Gojira‘s Joe Duplantier was the guest this past weekend’s Full Metal Jackie radio show, taking some time to discuss the band’s highly anticipated new album Fortitude, a record that he feels was inspired by and is projecting the desire to bring about the best in people.
Duplantier also discusses the bar set by their Magma album and finally realizing the effect it had on audiences, opens up on the creative process and offers his thoughts on a post-Covid touring world. Check out the chat in full below.
How exciting finally, we have the announcement of a new Gojira record Fortitude is coming out on April 30. So Joe, Magma brought Gojira to another level. What did you learn about that album that became starting points for Fortitude?
Well, you know Magma was a beautiful experience and we toured and, and like you said, it sort of brought us to another level, but we didn’t really realize that. I see that today when we release some things it’s much more attention around the band and stuff, but I was working hard going on tour and doing interviews. I didn’t see anything really happening other than my everyday life with the band.
But when we started to work on Fortitude, we wanted something different. Magma was a little, a little dark. We expressed some intense emotions related to the departure of my mom while we were recording the album. We talked about it, but on this album we wanted to express something different, something more joyful and energetic. And I mean, joyful, I mean punchier, more flamboyant but the lyrics usually we talk about humanity and and the evil that men do. So in that sense, it’s not exactly a party album,, but the sound is more rock, more exciting. I would say.
The title of the new album is Fortitude – a call for betterment. Why is it important for you to encourage that right now?
I don’t know. Despite the fact that I think humans are pretty fucked up and a part of me wishes that humans disappear from this planet to leave these poor animals alone, you know, but I believe in the potential of us human beings. I think we have beautiful things to offer, and I still wished to see that best that we have inside of us come out and that’s what I’m trying to do on an artistic level and the human level in my everyday life.
That’s what we wanted to express in this album too, to see people give their best and be strong and to not despair and to project a positive image for their future and for our future, and through discipline and decision and the right intentions, we can better ourselves and better display. So it’s almost by default the energy and the message we choose versus, ah, let it burn.
Gojira, “Born for One Thing” Video
Joe, creativity can be empowering. How does making an album in this case, Fortitude, give you strength.
It’s a good question. I enjoy every step of the way, even though sometimes it’s painful. We almost have physical pain sometimes when we can’t find that right part for the song. And we work hard to build songs that are so strong that we can sit on them and they will bring us places. You know what I mean?
So it’s a great satisfaction when the puzzle of an album finally comes together and we have that greater picture of what we are building. Just like when you’re building a house, you know, brick by brick you build something and then you take a step back and you look at it and you go, ‘Wow! This is gonna be a good shelter when the storm is coming’ and building an album, it’s a little bit like that.
It brings us such a satisfaction when it finally comes together and we feel a power that we intended to create, but that we don’t necessarily feel in our everyday life. You know what I mean? So it’s, it’s basically building something that is bigger than ourselves. And I love that feeling in theory. It’s very empowering and inspiring also.
Joe, writing and playing music is a process of continuous growth. What’s different about your musical sensibility now as compared to when you started?
You know, when we started, we had that ambition to create something that is violent and dissonant and weird and was going to surprise you all the time. And we were really focused on that death metal vibe that we had at the beginning. We were heavily influenced by bands like Death or Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, really all bands from Florida, really [laughs].
But we had that rock dimension. That’s more a traditional dimension that comes from Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix or Pink Floyd, you know, growing up and listening to more classic bands. And I think it’s starting to come out and could come out naturally. Now that we’re older and we have a desire to create something that is more maybe grounded and that takes time to express itself. And it feels really weird because we feel more grown up.
It’s a wonderful feeling to play things that were sort of played before. You know what I mean, like major chords or progressions that were present back in the day in the ’70s or ’80s, like with a band like Iron Maiden, for example. So you can find a little bit of that in our music too, and I really enjoy it. It’s also a nice change from all these old songs that we’re still playing to this day.
New York is your base, but you’ve been in Europe throughout the pandemic. What aspects of travel protocol are indicators of how some concerts might resume?
I don’t know. I took a little break from New York. I’m cheating on New York right now, and I feel bad. I’m going to have to bring flowers when I come back. But I was just visiting France last year. And when the whole pandemic happened right after finishing the album, I was supposed to go back to the mixing with Andy Wallace and the same studio and everybody just said it was unnecessary for me to travel and take risks. So I just stayed there and put my kids in a public school here in France, which allows them to perfect their French, which is good.
Now I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s a bit frustrating to cancel the whole summer of tour and all our plans. And then the year after the same, we’re all in the same boat. So we’ll see. It looks like we didn’t cancel anything starting in the summer 2021. So there’s still this tour with Deftones that might happen around September in the States, that I’m really excited about. But that also might get canceled. Who knows? Hopefully in 2022, the industry will still be alive and we’ll still be able to go on tour.
Our thanks to Gojira’s Joe Duplantier for the interview. The ‘Fortitude’ album is due April 30 and you can pre-order here (As Amazon affiliates, we earn on qualifying purchases). You can stay up to date with Gojira’s happenings via their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show here.