Minions! At last! We did our 3rd interview with Mr. Michel "Away" Langevin of Voivod. This time, I wanted to get as much information from Away about the 7 chapters of Voivod. We started the interview with fan questions you sent me. All the 11 fan questions were answered. Some of the questions were used later in the conversation, since they were connected to the Voivod concept. And big shoutout to Alex of Graveyard! Support the underground and buy your copy of Graveyard’s The 6th Extinction album! Order you copy here!
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The interview starts with how Away copes with Covid-19. He said that he has never been busier because of the art he is doing for other bands. Exclusively for Agoraphobic News, Away said that he is working on three new books. He also stated that he is doing an artwork for the live Voivod album which will be released in fall this year. One of the books will be about life on the road. "After every show in every town I try to represent artistically the vibe I got from the city during the day. But I do it my way with the sci-fi dystopian approach. I do a lot of the art on the road based on the architecture of the city. But at home I quite often try to draw what I dream the night before. And sometimes it’s a flash that comes out of nowhere. Most of the time. But anything can trigger something. Especially these days where the news online are very sci-fi."
When asked about the new album, Away stated: "We are already writing a new album. The problem we encountered was that Chewy lives a few miles away from Montreal. And the roads are block these days. He can’t really travel to Montreal and we can’t really travel to where he lives. We are doing a demo, sharing dropbox files. I just downloaded a drum machine app for android and I’m using it to demo the drums because, obviously I can’t play at home or record at all. But we are moving forward with writing new material which is great!...We have just chunks of songs but many of them. And maybe some of them will be collected together eventually. Before everything started with this coronavirus, we already have made a bunch of recording sessions at our studio. So we have some material to pull from improvisations, riffs that Chewy started and we all joined then. There is also material written by everybody that we shared among ourselves. We are slowly gonna build up an album this year." Later in the interview, he jokingly said that he’s gonna turn the Voivod logo into a Covid-19 logo on the upcoming album and stated that the new album will be “probably Corona influenced”. The new record will probably be released in mid 2021. He also expressed his fears that heavy metal bands will stop touring which will greatly affect the revenue of the most bands.
Away then named Van Der Graaf Generator as his favorite band, and H to He as his favorite album. Away then explained the situation about the eventual re-issue of the Voivod classic albums such as Nothingface, Angel Rat and The Outer Limits. "Angel Rat, The Outer Limits and Nothingface is a whole other battle. For a while we were not certain that masters are still existing because of the fire that happened. But it seems like that they do have masters secured. For decades we’ve been trying to get these reissues going. And every year we give it another shot. So, we’ll try to make it happen this year but it’s a real Kafka scenario to be honest. The last time I heard, the masters that were destroyed for Voivod were backups and the real masters are safe in the vault somewhere."
Then, he discussed the Angel Rat album. He also said that he performs with Eric Forrest and Jason Newsted from time to time when they are playing in Touluse and San Francisco. Then, we answered the question of Alex from the band Graveyard regarding the name Voi-Vod and whether Away has any relatives in Romania. "The name Voivod is something I picked from the book Dracula so it’s closely related to Romania in a way. I really loved the name. I thought it sounds great and also I started to develop my own type of vampire, but more like a sci-fi vampire for my art. This was in the 70s when I was much younger."
And from that question onwards, the main discussion was about the 7 chapters of Voivod and the whole Voivod universe. Away stated that at first, the concept was Dungeons and Dragons and “vampire-oriented“. He explains that he was heavily inspired by the artists from the Heavy Metal Magazine like like Philippe Druillet, Jean Giraud (a.k.a. Moebius), Enki Bilal. "These became very influental for me. This was in the mid 70s. Philippe Druillet in particular became my favorite artist and I copied his style a lot where it’s sort of gothic, sci-fi but everything is pointy and sharp. So it was like metal before metal." Then he explains that the anarchist punk movemenet and films like Eraserhead, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, If You Love This Planet and The Day After had an impact on the Voivod character. "Voivod, sort of morphed into something that was more like punk-metal-science-fiction oriented." He also said that he created a concept so that he could become an artist in the Heavy Metal Magazine and that much later, when he created the band, he shared the Voivod concept with his bandmembers. Away stated that some of the early cyber punk movies such as The Road Warrior and Blade Runner had a lot of influence on the concept. He also said that the band loved to study the movie sountracks such as The Shining, The Thing and stated that they want to make their music "more cinematographic". "We were really trying to make a soundtrack for an apocalyptic movie. That was our goal."
When asked whether the Voivod concept has something to do with the “survival of the fittest” he said the following: "Yes in a way because it was like a way for me to express my fear of technology improving faster than the society in general. The character Voivod is a mutant that has to adapt and outsmart the newest technology. So it’s really a question of survival against oppression of Big Brother and Cold War’s fear of nuclear war and progress of technology. So it’s all a mixture." Then, Away briefly explained what’s going on in the first five Voivod chapters. He also discussed some of the characters from the Voivod universe such as Warriors of Ice, Chaosmongers, Technocratic Manipulators, The Blackguards, The Black City. Away underlined that for Dimension Hatross album, he wrote the whole concept but Snake wrote all the lyrics. Then, he talked about how West Berlin had an impact on the band’s creative process. He then explaned the meaning of songs “Cockroaches” and “Too Scared to Scream”. Regarding "Cockroaches“, he shared a hilarious story about a cockroach infested apartment and cockroaches hanging around in the spagetti sauce. Then, Away answered one fan question regarding the comic book based on the Voivod character. He also said that he published some of the art from his unreleased Nothingface comic in the Worlds Away book, but that he never finished that comic. After that, Away expaned the Phobos chapter song by song! Away stated that he would like to do a Phobos comic book in the future as well. Then, the discussion shifted towards the song "M-Body” and the project Tar Rat, Jason Newsted, Piggy, and Away had in the 90s. He said that it’s really up to Jason Newsted if that project would see the light of the day, because he owns the masters. And finally, Away talked about the final, 7th chapter which was inspired by the tragic accident that the band and Erric Forest had on the road in Germany in 1998. After his recovery, the band started writing music. They demoed the album with the total of 12 tracks. The album was supposed to be produced by Steve Albini. Eventually the band was discouraged and split in the year 2000.
He then explained the lyrical concept of the 7th chapter in detail! Away explained that the whole Voivod concept could have been one of the reasons why Snake left the band. And that’s why he is reluctant to impose another concept album on the singer. Other than the 7th chapter, Away said that there are two solo Piggy albums that never saw the light of day and that it’s up to Piggy’s family to release these. Away said that he wanted to release an Eric Forrest years box set with live shows and the lost demos from the 7th chapter . "All I have is a mix that Piggy did back then of the lost album with Eric, and that’s something I dream of realising one day. Everything takes a bit of time because it’s all self produced and also we always have to deal with licence material, stuff that was licenced to other labels most of the time. So it’s always kind of a victory when any product comes out in the Voivod camp." When it comes to the Piggy’s solo albums he described ‘em as “very Voivodian but very different“. He also mentioned that Piggy was into 90s alternative music like Radio Head, Queens of the Stone Age and Tool. "It’ very Voivodian but not as progressive as Voivod." Away also talked about the "Insect“ video. He also mentioned that Voivod’s world tour that was supposed to start in September is uncertain. He then talked about his 3 upcoming books: Art on the Road and the other book is art that he does for other people. The third book will be based about the art Away does at home for himself. Plus, he mentioned that he has a comic book in the works which will probably be released first. The first book will be released this year (about 30 pages). Away also said that the band might release a new video in the form of a single for the song "End of Dormancy“.
Make sure to check out our older interviews with Voivod:
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