OD – It’s no secret that Gojira are in the middle of recording the new album. I believe that a considerable amount of material was scrapped back in February of this year and resumed back to the recording process in April. So how are things coming along with the album now?
JOE – Its good, usually we compose a bunch of songs like 15 songs and then its like OK, we have 15 songs you know what I mean? Usually were very happy with the songs we have right away and we treat them like kids. Its like when you have a baby and you take care of that baby, you don’t think twice it’s just an immediate reflex to protect and nurture. Now its like, wait a second, we need our strongest album now, we need something really perfect. First, we started to act like before and we had these songs and were like “OK it is what is it, maybe its not the greatest of all time”. Then we really thought about it and now we’re like, “no, it has to be the greatest Gojira album of all time”. So we got rid of all the songs that were not absolutely mind blowing and came up with more songs, it sounds really pretentious to say it’s the greatest album of all time, but to us it is.
OD – Well, I can understand your thoughts on this, because Gojira,don’t make bad albums!
JOE – Ha ha, thank you. We are very happy with the way the record is turning out and especially the way we worked on it and the overall angle of the album. I’m really looking forward to releasing it and getting out there to play it live.
OD - Silver Cord Studios was build in New York, why did you choose this location to build the studio and can you talk about the decision to call it Silver Cord Studios?
JOE – Well, New York is my city you know? My heart has always been in New York and one day I decided, OK, I’m just gonna live there and my wife agreed with the decision and was all up for it, so it was fantastic. For many years, I really wanted to go there, but the band was really taking off and I couldn’t go away and the band was touring so much, which was just a priority for us. As a matter of fact, at one point we were touring so much, that when we were back home, we wouldn’t hang out so much or even rehearse. When we only have 10 days between tours, we really want to make the most of our time off and that for us, means spending it with our family and the people that we love.
I grew up in the county and wanted to be in New York, so bad. I’m happy to say that Brooklyn, New York is my home town now and I’m just where I really want to be at this point in my life. It is a bit difficult coming from the French country side, especially a different continent, with all the change and cultural differences, but Mario and myself have dual citizenship which is fantastic, as we have that opportunity to be wherever we want, so that’s really cool. So, naturally I started to build the studio in my back yard and it is awesome. I have a few minor things to finish off here and there, like the ventilation and a few other things, but once those little things are fixed, then we’re all set. When building the studio, I did most of the work myself and I was there pretty much at it all day, every day, from morning through to evening. It was a labor of love and passion.
Of course, with the heavy and difficult stuff, I hired people to help me, but I was there every day all day for six months of my life and I also did it with a small budget. Something like this usually costs millions to build, which is totally ridiculous. Having put in a huge amount of work myself and with help from my friends, I managed to get the studio built for much less. I’m very proud of it, as it’s a real studio you know? The live room is just fantastic and just sounds really great. We have all the proper gear in there already, like the latest version of Pro Tools HDX, as well as all these microphones and fantastic pre-amps, including all of Gojira’s stuff. It’s really an amazing place and for someone who likes our band and who wants to record something similar in terms of sound, be it extreme or even if it’s just a rock album, they will get to use our tools. I’m just so happy that this dream is becoming a reality. To be honest, it’s a bit scarey, but you have to take chances in life and have fun along the way.
OD – That sounds really fantastic. What’s the meaning behind the name ‘Silver Cord’, it must have a correlation with The Silver Cord track on The Way Of All Flesh, would this be a correct assumption?
JOE – Yes, I wanted to give it a name that gives a clue about who built it and what the place means. The Silver Cord, is one of our more mellow instrumental acoustic songs, which although, we never really play live, but now means something else, something very different. As well as all of that, I just thought that it sounded really cool (ha ha).
OD – I had read that you were concentrating more on the “core sound” within the new material and experimenting with different drum patterns, all the while keeping things less complicated, can you discuss a little on this?
JOE – When ever we get together to work on a new song, or we feel its time to come up with a new record, we get together and we jam like we never jammed before, almost kind of like we’re not a band and just a bunch of friends having fun and experimenting. We try to come up with something totally different and approach Gojira, from a completely different angle. It’s very important for us all to really enjoy ourselves during this process, as that’s the reason why we do it. Sometimes we come up with riffs that are so far away from death / extreme metal, or anything we did before and that’s what catches our attention. Most of the time when we are writing and experimenting with sounds and melodies, we will hit a nerve and it’s like, “Oh! this is cool, its new and different, let’s keep pushing the boundaries”, and that is really what get’s us excited.
For us, the music really needs to be exciting and not necessarily different, but need to get that feeling that we have created something fresh and new, something that has evolved from the “traditional” Gojira sound, that we are all very comfortable and excited to be playing now. It’s a very natural process for us all and what came out of these sessions for the new album, was something really straight to the point and felt just right for us.
OD – It must be nice to get out of the studio and take a break during the recording process, how do you find that this is working for you, while laying down the new material?
JOE – Yes, I think it’s very important to give some space during this period of making the album. Having the luxury of being able to listen to the songs with new ears and a fresh new perspective really helps us understand what we are creating and helps to identify problems like if a composition is too long, or if there is something missing from this song. This has happened with some of the songs on the new album to date, which has been a great exercise for us and fortunately, has worked tremendously in our favor, as we have developed the songs to a much higher standard, which is exactly what we are looking to do. We understand that we have to let the new material breath, for example we were thinking ‘ok this song is way too long’ or ‘there is definitely something missing on this song’ and sometimes we even make a complete turn around decision about including some material for the album, because it just might not be good enough, or happens to be not right for the overall feel of the album.
Another way we approached the recording of the record, is that every song needs to be super exciting, especially when it’s our sixth or seventh album. We don’t want to make something and be like “oh this is what I did and we’re not really that happy with it”. We still have to decided what is really worth being on this record, that is so important to us and taking some distance helps this process.
OD – Do you have a title for the new record that you can disclose?
JOE – Ha Ha, nice try! I have no title for that right now, ha ha!
OD - Is there a general theme to the lyrics on the album?
JOE – Yes, absolutely. Its always the same theme really; even though sometimes the press, media or people outside of the band, tell us what we were talking about, like, ‘oh this was environmental’, and we’re like, “OK yes sure, if you say so”. There could be a total of two songs on the record talking about toxic waste in the ocean or something, but for me it’s never about this or that, it’s more about a picture of what the band is for a couple of years during that period of time. The lyrics deal with everything in our lives, such as life itself, death and pain. It’s the real things that we experience in our lives. We put all this in our music and for me, I’m not even sure what it is about when I’m writing it and that’s why I like it. Its like poetry.
OD – I read that we will most likely see the new album in 2016, is this true?
JOE – Yes, it will be out in 2016 for sure.
OD – Are you playing any of the new stuff while you have been on tour and if so do you have any titles that you can share?
JOE – No, not at all. We are keeping things under wraps (ha ha). However from time to time, we always have these small moments during sound-checks etc, where we experiment with things like song intros or different ways of bringing the songs together, but there no new songs in the set list at the moment, were not ready for that just yet.
OD – I want to ask about the approach you take when designing the artwork for the albums and how you go about doing this. Do you have a general idea from the start, or does it form over the period of the recording process?
JOE – Well, it depends, but most of the time I have an idea. It’s not from the start, but something that comes over time. We take our time with it and its just something that comes organically for us. I have a few ideas and Mario also has a few ideas, as he’s very creative. It’s like the idea is slowly coming together on it’s own, if you know what I mean.
I actually think about it almost every day, its funny, but I don’t force it. Sometimes it will just hit me you know? A very simple idea that could be staring me in the face for ages. Things come to us naturally in general and I really like that process in a creative perspective. That should explain some of our past covers, as sometimes it’s a bit weird or a bit simple like the tree on the cover of The Link (2003). When we were doing that album we were like “yeah its gonna be a tree!” (ha ha). I just really don’t like forcing ideas too much, or making it too complicated, that it doesn’t mean anything. There is far too much of the same imagery in metal music, like a battle field filled with skulls and castles or fire everywhere. No disrespect to the album covers that have all that, but for us, I don’t want to fall into that category of another metal band that uses that type of imagery.
OD – There have been many established artists that have credited you for pushing the envelope in metal music, how do you feel when you hear things like this from the likes of Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) etc and do you find a sense of pressure in outdoing yourselves each time?
JOE – Yes, it’s surprising for sure, but it’s also comforting too! Sometimes we’re like “hey this song is fucking great”, but we are probably the only people thinking that! Then the guys from Metallica, Slipknot and Lamb of God are like, ‘this is the best thing I’ve ever heard!’ and we’re like “Really? Holy Shit man”. It’s like now, when we do things I know that people get it. Sometimes bands are incredibly awesome, but people don’t get it until way afterwards, like 20 years later and for that I feel very honored that people are understanding what we do at this point in our lives.
I don’t think it means we’re advanced compared to other bands, but its like the opposite to really iconic bands in the past who only got recognition after they had disbanded. I really feel that Gojira are in tune with the moment, or with society. I don’t really know, but there is something about it and it’s definitely very rewarding to us all and an awesome personal feeling, that I’m so lucky to experience.
OD – At what point did you realise that being a musician / artist, was going to be a full time thing for you and your desire of touring the world and playing / writing music, was becoming a reality?
JOE – You know, it was always there! I knew it from the start when we were putting out our first demo! I just decided, “this is what I wanna do, no matter what – this is what I was going to be doing non-stop for the rest of my entire life”, and from then on, things just fell into place and it just happened and has been happening ever since. I remember I just decided that this was it and luckily, we were all on the same page. What is also very lucky is that I have been able to make this journey with the same three guys, still to this day! I’m blessed to be part of this and love everyday of it.
OD – You have touring with some of the most amazing bands over the course of your career, are there any bands that you would love to tour with that you have not do so already?
JOE – Yes, totally! I would just love to tour with Tool. I would love to be on tour with those guys and also Meshuggah. Each time we see each other (Meshuggaah), at festivals and other events we always talk about it like “lets tour together, it will be amazing” and all of us are just itching to make this happen. It’s the usual problem with thing’s like conflicting schedules etc. We would really love to make that tour happen on the next record in 2016, but we just don’t know if it’s possible. When we release our new album, we obviously want to headline and they (Meshuggah) will also want to headline with their new album. Then the other factor to consider is, when it’s time for them to do their thing and we are not ready to hit the road yet with what we are doing etc, etc. It’s complicated, but hopefully it will happen someday soon. We have seriously tried three or four times to make this tour happen, but it was just never possible. I’m feeling confident that it will happen someday and we can really make it work before we all get way too old (ha ha).
OD – Finally, what’s the worst rumor you have heard / read about yourselves since rising to fame?
JOE – Well, once I read that I was dead and I received a lot of messages from friends because it was a serious rumor that was all over the internet. I thought it was kind of nice actually, ha ha. I like the idea of just disappearing and getting to relax for a while and then just rise from the dead when I’m fully charged. Ha ha!
Gojira’s, yet to be titled forthcoming album is expected early 2016. For more information on the band, check out the links below.
Catch Gojira on tour on the dates listed below.
Interview – Oran O’Beirne
Transcription – Katie McGarr
Live Photography – Steve Dempsey of Down The Barrel Photography © 2015
Other photography – Stock © Gojira 2015
Interview content © OVERDRIVE 2015 * Please credit when using.