Interview With Voivod
Interview By Chris Hawkins
While trends seem to permeate the social conscious in heavy music, including but not
limited to baggy pants, masks, and urban dialect, some of Metals founding fathers
refuse to see the art form lost forever in a stale sea of mediocrity. Thus, let the
backlash begin. A Metal scene that is more proud, more pissed, and more united is a goal
of legends, Voivod, a band that has pushed the boundaries of the genre since its inception
two decades ago. Perhaps this era mirrors the other, with hairspray and lipstick mutating
to Addidas and chain wallets. Still, though, Voivod is the constant. Always being the band
that refused to stay stagnant, their music has often flown over the heads of some, but
gained the respect and sheer awe from many. The same can be said for their new self-titled
album. With its sense of unity, its unbridled creativity, and the overall chemistry that
flows between Snake, Piggy, Away, and Jasonic, Voivod is indeed the album we
all need at the moment. Please read on as singer, Snake reveals the secrets behind the
success of the new album and Voivods longevity.
What have you guys been up to lately?
We are rehearsing for the upcoming tour.
Oh yeah! Weve been rehearsing quite a lot, mountain biking, getting in shape so
well be on fire.
It sounds like some pretty rigorous training.
Well, you know its always good to be in shape. When youre about to go out
for a few months its better to be in the best shape you can be.
So how did the tour with Sepultura come about?
Its booked pretty solid. We dont have a lot of days off. Were opening
for them, but time-wise were going to have like an hour and twenty minutes. We
expect a lot from this. It will be good. We have this new guy, Jason and hes real
excited about playing live again. Its going to be great to be back on stage.
Theres a very positive vibe coming from the Voivod camp
It feels great. I just hope that all the black clouds and all the bad things are behind
us. Hopefully, we wont have any crashes or anything like that. The vibe is so
positive right now that I expect a lot from it. It feels really good and people around us
are great. They make you feel good. I think its really important to have a team
I dont ask anybody to be super-friendly, but having people around
you with good vibes makes you feel good and excited about whats going to happen.
Thats what is happening right now. We have good results from the album, were
all excited, and it looks great for the future for sure.
I think that positive vibe was definitely conveyed in the album
Yeah, the album was also a way to translate our feelings. Theres a few songs
like, I Dont Wanna Wake Up which is talking about coming back and
its great to see people again. Its going to be great to bring this music to
the people again. Its really positive.
So it was a pretty short time for recording, right?
First, when we started doing the pre-production and we knew Jason was a full member, it
was like, Yeah!! We started the pre-production, composed stuff, and so we had
the session booked. It went so fast. We did the whole thing in 75 days or so. It was quite
tough for everybody. We had like an hour or something of driving back and forth, two hours
of traveling everyday. We didnt get much sleep. It was around 15-16 hours of being
in the studio. It was also tough for Jason because he was always in the recording room,
and when he was not recording he was behind the board, focusing on producing the album. We
were always around the studio.
I guess youve got to strike while its hot.
Thats the thing. What I like about this record is we didnt have the time to
sit and think about it. Thats why I think its pure with no afterthought. For
me, its almost like an improvising record. Its a good way to make a record.
I think you captured the energy of the band
Exactly, because if you record one song and then take a week break or whatever,
theres too much break in between. Plus, we cant afford being lazy. It was like
a training camp almost.
How about the writing process? When you guys started to write the record, when did
you know you were really hitting on something?
Of course I had a few personal things that I wanted to talk about. Also, the way I did
the lyrics, I didnt want to speak just for myself. I wanted to speak for all the
members. We matured quite a lot. Id been away from the band for quite a long time.
We all have our own experiences. Those experiences touched us here and there. Even Jason
has his own stories and experiences. I wanted really, for them, for the other members, I
wanted them to recognize themselves in the lyrics also. Jason had about 25-30 pages of
stuff he wrote, random stuff, but cool stuff also. I just took the whole thing from
everybody, mixed it with my stuff, and we ended up creating good songs I think.
As far as the recording, was it more or less a jam session, or did everybody bring
something to the table?
I would say half of it was already kind of written, but it was not arranged or
anything. We also had sessions, jamming sessions. We took some tapes of jams that we had.
It was so good. There were a few songs right there. Also, we picked some little parts and
fit them together. We really wrote it on Jasons porch at Chophouse Records. It was
really quiet, totally unplugged with little bongos
Thats something we dont really expect to hear from Voivod
Yeah, but we were just trying to compose the music. You dont have to play it loud
all the time. We wanted to make sure we had the right structures for all those songs and
how they feel. After doing it many times, how does it feel? Does it sound redundant? You
have to be really careful about that process. It was great that we did that that way
because we were not used to really sitting down and going through all the parts. It was
kind of a new method for us, but I enjoyed it.
If you can take away all the amps and effects and still have a quality song, then
you know youre doing something right.
Yeah, especially with picking and if you have too much effects, you cant hear
what the other guys doing. You have to make sure youre doing the right thing.
Playing soft, you can really hear whats going on. Its a new method of doing
things, but I think it worked for us.
The new album has just a pure, classic Metal sound. Is that what you guys were going
Yeah, we just wanted the album to really rock. We wanted to have a Rock album, and
Michels playing, he hits the double bass quite often on this record. I think
its great because I think we wanted to have something really strong. Plus,
were in such a need of good Rock. What Ive heard, theres good bands out
there, but sometimes theres a lack of maybe the old school. Theres something
thats missing sometimes. We wanted to have this kind of old school, rocking attitude
that do or die vibe.
A lot of quality gets lost on image or what not
Yeah, that fluffy stuff, the makeup and all that. Its all the industry that does
that sometimes. It created different kinds of crossovers. Crossovers are good, but the
sometimes the fashion trends are just created. Theres no vision. People do bands and
try and be in a category. They shouldnt. They should be themselves. Everybodys
original in someway. You dont have to be part of the trend thats
now. Theres new bands out there, but you should buy old records out
there. Theres good stuff out there. Music is like anything else. It is like a cycle.
Do kids ever listen to Black Sabbath, to Deep Purple? They must. They should get that old
vibe from Rock and really see where this is all coming from.
Dont you see Metal being more pronounced and coming back stronger?
I think so. I think people my age and even younger want to hear those bands. Its
sort of a revival in your head. You want to be at a Rock show and remember all the good
times you had. People want to relive all that magic. I think people miss the good Rock
Theres definitely a hunger there
Everybody realized this is a business, an industry. People want the real stuff.
Thats why we came up with this album. This is real. This is a true album from the
bottom of our hearts. I think thats what people are looking for now.
How do you feel, having been on a major label, to currently be on Jasons
I think its great because sometimes on major labels, theyre so huge and you
have to be careful. Its so huge and they have so many people to take care of.
Youve got to make sure they have somebody whos pushing your band. If you
dont have that, youre going to end up on a shelf. Youre out of a deal if
you dont do good. People dont realize how hard life in a band can be. Those
people are sitting in an office and youre on tour. They dont realize
whats going on. They dont realize all the work. They dont understand the
needs a band has. Jason, he knows. He knows all that. Hes been there. He knows what
a band needs. Having him on bass, being the record label, being Jason Newsted, I think
its great. If something happens, hes there. He will be the first to know. He
wont be sitting in his office or playing golf somewhere. Thats what I like
about it. He understands Rock. Ok, hes a businessman, but he understands. Hes
not doing it only for the business. He wants to rock. Hes really active and really
focused. When he has something on his mind, nothing can stop him. Hes a strong man.
When he hits the bass and playing live, hes doing it 100%, whatever he does.
Thats what weve needed for so long.
You guys were tight when he was in Flotsam and Jetsam
Yeah, its a long-term relationship. We always kept an eye on him and he always
kept an eye on us. He had a lot of success in Metallica, and now with Ozzy. Thats
great for him. All the buzz on him is reflecting on us too. If hes happy, Im
happy. Its pretty contagious.
So the thought always lingered in the back of your head that maybe you guys would
hook up and do something?
Yeah, I think it was meant to be. I was away for a long time. In 2001, when I joined
back, we did a few shows with Motorhead and we opened for Dio. He called a few weeks
later, the guys told him I was back in the band, and he flipped out. Jason, Piggy, and
Away had recorded sessions before in 95. We did something in 88 also. There
was this project, what he called Tarrat back then that he wanted to put together. When he
called and knew I was back, it was like, Ok, this is the right time to do it.
I think it was right.
How do you feel about being invited to join Ozzfest?
I try to be focused. I try not to think about fame and all that. I just want to really
concentrate on what Im doing, and give the best I can. I know these are important
shows, and Im really excited about it. Every morning I wake up and its like,
Am I dreaming? Never in my life, especially when I quite the band, did I
imagine this. I thought it was over for me.
Were you active in music?
I kept myself away from music for about a year and a half when I left. I had a few
addictions. I had to clean up my head so I stayed in the woods in a little shack for a
year. I cleaned up and went back in the city. The music came back to me real quick going
back to Montreal, seeing old friends. People were still calling me Snake so I guess that
didnt help. I got hooked up with some people there, guitar player, bass payer, we
did a band and it was just fun. We did a small Quebec tour, and it really helped me to
keep the music in my blood. I had an eye on Voivod also. Thats for sure. I respected
them. Every time they were playing, I would go to the show, say hello. I had a good
relationship with them. Suddenly, the door opened for me to come back and I took it.
Id been dreaming about it. Its funny because you want to quit, and youve
got this need for it. Music is really part of my life. No matter what I do, I had a job, I
had everything I wanted like a normal guy, but if music isnt a part of it, then it
Once its in your blood, its never going to go away
Yeah, and from my point of view, I have to have music. If youre just working,
coming home, and doing the same thing, theres no culture and no way to express
yourself. For some people its writing or painting, for me, its music, singing.
All the things that I kept inside, they are part of me.
Any person thats creative has to have some sort of outlet.
Youve got to do something.
How would you compare your vision of Voivod back in the mid to late 80s with
Well, when we started up, we were young kids, na´ve kids. That is cool too because
when I listen to it, we had the energy and it was raw. It was the beginning of the
journey, of this odyssey. We didnt know how far this would take us. When I look back
and look at myself now, I think Im really proud of myself. I can be proud of the
guys, and I can be proud of Voivod. I can say to my father who always said music would
take me nowhere, Look at me now! Im just really excited and proud of
what we achieved. We went through a lot of shit. Having problems and all this shit around
you, that makes you stronger. Youre a better person, a stronger person, when you get
through it. Now, were headed for fun, for rocking, and giving it everything we have.
We can be proud of ourselves, we can be proud of our past, and we can expect a lot out of
So where do you see Voivod going in the future?
Right now everything is good. If God can keep us alive for a while, were going to
head in a good direction. Hopefully this tour can take us to another level and make
another record. We want to make good music for the people, we want to be able to bring the
music to the people, and hopefully people will love it and enjoy our music. Thats
all I ask.
What can we look forward to in terms of the set list?
It depends. We have the opening set list. We always keep changing the set list.
Were going to try to move stuff around. We want to fool around with it, and try a
different thing every night. I would say a few songs from every album. Of course
were going to focus on this one, but the old songs sound great with Jason.
Theres a new life to it.
Label Website: www.surfdog.com