Jimmy Kay of The Metal Voice conducted an interview with vocalist Denis “Snake” Bélanger of Canadian metal innovators VOIVOD prior to the band’s performance at the world-famous Montreal International Jazz Festival (Festival International de Jazz de Montréal) on June 30 at Club Soda. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the band’s upcoming North American tour plans:
Snake: “We’re going to start in September with REVOCATION. We’re going to go for a month all over the U.S. I think ‘The Wake’, the new album, gives us more and more opportunity as we go. This year, we’re super busy. We had a little break during the summer, but we’re going to go to Europe in August, then jump on that tour, then so on and so on. We keep getting offers from everywhere, different offers. We’re going to be busy from August until December.”
On the status of VOIVOD‘s career-spanning documentary:
Snake: “Sam Dunn [Banger Films] started doing some work a while ago. We’re going to do another section of it. It’s just footage. Actually, I don’t have much information right now about it, but it’s going to be about our career so far. It’s a long journey. We’ll try to get the picture of what VOIVOD went through — different lineups and stuff like that, through different periods of time. We’re still doing it. There’s going to be more footage to come, maybe tonight we’ll have more footage that’s adding to the whole process of the documentary.”
On how his voice has developed over the years:
Snake: “Over the years, you start to create your own sound. At the beginning, I was not really able to do anything about harsh stuff. When we started doing more complex structures, especially on ‘Killing Technology’, I started doing more melodies. I kept doing it. I think it came naturally. I think the songs created that for me in a [natural way]. Of course, when we got to ‘Dimension Hatröss’ and ‘Nothingface’, I really started to be more profound about the voice itself. Now the style is more like a combination of these two, the harsh stuff and the smooth stuff and singing around it, and the talking and murmurs sometimes, and I mix screams. It depends on the mood of the song. That’s where I do my lyrics and I do my stuff around the music itself. The music inspired the whole process of writing for me, so I could include putting a character to the voice.”
On whether it was difficult for him to transition from harsh to clean singing:
Snake: “I don’t think it was difficult. It was meant to be at a certain point. Some vocalists just do their own thing. I mean, they stay in their niche, they stay in their genre, because of their trademark or something like that. We’ve never done things twice. That allows me to explore more and to not be stuck in a genre. I never really forced anything. I just go with the flow. If the music says, ‘Oh, this is a cool part. You can go smoother.’ Or, ‘This is more punchy.’ It depends. The structure of the song that gives the whole mood.”
On how he developed his English despite being from the predominantly French-speaking north of Quebec:
Snake: “I had a coach at a certain point for a few albums, but I let myself go. Sometimes I write stuff that doesn’t make any sense, then I go through it sometimes with the other boys and try to fit with the music and the sound. For me, it’s a combination of what that means is fine, but it has to sound well. The words and the singing are an instrument by itself.”
On what stage VOIVOD is in of composing new material to follow-up last year’s “The Wake”:
Snake: “Very beginning. I think we just slightly put stuff together while we were on tour lately, but never got back to it because we were so busy. We’re in the really, really early stage, so I can’t say anything. It’s basically stuff that sometimes when we tour, we take the back lounge of the tour bus and put a laptop, then we lay down ideas.”
“The Wake” is one of 40 albums which have made the Polaris Music Prize 2019 Long List. VOIVOD was also nominated for the “International Artist Of The Year” award at this year’s Progressive Music Awards, which will be held on September 12 at the Underglobe in London, England.
“The Wake” came out in September 2018 via Century Media Records. The disc was recorded and mixed by Francis Perron at RadicArt Recording Studio in Canada. The album’s artwork was once again created by VOIVOD drummer Michel “Away” Langevin.