Voivod’s Away Talks About Their Final Album With Piggy
On April 17, Relapse Records announced that Voivod would be releasing ‘Infini,’ the final studio album to feature the dazzling guitar work of Denis “Piggy” D’Amour who passed away in 2005 from cancer. Featuring Denis “Snake” Bélanger on vocals, Michel “Away” Langevin on drums and the bass work of Jason Newsted (yes, the guy who played in Metallica) and returning member Jean-Yves “Blacky” Thériault, the album is scheduled to hit store shelves on June 23.
Noisecreep spoke with Voivod drummer Away about the the unorthodox recording process behind the making of the album and playing live with another guitarist.
Does ‘Infini’ consist of the last batch of material the band wrote with Piggy?
Yes, there is a collection of tracks that Piggy was writing for a solo record and some of those are very “Voivodian” so we’ll see if that comes out but ‘Infini’ is stuff we had written together. We demoed so much material back in 2003 when we were rehearsing for the Ozzfest tour. We left Piggy’s stuff from those sessions because he did a great job and even double-tracked his guitars so it was easy to keep them. We did have to re-record the bass and drums because the recording quality was so poor. When Snake was tracking his vocals, he was mostly just putting down melodies and little ideas like that.
How much of the music changed when you went in to record the final version of the album all of these years later?
The main thing that was changed was Snake’s lyrics. Like I mentioned, he didn’t have all of the words for everything yet when we were demoing with Piggy but even the songs that did, he changed. He felt like the lyrics he had in 2003 didn’t mean as much to him anymore. He wanted things to be current. I know there are moments on this album that deal with what happened to Piggy and the loss we felt. We were more than just bandmates for so many years, we were also close friends so that had to be in there. In terms of the drums, I also felt like some of the beats I had originally recorded sounded a bit dated. I wanted ‘Infini’ to reflect my current drum style more so that changed too.
Voivod has always had striking album artwork. What can we expect this time around?
It’s very spacey, old-school sci-fi looking actually. I went online and got some cool NASA photos and incorporated them into the layout. I made a collage with some of those images and it came out looking really cool. The actual cover has the gas mask I have been using for the last few albums. I wanted to develop an identity that went along with Jason joining the band so since the self-titled 2003 album, I have used the same logo and the gas mask thing for the imaging.
You have Dan Mongrain from the Canadian tech-death band Martyr playing guitar with the band when you tour. His style is so different from Piggy’s so what can we expect when we see you live? Does he change the guitar parts around at all?
Dan plays so tight and precise so I know what you mean. Piggy’s style was more, I don’t want to say sloppy, but it definitely had a punk influence to it. On some of our material, he even had a progressive rock feel to his playing with all of those angular chords. It would be extremely difficult for the average metal kid to replicate that but you have to understand, Dan was a huge Voivod fan. He grew up listening to all of our old records. He was playing along to all of our songs since he was a kid so he was ready for this. I remember when we went in to jam with him for the first time he had to remind us how to play the songs (laughter). There is a clip on YouTube of our performance from the Thrash Domination festival we played in Japan last year. We played all of the 1980s stuff and you could see what a great job Dan does with that. He performs Piggy’s riff so well and we’re happy that we found him.