Canadian Musician - March-April 2022 - Page 43

For Voivod and the other bands they toured with back in those days , it was a whirlwind of concerts and parties all over the world . Langevin and Bélanger both say the shows felt like riots , and there was never a question as to whether they would draw an audience or not , because entire towns would show up to see every band that came through — that was just what the kids did back then . The fun continued well after the concerts , too ; in 1986 when Voivod toured across the U . S . with Celtic Frost , there would be 25 cars following the bands ’ buses back to their hotels after every show . “ That was the ‘ 80s ,” says a smiling Bélanger . “ The ‘ 80s was fucking fun .” Now in their late 50s , it ’ s no surprise that Langevin and Bélanger aren ’ t acting quite like they did in Voivod ’ s early days , but the most important part was always the music , and in Langevin ’ s view , at least , the music is still alive and well .
“ I must say , it was super exciting , because everybody in the scene was like in their early 20s ,” he says . “ You can imagine what kind of fun we had . Of course , eventually , if you want to be doing that 40 years later , you have to slow down the party .”
Slowing down the party hasn ’ t been such a bad thing , as it ’ s allowed Voivod to continue without burning out . Langevin remembers the last time Voivod toured in South America , and how he felt the same energy from the crowds as he did all those years ago . The live shows still have the same feel , but the tours now include much more sleep .
“ I try to sleep as much as I can ,” says Langevin . “ Playing 90 minutes of thrash metal every night and traveling gets absolutely demanding . You have to rest but you have also to take care of your health and eat properly and do some exercise every day and all that as you move along in your life .”
Langevin looks back on seeing drummer Tommy Aldridge playing with Whitesnake in the 1990s , playing an hour and a half of double kick drums , while already looking up there in age . He knew he wanted that for himself , and took it as a wakeup call to start taking better care of himself on the road . Now , he has this change in attitude to thank in part for Voivod ’ s longevity and continued popularity . He ’ s noticed that his band and those of many of his peers are now more popular than ever , decades on from when they began , with the old fans staying loyal and new fans discovering them .
“ Thirty-nine years down the road , we are enjoying the momentum ,” he says . “ And it ’ s quite unbelievable to us . Really , to be on a very well-established label , [ Century Media Records ,] still having the loyal following and new people , new generations discovering Voivod — I didn ’ t expect that , way back , 40 years ago .”
The three singles Voivod released off Synchro Anarchy before the
album came out – “ Planet Eaters ,” “ Paranormalium ,” and the title track – have shown the band ’ s staying power , quickly climbing to the top of their Spotify plays and earning major reactions from fans . Given the hastiness with which the band had to pull off this record , Langevin was relieved that the singles performed so well .
“ I would say that the main relief is the fact that the first three singles had a great reaction ,” he said . “ So , it ’ s awesome .”
They may sleep more and party less now , but Voivod hasn ’ t slowed down on the music at all . With the downtime the pandemic gave them , they were able to focus on some ideas that were previously shelved due to the band ’ s constant touring and / or recording . Director Felipe Belalcazar , known for the 2016 documentary Death by Metal about Florida death metal innovators Death , is currently finishing up a film about Voivod , which the band hopes to see released this year . They ’ ve also been working on some reissues of older material , as well as a book and a possible “ greatest hits ” compilation to celebrate their 40 th anniversary . If Canada ’ s COVID situation continues to improve , Voivod will be out on the road to promote Synchro Anarchy this summer as well .
The classics will always remain classics , but Voivod has never been a band stuck in the past , and neither are their fans . The writing sessions for Synchro Anarchy involved revisiting older albums like 1988 ’ s Dimension Hatröss and 1989 ’ s Nothing Face , but the band were also committed to continuing their innovative streak , making a record unlike anything they ’ ve ever done before , as they always aim to do .
“ There ’ s always a feeling of surprise or excitement about what we ’ re going to release ,” says Bélanger . “ That ’ s been the case for a long time . And that ’ s good for us .”
Manus Hopkins is a musician & freelance journalist based in Toronto .