Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I'm working on my Voivod story for Unrestrained! at the moment, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to post something I've had to cut from the piece.

I got to see Voivod five times between 1990 and their final tour in 2003, and each gig holds some special memories. I think my favourite Voivod moment, though, was at their last show in Vancouver, opening for Ozzy Osbourne and (cough) Finger Eleven. It was the first show I'd seen with their new bassist Jason Newsted and the returning Snake on vocals. Even though they were playing early to a partially filled arena, they came out and killed, playing "Voivod" as their first number (the best bands have a s/t theme song—Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Motörhead...um...). Anyway, their playing that power-drill thrasher was the one of the most defiant, joyous things I've ever witnessed at a concert.

When I got the chance to talk to Newsted last March at the Katorz listening party, I had to ask him about that moment, and why they opened their set with that particular song. It turned out there were some very good practical reasons behind playing it.

"That’s how it was supposed to be," he said. "That’s how they did it for so long. It's just bringing it out—we’re here! That was one of the things as a band that always charmed me about them. No matter how many times you’d see them they’d either open with it or close with it. You were going to get crushed one way or the other. And especially in a situation on an Ozzfest or a thing where you’re playing with three bands like on that particular tour, you’ve got to put a song out there as the first four minutes for your mixing guy to make sure all the mikes are working and everything’s happening. We all sing on that song and all the instruments are full on and it’s got a change, the swells and everything, that gives the mixing guy a chance to go find the lower volumes, and then it crushes full on, as full volume as we’re going to go all night, so he gets to dial that in before the set starts. It’s such a racous type of song that it doesn’t really matter how shitty the sound system is, it’s still a fucking cool song because of how basic it is. So that’s really what it is. It can be in your face and raw as possible, and that’s even a better thing. Whereas if you come out with 'Astronomy Domine' [Voivod's minor-hit Pink Floyd cover] or one of your very delicate, very finessed-type songs it’ll take the mixing guy till the fourth song to get your shit together. So, that’s kind of a tactical manouver at the same time as it is this slap in the face."

5 comments:

al said...

just thought id let you know that coincidentally i bought my first voivod cd on this very day (dimension hatross)...im right in the middle of 'macrosolutions to megaproblems' as im typing. why was i not informed of this group 10 years agao??? ah well, it feels good to be back in the loop.

Metal Mark said...

I have never totally gotten into Voivod. I remember in 1987 having money to buy just one album and I bought Voivod's Killing Technology. I was so disappointed because I was hoping for speed metal. Later that same year I heard their previous two albums and those I liked. I had some friends that loved Dimension Hatross and Nothingface, but I couldn't get into those. Now Angelrat clicked for me for some reason. I believe that I heard Outer Limits once right when it came out and liked it. I have not heard anything since then.

FredCQ said...

Great article. I think that Jason is a great addition to Voivod. I saw them open for Sepultura. You could tell that Jason was really into it and pumped to be playing those songs.

I'm still sad that it's over. Voivod are one of my favorite bands of all time. I'll never forget being blown away when they played Tornado on the Outer Limits tour, or when they played Pre-Ignition on the Nothingface tour. Great times!

The Mule said...

Hey Al, good choice! Smash can attest to the importance of this album. "Tribal Convictions" made it into the setlist a couple times in one of his old projects.

M. Mark--Actually, Angel Rat is probably my favourite Voivod album (as you can see by my avatar). It's so graceful and Rush-like. I got Away to sign my copy when I was in Montreal.

Fred--Jason is truly their biggest fan. And thanks for jogging my memory re: "Tornado" on the Outer Limits tour. They were back playing the small clubs, and that was a great show.

FredCQ said...

I think that Killing Technology is a great album. I love every song on there. The problem with that album is that the recording is so tinny that it takes a lot of the punch away. I hear that there are remasters coming soon so hopefully they will get some of Blacky's blower bass back in the mix.