Våra favoritfransoser är tillbaka med ett nytt strålande album, “Magma”. Under inspelningen gick bröderna Duplantiers mamma bort efter en tids sjukdom. Givetvis var detta något som påverkade bröderna mycket och även själva inspelningen. I den här långa intervjun med bröderna Joe och Mario pratar vi givetvis om det, men även om det perfekta albumet, deras nya studio i New York och stora artisters plötsliga bortgång.
Let´s start with the studio, Silver Cord. It looks amazing from the pictures I´ve seen, but I understand it was really hard work.
Joe: Yes, I´m very tired. (laughs) The studio was an adventure. For me, we had no other option than building a studio because we grew up this way. A big house and we had a studio built in 2002, so for about 10 years we had our own studio in France and we recorded almost everything there, except for the first album, which was recorded in Belgium in 2000. Right after that we decided “Ok, let´s do things ourselves.”, because it was the way to go. When I moved to New York I knew it was gonna happen, I knew it inside of me. (laughs) When I come home I´m gonna need a place to work and to work hard and deep, because it´s too important. There were many options and many producers we could have collaborated with, but we needed to go back to the “do it yourself” 100%.
During the building process of the studio, did you ever feel that it was just too much?
Joe: Yes. A lot of times I wondered “What am I doing?”. I started alone and I hired someone to help and then Mario joined me and we finished it together, also with Johann Meyer, our live sound guy, who did some research about sounds and he got really excited about the idea, “You´re building a studio? I´m in! I´m helping.”, so he helped us, not only to do the acoustics of the place, but also to build the floor. Such an adventure. Today we sit in the studio and we did a masterclass together a few weeks ago for musicians and fans and it went great. We mixed this record too. Not only recording everything, but we also did the mixing. It´s the best feeling in the world.
And it´s a studio that will be open for anybody, not just you guys?
Joe: It would be great to be able to keep it just for ourselves, but there is a rent to pay, so we kinda have to open the doors for clients. It happens to be quite interesting to have people in there. We´ve already had two bands working there, Caym from Canada that I helped producing and Car Bomb, our friends from New York that we´ve brought on tour a few times. I´m currently producing their second record.
You moved to New York as well Mario, right?
Mario: Yeah, I joined Joe to work on the album.
Do you see yourselves staying in New York or will you one day move back to France?
Mario: I will probably go back to France. I don´t know. We´re all travelling so much and going everywhere in the world and now I joined Joe to be able to work every day. The other guys went back and forth, but for me, I wanted to be there every day with him, working on all the details for the cover, the teasers.
Joe: Sometimes we were so busy we had to set up meetings.
Mario: Answering e-mails and we agreed on all the decisions, talking with management, talking about the future tour, the visuals of the tour, the shirts, everything, so I needed to be with him.
Joe: Going through important e-mails and answer and do conference calls with the other guys, our partners, management, the record company, publishing and all that stuff. Decisions about touring and what kind of tourbus we´re gonna get, how much money we´re gonna make on the tour and how we spend it and usually we spend all of it. (laughs) “Do we have money for a little bit of production on stage? No. Ok, let´s try and save on the bus and let´s cut this and that.” There´s always so many decisions and we´re on top of all these things. We´re not the kind of band who´s playing music and just puts everything in the hands of management. Our manager´s active of course and works with us. Sometimes we do some things together and he´s (Joe) gonna work on his drums, I´m producing a band or I´m recording a singer or I go and record vocals and he´s gonna take care of my kids so my wife can do something. We´re always kinda working together somehow on something and very actively, to the point where sometimes there´s something we need to talk about, like a video and look at it and take notes and send our notes and comments, so we have to set up a meeting, “Ok, in two days, can we sit for an hour?” and “Dude ok, what time?” and then “Well, after we worked on that thing together, remember?” It´s crazy.
Mario: I was in New York and all my friends were in France and the ocean was in France and the ocean is a problem for me, it´s a fucking temptation all the time. There are waves every day in the Basque country and no one could tell me “You have to work on your drums, you have to compose.”, so I worked every day.
Joe: He´s very disciplined, Mario, and very hard working. More than me, definitely. I work very hard too, but he will wake up super early in the morning and go to the studio and play drums for an hour and a half nonstop. Filming himself and analysing “This is not good. I have to work at this more.” Mindblowing, and new people come and say “I was in the studio and your brother was there practising. It was kinda early.” And I go “Yeah, that´s normal.” (laughs) We´re very active for sure.
Metallica have their HQ outside of San Francisco. Will Silver Cord be Gojira´s HQ?
Joe: It already is. I like to open the door for other bands because they´re gonna pay the rent basically instead of just us, which in all honesty is the main reason because it´s kinda nice to have a place just for us, but it would get kinda messy, so because it is open, it will stay kinda neutral and clean and when we need to work, we will reserve the space like every other band. But yeah, it kinda is already. For example, we did this masterclass recently. It was super interesting and we met some of our most dedicated fans in New York. We met all these people and it was also a good way for us to reconnect with all our techniques to be tight and the kind of exercises we used to do in the past. How we came up with our sound and techniques. This happened because we have this place. We´ve put a lot of stuff on the walls like posters and Mario´s paintings and stuff so there´s a vibe there. If we have an idea for a song, we can just go and record it.
“Magma” sounds really amazing. How do you feel when you´re done with a new album? Is it all joyful?
Mario: Yeah, I lost 5 kilos. It was such a long process. I don´t know why, but this time we worked so hard and we never gave up until the songs were perfect for us. When I hear “L´Enfant sauvage” I hear some stuff, we could have done some things better, some things shorter and we could have worked on the mood of the album, so on this one we decided to just take it another step. So much concentration on this album. Tons of riffs and organizing all these ideas, it´s like having tons of fruit and extract everything, a lot of work to extract the juice of all these riffs and ideas. Hard work, a lot of discipline, so it felt great at the end because we gave our best.
Joe: We have no regrets. We just did what we wanted to do.
You say there are things on “L´Enfant sauvage” you could have done differently. Do you think you´ll look at this album the same way in two years’ time?
Mario: Yeah, I´m sure. We´re never 100% satisfied.
Joe: We´re just a rock band and we do songs and we record them. It´s a lot of work of course and Mario described it very well with the juice thing, but again, maybe in 10 days we´ll listen to a song and go “You know what, actually…”
Mario: Actually, when the album “L´Enfant sauvage” was released, a few days after I was already like “Ah, this song could be better.” Inside of me I was kinda “It´s ok, but it could be better.”, but on this one I don´t have that feeling, so it´s a big difference for me.
Is there such a thing as a perfect album?
Joe: 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.
For me, the 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?
Joe: 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 analyse things coldly and like “Ok, 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 ok, so when we did “Only pain”, “Stranded”, “Shooting star”, we thought everything would be ok, but when we started recording…
Joe: We were hoping. She wasn´t doomed yet and then at some point it was “Ok, 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 “Ok, 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.
Could you sum up one thing that she taught you guys?
Joe: 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.”
There´s a track called “Yellow stone” and for me, it has a bit of a Black Sabbath feel to it. Would you agree?
Mario: We talked about Cliff Burton…
Joe: Yeah, his solo “(Anesthesia) Pulling teeth”, but yeah, Black Sabbath, I know what you mean. It´s dark and has a solemn, badass kinda vibe… native-ish, right? That´s cool. We never really listened to Black Sabbath. We went from The Beatles straight to Morbid Angel and skipped the whole Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath… the early ages of heavy metal. We never really explored that. Maybe one day we will. We´re playing with Black Sabbath soon. At a festival. We´re excited.
We´ve lost a lot of people lately like Lemmy, Bowie and Prince. Are those people that influenced you in any way? Is it stuff you listen to?
Joe: Yes. Prince… I was listening to Prince a lot as a kid. It´s strange to think that the world is without these people. David Bowie, being in New York too, left a big gap and everybody felt like “Really, there´s no more David Bowie in the world?” and yesterday Prince! My God we were shocked. There´s probably a new David Bowie that was born yesterday and people will appreciate his music and will stream it. (laughs)
Did you ever play with Motörhead? Did you get to meet Lemmy?
Mario: Yes, we met him once or two times and we played with them in France at a festival.
Joe: First time I met Lemmy was on tour with Metallica and I stormed into his dressing room, because he was a guest on the tour and I was face to face with Lemmy and I was like “Oh, shit! I thought it was my dressing room.” And he was like “Hey, what´s up? I´m Lemmy.” and I was like “I know who you are.” (laughs)
How would you describe each other? You´re brothers and you obviously spend a lot of time together. Do you get on each other’s nerves or is it all happy pappy all the time?
Joe: Of course we have our moments and we know each other so well so if one of us says a word we know what he´s thinking. We can´t lie to each other. (laughs) We kind of balance each other out some times. We push and pull and we know each other very well, but I wanna say that mostly we respect… and we´re grownups so it´s all good. No big scope here. (laughs)
Touring wise then? Do you think you´ll tour forever with this album? You toured a lot with the last album. You seemed to be out on the road all the time.
Mario: Now, the platform surrounding the band is stronger than ever and when we started the cycle for “L´Enfant sauvage” it was kinda messy. We didn´t have our proper sound guy and the lighting guy changed and the management was new, so now I think we can set something strong right away and proof is that our headline tour in the US is already set and it´s beautiful venues. It will be in September – October and the size of the venues increased so we play 2000 capacity and sometimes 3000 capacity (venues). It´s amazing. I think we will go straight to the point.
Joe: Yeah, unless the album goes really well and there´s more demand and people are ready to give us money to play and if we can make money, that will be awesome because basically an album cycle pays for itself and I think people start to understand now . There are more and more people and artists that say “Wait a second. I know you think I´m rich, but I´m not.” and this is our case too. We go on the road and it´s already amazing that we can make a living and pay our rent, but to be honest, lately it was a little rough, so this is the reality of things. Let´s say after a year and a half we start thinking “Ok, let´s work on a new record.”, we always want to work on a new record, but if there´s an opportunity to play more and make money, it´s gonna be hard to say no. It depends on the success of the record. We´ll see what the future holds for us.
Text: Niclas Müller-Hansen
Foto: Therés Stephansdotter Björk, Josefin Wahlstedt, Silvercordstudio.com