1996.05 Hard Force n°13 Interview
Interview with Michel Langevin by Chriss Lee.
Translated by Voivod.net
Voivod is an atypical case in the world of metal. The group originating in Quebec, has released eight albums in twelve years, is at the same time praised by its peers, and lately recognized in the American charts, characteristic for its precursory concept, even if it wasn’t understood for a long time by the public. Before playing live at the Open Dynamo Air Festival, the thinking head of the group, Michel Langevin, recently talked with our Canadian correspondent about the position of the group within the metal undercurrent and its projects.
C.L: Let us enter immediately in the subject. Voivod and Metallica, what is the link?
M.L.: Oh well, how it happened is rather strange. Jason Newsted called me at home, asking me what I was doing in March. I answered him that I was free and even if I had not been it, I would have made time for him! Jason said to me to have worked on projects with SEPULTURA and FAITH NO MORE and that he wanted to collaborate one week with VOIVOD. He invited me one week to San Francisco, to his studio, to record his solo project. Jason sings and plays bass. I am the drummer and Denis D’ Amour plays the guitar.
C.L.: Have you known each other for a long time?
M.L.: Yes since a good while. Each time VOIVOD played in San Francisco, the METALLICA guys were in the room. We remained in contact. Jason is a funny organizer. In 1988 or 1989, he had assembled part of foot and a barbecue at the time of our Dimensions Hatröss tour!
C.L.: The last VOIVOD album to date to do well…
M.L.: Yes, it sold rather well! It ranked 5 on the metal radio in the USA and the European tour proved to be a great success. We also worked on an mini-album “Live in Berlin ” which includes the single Nanoman.
C.L.: You recorded the concert in November 1995?
M.L.: Yes, but they are mostly new or unreleased songs: Nuclear War, Astronomy Dominate, Cosmic Conspiracy and Project X. Maybe we’ll include a remix techno of Insects, but it is not yet a sure thing… There will be also a CD-ROM track which is reproduced already on the American versions of the Negatron CD. It comprises the video clip, the lyrics, a bio, several personal drawings and an extract of a group interview in its room.
C.L.: Impressive! and when will it come out?
M.L.: This summer, I do not have precise dates yet.
C.L.: One starts to seize your personal universe, the concept behind your drawings (a topic which goes back when he was 12/13 years old). And especially the ambition is more obvious for some time.
M.L.: I find that VOIVOD is more professional. It is that the experiment… Since Nothingface, in my opinion. It is also a question of means. And still… if we had more, I would not hesitate to conceive our shows like PINK FLOYD! However, my vision is due thanks to Softimage ( animation and special effects company for movies and TV, responsible among others for Jurassic Park directed by Spielberg). I had the choice: I failed to reorientate my career towards the computer animation then, following a market survey for the last album, I realized account which I could combine both. Since VOIVOD was respected by industry, we could obtain interesting offers .It is however necessary to say that VOIVOD’s super-heavy style made difficult the marketing approach We thus worked with Heavy oriented independent companies .
C.L.: Very exciting. I remember when when I saw you for the first time in 1985. Garage group, extreme music. Especially when one follows your progression towards these unique sounds…
M.L.: Those were the years when we expressed a message in our music, in particular the dangers of science, but that often went above people’s heads. We are conscious that this can be an obstacle, but we notice that more and more groups tackle these subjects. FEAR FACTORY, for example. Our popularity climbs, therefore the public becomes aware with time.
C.L.: Marrying sound and visuals , Is VOIVOD artistically complete?
M.L.: Yes and not by choice. The music is inspired by my drawings. It is made up on the basis of the illustrations which I carry out. And the drawing is pure art…
C.L.: Which are the artistic currents have influenced you?
M.L.: I like the expressionism very much and art déco also. Moreover Cro-Mags’ bass player called Voivod’s music déco-metal! That one really had me, it is original.
C.L.: One could speak of you in terms of space opera...
M.L.: The culture québécoise made us bathe in King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator. This obviously shows in our style.
C.L.: Do all the Voivod’s compositions, come from a drawing?
M.L.: It is not absolutely systematic. We record jams, then I draw what they inspire to me. Then I show my drawings to the group and we build something of final from there. It is a single exchange between visuals and sound. For the disc Dimension Hatross, each character had his topic which often reappeared in the titles under several alternatives. This album was a hell; the internal tensions started from there. It was increasingly hard for me to ask the others to put in music what I did. Each one had its own ideas and moved towards something different. Still we were able to release Nothingface and Angel Rat before the separation.
C.L.: When did you get this passion for drawing?
M.L.: My cousin (note: Richard Langevin, Diane Dufresne’s husband) initiated me with the drawing when I was 5 years old. I learned 2 years ago that he directed Softimage’s school of graphics. I renewed contact with him and gave him a copy of the The Outer Limits album. I thus followed with a course in this school. To thank him a little for making me discover this vocation, Atomas shows up on the credit list.
C.L.: You returned to Europe. Which kind of relations do you plan to maintain with the old continent?
M.L.: The album initially came out to Europe and we played there in Novembre/December We knew that we were strong in Germany, not bad in England and France, but in certain places, it is incredible: in Czechoslovakia and Italy especially, there is Voivod-Mania! In Italy, I saw people running us after us! The Eastern European countries are perhaps sensitive to the name. It is of Rumanian origin (Voivod Vlad Dracula)
C.L.: After “Live in Berlin”, do you have any other projects?
M.L.: Yes, to master computer programming. I want to extend the CD-ROM experiment and to conceive a game based on the characters of the Voivod saga .
C.L.: Is the concept of the next album already developed?
M.L.: The history of Voivod was completed on Nothingface and since, it lives in a kind of major coma. I would like to bring back it to the life on a few pieces. I am enormously wary of the concepts which I launch from now on. In Spin magazine, there was an article about the young Norwegian who killed a homosexual in a park, and the kid has a Voivod tattoo. I felt very badly. On the first Voivod album, we thanked the black metal fans of the planet… I feel rather badly at ease with that because we made conneries of a 15/16 year old kid, but we have never incited violence or murder.