“We introduced his influence and that’s the moment we found ourselves”: Mike Oldfield is a prog hero for Gojira’s Joe Duplantier

Joe Duplantier and Mike Oldfield
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In 2012 Joe Duplantier, vocalist and rhythm guitarist with French metallers Gojira, discussed the importance of Mike Oldfield to his band’s music, explaining that they might never have found their sound without the Tubular Bells mastermind.

“I heard Mike Oldfield’s music from when I was a child. My parents had a couple of his albums on vinyl and were always playing them. Without realising it, I grew up being influenced by him.

Because I come from the French countryside, I had no clue of putting any music into categories. So to me, Oldfield was never a prog musician – he was just awesome, and transcended any category. What I particularly liked was the way the music could be both simple yet complex.

I still remember going to see The Exorcist and falling in love with the theme music. I didn’t even realise it came from Tubular Bells. I enjoyed the way it was structured; it was very haunting, and it didn’t just go in a straight line. I liked the feeling that it was a little twisted.

Mike Oldfield - In High Places - Live 1984 - YouTube Mike Oldfield - In High Places - Live 1984 - YouTube
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My favourite Oldfield album is 1983’s Crises. For me it sums up what he’s all about. There’s a definite complexity; the melodies are beautiful and they take you on surprising journeys. Listen to In High Places from that album, which is the best song he’s ever done as far as I’m concerned. The drum beat seems to be very obvious, but then right at the end, he deliberately misses half a beat and takes you by surprise.

To me, that’s what music should always do: leave you a little overwhelmed by the way in which it turns into a direction you never expected.

It might seem odd… but he gave us a sense of ourselves

Gojira started out as a death metal band; but when we recorded one of our early demos, we decided to introduce Oldfield’s influence into what we did. For me that was the moment when we found ourselves, and realised what we could do.

It might seem odd for a death metal band to love Mike Oldfield, but he gave us a sense of ourselves. You can hear his inspiration on the song Locked In A Syndrome from our fourth demo. The track itself may be rubbish, but it’s then that we really felt Mike Oldfield was getting inside our heads.”

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021