Voivod Targets Earth: An Interview with Dan “Chewy” Mongrain

Voivod has become synonimous with gaining one’s true understanding of the history of metal. Hailing from Jonquière, Québec, Canada, Voivod started out in the early 80’s and has been astounding our ears with their unique brand of speed, thrash, and prog metal that has been so influential and inspirational to so many in the biz today. With their new release, Target Earth, and recording with Dan “Chewy” Mongrain (who replaced Denis D’Amour due to his unfortunate death), Voivod is ready for an amazing 2013. Pittsburgh Music Magazine had a chance to speak with Dan about the band’s plans and what else is happening in the world of Voivod…

What are Voivod’s plans for touring?

Hi there! Well, after the album’s out in January, we’re gonna tour as much as we can and at as many places as we can. We’re going to Chile in April for a start, gonna probably do shows before that of course. As for touring Europe and the states, there is nothing I can talk about right now, but we’re gonna go there for sure! It’s gonna be a busy year for Voivod!

How was your studio experience, considering this is your first time recording with the band?

It was just fantastic! We worked well together as a team, the vibe was awesome. It’s one of the best creative journeys I’ve experienced so far in my career.

The music business has changed so much since the inception of Voivod. How are the members adapting to the new ways of promotion and communication?

I think we’re doing pretty good, but I think the best way to promote the band is still touring since it advertises us in as many places possible. That’s where the music, the very core of your art, is at its best– when it’s live.

Do you have any favorite pieces from the new effort?

I have a hard time finding any “favorite” things in life, it changes all the time. It depends on how I feel. I’m very proud of the whole album. It’s like asking a parent if they have a favorite child…
It’s kind of a trap. I really enjoy playing “Mechanical Mind” and “Kluskap O’ Kom” onstage, I love the outro of the album. I dig “Warchaic” for its dynamics and build up. I also like “Empathy for the Enemy” for its melodic and progressive sides…I appreciate the whole album really, each song for a different reason.

Can you give our readers a bit of a rig rundown?

In the studio, it was just my Gibson Les Paul classic with Burstbuckers pick-ups through a JCM 800 and a Marshall 4×12 cabinets with greenback speaker. Also, I doubled each track with a Triple rectifier through a Hiwat Cab. I used my custom made Liberatore for some solos and my Fender thin-line telecaster in a Tone King amp for clean sounds.
On tour I just use a Radial Plexitube tone bone distortion pedal through a T.C Electronic G-Major for FX, then send the signal to a JCM 800 or a Mesa dual rectifier on the clean channel for EQ only. That’s it. I use a voodoo lab Ground Control pro as pedal switcher and a RJM Mini effect Gizmo as loop switcher.

Do you believe that there are aliens, and if so, why?

I believe in forms of life in other places than the earth because it seems very logical and probable to me.

What are your favorite bands to cover or jam to?

Besides Voivod? Hahaha! I don’t have such a hobby. I prefer to practice and learn country licks or Jazz improvisation concepts. Transcribe some songs or solos…I mean, I’m teaching music in college full time, and I’m involved in at least three serious projects, plus I’m a freelance musician, so when I have spare time…I usually do something else than music. Like beer tasting at my favorite Micro-Brewery (Hopfenstark), fishing, or riding my bicycle.

Any new bands that you really like out there now?

New bands…Like I said, I’m not a big music listener for now because I’m pretty much 24/7 into music.
The last band that caught my attention is a band called Virus from Norway. They made me want to listen to more music again.