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A quick word with Voivod: thrash metal, the Cold War, and making a movie

Voivod standing amongst some rocks
(Image credit: Catherine Deslauriers)

Voivod have forged a decades-long career on not caring about what anyone else thinks. They mixed their thrash with punk and prog, toured with Faith No More and Soundgarden before either blew up, got dragged into a Metallica family feud and survived almost 40 years as one of Canada’s most innovative metal bands. 

But even with that landmark on the horizon, drummer (and founding member) Michel ‘Away’ Langevin is still excited to be back in the saddle for album number 15, Synchro Anarchy.

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You were officially recognised as ‘Visionaries’ at the 2017 Progressive Music Awards. What does that kind of tag do to a band? 

It was sort of surreal. I got there and bumped into my hero Peter Hammill and ended up chatting for a while which was amazing. Then I met Carl Palmer and Steve Hackett; it was crazy to be around all these talented guys that inspired me. But as great as it is to get recognition, we don’t take it for granted. We’re always trying harder. 

Before starting recording, what was the vision for Synchro Anarchy? 

There is this sense of impending doom that we knew we wanted to get into the album. With everything going on around the world, there was a lot to work with! To have a lot of this Cold War stuff starting up again and be worried about nuclear annihilation is insane – part of the reason I got into drums in the first place is to take it out on them, the anxiety of living on this planet. 

Do you ever get the temptation to just pump out something fast and nasty like [1984 debut] War And Pain? I think we always want to keep an element of thrash metal in there, but I don’t know if we’ll ever do another hardcore thrash album like War And Pain. It makes sense to explore other avenues, in the same way we wouldn’t really do a fully psychedelic album. We play what feels right at the time.

With so many bands branching into comics, movies etcetera, are you ever tempted to do a definitive story of the post-apocalyptic vampire lord Voivod [a character Away created, which gave the band its name]? 

Honestly, I’m so busy being a rock’n’roll drummer my whole life is dedicated to that! In 2020 I opened an online store to make my art more available though. Every time we play a city on the road I’ll draw something back at the hotel or whatever on a notepad, so my next book is the art I’ve produced on the road from 2008 – 2019. As for something specifically about Voivod… I’m not sure. It’d be amazing to score a sci-fi movie at some point, but our next real goal is to play a show with a symphony orchestra. 

There is talk of a Voivod movie in the works. Are you hoping to pull an Anvil? [The latter released the Anvil! The Story Of Anvil documentary in 2008.] 

Ha ha, maybe! It’s being made by Felipe Belalcazar, who made [2016 documentary about US death metallers Death] Death By Metal, so that’s pretty crazy. The project actually started way back with Sam Dunn, who did Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey and Global Metal but fell apart when Piggy [Denis D’Amour, Voivod’s original guitarist] died. We’re confident Felipe is the right guy for the job though, and should hopefully be looking at finishing it this year.

Synchro Anarchy is available now via Century Media.

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.