1995.12 Chronicles of Chaos Interview
V A S T A N D V I V I D V I S I O N S
W I T H V O I V O D
by: Adrian Bromley
“We wanted to be heavier and go back to our roots,” starts Voivod founding member/drummer Michel “Away” Langevin over the phone from Montreal about the band’s latest LP, _Negatron_. “We went very experimental with the last few albums (1991’s _Angel Rat_ and 1993’s _The Outer Limits_) and we felt that we went as far as we could with that direction. We felt that there was no other form of musical style we could go to.”
So along with other founding member, guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour, Langevin tried to salvage the pieces of the Voivod wreckage that had almost come to an end after nearly 13 years. Founding frontman Denis “Snake” Belanger left the band, and the future looked grim for Montreal’s metallic export.
He explains the problems that came with the struggle of keeping the band around. “The last few albums were difficult. That is where we got into a lot of difficulties with Snake. He didn’t want to yell any more and we felt we needed to do that. We missed the kind of music we played from the old albums but we also wanted to write heavier stuff.”
In comes singer/bassist Eric Forrest; “When we got Eric, he was heavier than we had expected to go with the band and we liked that.”
For those unfamiliar with Forrest, he has been the frontman of several local Toronto hard rock acts. Molding him into Voivod material was easier than had been expected according to Langevin. “It was different having him in the band at first but Eric was the first guy that we tried out for singer and he was the perfect match. He was exactly what we wanted – a raunchy version of early “Snake” with a 90’s feel to it. It was obvious when we tried out Eric he was up to fill Snake’s position. We jammed for 20 minutes and knew he was in. It was just that easy.”
“I don’t think we have ever sounded so powerful,” says Langevin about the addition of Forrest to the band and the new material. “This power-trio is the best way to approach the music.”
More powerful than previous releases, though somewhat back to the basics of such Voivod classic albums as _War And Pain_ (1984) or 1988’s _Dimension Hatross_, _Negatron_ is a collection of power chords, screams, anger, and dexterity. Precision performance is everywhere on _Negatron_. But is Voivod still Voivod heading into a 90’s alternative nation or have they needed to become something more commercially appealing? Langevin begins, “We have been told many times that stuff that we write goes over the heads of the average listener, that our topics are too complex for metal fans. But we always wanted to write abstract lyrics and surreal stuff that went with the music and that is the way we choose to be. Obviously Voivod is about music and that is the way we like to express ourselves and we will stay this way,” finishes Langevin.
When questioned about the band’s decision to work with an independent label, TO-based Hypnotic Records, Langevin said, “We chose the indie approach this time so we can put out album after album and tour after tour. And the only way to do that is be on an independent label. If you are on a major label, you have to sell a million copies to make them happy and in order to do that you have to compromise. That is why we have chosen to go this direction.” He adds, “The label was the only one who understood our plan of attack (he quickly mentions Hypnotic president Tom Treumuth as the key to the band’s signing to Hypnotic). Plus I really liked the studio. I was really impressed. It [the studio] was the perfect format for us to do the album: the size, feel, and spacing of the studio. The cool thing was also that the Hypnotic office and studio were on the same floor.”
Future plans for Voivod include a month-long tour throughout Europe headlining with Germany’s Power Of Expression. Langevin and the rest of the power/metal trio are looking forward to Europe – big time! “The album has been out in Europe for about a month and a half and the response has been great. For the first time in four and a half years, I don’t have to defend myself or the album. We were asked many times if we were going to go back to the roots of our music over the last four or five years. Finally we have done that and people are happy,” ends Langevin with some pleasure.