With stirring songwriting that considers grief, philosophy and ecological collapse, the French quartet have become one of the world’s greatest heavy bands. They discuss their journey so far
Joe and Mario Duplantier grew up in a calm idyll – perhaps surprisingly for two of metal’s most forthright rabble-rousers. Born to a sketch-artist father and yoga teacher mother, the brothers were raised in Ondres, a remote commune on France’s western coast. Their house was so rural that, when a journalist visited, he compared it to a “hermitage”. Music was always playing, from folk to Mike Oldfield; it only stopped when poets and painters stayed the night and the children overheard the grownups discussing international philosophies.
The pair often passed the time on the beach. Joe collected wood and stones – only to come home to find his hands black with crude oil. Mario, meanwhile, had plastic bags flying in his face when he was out surfing. The serenity of the fairytale upbringing cracked. “We were confronted by nature hurting all the time, and nature hurting hurts you,” says Joe, the elder brother.