The rebirth of Voivod… after 40 years

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

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

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

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

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


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

Photo QMI Agency, 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 added. At 59, Michel Langevin and singer Denis Bélanger (57) still love it when things go fast.

They are still not rolling in gold, but today they no longer have to resort to social assistance to live from their passion.

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

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

Their fourth vinyl, Dimension Hatrosseven throne at 78e rank of the best metal records of all time, according to the American magazine RollingStonealong 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.

Not bad after all for high school buddies from the depths of Quebec who didn’t speak a word of English.

Very popular in Europe

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

“It’s still here, on the Plains of Abraham, that we were invited to open for Metallica in front of 100,000 people. It’s also here that 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 warriors of screaming metal have made their music more complex, adding a touch of progressive rock to their well-established trash metal paraphernalia.

To renew

So those who jump with fright at the mere mention of Voivod’s name could today be pleasantly surprised by the sound of the group, even if we are still far from the hits that are constantly playing on the radio.


The cover of the 15th and last studio album, still the creation of drummer and graphic designer, Michel Langevin.

Courtesy picture

The cover of the 15th and last studio album, still the creation of drummer and graphic designer, Michel Langevin.

The last album, Synchro Anarchy, released in February, adds another layer of complexity to their creations. Obviously, the band doesn’t want to become a caricature of itself by playing the same old stuff over and over again to the same old fans.

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

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


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

Courtesy picture

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

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

“We were mostly really in mourning. We then recorded albums with his pre-recorded guitar tracks, but it was really traumatic,” recalls drummer Michel Langevin.

From fan no. 1 to member of the group

But, 17 years later, the group is still alive, largely thanks to its 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 take up the guitar at 11… after listening to the album in 1987 Killing Technologyfrom 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 Cégep de Joliette) to ask me if I wanted to play with Voivod. »

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

“It’s the glue in the group”, summarizes Denis Bélanger, the one who defuses the most tense situations. “When there are small frictions, you have Dominique who says: “Yes, well there!” “, he adds.

Return of the shows

Before the pandemic, Voivod could play almost 150 shows a year.

“I missed it a lot. It’s time to get back to it,” 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 at Three Rivers.

About…

THE CREATION OF THE GROUP

At first, they were buddies from high school, then from CEGEP, who just didn’t want to go work in a factory. In January 1983, only the singer remained to be found. “We wanted someone very theatrical,” says Michel Langevin. They then invited Denis Bélanger to sing… after seeing him in an improv match in the role… of a mute earthworm! Bélanger had never sung in his life. After that, it was very fast. “We went from Jonquière to New York without going through Montreal,” says Denis Bélanger.


Denis Belanger, singer

Photo QMI Agency, Andréanne Lemire

Denis Belanger, singer

Nicknames

Fans know Langevin as “Away”, Bélanger as “Snake” (yes, in honor of worm improv!), Mongrain as “Chewy” and Dominique as “Rocky”. “At the beginning, we said to 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.


Michel Langevin, drummer

Photo QMI Agency, Andréanne Lemire

Michel Langevin, drummer

LANGUAGE

The members of the group, originally from Jonquière, initially struggled to speak English, which did not prevent them from composing all their songs in this language. The pronounced accent of Denis Bélanger still gives a unique color to the formation today. “99% of the bands we listened to were English-speaking. And I’ve always found it very difficult 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 tough, recalls Denis Bélanger. There were tough decisions to be made [entre autres de quitter le groupe]. But it quickly came back to me like a 2 x 4 behind my head. It made me realize that I was an artist, that I needed to create to be happy. »

TOURS

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

Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, all that?

“When you give 10 shows in 12 days, you better not go to bed too late! said Daniel Mongrain in another interview.

“This tour is going to be a good test. We will 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 in the head, it goes better, ”adds Denis Bélanger, 57 years old.

A love life is even possible for the members of the group. “Having a girlfriend works, but you have to make other choices. No one in the group has children,” says Dominique Laroche.


Dominique Laroche, bassist

Photo QMI Agency, Andréanne Lemire

Dominique Laroche, bassist

MONEY

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

“Voivod is our priority for all, but we have other interests too”, sums up Daniel Mongrain.


Daniel Mongrain, guitarist

Photo QMI Agency, Andréanne Lemire

Daniel Mongrain, guitarist

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