VOIVOD drummer Michel "Away" Langevin has confirmed to Agoraphobic News that the band has commenced the songwriting process for the follow-up to 2018's "The Wake" album. He explained (hear audio below): "The problem we encountered was that Chewy [guitarist Daniel Mongrain] lives a few miles away from Montreal," where the rest of the band is based. "And the roads are blocked these days [during the coronavirus crisis] and he can't really travel to Montreal and we can't really travel to where he lives and so on. So we are doing a demo, sharing files in a Dropbox folder. I just downloaded a drum machine app for Android, and I'm using it to demo the drums, because, obviously, I can't play at home or record at all. But we are moving forward with writing new material, which is great."
Asked how many new VOIVOD songs have already been completed, Away said: "We have just chunks of songs, but many of them. And maybe some of them will be collected together eventually. Before everything started with this coronavirus, we already had made a bunch of recording sessions at our studio. So we have some material to pull from — improvisations, riffs that Chewy started and we all joined then. But there is also material written separately by everybody that we share, so we are slowly gonna build an album this year. among ourselves. We are slowly gonna build up an album this year. But before that, there will be a live album coming out."
Away, who is also a graphic design artist, went on to talk about how the coronavirus pandemic will affect the touring industry, particularly with so many artists relying almost exclusively on their tour revenues to support themselves.
"I've been scared of that for many, many years, but it's still a surreal situation right now," the drummer said. "Even though that we should have been prepared [for] it, it's something that will change this whole planet, for sure… For me, it seems like life as usual, it will definitely crush the VOIVOD revenues in terms of touring. And also, eventually, it will have an impact on my art as well, in the sense that if the bands stop touring, [I'm not] gonna draw t-shirts anymore. Like [the] 'voivod' [character created by Away], I'm gonna have to adapt to the situation very quickly, make the best of it."
Asked if he is concerned that VOIVOD will be forced to stay off the road for the foreseeable future, possibly through the end of the year, Away responded: "Yes, I'm very afraid of that. We had some great, great festivals lined up in Quebec this summer, and then we had a world tour starting in September for the live album. And everything is up in the air right now. So I'm gonna seize the opportunity to put together the books that I'm gonna release eventually."
Elaborating on the books that he is planning to release, Away said: "There is one book that's art on the road. And the other book is art that I do for other people, like commissioned artwork, over the years. And I have another book that is all art that I do at home for myself. So that's three books together. And I also have some kind of a comic book in the works, and this will probably be the first one coming out… I'm aiming at publishing it this year for the first book, which is more comic book-oriented. It's not that many pages — maybe 30. And then I'm gonna move to the book about all the art that I do on the road. But this one is longer to put together, because I have thousands of drawings, because I draw a lot on the road."
VOIVOD's above-mentioned live album will arrive in the fall, according to Away, while the next studio LP is not expected before 2021.
In March 2019, VOIVOD was honored with a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Award) in the "Metal/Hard Music Album Of The Year" category. VOIVOD won the award for "The Wake", which was released in September 2018 via Century Media Records. The disc was recorded and mixed by Francis Perron at RadicArt Recording Studio in Canada. The album's artwork was once again created by Away.