GOJIRA Frontman: Labels Are Reinventing Their Jobs Because They Don't Sell Records Anymore

Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden's Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Joseph Duplantier of French progressive metallers GOJIRA. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Metalshrine: How do you take care of your voice? It's such an important part of your performance.

Joseph Duplantier: I'm supposed to sleep a lot and drink a lot of water, but instead I don't drink water and I don't sleep, so, of course, it doesn't help. I'm hyperactive or a special kind of hyperactive. I'm not all over the place, but I can't sleep. Especially after a full day of work. I sneak out to the stage all the time to check and the guys go, "Dude, relax! Go to the dressing room!" And then we play the show and I can't go to bed right after that. We film the show and I watch the show with the light guy, and then I need one or two hours to do other stuff, so I never sleep, and that's a problem. But the tour's been going great. We started in Moscow a couple of days ago and Russia is fucked up! It's incredible. We were stuck at the border for 10 hours on our way out, which is surprising. You would think that going out was no problem, but it was. We were very, very late and we thought we were gonna have to cancel the show in Finland. We arrived when the doors opened, so the audience was waiting outside in line in the cold and they saw the bus coming, "What the fuck! You're coming now? You should be warmed up and ready to go." The crew worked hard but we forgot about some of the production we have, but the show was incredible.

Metalshrine: You're doing your own headlining tour in the U.S. and Canada with Devin Townsend. A package like that, does that come from you or is it the record company coming up with the idea?

Joseph Duplantier: We had to fight for it. We talked to Devin last summer at a festival and it was like, "We should play together. My fans always talk about you and you're fans talk about me. Let's do something." I told him, "We need to headline." And I would never imagine Devin opening for us, but he went "Dude, I'll open for you guys." It came from the connection and the friendship that we have and mutual respect. He's stoked. The label had other ideas, but it's great. We never had such a powerful opener.

Metalshrine: Are there a lot of business talk behind such a thing? That his crowd might draw so and so many and you so and so?

Joseph Duplantier: Yeah. Actually, it didn't really fit with the business thinking and that's why I said we had to fight for him. Everybody respects him to death; the record company, management, the sponsors. Everybody was like "Yeah, Devin, man! But wait, you have the same crowd!" So it wasn't exactly the best solution for the partners, but oh my god, the experience, the inspiration is the best definitely, so, finally, they went "Alright, let's do it!". If you don't say anything as a musician, everybody will go, "OK, we're going with this, because his manager knows this manager and so on." You have to fight for things sometimes, and that's probably why we're a bit tired sometimes, because we try to face each problem and be present everywhere. Like right now, I would be on stage checking stuff like, "The gaffa tape should be like this!". (laughs)

Metalshrine: I talked to a member of a Swedish band, BULLET, recently and they've made a name for themselves but they're still a small band, but he said that there are so many meetings with the label and managers and stuff, it felt like a regular job. Is there a lot of that stuff?

Joseph Duplantier: Yeah a lot of that and it's more and more complicated. This business is very complicated. All the record companies and even managements are reinventing their jobs because they don't sell records anymore. Take any business and divide it by 10 when it comes to income. It's a mess, so everybody's trying to reinvent it. The record companies are trying to be publishers and the management tries to sell merchandise and they do everything at the same time, so they ask a lot of the bands because they can't do their job properly. They have to do 10 jobs in order to multiply with 10 incomes plus they have to fire people all the time and get new ones to be able to adapt to all these new mechanisms, so it's very, very complicated and very tiring and very far from music, really. You have to be strong and know what you want. Be flexible.

Metalshrine: Sea Shepherd, in some countries they're considered eco terrorists and stuff like that. Do you think that you sometimes have to use certain methods to get across to people?

Joseph Duplantier: Yeah, it's a good question. I think in that case, yes. I'm against violence and aggression and I like to promote communication instead. In that case, when someone is getting killed in front of you and you don't do something to stop it, you're killing it a little bit. For example, we have a few whales left on this planet. Some people go and kill them and there are treaties and laws that like a 100 countries have signed. There's a small window in it that allows to take a whale a year for science, but instead they go every year and take 300 whales when there's just a couple of 1000 left. In that particular case, I think stopping them without hurting them is good. I don't think they hurt anyone. Maybe they will cause damage. I would like to be in a boat and fucking destroy their boat, even though I'm a pacifist. I think it's a little reductive to call them terrorists. No one will blame the police when they stop terrorists from killing people. It's a bit complex and in a perfect world you don't need to use violence, but it's not a perfect world. Far from it.

Read the entire interview from Metalshrine.

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