Gojira Lives the Dream Tonight With Slayer
Still tempted to believe in 2013 that all metalheads are anti-intellectual lunks built only to destroy? Well, forget the decades of anecdotal evidence. You'd do well to remember, instead, that one of modern heavy metal's biggest and best bands is comprised of four eco-conscious artistes from a small village in the south of France. (Thanks, Obama.)
Mario Duplantier, rear, with Gojira
Gojira, perhaps the mightiest metal monster to emerge from the murky depths of the underground in the past five years, has slowly but surely built a large and loyal worldwide following with its expressively refined blasting. Comfortably (and credibly) weaving brutal death metal and syncopated power grooves into melodic passages that drip with a uniquely French appreciation for anguished beauty, the group is carving out a niche by delivering the most successful marriage yet of metal's most delicate and destructive elements.
It's powerful stuff in every sense of that word, and it packs a wallop fearsome enough to score Gojira coveted support slots on some of the world's biggest metal tours in the last few years. After all, not just any band can open for Slayer and survive. Gojira warms up the crowd for the thrash legends tonight at Bayou Music Center.
For drummer Mario Duplantier and his kaiju brethren in the band, touring with the diabolical Slayer is something of a sublimely surreal experience. Unsurprisingly, the L.A. titans were a primary influence in Gojira's musical development. Now they're performing together in the same circus.
"Of course it's an amazing feeling for us," says Duplantier in his charmingly thick accent. "Since we were children, we have had bands that were so magical for us. These bands were our biggest influence, like Sepultura, Metallica, Machine Head.
"We get lucky," he continues. "We tour with Metallica, we tour with Machine Head, we did a couple of shows with Sepultura, and now, doing this tour with Slayer, we feel like, 'OK, we did it! Finally!' When I was a child, it was my dream, so I'm living a dream right now."
It's a dream a long time in the making. While Gojira has quite a ways to go before they can hope to match the legacy of their heroes, they seem to know a thing or two about longevity already. Through 17 years in the ego-driven world of heavy metal, Gojira has managed to keep the same lineup intact since their very first album.
After so much time together, the band appears to be peaking creatively, and audiences are responding. Last year's L'Enfant Sauvage debuted in Top 40 on the Billboard album chart. It was the band's first for Roadrunner Records, and the label made it a priority.
"The fact that Roadrunner put us on the front of the communications and media, I'm sure this was very important for us, to sign on a big label," Duplantier says. "Now we have a very strong support of the band. L'Enfant Sauvage, this album is also part of our new success. But I'm sure the fact we signed with Roadrunner Records was also the biggest step for us."
While L'Enfant Sauvage has been a breakthrough for the band, Gojira continues to build its fanbase the old-fashioned way, with relentless touring. The group's dramatic, high-energy live show has been honed by playing to unfamiliar crowds near and far, and Duplantier considers it the backbone of the band's success.
"We grew up playing live," the drummer says. "We had all this opportunity to tour, first as opener. Our key is just to leave everything onstage and try to catch the attention of people. It's made our success.
"You have to be attractive to people, so I try to hit very hard and make a lot of movement with my head and my arms," he added. "I want to catch people!"
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