Voivod’s fourteenth album called ‘The Wake’ is hitting the streets on September 21st. This album will surely become a favorite of current fans as well as those who love to listen to music that experiments with the progressive edge of metal. Dan “Chewy” Mongrain (guitars) took a few moments to talk with us about the new Voivod album and share with us his thoughts on music and fungus.
We started out by asking Dan if he feels that the new album fits within the label of progressive metal. Dan replied “I always wonder why we need labels. But I guess humans are always putting things into small boxes in everyday life. For me, it’s a Voivod album.” He added “As a fan as a kid, I would wait for the next Voivod album with excitement because I would not know what they would come up with…I guess that is what we tried to do.”
I asked Dan whether each song was fully composed when they went to the studio to record or if the band improvised while recording. Dan indicated that they songs were all composed. He then delved into the song writing process of the band. “I would bring it to the rehearsal space and we would jam around the ideas. Everybody is free to try whatever works the best with the ideas. While playing the idea, the groove will change from this initial state, and it would transform. I would have to modify the riff to get the groove. And that’s the magic. That’s where the magic happens. Where everyone gives their own personality to an idea. Once you put the idea out there it’s not yours anymore. It’s not anybody’s. It exists on its own.”
The only song that wasn’t complete at the time of recording was the last song. Dan has a few minutes of ideas, but not a completed song. Away (Michel Langevin – drums) is extremely efficient in the studio and had everything completed in three days. Dan added “He’s pretty much a one take guy (laughs).”
The band was waiting, so Dan worked over a weekend to create a recap of the entire album which had its own voice. Dan describes “What you have is a whole song which links; that goes from one part of a previous song to another part of the next song in a chronological way. Then Snake (Denis Bélanger) had to figure out what part of vocals from which song to put over the riff from another song. So it was kind of a puzzle, but all connected.”
This lead to us talking about the name for this track which is “Sonic Mycelium”. I had to research the meaning of the word “mycelium”. I discovered that “mycelium” is the part of a fungus or bacterial colony that absorbs nutrients. Dan was glad I looked this up as he came up with the name for the song. He continued “I like to pick up mushrooms al lot (laughs) in the woods. I was fascinated by how the soil was made by the spider web of organic matter in which plants, and trees, and mushrooms communicate. I thought “Sonic Mycelium”. Sonic, the waves, the music, all connected from the previous songs. It all makes sense from a poetry, metaphoric kind of thing.”
Voivod has been creating its own unique metallic imprint within the world of music for 35 years. I asked Dan what motivates the band to create new music. Dan replied “I think it is intrinsic to an artist; it’s a need really to express what we’ve accumulated over some period of time.”
Finally, I asked if working in the music industry ever became such a grind that he thought about not doing it any longer. Dan said that “Music industry and art two separate things. It can be hard sometimes to deal with one to make the other (laughs). We’ve been in good hands with Century Media and the fans. The longtime fans, you know 35 years. Voivod fans are very loyal and good supporters. They will buy some merch when we are playing a show. They know we need that kind of support to continue, to go on. They are pleased to do so; be part of this experience. Sometimes it’s a necessary so to speak evil (laughs) to be part of an industry. But most of the time it’s very positive. Maybe since streaming happens it makes it more difficult for every artist, it has to change at some point.”
Voivod will be at Psycho Las Vegas on August 18th. Then a show in Winnipeg on August 25th before hitting Europe for nearly two months. I’m personally hoping Voivod will do a run through the United State as everyone should listen to the new album ‘The Wake’ live!