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INTERVIEW: Mario Duplantier – Gojira

GOJIRA really have become one of the biggest names in heavy metal today. From consistently solid studio records that pushed boundaries and defied being shackled to one sub-genre to a crushing live reputation, the French outfit really have grown to become one of the biggest names in our world. This year proves it. Releasing their sixth studio record, Magma, to universal acclaim, sub-headlining at this year’s Bloodstock Festival and now acting as as a supporting band to rock giants ALTER BRIDGEGOJIRA really have stepped up to another level. Before the first show of the tour with ALTER BRIDGE, we sat down with drummer Mario Duplantier to talk about the band’s explosive growth, the success of Magma and discussing the band’s wide range of influences in their themes and overall sound.

So it is the first date of the UK run with ALTER BRIDGE, what can fans expect from GOJIRA?

Mario: We are going to make the set with the last album, Magma, for sure and play a couple of other songs but our set is very short so we will do our best to give an example of what GOJIRA is. Also, to maybe try and get some new fans? That’s a goal I think seeing as us with ALTER BRIDGE is a very surprising bill, even for us it was kind of surprising, but we love the challenge of getting some new people into GOJIRA.

As you just said about the tour, it is a very surprising bill, how did this tour come about?

Mario: We’ve know the guys from ALTER BRIDGE for a long time and they are big GOJIRA fans. They express it online. I saw an article about it saying they really enjoy the band so I was really surprised and they have a strong connection with Slash as well, who is a big GOJIRA fan as well. So they just invited us and we said “thank you so much but maybe we should do our headline tour” but they insisted and insisted so we felt very honoured and said why not? All the management, the label, everyone was working around the bend said it could be a positive thing!

Coming into a tour like this were a lot of people may not know GOJIRA, are there any nerves for a tour like this?

Mario: We are used to this! We have played many festivals and opened for bands, we are not afraid anymore. When we grew up as a band in France we only played general festivals. We played with a jazz band, electro music, so we know how it is to shock people with our music! ALTER BRIDGE are kind of rock/metal so it won’t be a big shock but let’s see! We are not nervous, I am more nervous when we headline!

Of course this year you released Magma, are you guys happy the reception you received for your latest album?

Mario: Yeah, we are all really happy with it. The most important thing is that we are all happy with the album, we have no frustration, no regrets. We just feel that we needed to make this album. Maybe the next one will be different? We don’t know yet but this moment in our life was really special and this album is a perfect representation of that and we love it! The reaction was amazing!

On the record itself you experimented slightly, especially with Joe’s clean vocals, is that a sign of things to come or are you just going to wait and see what direction you take when you return to the studio?

Mario: You’re right, it’s both! On one hand we want to go deeper with this atmosphere and Joe really needed to experiment with new things. He’s 40 years old and he won’t want to scream forever and he is talented as an artist so he needed to express this in his vocals. But you are right with the next album, we have no idea, probably we will use clean vocals again but it’s too soon to tell.

All through GOJIRA’s time as a band, you’ve always had a consistent lineup. Do you think because of that you have been able to continuously produce quality records?

Mario: Thank you, probably yes. There is a very strong connection between us and that’s a strength of our band now, that’s very rich for us. There’s perfect understanding between all of us, of course there can be tension, there are sometimes where we disagree, but that is like normal relations. But we take care of each other and we communicate a lot, for us GOJIRA is a mission. We started this band when I was 13, it was about taking time to grow something and to never give up is our mission. The four of us, the four brothers. It’s very epic and it is very strong.

Through the time of the band the themes you have explored have always centred on nature, spirituality and the environment. I’m really interested to see where you draw your inspiration and influences for that?

Mario: Just life, it’s about our sensibility, it’s about where how we grew up and where we grew up. We had a mother who was very spiritual, I was very close to my mother when I grew up as a kid, she was very spiritual and she always tried to open our eyes about things. To think differently, to be open-minded, to not be afraid about death, to not be afraid about life and to respect people. She did a great job actually!

And do you feel by touching on these themes it can allow fans to draw more of a personal connection?

Mario: Yeah, I think people enjoy GOJIRA feel that the message is very close to humanity and close to them. It talks to everyone, so we have this connection to the fans that is very strong because I think we are both on the same page.

Moving on to the musical style of the band, it is very hard to pigeon-hole the band into one style of metal. Do you feel by having such a wide range of styles and sounds you can appeal to everyone across the board who appreciates alternative music?

Mario: Yeah, I think so. We love music in general, we were a huge fan of death metal when we started the band. These death metal roots is very prominent, it’s technical. I love to be technical in the drums and I love it when it’s powerful but we also love it when it’s mystical as well. We love to keep a bit of mystery, we aren’t cheesy but we love it when it’s catchy, we’re big fans of music in general. But people can get the groove, we are very into groovy stuff! Tonight for example, we are going to focus on the groove, I will try to groove and maybe people will get it even if they hear screams and double bass.

I feel really this year GOJIRA have become a driving force in the modern metal scene. Did you ever expect the band to get as big as you’ve got?

Mario: Not really, we never know, when we started the band we gave everything. We quit our jobs, our studies and just focused on this band. The intention was to do something very strong, very established so we sacrificed so much for this so now, we are very happy our plan worked.

I very much feel given the success story of GOJIRA, do you feel that you could inspire more French bands to break onto the scene?

Mario: Yeah for sure, we have many friends and they have more face now. Nowadays with the internet and everyone can connect with the world and people in new generations can speak English better, it’s not like ten years ago. Now, a young French band can sing in English perfectly and have a good sound and they can sound more like a English or American band so I think it is easier for them to make it.

And really my final question for you is that after this tour with ALTER BRIDGE, as we look ahead to 2017, what does next year have in store for GOJIRA?

Mario: More touring, we will come back in the UK for a headline tour but we can’t announce that yet. We will announce it very soon and festivals, maybe another one in the US. A lot of touring playing Magma! We had a great time in the US playing our first headline tour so we really want to go deep into this album and make it live!

Well brilliant, best of luck for tonight and the rest of the tour!

Mario: Thank you so much!

Magma is out now via Roadrunner Records.

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