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Michel Away Langevin (Voivod)

Interview with Michel ''Away'' Langevin from Voivod
by Elina Papadoyianni at 13 July 2006, 10:42 PM

The year 2005 has been a very confusing and harsh period for Voivod, since they had to face the loss of their guitar player and co-founding member Denis Piggy D' Amour and at the same time work on their next album, which includes the recordings Piggy created before he passed away. In light of these events, the following interview took place with Michel Away Langevin.

Hello Michel, how are you?

I’m very well, thank you!

Let’s start with a few words about the current state of the band and about the new release of Voivod, Katorz.

Well, the album was recorded under very difficult circumstances as you know and it was quite a challenge to record because first of all, it was emotionally draining since we could hear Piggy through the headphones but he was not in the studio with us. That was something that we couldn’t actually get used to, so it was very hard to put drum tracks upon guitar tracks, but we are very happy with the result and it sounds like an album not like a demo, so that’s quite an achievement also. The guitar tracks were taken from demos, so I had to re-record the tracks. Katorz will be released by Nuclear Blast, which is an excellent label, in July and I’m very satisfied with the whole result.

The album’s name sounds like the number fourteen in French, right?

That’s right, this album is our fourteenth release but it’s spelled in a Voivod way though. When Piggy was doing the demos in 2004, every time he brought us a pro-tool CD, he wrote Katorz on it, so we thought it was very natural to name the album Katorz. I actually scanned his handwriting and I printed on the upcoming CD the word Katorz.

Do the lyrics revolve around a specific subject?

Well, it might be a little less sci-fi than the previous albums because we wanted to be more direct, to shake people up due to the fact that everything we have been talking about is happening right now and the state of the planet is actually worse than we were expecting. So I think that we had a more direct approach to this matter in a more political and social way, instead of creating again some sort of sci-fi poetry.

At the present time, I imagine that you are not planning any live shows…

Yes, right now it’s very confusing for us… We can’t really think of a tour without Piggy but we recorded 10 songs and we still have 13 songs to finish for next year, after that we’ll see what’s going to happen. But if we ever need to go on tour to promote the album, we were offered some help from Andreas \[Kisser - guitarist] of Sepultura, which is great because he was the one I was thinking of and because when we were on tour in 2003 for the last album, I really liked his playing, it actually reminded me of Piggy’s playing in its originality. So, there is hope next year, but not this year because it’s too hard for us to picture us on stage without Piggy. What we want to do though is in November 2006, we’d love to organize a show, a tribute concert to Piggy in Montreal and we want to film it and release it on DVD. We will invite guest guitar players, people Piggy loved and people who loved Piggy.  

How would you describe the influence of Jason Newsted towards Voivod?

He affected the band in a sense that his playing is very Stoner Rock, like Black Sabbath, so now he is a big part of the sound of the band. The band is now more groove-oriented, more Rock. We used to be more intricate before but now it’s more about the vibe of the music. Also, since he already had his own record label and own studio, he made it available to the band, which helped the band tremendously and of course he brought a lot of attention towards the band. The sales of our last album were quite good and many kids who hadn’t heard of the name Voivod before, they gave it a try at least and bought the album, so it’s all good!

Is it all good or is it all a bit more commercialized, especially for Voivod’s high quality sound and strict audience oriented standards?

In a sense, not that I want to be a sell-out or anything, in order to be more commercialized is anything but bad for Voivod because we were underground for so many years… I mean, when you write music and record music, it’s a lot of work and you want as many people as possible to hear it. So, we are just very happy that attention has been brought to the band ’cause we were so underrated for so many years.

I read that you are writing a book about Voivod’s artwork

Yes, I’m putting it together now and I rush to finish it so it can come out this year. It refers to Voivod art, it focuses on the covers of the albums, the sketches for the covers, some drawings that I did on tour or while recording albums in the studio and also stickers, t-shirts and everything around the art that represents Voivod. And actually, when I went through my archives, I realized that there is material for more than one book, so this book will be only the volume one.

Are there any recent bands that you have distinguished as very promising?

Well, I would have to say Cathedral, Mastodon and HammerFall, but especially Mastodon. They are totally insane, I love them!

Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish the interview?

Well, you know, throughout the 23 years of our career there were always about 100,000 people buying our albums and I just wanted to thank them because in times of discouragement they were the reason we kept going since we thought that they deserve a new album… So, I just wanted to thank all the Voivodians!

And thank you for your time and for all that great music!

And there’ll be more coming in the next few years! Thank you very much and take care!


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