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The seventh album by French free-thinkers Gojira exists almost in direct contrast to the bleak and introspectively personal Magma from 2016.
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An uplifting and empowering album, Fortitude is also the further expansion and growth of Gojira’s musical side as they further develop their melodic side and explore new ground. As guitarist and vocalist Joe Duplantier explains, it is an album to give all of their fans hope.
Congratulations on the latest album Joe. What are your own thoughts on it now? Did it come out the way you expected?
It’s never the way you expect it’s going to be when you write music. We have a rough idea, we have an intention, and we try to put it together to work towards the vision … the impression. Then something happens, and then there’s an album! With time and experience, I know that I can’t expect something in particular. It’s always going to be something different. It’s like steering a big ship – ‘I’m going left now!’ No, you’re not! You’re going over there! This thing is just too big.
Did you think that you got the messages in the songs across the way you wanted them to come across?
Yes. What we wanted to express is freedom, power, love, compassion, aspiration … growth.
The previous album was a very personal one for you. This one is personal in a different way. How do the themes on this album fit into the overall themes you have presented with Gojira over the years? It seems that you’ve gone back to some of the things you were looking at in your earlier work.
We’re still the same people, so even if we try to be radically different, we’re still going to be somehow similar. We hear a lot—I do a lot of interviews these days—and people say to me, ‘Did you try and do a mix of your new sound and your old sound?’ Sort of, but not really, at the same time. We try to evolve and do something new, and all these songs are new, but you can hear some of the things that made us stand out from around 2005 when we released From Mars to Sirius, this weird sort of aggression. But also, we’re trying to have fun. Sometimes we’re pushing things and Mario’s doing crazy stuff. It’s fun. We’re not trying to lose people. We’re not trying to seduce people. We’re trying to be ourselves, and we’re fortunate and lucky enough to be relevant to people’s expectations. Also, the metal scene needs fresh things, but also needs to stay connected to the 80s and 90s … I don’t know, man. I don’t know what I’m talking about. What am I talking about?
This album was written before COVID. This album isn’t about COVID. COVID is just proving our point.
[ Joe Duplantier ]
Let’s talk about the album itself, then. First of all – Fortitude. What is the idea behind calling the album that?
I think it represents what we as artists, as musicians, as performers, want to fill ourselves with. If you release an album called I’m a Piece of Shit, how you gonna feel every day when you go on tour? You get on stage and, “We got a new album called I’m a Piece of Shit, and this is it, man!” You know, after three years on the road supporting this Piece of Shit album, you’re going to become a piece of shit! So if you call your album Fortitude, maybe it will make you stronger after three years on the road. We’re putting out there what we want to become. We’re putting out there what we think people need in their everyday life, which is, you know, strength. Fortitude has a little subtlety. It’s not just strength. It’s strength in adversity. When there’s something happening, you need to stick together and get straight to the point and stop bitching about little details and gather ourselves and cut through the problems.
That’s quite a positive message for a world that’s been plunged into chaos. But from songs you’ve done in the past and maybe a couple of the songs that are here, don’t you think that humanity has reaped what it’s sowed?
This album was written before COVID. This album isn’t about COVID. COVID is just proving our point. This album is coming out for our fans, not for the people who don’t know who we are. We’re not Michael Jackson, right? For our fans, this album is going to come at a good time. They need to be strong. Maybe some of them are losing their jobs right now. Maybe some of them are homeless. Maybe some are going through a really, really difficult time. I don’t know what the world’s gonna become. I know how important the economy is—is it holding us all together? Is it keeping us from becoming savages and killing each other? We’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. Regardless, I hope I’ll still be playing music when this is done. I hope I’ll be playing stages somewhere, just jumping on and playing for people.
So now that you can’t play live, what do you do with Gojira now?
First of all we’re going to release this album and we’re very excited to share it with our friends. And then we’ll see. We still have a tour that is not cancelled, with Deftones, starting August 12 and going all the way to September 25, or something. It’s a pretty long tour. It’s not impossible to see that happening, because it’s in the States, where the vaccine is happening, and it’s arenas so it’s more manageable than if we had it in clubs. We’ll see but I really hope this happens. If it doesn’t, we’ll be straight onto the next record.