Minions! We were honored to interview Dan Mongrain of Voivod for the 3rd time! The interview is almost 1 hour long so get your popcorn, and enjoy! We also got some questions from the fans. Our most loyal patron and supporter Amber Dawn sent us 5 questions for Dan Mongrain, and they were all answered as well as the other questions we got from other fans on social media. To keep the surprise element, you will find your questions answered by watching the first half of the video.
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In the second half of the video, we discussed the Synchro Anarchy album, new Voivod releases, Martyr, upcoming documentary, and much more!
Regarding the reception of Synchro Anarchy album, Dan Mongrain stated: “It’s been great!. Even better than The Wake which was amazing. We have great reviews all over the place. People really enjoy the more melodic side but they all say: “...It’s still more melodic but it’s still very complex. I don’t know how you do it! It’s very…I think it reached…the sound of this lineup…Again, I feel like scratching the surface of the new way to write music together. And I have plans for the future, some stuff I want to explore more. And it still I think sounds very Voivodish…Piggy’s spirit is all over the place but there’s a lot of new elements and new approach to it from everybody. And that’s what I really like about Away and Snake is that they are very open-minded and welcoming. And as soon as they entered the jams…any ideas we come with turn into Voivod story. So yeah, the reception is amazing! People sing songs in the crowd, they know the lyrics of the new songs and it feels just like the band that has three albums out and the fans are excited to know what’s next. But even though it’s a long career, almost 40 years now, and 15th album, people are still excited for the new music. So we are not prisoners of the classics and the first albums, and all that. So it feels really, really good.”
Regarding the recording process of Synchro Anarchy, Dan said the following: “The process was very different. For The Wake, we jammed together, we recorded jams, and we worked on stuff between jams. We come back to the jam space and then we develop the same thing again. But Synchro Anarchy was done right here in front of you...I worked crazy hours developing the songs, arranging the songs, and actually Away worked a lot on the structure of the songs, and programmed drums. We couldn’t jam because of the lockdowns so it was back and forth filesharing between him and me. I would give some ideas that I recorded maybe 1 year or 2 years prior and then he programmed drums with blank music and blank rhythms of drums, without music. Because he felt: this is the beat that I hear after this section, but he would not of course record any guitars, but only drums. So it’s the first time that I wrote songs and riffs, and ideas on drums…Naked drums tracks. So it was a challenge for me. And sometimes I would fool around with the structure he gave me. So it was a headache, a puzzle, a big puzzle, and it was done in the period of 4 months – writing, recording, mixing, everything. So when we recorded the album, we never really played the songs together before. We just jammed it maybe 3 or 4 days in the studio, and I came back and finalized the arrangement, and then we recorded it. So that tells me that everything is possible, in any situation we can be creative and use the challenges as a creative tool and go elsewhere with it. So that’s why we cannot compare both albums because the process was still different”.
He also mentioned that the album was rushed: “It wasn’t rushed…but it was rushed. I started to write at the beginning of the pandemic and the lockdown but then we had different inner time schedules, time frames. Like me, I really enjoy making stuff in advance, not to be rushed. But at some point, I don’t know… I felt like it was not a good time to start writing. I didn’t have much response from the other guys. We were all busy figuring out life in this context. And at some point, the deadline was like, oh…We really need to record an album so we have to compose it. So that’s why it was done in kind of a compressed, crazy schedule. And I was teaching in college at the same time and it was really, really, crazy. It led me to… A few months later, I crashed. I had to stop working. I was exhausted. But anyway, it was part of the process. Even though we had a 2-year period, it was all done in 4 months. So it was really, really compressed.”
Dan also shared a story of where the Synchro Anarchy video was recorded. The video was shot at their friend’s warehouse of the machine shop. “It’s a bit post-society, apocalyptic…” When I mentioned the guy with the gas mask in the video, Dan added: “A little wink from the past.” (laughs)”.
Regarding the new stuff cooking in the Voivod universe, Dan Mongrain said: “Yeah, we are putting out the new cover song. We are really excited about…From the Japanese character Ultraman. So it’s an EP. And we did 3 different versions. The first version is in 3 languages…I sing the Japanese part. And there’s the whole Japanese version which I sing, there’s 3 languages, French, English and Japanese, and an instrumental version, like a karaoke version, sort to speak. Because we grew up with the show when we were kids. It was something that was translated into French so we could watch it on TV. And you remember Voivod covered Batman and Captain Scarlett. At some point, I had the idea, hey why don’t we do Ultraman? We need Ultraman to save the world (laughs). The concept is very sci-fi and futuristic, and I really enjoyed the show. It's kinda blurry for me…the show…But I watched it again on DVD, I bought an original version. And the song is kind of a happy, hero song. The main theme. Which kind of distorts with what Voivod usually does, but I arranged it with Voivod sounds into it. And we did kind of the medley with the battling song in the middle so it’s really cool. I think the fans will get it and enjoy it”.
Dan Mongrain then talked about his fascination with Japan and Japanese culture.
Regarding the documentary and DVOD 2, Dan said the following: “The documentary is almost finished. There were still interviews... Yesterday, they did some interviews. But it’s in the process. And there’s always new stuff to add on. So it’s surprising. And since a lot of it was during the pandemic, you know, it slowed everything down. The DVOD2, I am not aware of. You know, DVD-s are not super popular at this time as a medium so I think that the documentary will make up for it really, really good”. Dan also gave a glimpse of what else can we expect in the future regarding some other stuff coming up from the Voivod universe: I can say that there will be something special for the 40th anniversary. We are working on it. But mainly now, our focus is on the next tour with Opeth in Europe. And some shows we are gonna do the headlining by ourselves. And we are gonna add maybe 10 days of shows after the Opeth tour but we are focusing on getting back together, playing the songs, warming up the machine again. But we are working on a project for sure, for 2023 that will be exciting for the fans. Pretty sure.”
Then, we talked about the 7th and final chapter of the Voivod saga (you can check out our article about the nuclear vampire here!). “You know what, I think…I would really like it, personally. There was a talk about it when we did Synchro Anarchy, but we went another way. I am not sure…It’s in their hands mostly. Maybe it’s restraining for Snake to write about this story. And he’s the main writer now. Away used to write a lot of the lyrics, but now Snake writes the lyrics. And I think he wants to feel there’s freedom in talking about one subject or another. In a story that’s pre-boxed so to speak, maybe it’s a bit restraining for him. But I don’t really know”. When asked whether the demo of the 7th chapter is going to be released someday in the future, Dan said: “I have no idea. I never heard it. I never heard it and I never had a chance. But I wish, for the fans. For the fans that I have too, I wish.”
Dan Mongrain also shared his thoughts on Piggy’s legacy: “I was always impressed with his guitar playing of course, but I was always impressed with his writing. That’s the thing that always talked to me. His composition. His way of writing music, his ideas, the chording, the structures, the odd times, the surprises, the conversation between the instruments. He was a great teacher for me in that way. His guitar playing… he was very bouncy on the guitar and very...he would play very lightly on the strings though, but it would sound like he is banging on it, because of the way he would….like a good drummer, would rebound on the drums, and not kill the head. So it’s the same with the guitar he used to play like that. So I had to change my playing a bit. Even though we have a really different kind of playing. And he was really….he had an ease. It seems really easy for him to play and close his eyes and be into the music. I appreciate that...He was so creative, that guy. I can’t believe it! You know, it’s inspiring. Very inspiring…. I met him twice, and I had one pretty good conversation with him but I was such a punisher. I was such a fan. I had a picture with me and him in my early 20s so that’s a good memory for me.”
When asked whether he would sing in Voivod for a couple of songs, Dan said: “No, no, no...Snake is the voice of Voivod, as well as Eric Forrest is the voice of Voivod. He got such a character out of his voice. And he’s a great melodist. He finds the craziest melody. Sometimes, the rhythm is so f*cked up and he comes with the simple line…He was doing that for 40 years so…Nobody can replace Snake. I don’t want to replace Snake or anything. It’s not my job. I just play the guitar…”
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02:48 Fan questions (patron Amber Dawn + others)
03:12 Voivod and mushrooms
05:59 Sonic Mycelium
08:24 Target Earth songs live
09:17 Favorite Piggy riffs and songs
11:10 Playing Nothingface or Dimension Hatross in its entirety?
11:40 How many band T-shirts Voivod guys have?
13:52 Norwegian band – Virus
15:21 Being vegetarian on the road
17:22 Solo projects?
18:32 The last Martyr song – Lethargy
19:32 Martyr reunion show?
24:05 How did you get so awesome?
26:03 Songs that you wrote but hate
27:13 Bond guitars
29:10 The reception of Synchro Anarchy album
31:01 The main difference between The Wake and Synchro Anarchy
35:30 The location of Synchro Anarchy video
36:59 New Voivod releases?
Ultraman in English, Japanese, and French language
38:50 Japanese Anime?
40:54 DVOD2, Voivod Documentary ?
42:34 The 7th chapter of the Voivod saga...
44:08 Being a Voivod fan vs playing in Voivod
46:01 Piggy story and influences
48:45 The difference between playing in Voivod and Martyr
52:31 Doing vocals for Voivod song(s)?
53:29 Is Francois still playing bass?
53:58 What albums are you listening lately?
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