The rebirth of Voivod... after 40 years

The rebirth of Voivod… after 40 years

The most famous Quebec metal band in history will soon celebrate its 40th anniversary. Not bad for a group of young people from the depths of Quebec who were s, aid to be barbaric and not very melodic in their beginnings.

In 1987, the journalist Madeleine Roy did not go there with the back of the spoon during a television report.

“Voivod are four musicians from Jonquière who make speed metal, aggressive, violent music and, as you will see, not very melodic”.

Michel Langevin, drummer, and illustrator of the 15 albums, laughs before adding: “Things evolve and perception too. At first, I thought the same about punk bands like the Sex Pistols. But today, I find it almost commercial. »

“Soon they will be playing Led Zeppelin at CHSLD because the 80-year-old, has hit in the head in his life”, adds bassist Dominique Laroche, during a generous 90-minute interview that the quartet gave last Sunday to the Trunk.


Singer Denis Bélanger, bassist Dominique Laroche, drummer Michel Langevin and guitarist Daniel Mongrain during the interview with Le Journal.

Photo Agency QMI, Andréanne Lemire

Singer Denis Bélanger, bassist Dominique Laroche, drummer Michel Langevin, and guitarist Daniel Mongrain during the interview with Le Journal.

The group founded in 1983, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary in a few months, is still there, with two of the four original members incorporated. At 59, Michel Langevin and singer Denis Bélanger (57) still love when things go fast.

Voivod’s sulfurous reputation hasn’t stopped the “barbaric” band portrayed by the late QTS journalist from opening for some of the biggest names in the genre, including Metallica, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Motörhead, and even lesser bands. heavy. like Rush.

And also to hire Jason Newsted, the former bassist for Metallica and Ozzy, who played with the Quebec group from 2002 to 2009.

His fourth vinyl, Dimension hatrosseven throne at 78me ranking of the best metal albums of all time, according to the American magazine Rolling Stone along with iconic records like Black Sabbath, Slayer, and Megadeath.

And three years ago, the album The wake received the Juno Award given to the best metal release of the year in the country.

After all, not bad for high school classmates from deep in Quebec who didn’t speak a word of English.

Very popular in Europe

A national consecration it is, but Voivod is very popular, if not more so, in Europe, particularly in Germany.

“It is still here, on the Plains of Abraham, that we were invited to open for Metallica in front of 100,000 people. This is also where the Montreal Jazz Festival asked us to play”, tempers Michel Langevin.

“It’s just that we can’t play 40 shows a year in Quebec,” adds guitarist Daniel Mongrain.

Over the years, the screaming metal warriors have made their music more complex, adding a touch of progressive rock to their well-established thrash metal paraphernalia.

Renew

So those who jump in fear at the mere mention of Voivod’s name today might be pleasantly surprised by the group’s sound, even though we’re still a long way from the hits constantly playing on the radio.


The cover of the fifteenth and final studio album, still the brainchild of drummer and graphic designer Michel Langevin.

courtesy photo

The cover of the fifteenth and final studio album, still the brainchild of drummer and graphic designer Michel Langevin.

the last album, synchronized anarchy, released in February, adds another layer of complexity to your creations. The band doesn’t want to become a caricature of itself by playing the same songs over and over again for the same old fans.

“Today we still try to break down barriers, to surpass ourselves,” says singer Denis Bélanger.

“We are sometimes surprised at the beautiful chemistry that ends up emerging,” adds bassist Dominique Laroche.


A crowdfunding campaign is trying to raise $100,000 to build this massive statue of the late Voivod guitarist Denis D'Amour to be installed in Jonquière.

courtesy photo

A crowdfunding campaign is trying to raise $100,000 to build this massive statue of the late Voivod guitarist Denis D’Amour to be installed in Jonquière.

Voivod’s adventure came very close to ending in 2005, when the band’s musical mastermind, guitarist Denis D’Amour, died of cancer.

“Most of the time we were really in mourning. Then we recorded albums with his pre-recorded guitar tracks, but it was traumatic”, recalls drummer Michel Langevin.

From number 1 fan to group member

But 17 years later, the group lives on, largely thanks to their replacement, guitarist Daniel Mongrain, who was discovered in 2008 during a tribute concert to the group.

For the 45-year-old musician from Trois-Rivières, it’s a crazy dream come true. Crazy because he decided to pick up the guitar at 11… after hearing the album 1987 killer technology of Voivod.

“It was the first tape I bought. It was also the first show I went to see. I was fascinated by the beauty of the pockets imagined by Michel. So imagine my face when he called me in the middle of class (Daniel Mongrain teaches music at the Cégep de Joliette) to ask me if he wanted to play with Voivod. »

Bassist Dominic Laroche, also from Mauricie, joined the lineup in 2014 following the departure of the fourth founding member Jean-Yves Thériault.

“He is the glue of the group”, summarizes Denis Bélanger, the one who defuses the tensest situations. “When there are little frictions, you have Dominique who says: “Yes, well there!”. “, he adds.

Return of the shows

Before the pandemic, Voivod was able to play nearly 150 shows a year.

“I missed him a lot. It’s time to pick it up again,” said Michel Langevin feverishly, a few days before the planned tours of Quebec, the United States, Europe, and perhaps South America, which began last Wednesday in Three Rivers.

THE CREATION OF THE GROUP

At first, they were classmates from high school, after CEGEP, who simply did not want to go to work in a factory. In January 1983, all that remained was to find the singer. “We wanted someone very theatrical,” says Michel Langevin. Then Denis Bélanger was invited to sing… after seeing him in an improv match in the role… of a dumb worm! Bélanger had never sung in his life. After that, he was very fast. “We went from Jonquière to New York without passing through Montreal,” says Denis Bélanger.


Dennis Belanger, singer

Photo Agency QMI, Andréanne Lemire

Dennis Belanger, singer

Nicknames

Fans know Langevin as “Away”, Bélanger as “Snake” (yes, in honor of worm improvisation!), Mongrain as “Chewy”, and Dominique as “Rocky”. “At the beginning, we told ourselves: no one will remember that names like Denis Bélanger. And we were also influenced by the nicknames of the members of Venom”, says Michel Langevin.


Michael Langevin, drummer

Photo Agency QMI, Andréanne Lemire

Michael Langevin, drummer

LANGUAGE

The members of the group, originally from Jonquière, initially found it difficult to speak English, which did not prevent them from composing all their songs in this language. Denis Bélanger’s pronounced accent still gives the band a unique color today. “99% of the bands we listened to were English-speaking. And it has always been very difficult for me to compose in French,” says Bélanger.

MENTAL HEALTH

The singer left the group for eight years in 1994 after a major depression. “I had times I wweighed callsDenis Belanger. Difficult decisions had to be made [entre autres de quitter le groupe]. But it quickly came back at me like a 2×4 behind my head. He made me realize that I was an artist, that I needed to create to be happy. »

EXCURSIONS

Voivod is a touring band. He was doing almost 150 shows a year before the pandemic.

Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, all that?

“When you give 10 performances in 12 days, you better not stay up too late! said Daniel Mongrain in another interview.

“This tour is going to be a good test. We’ll see how the body reacts. But I don’t feel the stress of getting old,” says Michel Langevin, 59.

“Don’t think about it too much. My knees hurt, but when you stay young your head is better,” adds Denis Bélanger, 57.

Love life is even possible for the members of the group. “Having a girlfriend works, but you have to make other decisions. Nobody in the group has children”, says Dominique Laroche.


Dominique Laroche, bass

Photo Agency QMI, Andréanne Lemire

Dominique Laroche, bass

MONEY

Could the members live off the band? Yes, they say, but each one does something else. Daniel Mongrain is a professor at Cégep de Joliette, Denis Bélanger works in construction in Laval, Michel Langevin is a freelance graphic designer in Montreal, and Dominique Laroche has various musical projects.

“Voivod is our priority for all of us, but we also have other interests”, summarizes Daniel Mongrain.


Daniel Mongrain, guitarist

Photo Agency QMI, Andréanne Lemire

Daniel Mongrain, guitarist


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