One of the singles Gojira released ahead of their seventh album, Fortitude, was for the standout cut “Another World.” The track’s video is basically an animated short film in which the members of Gojira build their own rocket and blast off in search of, as you might have guessed, “Another World.”
There are plenty of clues sprinkled throughout the video as to why the band is leaving Earth behind in search of intelligent life elsewhere. At minute 1:56, for instance, a newspaper headline declares: “The virus is spreading.”
Some fans of the band took this to mean the song was a response to the age of COVID, but as it turns out, Fortitude was written and recorded prior to the pandemic’s outbreak. Guitarist and vocalist Joe Duplantier says there was nothing prophetic about the video, either.
“The pandemic wasn’t surprising,” he says. “I wrote the synopsis to that video a while ago, I did a storyboard and everything. And the line, ‘The virus is spreading,’ was already there. It’s something that was just waiting to happen. I don’t know why. Maybe I watched too many movies. But next thing you know, we are in a movie!”
Anyone familiar with Gojira’s body of work will not be surprised to hear Duplantier’s thoughts on the inevitability of a global pandemic—Gojira is a band that has never shied away from championing an environmental message in their music.
“We hope our music will be inspiring and soothing and healing for our audience, and that’s sort of the theme between all the songs,” Duplantier says. “And of course, there’s also the activist dimension. I think we should all be activists. The root of that word is to act, is action. Less talking and more doing. And sometimes there’s no doing at all, sometimes we just live, and consume, and pollute, and shit all over the place, and then we die.”
The apocalyptic themes of “Another World” and its video aren’t the only familiar aspects of the song. As soon as you hear the heavy-but-groovy, finger-tapped main riff, there’s no mistaking it as anything but a Gojira tune. The distinctive sonic characteristics of the band are largely a result of the dynamic between Joe Duplantier and his brother Mario, the band’s drummer.
“I work with my brother a lot, without the rest of the band because we’re both hyper-active writers,” Duplantier explains. “We’re so connected, and we don’t need words too much when we work. We understand each other musically. There’s something a little weird there. Something mystical.”
“I’m more in the guts and the heart, less in the brain,” he continues. “Mario thinks a lot, and he’s thinking about structures and tempos. I like to just let it go and see what comes out. But we accept and embrace each other’s personalities. Maybe that’s what makes the songs successful.”
Even the way the brothers approach their instruments is diametrically opposed. Mario routinely spends hours playing his drums, whereas Joe doesn’t spend much time sitting around playing guitar and working on technique.
“I believe it keeps things fresh for me to not spend thousands of hours to make the riffs super intricate and complicated,” Joe says. “That’s why sometimes, there’s little gaps in my riffs that end up being just me banging the guitar to make a noise. Because I don’t know what fancy note I’m going to put there. So, I just strum all the strings: ‘Wraaaang!’ You know that, ‘Wraaang’? It’s because I’m lazy; I don’t want to find a note for that part, so I play all of them.”
If you’re a fan of Gojira’s music, you do indeed know that “Wraaang” sound Duplantier’s talking about. But don’t let his talk of being “lazy” fool you: Joe Duplantier is as passionate as ever about the mission Gojira is on.
“There’s sort of an intention and motivation behind it all,” he says. “We try to put a healing intention in our shows, for example. Even though I’m going to swear and say ‘fuck,’ and all that stuff, the idea is to bring together, to unite, to heal. It’s only an intention, but I believe in the power of intentions.”
Check out Fortitude below, and pick up Gojira merch here.
Images courtesy of Gojira.