French metal band spreads eco-friendly message


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Gojira is spreading the message of environmentalism one pummeling riff at a time.

Guitarist, vocalist, and vegetarian Joe Duplantier grew up in Ondres — a small town in southwestern France — which he said is full of natural beauty and a scenic ocean landscape. His experience there, with Gojira drummer and brother Mario Duplantier, is what got him interested in the issue of saving the environment.

“When a boat would sink with oil, we were the first to see it, and we couldn’t get in the ocean anymore because it was spoiled for almost two years,” Duplantier said. “So that’s probably one reason why we care, because we actually could see the effect firsthand.”

Most of Duplantier’s lyrics on songs such as “Flying Whales” and “Vacuity” explore people’s tendency to destroy the Earth and each other.

On Saturday, Gojira will perform at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., alongside Swedish progressive-metal band Burst and Atlanta-based doom-metal band Zoroaster. Tickets are $12.50; doors will open at 6 p.m. for the all-ages show.

“Gojira is an absolutely amazing band,” UI student and metal fan Jason Arnold said. “It’s definitely one of the most creative and artistic bands around today. I don’t even know if it’s possible to categorize it — possibly atmospheric metal. I think it’s a band that someone who isn’t even necessarily a metal head can appreciate.”

The Duplantier brothers have been creating music in Gojira with guitarist Christian Andreu and bassist Jean Labadie for the last 10 years. The band recently exploded in popularity after releasing The Way of All Flesh and landing a touring slot with heavy-metal legends Metallica.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Duplantier said. “We are a band because of Metallica. We owe so much to [the Metallica players]. When I saw them, the only thing I [wanted] to tell them is, ‘Thank-you very much,’ and what [Metallica guitarist/vocalist] James Hetfield answered is, ‘You’re welcome.’ ”

Duplantier said opening for a band such as Metallica can be challenging, because the fans are obviously there to see the headliner. However, he said, even if the audience members start out skeptical, by the end of the set they greet the band with applause. Gojira is known for putting on emotionally intense live shows.

“It’s honesty,” Duplantier said. “We enjoy expressing all the different parts that we have inside. It can be fear, it can be anger, it can be joy or love or whatever. That is what blows people away.”

Metallica is not the only idol that Duplantier has had the privilege of meeting. He played bass on the 2008 Cavalera Conspiracy album Inflikted, the début project from Max and Igor Cavalera of Sepultura fame.

Duplantier said he is looking forward to finishing up the upcoming headlining dates in the United States and taking a much needed break to recharge and begin writing songs again. He also plans to move to New York because he loves the city and its people.

Saturday night’s show at the Picador will mark the first Iowa gig for Gojira, and Duplantier said he is looking forward to the show. Even without spending much time in the state, the musician was able to pinpoint the essence of Iowa’s cultural background.

“I do know that the capital of Iowa is Des Moines, and Des Moines is a French word — that’s what I know about Iowa,” Duplantier said. “I know you’ve got a lot of corn and fields right? That’s pretty much … all I know about Iowa.”

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