It’s been impressive in terms of the respect we get from the journalists, the musicians, the fans that’s quite an achievement and I’m proud of it.
Achieving legendary status in any occupation is never an easy task. Our heroes typically don’t get the accolades they deserve until they are removed from what made them great. It almost seems as human beings, we don’t often recognize greatness until there is nothing left to compare it to.
Piggy was a great guitarist, perhaps one of the greatest ever. His contributions to metal will be felt long after his passing. Left behind are the songs and the famed musical act that he helped realize, the mighty Voivod. Heralded as one of the most innovative and visionary forces in extreme music, Voivod endures.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Voivod’s famed drummer Michel “Away” Langevin about the group’s latest release Target Earth, touring plans and watching The Road Warrior on mute.
Here are some excerpts from that 1/11/13 interview…
David Halbe: What prompted this new Voivod release?
Michel “Away” Langevin: We started writing the album in 2010, after touring, we decided that we were tight enough as a unit to start writing new material, we worked on it for a couple of years and recorded it last year, it’s coming out in a couple of weeks for the 30 year anniversary of the band.
Dave: Are there any touring plans for Target Earth?
Michel: Yes, we are playing, in mid-March, the South by South West Festival(Yearly movie/music festival held in Austin, Texas – www.sxsw.com ) then in mid-April we’ll be in South America. In May we will be inNorth America, so across the USA and Canada then through June and July we’ll be across Europe and we hope to head to Asia in the fall. In between tours we want to write a new album.
Dave: Target Earth has that classic Voivod feel to it. Was this a conscious effort by the band or more of a result of working hand in hand?
Michel: It has a lot to do with the fact that Blacky [(Original Voivod bassist 1982-1991, 2008-present] came back to the band and we started to do more of our 80’s thrash material across the globe, then we started writing new material. Of course Blacky was involved a lot in writing the material back in the day with Piggy. So Blacky and Chewy wrote a lot of the music for the new album. Although some of it does come from improvisations we recorded.
Dave: How has Chewy’s addition enhanced the band’s creative process?
Michel: It’s definitely fresh for me because I had been musical partners with Piggy for so many years. So it’s another energy, it’s kind of a new Voivod sounding album but I think it keeps the spirit of Voivod intact in the writing of the guitar.
Dave: Aside from the color concepts utilized from prior albums, are there any other stories you could share about the creation of Target Earth album cover?
Michel: The album cover was at first supposed to be more galactic, space like but there were events happening in Montreal where the students and the unions clashed. People in general took to the streets. There was a lot of action around my house. I live right in downtown Montreal. There were a lot of riots and mass arrests, helicopters so that interested me a lot and slowly the cover took on a more post apocalyptic vision.
Dave: Are you excited about the upcoming Target Earth listening party in Montreal on January 24th?
Michel: Definitely, we play in Montreal only once a year and although we won’t be playing at this release party, it will be a great occasion to see all of our fans.
Dave: Where did the name Voivod originate?
Michel: I picked it up from the book Dracula by Bram Stoker when I was a teenager and I sort of turned it into a post nuclear vampire for a concept I was writing because I wanted to become a comic book artist and I always thought the name sounded great. When we formed the band in 83’ the other guys agreed to use the name and the concept musically.
Dave: In retrospect, are you ever surprised how impactful Voivod’s material has been to aspiring artists?
Michel: It’s been impressive in terms of the respect we get from the journalists, the musicians, the fans that’s quite an achievement and I’m proud of it. In terms of conditions, it’s been more of an underground level but we have a very loyal following, that’s why we are still here 30 years later. I’m really impressed that we were able to stay relevant.
Dave: You’ve shared the stage with everyone from Kreator to Soundgarden. Why do you think Voivod is accepted in so many different musical scenes?
Michel: We were always influenced by tons of different stuff. We were not afraid to include that in our style. It turns out that many people from many different scenes recognized themselves in the Voivod material and we can tour with bands like Doom, like we did in October or we can tour with Arch Enemy in Spain like we just did, or we can tour with Rush, Soundgarden or Neurosis that’s probably why we were asked to curate Roadburn 2012. [Yearly rock festival held in Tilburg, Netherlands –www.roadburn.com]
Dave: I noticed you have a relationship with Drum Shop USA, the “Away Signature Series” drums are incredible. Did you provide the artwork?
Michel: Yes! I was contacted by Drum Shop USA and supplied the art. When I received the first prototype at my house I was really nervous, then I used it for the first time and it sounded massive so I’m really proud of it.
Dave: Do you take those drums with you on tour?
Michel: Yes, and I also used them on Target Earth. They can be ordered at www. DrumShopUSA.com
Dave: Have you ever heard the album Rrroooaaarrr should be listened to while watching The Road Warrior movie on mute?
Michel: (Laughs) That’s a great one! All I can say is that people can probably do the same with Killing Technology because the intro of “Forgotten in Space” is from Mad Max Part 2. I believe the music was done by Brian May. (Not the famed Queen guitarist butanAustralian film composer, known for this work on the Mad Max Films)
Dave: Thanks for the interview! Good luck with the new album and tour!
Michel: Thank you!
Voivod (2013) are:
- Chewy – Guitars
- Away – Drums
- Snake – Vocals
- Blacky – Bass