Sonic Perspectives recently conducted an interview with drummer Michel "Away" Langevin of Canadian progressive sci-fi metal innovators VOIVOD about the band's forthcoming studio album, "The Wake". You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On what fans can expect from "The Wake":
Away: "This is one of the most intricate albums we've done, for sure. The songs are pretty long and complicated and lots of prog rock moments, a bit of psychedelia, of course, our punk/thrash metal signature is still there. So, it's vintage VOIVOD with a new twist with Rocky [Dominique Laroche, bass] and Chewy [Daniel Mongrain, guitar], there's sort of a futuristic touch to the band nowadays."
On whether VOIVOD felt a sense of relief after recording 2013's "Target Earth", which is the first VOIVOD album to not include contributions from original guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour, who passed away in 2005:
Away: "Of course. For three years we were mainly focusing, Snake [vocalist Denis Bélanger] and I, on 'Katorz' and 'Infini' with Jason Newsted, then we were not too sure if we would keep on going. It's only in 2008, we were asked to play the Heavy Montreal fest and we started to go for it and it first, it was supposed to be a one-off show, but it went so well. Of course, we were afraid that people might think it's a sacrilege without Piggy, but people really loved it and many young kids were excited just to be able to see VOIVOD. Anyhow, the word spread. Soon enough, we were asked to play with JUDAS PRIEST in Montreal and OZZY [OSBOURNE] in Calgary, then TESTAMENT in Tokyo and so on and so on. It never really stopped after. The last couple of years, we've played more than ever."
On what new bass player Rocky brings to the band and why founding bassist Jean-Yves "Blacky" Thériault left VOIVOD in 2014:
Away: "Blacky left because he couldn't agree with the rest of the band on how the band should be managed. He's more of a DIY guy, which we totally respect, but we, nowadays, are more inclined to be signed to a big label, Century Media/Sony, so we had some differences in opinion. That was one of the main reasons. With Rocky, the approach is a bit different musically. Him and Chewy are sort of more fusion metal in a way, so it makes me play differently. With Blacky, it's more like a punk/thrash sort of vibe. Every time we changed the lineup, I sort of play differently. I have to learn how to play accordingly, which is great and like with Jason, it was more stoner rock and with Eric Forrest, it was more not nu metal, but more in the SEPULTURA/MACHINE HEAD vein. With Rocky, the interaction he has with Chewy is almost fusion, so it's not jazz or anything like that, but I have to think differently about this and it's very challenging and motivating. It's more prog rock in a sense."
On whether he would ever like to turn "The Wake" or another VOIVOD album into a movie:
Away: "Yeah, of course. It's been a dream of ours for a long time. It's just that financially, it's very complicated for anybody to gather the funds to make a movie based on a VOIVOD album or anything like that. At this point, we are hoping to be able to finish the movie about VOIVOD that we started 12 years ago with [Canadian film producer] Sam Dunn. We're still working on trying to finalize it. As for doing a soundtrack for a movie, that would be really, really amazing for us. I really think we could pull that off. But, if anybody wants to do a movie based on a VOIVOD album, I guess the logistics are difficult because of the huge amount of money it takes to make a movie."
On whether "The Wake" is a collaborative VOIVOD album:
Away: "With VOIVOD, Chewy is the main writer. We do bring a lot of ideas, but it was basically the same when Piggy was in the band. He was the main writer. Sometimes, material will be pulled from improvisations we do at the rehearsal room where we record everything. So, Chewy had to rearrange the best parts into songs, but quite often, he'll come with riffs and songs mostly written and once in a while, I come up with a beat. Rocky brought a lot of riffs as well. It's collaborative at first, but Chewy is the guy to arrange everything."
On whether fans embraced VOIVOD introducing progressive elements on their classic 1987 "Killing Technology" album:
Away: "It depends. When we toured in 87 for 'Killing Technology' with KREATOR in Europe, I remember some people were scratching their heads. I remember some people already felt we had a strange style right from the 'War And Pain' album. We've always been fans of prog rock and Kraut rock, so it was natural for us to include it in our sound. It was mainly around the 'Dimension Hatröss' era where people were like 'Oh, this is really psychedelic, this is strange, I'm not sure I understand.' Once they did, they really, really got into it. For 'Killing Technology', we were still thrash metal enough for people to understand it. But, yeah, I think that starting with 'Dimension Hatröss' for many people, they have to listen to it a couple of times before they really get it. We've been labeled so many names: 'nuclear metal', many people didn't know how to approach VOIVOD. I even heard 'deco metal'. [Laughs] If anything, our roots are really in the thrash metal movement."
"The Wake" will be released on September 21 for 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 Langevin and can be seen below.
VOIVOD's first European touring run in support of "The Wake" will feature the following rotating support acts: MAGGOT HEART (September 7-16), NIGHTRAGE (September 18-26) and BIO-CANCER (September 28 - October 20).