GOJIRA: How Family Loss Affected Making Of 'Magma'
Niclas Müller-Hansen of RockSverige.se recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Joseph Duplantier and drummer Mario Duplantier of French progressive metallers GOJIRA. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
RockSverige.se: Is there such a thing as a perfect album?
Joseph: No. At some point when you’re working on a record, and I’m sure it’s even the same process for a movie for example, at some point you have to let it go. “Take your hands off this thing now! Button off!” There is always something, and the mixing is a good example. The mixing will drive you crazy, because one day you listen to the thing and you use the wrong headphones, for example, and, “It could need more bass. It could be a bit more low end,” and then you come back to the studio and put more low end in, and you come back home or you listen to the mix in your car, and it’s, like, “Oh, there’s so much low end.” And you go, “Let’s add some air, some high end.” So you put more cymbals on and then the day after you go, “I went too far.” It’s a nightmare. Mixing is really nerve-racking too, because each time you touch one thing, everything else is kinda moving in the mix. It’s this weird, breathing, moving, sweating thing. You touch it and it moves. But it’s also very exciting and very rewarding, when you take on a project like that and you bring it all the way, and it’s crazy to think that we started all this by building the studio. It was pretty epic, I think.
RockSverige.se: For me, the [new GOJIRA] album [“Magma”] has a darkness to it. I know it was a difficult year for you last year with losing your mother. When that happened, had you already recorded everything or were you in the midst of recording?
Joseph: It was a long thing. It wasn’t like she had an accident. It was long, pretty much one year of our lives. When we started to write the first riffs and songs, she wasn’t sick, and then she got sick along the way when we were still kinda figuring out what we wanted to do. For a while, we thought she was gonna be fine, and then it changed. When she passed, it was… we knew she wasn’t going to make it since a couple of months, so there were several stages, but we can’t just analyze things coldly and, like, “Okay, this album happened…” For us, it was like a gigantic storm in our lives and one of the biggest events in our lives like adults. It was a big lesson, a life lesson, the way she behaved through death with a lot of dignity and respect and beauty. It was amazing. We learned a lot from this whole experience. It influenced us and changed things in us. It’s something we all have to face at some point, losing a loved one, and then eventually our own departure to another dimension. At the same time, we realized, “Oh, wow, that’s what people go through when they lose someone.”
Mario: Technically, when I started recording the drums, that’s when things turned bad, so through the whole composing process, we thought it would be okay, so when we did “Only Pain”, “Stranded”, “Shooting Star”, we thought everything would be okay, but when we started recording…
Joseph: We were hoping. She wasn’t doomed yet, and then at some point it was “Okay, that’s it.”
Mario: I remember calling her really often during the week, because we were in New York and she was in France, and every day we had a great conversation for one hour, and she said “Okay, go and practice and make a good album!” And she was just so full of light and full of… I don’t know… we were just alive and going to practice and we worked together, because we are not kids anymore, we’re not 20 years old anymore, and we have our lives, and sometimes we were just thinking about the music and what we wanted to hear and the texture of the sound and the vibration of the music and we were really in the present moment and not really thinking “Ahhhhh!”, so it’s both.
RockSverige.se: Could you sum up one thing that she taught you guys?
Joseph: It’s so much, man. She was a great person and she put all the tools in our hands, you know. We wanted to play music and she found a way to find a guitar and helped us to get a guitar and then drums. She would be the biggest cheerleader you can imagine, and we would play our technical death metal tapes and she was into country music and classical and Joan Baez and her roots were American roots and folk, and she would really listen with her entire being and she wasn’t scared of things. She wasn’t, like, “What is this you’re doing? Maybe you should…?” No. She was, “Yeah, yeah!” And we said, “Mom, we have a gig. We have our first gig!” And she would go “Go get them!” She was amazing and such a support and help. Full of life and never a dull moment.
Mario: She wasn’t afraid of death. She always said, “Death is life.” So life, death is the same. She always told me, “I’m afraid to leave, but I’m not afraid to die.”
Read the entire interview at RockSverige.se.