1990.03.08 Rolling Stone #573 Interview
Rolling Stone #573 (8 March 1990), p. 63.
© 1990 by Straight Arrow Publishers Company, L.P.
New Faces: Voivod by Moira McCormick
Giant aluminum factories invade a planet, and the big aluminum smog around the planet causes Alzheimer’s disease because of the aluminum deposited into the brain ….” Michel Langevin, a.k.a. Away — drummer, graphic artist, and conceptualist for the futuristic French Canadian foursome Voivod — is outlining a science fiction scenario found on the art-metal band’s latest album, Nothingface.
Actually, Away says, the scenario is “not totally fiction.” Like many of this Montreal group’s nightmarish concepts, this one was inspired by real life: specifically, life in the industrial town of Jonquière, in northern Quebec, where the band members grew up, says Away, “by the biggest aluminum factory in North America.”
“Mixing stuff like surrealistic art with scientific fact,” says Away in his French-fried English, “is how I create my concepts and drawings — such as characters like the Voivod. The band’s namesake, and its main musical protagonist, was conjured up by Away at age twelve after he read the Bram Stoker novel Dracula.
“I created my own postnuclear vampire,” Away says, “and later we just transposed it into our music.”
Voivod formed in 1982 with Away, bassist Blacky (Jean-Yves Theriault), guitarist Piggy (Denis D’Amour) and singer and lyricist Snake (Denis Belanger). The foursome drew on heavy metal, punk and progressive rock to come up with a lethal brand of high-concept thrash that fueled four independent albums. Throughout, the Voivod character mutated from vampire to cyborg to microworld explorer, with every stage illustrated by Away’s sleeve art.
The band metamorphosed, as well. With Nothingface, Voivod’s first major- label effort, the group has evolved beyond thrash. But its frenetic attack is still light- years away from pop: Nothingface’s first single is a marrow-freezing cover of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine,” penned by the patron saint of rock nut cases, Syd Barrett. “That song influenced everyone in the band when we were young,” says Away.