Overcoming Obstacles And Finding Peace with Chewy of Voivod
Chewy, Piggy’s replacement in Voivod, is one of my favorite people in the world but I never knew why until I recently had the chance to sit down with him and interview him about his lifestyle. After the interview he joked “What, no question about music? I want to talk about scales!” Chewy was very open and extremely friendly, making for one of my most treasured interviews to date.
How the hell are you?
Very good? What’s very good?
Because I live a great life, I play with my favorite band, we tour the world, we have lots of fun together, the vibe is perfect right now and I’m in a good place in my life. It’s all about positive things.
How did you get to such a positive place?
It was hard. There were a lot of obstacles to get through. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’ve learned a lot these last couple years about bands, touring, and human relationships. I’m in a very simple place right now where everything is taken care of and it’s about enjoying simple things. It’s kind of a peaceful place, and it makes me play and write better and more easily and that’s the kind of vibe that we’re looking for as we age. It works great. It’s a great energy!
What where these obstacles?
I don’t want to go into detail, but let’s say that some bands split up and personal relationships are hard and can make you feel a lot of guilt and a lot of hatred and regret. Once you learn how to deal with those kinds of emotions and finding a way to be resilient in all this you take this energy and transform it into creation. That’s the best way to do it.
You channel your demons through your work?
I guess we all do. Everybody tries to better themselves, and we try to reach that. I think everybody does in any career or life. I think once you learn how to manage things you can reach that kind of level. It’s a learning process really, learning how your brain and emotions function to go to that place. At first it is very difficult but then you start to enjoy it.
Is it a spiritual thing?
Some people may call it spiritual but to each his own! For me it’s just a feeling that I have. When you realize when you feel good and when you don’t and why, that’s the first step. Sometimes you don’t even know why you don’t feel right. I think that was the first step of learning something. You have to ask yourself questions and define all the parameters around it. It’s a learning process. This is a deep start to the interview! (Laughter)
So were you dealing with this while you were in Voivod or was this before?
Everyone has their own story and their own demons. There’s some stuff that I have carried for a long time and some things just added up. My life hasn’t been miserable, I’ve just had ups and downs, but at some point you have to clean up. It’s never over; you just have to be conscious about yourself to be able to stay in that kind of place.
Has your vegetarianism been a part of that?
Yes. Before being a vegetarian I tried to just limit my meat consumption; I got local organic stuff. I started to cook more and more though and at some point I realized I didn’t need it anymore; I could make a difference and live a much more healthy life! I don’t like the industry, of course, and the meat and the farms and the pollution, so I decided to become vegetarian. Not a strict vegetarian. I have my own way of doing it, just because of my own health. I don’t miss meat a bit. I like the smell, I like to look at it, but I never have a craving. Even if my friend is eating a steak I can just enjoy watching them eating it – that doesn’t bother me.
So it was more of a health thing and not tied into everything else?
I think it’s a part of a whole. If you start in one place, you find yourself changing in others. There’s a 360 degree connection in how you want to be. It’s not really conscious. I used to weigh 60 pounds more but I started to have really bad back problems so I started to bike. At first after 5 kilometers I was dead and now I can do a 100 and be fine. I do a lot of road-biking. It makes me feel way better. When you feel better physically you feel better mentally – you don’t want to go to McDonalds and eat crap. There’s a lot of unconscious connections. You don’t feel like poutine or french fries will be a treat – it’s a menace! It’s not a moral thing.
Once you strip down you see stuff for what it really is…
Exactly. Your taste buds change and your saliva does too. I guess it affects your brain as well. You don’t feel like you need sugar and salt and all that. You don’t think about it. Your body needs that good food and that exercise.
When you’re biking 100 kilometers do you see any weird shit?
I live in the country side. It’s just nature really. One time though – and I rarely see them – but there are turtles in Quebec. I once had to get a turtle off the road to save him from the cars. When I go to Montreal, it’s very dangerous, and I don’t like it. I’ve gone a couple of times from my place – it’s 55 kilometers which is not bad, I can go back and forth in a day. I really like the countrysides and the long roads. It’s important to me. There’s a constant movement to it, and it gets hypnotic. You don’t think about anything. It’s really like an addiction or a drug but a good one. I think a lot – my brain is always spinning, and when I reach that spot on the bicycle it’s magic and I just want to reach it again.
Is there someone you want to be more like?
No. Well… One of the great poets in Quebec, Gilles Vigneault, I really like. He said something like “The further you go from home the closer you get to yourself.” Traveling helped me be closer to myself. Touring helped me with that. Maybe what I want to resemble the most is myself. We lose track of that getting older. At least me. I think I got very from myself at some point but I got back to it in my late 30s. I try to be the most authentic I can be. I think I have reached that in the last couple of years.
Where you in the countryside your whole life?
No – I moved there 5 years ago. Before that I lived in Montreal and before that I lived in a smaller city. The countryside made a big difference. I didn’t like the city, but I didn’t know that I didn’t like the city. I felt weird there, but I couldn’t define why. Now that I’m in the countryside I have more time. I’m closer to nature, I don’t have the traffic jams, I see animals, I get to pick mushrooms in my backyard. It’s a different life but it changed a lot of things, but I know I never want to go back to live in a city!
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