by Christopher Lee
VOIVOD!!!! One of the greatest and most revolutionary f#cking musical entities of all space and time, in THIS and ANY other galaxy YET to be discovered by Stephen Hawking! Through all their various incarnations, from the early "Nuclear War" metal of "War & Pain" and the classic "RRROOOAAARR" to the progressive sci-fi metal of "NothingFace" to the space age rock of "Angel Rat" and "The Outer Limits" right up to their most recent release "Target Earth", they remain one of the most original and unique acts of all space and time! Crypt Magazine was fortunate to speak with VoiVod drummer, artist and conceptual mastermind Away (Michel Langevin) about all the recent interplanetary happenings in the world of VoiVod on the first date of their "Through Space And Grind Tour 2015" with Napalm Death in Miami! So prepare to enter dimensions unknown and READ ON!
Crypt: We are sitting here with Away, aka Michel Langevin of the legendary Canadian metal pioneers VOIVOD!
Crypt: Great to see you, how are you today?
Away: Great! Thanks! First show of the tour!
Crypt: And how excited are you for this tour?
Away: Super excited! I mean, the bill is amazing, and I've always had a HUGE respect for Napalm Death, so yeah, we're pretty excited actually!
Crypt: And how did the idea for this tour come together?
Away: We were offered to do this tour by Napalm Death, and we jumped on it right away!
Crypt: OK, and how many shows are you guys doing?
Away: Um, 31 shows in 33 days, lol!
Crypt: That's what I figured, that is why I mentioned earlier today on Facebook that,
we in Miami are fortunate enough to be treated to the first show of the tour, cause within a couple of weeks into the tour, you are going to be going through the motions!
Away: Lol! We're probably gonna have a peak and then "phew" it's gonna go downhill! lol!
Crypt: Now VoiVod in commemoration of this tour released a new single today titled "We Are Connected"! Judging by the title, does it have a tie in to Killing Technology!?
Away: Not exactly, but it has allot of ingredients of the old stuff, so yeah...
Crypt: Are you planning to release that as a 7" single too?
Away: Yes, a split with At The Gates, I think it's gonna be out in April, but it's
available on Spotify today also!
Crypt: So with "Target Earth" being released over a year and a half ago, what took you guys so long to finally come to our continent for a proper tour for the record? It's been way too long!
Away: Well, um, we did a couple of festivals, like Maryland Death Fest, and we also toured with Kreator in 2010, it's true that we didn't come around too often the last few years, we intend to rectify the plan there, lol! But we had a couple of rough years, in 2013 when "Target Earth" came out, we had a world tour planned, and Snake was sick and ill, and had an operation, now he is 100% recovered, and last year, we parted ways with Blacky...
Crypt: Yeah, what happened with that? Why? I was ecstatic to see him come back to the band a few years ago!
Away: We didn't agree, he didn't agree with the rest of the band on allot of stuff, and
we had to part ways, and we have a new guy Rocky, now we like, we have a boost of energy, that we need to channel this year through extensive touring and recording!
Crypt: So what is your new bass player's name?
Crypt: And how did you find him?
Away: Through Dan! He was an old band member of his, "Chewie" (Dan Mongrain) jammed with him many times, and they are also childhood friends, I come from the same town as Snake, Rocky and Chewie come from the same town! And he's equally talented and it's amazing!
Crypt: I was just amazed from the moment you found Dan (Mongraine, guitarist), that somebody could duplicate Piggy's (late guitarist Dennis D'Amour) unique guitar style, the picking, the off time chords, etc! And I just thought "this guy is unbelievable, he is perfect"!
Away: I know! He kept the spirit of Piggy and VoiVod in tact, Snake thinks that Piggy sent him to us!
Crypt: I believe that, because A LOT of the guitar work in VoiVod over the years is very jazz inspired, and to play real fast and precise picking, like on Kluskap O' Kom, I don't think allot of players could do that, you would have to have a Johnny Ramone type picking hand to stop and start on a dime!
Away: It's pretty, how do you say that, "surgical"?
Crypt: Yeah, like Precise, like a surgeon, you got it!
Crypt: Speaking of which, I recent saw the Kluskap video, it should have gained allot more attention, I love it, the visuals are great!
Away: It was made by a fan, it's great!
Crypt: Whats the concept of the video, with the swamp creature singing, etc, who came up with the concept?
Away: Sylvain (Disjonk), who did it, he's a fan of VoiVod, and he does horror
movies, quite often he is at (Phil Anselmo's) HouseCore Festival in Austin, and he has movies showing up there, so he offered to do a video for us, and people who are into VoiVod are really amazing and loyal, there's another guy, who we met in Finland, he did the video for "Target Earth" which is amazing!
Crypt: I remember Blabbermouth releasing still photos of the videos progress and I couldn't wait to see it, it's great as well, love the nods to older VoiVod with the flying bird from AngelRat, etc!
Away: It took a while because the guy did it alone!
Crypt: Of all the VoiVod videos, which is your favorite one? Mine is probably still
"Tribal Convictions"! But they are all amazing, what was the story with filming the
"Astronomy Domine" video, how did you do that!?
Away: Well, I was on a platform, Blacky was suspended upside down, there was a camera going around us, like a big rig, and uh, it was quite trippy actually! But I think my favorite one would be "Psychic Vacuum", we didn't do that many videos, but I like the one for the "Negatron" album, "Insect" as well!
Crypt: I love them all, "Ravenous Medicine" is another one, I remember reading when it came out that it was banned, and I didn't get to see it until that Noise Records home video came out in 89'!
Away: 80's Thrash Metal! Lol! It was banned in Canada as well, by Much Music! But it was meant to be against experiments on animals, and all that, but yeah it didn't go too properly and they didn't play it much! Incidentally, once I was at Much Music in the early 90's, end of the 80's, and I was kept waiting in the room and I went on their computer and I went through their database, and beside the "Ravenous Medicine" it said "Banned! Do Not Air"! And I tried to erase it, and I couldn't, I needed a password! LOL! It's a stupid story, but...
Crypt: Great story! So you guys are probably playing about an hour and fifteen minutes tonight?
Away: No, actually its, the sets are a bit short, because there are so many bands
and curfews and stuff, so its more likely to be like an hour!
Crypt: Anything off of "AngelRat"?
Away: Um, we sometimes play "The Prow", but we switch sets every night, so I don't know if we are playing it tonight!?
Crypt: I still love that album, I remember buying it pretty much the day it came out,
I just walked into the record store and there it was. Mechanic Records didn't seem to do a good job of promoting it! I still think it's phenomenal, to use Metallica as an example, if you want to have a long career, you have to try new things and you guys certainly did with that record!
Away: They (Mechanic Records) didn't like the album, allot of people like it, but then...it was controversial for allot of VoiVod fans!
Crypt: Like they felt alienated?
Away: It was another thing, not in sync with anything that was happening for sure!
Everybody was playing like, where we jammed, there were like hundreds of bands, everybody was playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Enter Sandman" at the same time, ya know, like all together, and there we were, writing "AngelRat" I remember, so it was not in sync with anything!
Crypt: The title track is very personal to me, I call that album "space age rock", would you agree?
Away: (Nods) Cool! For sure!
Crypt: Snake, his vocals on that record are amazing, he sings beautifully but very morose at the same time!
Away: Snake, I think it's his best album vocal wise, yeah!
Crypt: OK, so what is your personal favorite VoiVod record looking back?
Away: "Killing Technology"! I think it has all this stuff I really like from VoiVod, it
still has the hardcore thing going, beginning of prog rock, whatever was happening back then in terms of alternative music, like Killing Joke, Bauhaus, is still in there! There's allot of that in the old VoiVod!
Crypt: This is what I always loved about that whole era, VoiVod, Slayer, Venom, to name a few, you guys were combining hardcore punk with metal, and everybody played super fast, you can tell when bands were trying to keep up with one another, and the records are under-produced, and you can hear the mistakes, and that's what brings out the personality!
Away: "RRROOOAAARRR" and "War And Pain" are like that!
Crypt: Yeah they sound like complete destruction, I said in a post, it sounds like if
you took "Humungous" and the villains from The Road Warrior and let them start a band, totally primitive, like beating on cars and blowing shit up! That's what early VoiVod sounds like! Industrial music made with instruments!
Away: A friend of mine told me "it sounds like a tool box rolling downstairs"! LOL!
Crypt: HA HA!
Away: We even ripped off the soundtrack of "Mad Max The Road Warrior", it was written by Brian May, but not the Queen guy, um, some composer from Australia, and Piggy had the vinyl, and we took bits of it to put into "Killing Technology", the track "Forgotten In Space" mainly!
Crypt: So who would you count as your biggest influences musically, and as a drummer?
Away: As a drummer, Terry Bozzio, Clive Burr, Phil "The Animal" Taylor, and Guy Evans from Van Der Graaf Generator!
Crypt: Cause now that you mention that, I do see a lot of his style in your playing, with your hi hat arm, etc...
Away: oh yeah, yeah, Phil I copied him, I can hear him when I hear VoiVod, many people did! I try to keep the rock n' roll feel, how can I say this, almost like a "twist" beat, that he does, "Philthy", and then after that, many drummers copied him, from Discharge, GBH, you know like everybody was into Motorhead you could tell!
Crypt: I just got turned onto Die Kruezen in the past couple of years, were they ever an influence on you guys?
Away: Yeah, great American band, we were even part of a compilation, "A tribute To Die Kruezen" and I think on the "Target Earth" boxset there is a song we've done from Die Kruezen live at Roadburn, on the CD? And Dan the singer from Die Kruezen is singing, he came to Holland!
Crypt: So how do you feel about people discovering your band on the internet, through youtube, etc, for free and not having to pay for your music?
Away: Oh I mean I can't possibly worry about that, because I mean its just like the old days, we'd hitchhike to Montreal, because we come from way up north in Quebec, and I would buy like Venom, and someone would buy the latest Holocaust, or whatever, and then we'd hitchike back home, and then everybody taped their albums to each other, cause we couldn't fucking afford it, so to me, its just like back in the days when people were taping, and what are you gonna do, ya know? That's the way, I don't worry about that much, it is surprising how the legal download, is actually working according to the statements I get, ya know? It's really getting up there with the vinyl and CD's, people just download one song or two, but it adds up, cause there are more people downloading, ready to pay 99 cents or whatever, then you would think. It adds up!
Crypt: So are you still in contact with J-Sonic, (Jason Newsted)?
Away: Yes, of course!
Crypt: So why did he leave, because of problems with his arms? I thought it was great when he joined the band and waved the flag for VoiVod saying you were one of his favorite bands, and then releasing the "VoiVod" CD on his label (ChopHouse Music)! That was very cool!
Away: Jason is great, when we reformed in 2008, I phoned him, and he had the two surgeries, that needed a year and half or two years to recover, so I asked him, cause at this time we were working on finishing up "Infini", and I asked him "do you mind if Blacky plays live"? And he said "absolutely not", I think its a great idea! I still stay in touch with Eric Forest!
Crypt: Yeah, and I saw you guys on the Negatron tour in 96' with Crisis, while Eric was in the band, great guy, I follow his band E-Force as well!
Away: We see Eric in Europe, he lives in Tolouse in France, and he comes onstage to sing "Tribal Convictions" with us, 2 years ago we played HellFest (France) and Jason was there playing with his band and he came out and played "VoiVod" with us! It was 2 bass, Blacky and Jason, playing "VoiVod", it was pretty cool!
Crypt: Cause I just feel that the industry never got you guys, you are too cerebral, the record labels, the media, they never seemed to get it with you guys! The intelligent people always got it!
Away: From the start! The first album "War And Pain" in KERRANG! they said it was the worst piece of shit, Venom ripoff, they called VoiVod "the worst band on earth", but you know what? We were fucking proud! We were like "oh fuck, we're the worst"! Of course its better than being in the middle! We thought "thats fucking great! worse than Venom"!? We're bad! Lol!
Crypt: One last question, through the passing of Piggy in 2005, and all the ups and downs, being in this band, all the years of doing it, what has kept you fueling the VoiVod machine?
Away: Um, the travels, and also playing drums, I need to play drums cause it gets out the stuff that depresses me from watching the news, and its like "whew, I need to play drums"!
Crypt: OK, on "Target Earth" lyrically you cover allot of conspiracy theory type subjects, I just wanted to ask what are your opinions on the New World Order, The Bilderberg Group, etc, do you believe a lot of this stuff?
Away: Yeah, I'm into conspiracy stuff, but it's almost impossible to figure out whats true and false online though, so much propaganda from every side, and disinformation, I love that stuff to write concepts, but I don't really concentrate on "do I believe that"!? To me, it's like watching "Ancient Aliens" and my girlfriend was saying "do you really believe all that stuff"!? And I thought, "its not what's important", whats important is the mystery, like how come like 300,000 tons of rock is built uh...
Crypt: Like the "Georgia Guidestones"...
Away: Yeah, exactly!
Crypt: So what would you like to say to all the VoiVod fans who are going to read this?
Away: Thanks for all the support for 32 years now, come out to the shows, buy the albums, and new single out today, "We Are Connected" which is gonna be a split 7" with At The Gates, there's gonna be more 7"s coming up, and eventually a new album!
Crypt: I just wanted to say it's great to see you once again, you are one of the all-time greats, a true pioneer, and I cannot wait to see you guys rip it up tonight! Thank you for speaking with us and best of luck with this tour brother!
Away: Ha ha! Thank you!
For further information on these legends, visit the links below! And pick up the "Target Earth" record at CenturyMedia.com!
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