Gojira Will Not Be Stopped!
Fans of metal will know that recent circumstances involving Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe had led to the cancelation of their highly anticipated tour. It wasn’t just Lamb Of God that had people excited; the line-up was to include the live version of Dethklok, the animated band from Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse, and Gojira, one of the best up-and-coming metal bands in the world. I’m a bit opinionated when I say this, of course. They’re new Shure endorsers.
Gojira are not exactly a new band. They originally formed in the mid-1990s under the name Godzilla, changing it in 2001. Their star has been rising for years, gaining fans globally over time. With the release of L’Enfant Sauvage this Summer, big things seem to be ahead. The unfortunate cancellation of the LoG/Dethklok/Gojira tour is bad timing. However, they wasted no time in booking a smaller run upon receiving the bad news. I got a call asking about borrowing some wireless – UHF-R – for the make-up dates here in the States. I also got the good news that they’d be coming to Chicago to play at the Bottom Lounge. Score.
I made my way to the venue last Thursday to meet up with Paul Natkin, our photographer, so we could shoot some posed shots and a bit of the sound check before the show. It was my first time meeting anyone from the band beyond a voice on the phone. We called up the tour manager, Taylor, who ran out to get us. As soon as we were inside he introduced us to brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier (guitar/vocals and drums, respectively). The two guys were warm and welcoming – always a good sign when meeting endorsers for the first time. We chatted about the gear they were using since the onset of their endorsement deal for a bit before lead guitarist Christian Andreu came over. Bassist Jean-Michel Labadie eventually joined us and we made our way outside to shoot some posed photos against the backdrop of Chicago’s El tracks. Fans had been around the venue doors noticed us and gave a rousing cheer. The guys were gracious in acknowledging them – a good sign for career longevity in this day and age.
We sat inside for sound check as the band’s FOH engineer meticulously ran through each channel. Paul snapped a few pics as I checked out their wireless set-ups, looking to make sure there was no RF overload on the receivers. They are using SM58 for vocals, SM57s for the cabinets, SM81s on the cymbals and hats, and the instrument wireless (as mentioned above) was our UHF-R. The band wrapped up and Paul and I made our way to the venue’s restaurant for some digs. As we ate I noticed the restaurant portion was considerably more crowded than I had anticipated. I had suspected that the show might not have done as well as all would have liked; they did manage to book it only days prior. We finished up and went in to the venue to listen to opener Car Bomb, a grindcore/mathcore band from NY. The room was fairly full at this point. My initial suspicion about attendance was definitely wrong.
By the time Gojira took the stage it was getting difficult to move around. I found myself considerably closer to the pit than I had been in years, though I didn’t mind as much as someone wearing glasses probably should. The band started; people bumped their way past me in a rush to get to the pit; the room erupted in raised fists and horned hands.
“I was in the crowd for Car Bomb. I love those guys. Anyway, I noticed something – it looks like a lot of guys here are in their thirties. Is that true?” Joe asked. “How many people own a car?” Hands around me go up. “How many people have a mortgage?” Similar show of hands. “It’s all the people in the back! How about the kids? Are there kids here?!?” The entire front half of the audience erupted in cheers. Yeah, OK, I’m not as young as I once was. But I find consolation in the fact that there were plenty of young fans up front for a band like this.
Here’s hoping for a return to Chicago in the early part of 2013. I’m looking forward to interviewing them.