Voivod's Michel Langevin Talks Dan "Chewy" Mongrain's Debut on 'Target Earth'

Voivod's Michel Langevin Talks Dan 'Chewy' Mongrain's Debut on 'Target Earth'
If it seems like every metalhead you know is a bit happier than usual, that's because Quebec prog-metal trailblazers Voivod are about to release Target Earth, their first album with original bassist Jean-Yves "Blacky" Thériault since Angel Rat, which came out back in 1991. The album, which is absolutely a return to the band's classic sound, is also their first with new guitarist Dan "Chewy" Mongrain (ex-Martyr), who is stepping into the position left vacant when original guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour passed away in 2005. Considering D'Amour was a very unique and respected guitarist, this is no small task, but according to drummer Michel "Away" Langevin in an interview with Exclaim!, Mongrain stepped up to the plate, no problem.

"Yeah, you know, somehow I always felt he was less nervous than we were," Langevin tells Exclaim! "He always seemed so confident about taking on the task of replacing Piggy and he had a calm way of approaching things that really eased things for us. I think it's probably the fact that Chewy is a musical genius but he's very humble about it and I think that there's no arrogance to his persona and everybody seems to be okay with him being in the band. I haven't heard a bad comment myself. Nothing."

The band's last album was 2009's Infini, which used guitar tracks D'Amour recorded before he died, and also featured Jason Newsted (ex-Metallica) on bass. (They also released Warriors of Ice, a live album, in 2011.) While Infini was a strong release, fans of the band have patiently been awaiting a return to their classic prog-metal sound for years now. Target Earth marks that return, and Langevin knows it.

"When we started talking about writing a new album, the first thing we heard was a demo by Chewy and Blacky on the guitar and bass, and Snake and I were blown away," he says. "It really brought us back to [1988's] Dimension Hatross and [1999's] Nothingface and we really wanted to be part of it, so it really started from there."

The album, which comes out as the band celebrates their 30th anniversary, may have been the band's first with Mongrain, but Langevin says it wasn't hard to record with the new member there—and without D'Amour there. He says that the comfort levels were high, considering they had been touring together for a while before recording Target Earth. That comfort surely helped create the familiar, Voivodian sound the album holds.

Target Earth is out today (January 22) courtesy of Century Media.

Read our full Voivod interview here.