Gojira's Mario Duplantier talks Magma, programmed beats and chasing Lars' sound

(Image credit: Travis Shinn)

French metal heroes Gojira are back with new album Magma, and it's a record that finds drummer Mario Duplantier in inspired form.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that the band's sixth record is a chops-fest (worry not chops fans, there's plenty of tasty playing on there). Instead, Mario has worked hard to find a happy medium, keeping that age-old adage of serving the song in mind at all times.

That means that when it does come time for Mario to stretch out, he creates some wonderful moments.

"The Cell has a technical pattern where I go right, left, left, right. I wrote this riff on the ProTools session and edited it on the computer," he says. "Joe then added his riff on top onto the computer. I had practiced that drum part as an exercise for the last two years so I knew that what I was programming would work live."

"Shooting Star has a very primitive a simple drum beat and maybe that is because I created that beat on the bus without my drum kit."

The process of writing beats for the record was made all the more interesting by the fact that the band began working on ideas while on the road with Slayer back in 2013.

That meant that the tour bus was decked out with ProTools gear, but of course there was no room for Mario's kit, which led to some interesting grooves.

"Working on songs without my drums on the bus was tough. Joe had some guitar ideas and I had a practice pad and I would beat out the main ideas, just simple notes. I think that helped me focus on following the music rather than playing all kinds of crazy stuff. Shooting Star has a very primitive a simple drum beat and maybe that is because I created that beat on the bus without my drum kit."

When he did finally get to the kit Mario kept things nice and simple, opting to track using his live Tama Starclassic bubinga and Zildjian rig. He did so as he sought out his dream kit sound, going through seven snares and a seemingly never ending line of hi hats as he searched for tonal perfection.

"I Googled the name of the hi hats Lars Ulrich used on the Black Album because I wanted that sound but it didn't work for our album so I used something else," he says. "The two big drum sound references for me on this album were the Black Album and White Pony by Deftones. That's the kind of drum sound I love to hear, Chaos AD by Sepultura is another great reference for the snare sound. I love that punchy sound like a gun shot, a sound that is dry but with reverb on it at the same time."

Even more impressive, the band didn't have a legion of producers and engineers on hand to help get this killer sound. In fact it was even built in the band's own New York studio.

Mario explains: "I'm proud of this album because we didn't work with a big producer in a huge studio, we did a lot of it by ourselves. It's a very homemade studio and we mixed it ourselves."

Gojira are special guests at Bloodstock Festival on Saturday 13th August.

Rich Chamberlain

Rich is a teacher, one time Rhythm staff writer and experienced freelance journalist who has interviewed countless revered musicians, engineers, producers and stars for the our world-leading music making portfolio, including such titles as Rhythm, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, and MusicRadar. His victims include such luminaries as Ice T, Mark Guilani and Jamie Oliver (the drumming one).