1988 Metal Forces #28 interview with Away
1988 Metal Forces #28
Interview with Away by Borivoj Krgin
Borivoj Krgin is the founder and editor of Blabbermouth.net
At a time when originality is such a scarce quality in most new metal bands, it really IS surprising to find that there are still some groups left out there that prefer to go out on a limb and try out new ideas rather then spew forth a simple rehash of everything that’s been done and heard a million times before.
The one band that really takes this attitude to its extreme is the Montreal quartet Voivod. Throughout their four-album history, these Canadians have consistently made an attempt to get away from stereotype metal riffs and lyrics, and really concentrate on developing a sound and style all their own. Their last effort “Dimension Hatross” sees them for the first time, trying a hand at creating a metal concept album, and you can bet your ass that what they have come up with is anything but conventional-yes, were talking weird, boys and girls!!
METAL FORCES recently spoke with VOIVOD’s number one weirdo and drummer/extraordinaire, Away, about their new album and their recent European tour with lablemates KREATOR, and he began by explaining the concept behind “Dimension Hatross”.
“The whole story revolves an experiment that takes place in VOIVOD’s (the creature’s- not the band’s!) laboratory during which he creates a whole new dimension -like a tiny galaxy- and he enters it to observe the evolution of its inhabitants. The story consists of eight chapters with each song depicting a different part, and it is more or less a reflection of what goes on in our own world and what we think will eventually happen to our kind.”
“The first song “Experiment”, sees VOIVOD in his laboratory using a particle accelerator to create a small energy field which we will call the dimension Hatross, and in the second part of the song he enters it. There he meets the first living beings, who, because of their primitive beliefs, view him as a God and worship him as such (“Tribal Convictions”). With “Chaos Mongers”, VOIVOD comes in contact with some aggressive, dangerous beings, who, in our world would be terrorists. “Technocratic Manipulator” deals with the governments suppression of the people and their attempt to control the population’s lives – not unlike the situation portrayed in the book “1984”. Side two’s first song “Macrosolutions to Mega-problems”, sees the chaos mongers come into a direct conflict with the government in an attempt to overthrow them. In “Brainscan”, VOIVOD meets the highest forms of human evolution -an organism that is composed solely of brain matter- and in “Psychic Vacuum”, they use their power and intelligence to capture VOIVOD’s soul. This track of course, refers to the large number of American sects whose members are taught to be dependant on their master and do everything their told – like machine. And during the albums closing track, “Cosmic Drama”, VOIVOD breaks out and flees back into his laboratory, where he destroys the whole dimension which he created.”
This sounds to me like you must have really worked you asses off in the last year or so trying to piece this story together -have you?
“Yeah, I’d say so (laughs) I actually had a rough idea for the concept as far back as mid’86 when we tour the states for the first time with CELTIC FROST, but at the time we had already started writing material for “Killing Technology” and we couldn’t afford to start busying ourselves with anything else.
“We began putting the new album together sometime around January ’87 -right after we’d come back from the “K.T.” recording session- and it took us a full ten months to finally piece everything together the way it is on the record. As a matter of fact we wrote our last song for “Dimension Hatross”, “Psychic Vacuum”, just a few days before we had to leave for our European tour with KREATOR, so we really didn’t have much time to think about anything else BUT the new album until after the recording sessions this past December.”
What sort of musical change -if any- do you feel that you have made with this record?
“Well, being that we always come up with the song concept first when writing new material, this record -due to its strange subject matter- had no choice but to turn out weirder the “K.T.” which many people said was a strange album in itself. Basically if you wanna say that with “K.T.” we were heading off into what you might call “the VOIVOD direction”, this album is even more of an individual effort than its predecessor. The songs are definitely a bit different from our pervious material and they will probably kind of hard to get into at first, but I feel that they’re just as heavy and aggressive as anything we’ve done before.”
Do you think that there’s a chance that you will lose some of your older fans because this album IS weird?
“No, I really don’t think so, because we haven’t in any way sacrifieced any of the aggression and energy that our past efforts have become known for; we still sound like the same band that recorded “K.T.” and “Rrroooaaarrr” except that we’re now more advanced and mature as song writers and musicians.
“Personally, I really don’t think that there’s THAT big of a difference between “K.T.” and “D.H.”; sure, we’ve gotta a bit weirder and even more off-the-wall than before, but the general feeling have remained the same, I think.”
Many people have wondered exactly where you get your sound from – you really don’t sound like any other band in metal today. In your opinion, what are the ingredients that make VIOVOD’s sound what it is?
“I definitely think that it comes down to our influences and the stuff that the four of us listen to when we’re not playing VOIDVOD music. Me personally, I like to listen to a lot of the psychedelic and industrial sort of stuff, like BAUHAUS and KILLIN JOKE, whereas Piggy(guitar), for example, is heavily into really old music, like KING CRIMSON, PINK FLOYD, and a lot of obscure bands hat were around a long time ago but never went anywhere. Bassist Blacky likes to listen to a lot of classical music, and Snake (vocals) spends a lot of time listening to old punk like THE MISFITS, THE DAMNED and THE DEAD KENNEDYS. When you combined all those influences, you come up with one strange mixture indeed, and I think that’ what makes this band so original.”
Being that you have such diverse and unique influences, do you ever concern yourselves with the marketing end of things and how make VOIVOD a bit more accessible to the metal masses?
“No, not at all. Of course, it’s important to us that we don’t lose the fans that e already have and the ones that have followed us from the very beginning, but we really don’t pay much attention to the commercial side of the music business. If it were up to us, we’d rather be known as a cult ban with loyal following than a mainstream act with “fans” who will leave us as soon as we’re no longer the “cool” band to be into. What we are playing right now is exactly what we want to play, and we’re not gonna change just because we think that we can become more successful by playing some other style. It’s very important to us that we’re happy doing whatever we’re doing first – not how successful we can be or anything like that.”
But isn’t it a bit hard sometimes playing such uncompromising material and making a living off it at the same time? After all, you DO need money to survive no matter what you beliefs are.
“Yeah, that’s true, but as longs we can survive right now, that’ all that matters. Our records have sold consistently well over the years and ARE getting enough money from Noise right now to be able to pay our rent and live off it, although it’s not a lot by any means. I think that our following is growing – slowly but surely – with each new album we put out, and I really don’t think that it’s not within the realms of possibility that one day we WILL be making more money than we are right now, but it will be only because we’ve stayed true to our roots and stuck to our guns and not because we’ve sold out or compromised our beliefs.”
Do you find that it is more difficult for you to make ends meet right now being that you no longer have profession management backing you (VOIVOD’s long-time manager, Maurice Richard, decides to split at the end of the band’s 1987 US tour with KREATOR)?
“No, not really; if anything, it’s a bit easier for us to work things out right now than it was with Maurice, because we’ve learnt a lot about the music business in the last few years, and we don’t have to go through another person to get what we want – we’re a bit more business-minded nowadays, I guess you could say.”
So what are your relations with your record company, Noise Records, like right now?
“They are very good, actually. As you may know, “Dimension Hatross” is our last album for Noise under the present contract, so we have and option to change companies for our next record which we hope to record at the end of the year. What we’re gonna do is check things out with some other labels before we do you next LP, so that we can get an idea for what the best deal is for us, and then we’ll sign. There’s a good chance that we’ll be re-signing with Noise over the last two years with promotion and everything, but we wanna look around first to see if we can get an even better deal from someone else.”
In closing, Away wanted me to apologize on the band’s behalf to all of their European fans who went to see them at the “Christmas On Earth” festival in Leads this past December but ended up getting disappointed. Sez Away:
“We were stuck in Belgium with our guitars because we didn’t have the proper visas to get into the country. It seems that we were Canadian, and so he failed to provide us with the right documents for our English excursion. The funny thing is, we learned later that we could have walked past the customs without any problem if only we’d said that we were visiting the country as tourists and we weren’t gonna play any shows while we were there. But, being the honest guys that we are (!) we had to tell the truth, and so we ended up not doing the show after all!”
Need I say more?
Tags: metal forces magazine