINCE, THE METALSUCKS INTERVIEW (PART 2): THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD OF GOJIRA’S SUCCESS
When I last spoke with Gojira’s Joe Duplantier about a year ago, the tone of the conversation was overwhelmingly positive; The Way of All Flesh had just been released to critical acclaim, the band had just come over to the U.S. for their biggest tour here to date (supporting In Flames) and everything was hunky-dory in Gojiraland. Fast forward a year, and the conversation is markedly different. Things are still fantastic for the band; The Way of All Flesh continues to sell and to be loved and they’ve toured non-stop all over the world with the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Lamb of God — but all this work has left the band exhausted.
In my recent chat with Joe before their headline show in Brooklyn last month, he explained the double-edged sword of the band’s newfound success — seeing the world, playing to sold-out audiences and opening for childhood heroes Metallica, while at the same time facing the realities of the constant grind of the road, living without a home and the hardships that come with being in a bus with the same 3 other dudes year-round.
Read my full chat with Joe after the jump, and also be sure to check out Axl’s show writeup (summary: they were FUCKING AWESOME!)
We spoke maybe about a year ago. When you were supporting In Flames, I think. That was awhile ago, right after the album [Way of All Flesh] came out. From then until now, what is different about the band and where you guys are?
We are exhausted.
We’re constantly on tour and in tour buses, which is great. No complaints there, but I think it’s time for a little break. It’s time to take some time off and think about the next album. What’s different is that we got bigger. It’s not something that you can see from one day to another like suddenly you got big. It’s something that’s very progressive. So we’re not getting excited because “hey we’re big.” There’s a lot of work everyday. We have patience and we sacrifice because we’re far from our homes, but it’s our lives. It’s what we chose. The album is doing great. We did a headline tour in the States for the first time in May. We did headline tours in Europe in places that we never headlined before like Germany, Sweden, a lot of festivals in Greece, we played with Metallica 2 times and now we’re on tour with them. It’s great.
Do you see a difference between when you were supporting In Flames and the U.S. headline tour in the Spring and now? I know this isn’t a full headline tour, but the few days that you are headlining [in between dates with Metallica]. Do you see a difference in the crowds that are coming out to see you guys?
Yeah, it seems that people know us better. They know all the albums and sometimes people will sing the lyrics. It’s hard to tell because when we tour with Lamb of God or In Flames, we have this chance to catch the attention of the In Flames’ crowd or Lamb of God’s crowd. When it’s 2,000 or 3,000 people, it’s hard to tell how many people know you. When we headlined for the first time, 200 people showed up. It’s a small crowd, but it’s only for us. It’s hard to say, but we know there’s a difference because we sell more records and promoters want to have us at their venues. It’s a good sign.
Does it feel good after all this time? A lot of people don’t know that you guys actually had 2 albums before From Mars to Sirius when most people in the U.S. found out about you. So you’ve been going for a long time. Does it feel like finally this is the success that you’ve been striving for the entire time?
Yes. Actually, we are living a dream right now. The dream we are living is not exactly like we thought it would be. It’s a lot of struggle and sacrifice. The more it goes, the more we get bigger. At the same time, we get not so excited with being on tour. It’s becoming a challenge to go on tour. It’s a job because we have to survive in this world. We have to eat. We have to pay our rents when we have a rent. It’s living altogether on a bus. I didn’t choose those guys to be married. I choose them because this is a good bass player and we’re going to make a good composition with this guy. We became a family, and that’s something you don’t expect when you form a band – you don’t expect to become a family. That’s what it is. So we go through tough times. We have issues where we have to talk a lot, but we succeed because there is a lot of communication. We organize den meetings and rules on the bus and everything like that. It’s pretty cool, but it’s a tough life. We are achieving something. We are on tour with Metallica, which is the biggest dream we had. We are living it right now. At the same time, it’s hard. It’s a strange mix, but it’s the life.
Really great. We [previously] supported some big bands, but not that big – In Flames, Lamb of God, Slayer in Europe and stuff like that. Metallica is when other bands are big… they’re huge. It’s not a band anymore. It’s an institution. It’s a world. So many people work for them.
Those guys probably fly a lot from gig to gig and have hotel rooms every night.
They fly, hotel rooms, they show up at the last minute and get on stage and disappear in 4 big cars. When they’re here, they’re super nice. They came to us in our dressing room and introduced themselves. “Hey, I’m James.” I’m like, “I know!”
They’re all so normal and down to Earth. We had a party with them the other night in Montreal. They booked a restaurant, and we were all invited. We got to talk to them and ask questions. It’s okay. They’re really cool.
It’s the best part. Once again, that was a dream to meet these guys. They are like examples for us. When we formed the band, it was because of Metallica. When we got into metal, it was because of Metallica – not Iron Maiden or AC/DC, but Metallica. So being on tour with them and hanging out with them is so unreal. It’s so amazing. I was sitting next to Kirk Hammett and he was telling me about his kids. We were getting a little drunk, and we were eating and I was like “where am I? Who am I? I don’t know anymore.” It’s incredible.
What about the shows? Are you feeling like you are winning over anybody in the crowd?
It’s really challenging. It’s more than opening up for Lamb of God, for example because Lamb of God are younger than Metallica and the style is more similar to what we do. Even if it’s a big crowd, people are really curious and tempted to what we do. The Metallica crowd just want to see Metallica. They don’t give a shit about you.
Yeah, we’re never scared anyway. We like to surprise and catch the attention of people. It’s really challenging, and we like when it’s challenging – we love it. We even played in France with radio singers, [pop artists] very famous in France. We showed up at a big festival as the only rock band. So imagine a death metal band [sharing a stage] with real singers. So we like challenges, but this challenge is huge. Opening for Metallica is the hardest thing we’ve done. It’s cool. It works. People are smiling and clapping “oh this is entertaining”. So it works.
That’s good. What’s next after this? Is this it? No more touring for a little while?
For a little while, yes. For this album, we have a couple of shows in France. Only if Metallica calls back for another tour, then we’ll go on tour. That’s the only reason.
You never know, it might happen.
If it happens, that’s cool. We’ll go for it. That would be the only reason. We really need to take some distance from touring. It’s too much. Every night for 5 years, since we released From Mars to Sirius the previous album, we toured a lot, and we stopped just to do the nxt album and went back on tour. So there wasn’t a break really. So now we’ll relax, stop traveling around and live a normal life for a couple of weeks at least. Then we’ll think about something else and work on the next album. It’s necessary otherwise we’ll play and record songs without soul.
Do you guys write ideas on the road at all?
Sometimes, but it’s not our thing to do that. It takes a lot of organization to be able to do that. You need to have a whole crew taking care of everything, have a rehearsal room where the drummer can play. We hang out in dressing rooms with the crew. It’s small. We keep our energy up for the show. So we need to take some time for that.
So no idea yet what the album will sound like.
I think about it, of course. I have some impressions of what it’s going to be.
What are those impressions?
It’s going to be very cool.