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24th July 2012
METAL DISCOVERY: I’ve only ever seen Mörglbl once before and that was at the Headway Festival in back in 2007, and my lasting memory of your set was that I was entertained as much by the humour as the music. So is that humorous aspect as important to you as the actual music for Mörglbl shows?
CHRISTOPHE: Yes, because I think that’s the way you can really get people into that kind of music. I always say the same example - my wife, for example, isn’t into music at all. That’s a refreshing thing because when you come back home, you don’t speak about music and everything. But the cool thing is, when she comes and sees us on stage, she always tells me she’s having a good time because, although she’s not into music, there’s still the theatrical thing and the goofy attitude. When you come to a Mörglbl show, in the end, if you’re a musician I guess you’ve had a good time listening to people who are trying to play non-serious music as seriously as possible. If you’re not a musician I think to go back home telling yourself – “we had a good time; we smiled; the guys cracked jokes…” To me, it’s just music, and it has to be a moment of good vibes and everything. I don’t really care about the fact that somebody comes at the end of the show telling you, “oh, you have the best technique in the world” or whatever. If somebody tells me this, we missed the point at some point because we didn’t achieve what we were looking for. I’d rather have somebody who comes to tell me, “we had a good time”, and that’s it.
(Christophe Godin on his humble attitude towards his virtuoso talents)
"I’ve always been playing with a band because I’ve always felt that I would probably be better as part of the team instead of just being the solo guy...So I’d rather keep it humble and just trying to do my best, being a decent player in a good band."
Christophe Godin onstage with Mörglbl at the Headway festival in P60, Amstelveen, Netherlands, 7th April 2007
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2007 Mark Holmes
Official Mörglbl Website:
Official Christophe Godin Website:
The Mörglbl Trio!! (1998)
Bienvenue à Mörglbl Land (1999)
Official Mörglbl Facebook:
Thanks to Karl Demata for offering and arranging the interview.
Grötesk (2007)
Jazz for the Deaf (2009)
Toons Tunes from the Past (2008)
Brütal Römance (2012)
MD: So it’s about entertaining people on lots of different levels?
CHRISTOPHE: Yes, yes, I think so.
MD: You seem to do a good mix of guitar clinics and live performances with Gnô as well as Mörglbl – do you get a different kind of enjoyment out of each of those or is it more the live performance you live for?
CHRISTOPHE: No, actually, the clinics are a good way to question yourself about your playing because you are confronted with people who are into the same passion as you and they have a point of view that is probably different from the average audience. And, sometimes, they are just very picky about small details that make things different. When you play for a regular audience, people just get the overall vibe of the band but they don’t really notice the small details. When you’re doing a clinic, all of a sudden you have to question yourself because the guys are really looking for something very specific and you have to be as good as possible just to respond to what they want and know what they want to hear. So I think it’s a good balance between both; having the fun of the live performance where you don’t think too much about the technique but you just get into an overall positive vibe, and the clinics where you have to be a little focussed on your playing and try to achieve something a little more guitar-oriented.
MD: I’ve never been to one of your clinics but is there a lot of humour there as well?
CHRISTOPHE: Of course, that’s me! I will never take myself too seriously and I will never make a serious clinic. That wouldn’t fit with me and I would probably look ridiculous trying to take myself seriously!
MD: Fair enough!
CHRISTOPHE: I like to make things very seriously just for people to listen to something that is worth listening to and, at the same time, I want to do this without taking myself too seriously, in clinics and the live performances. I don’t know whether that makes sense…
MD: That makes perfect sense! If I can run a few names of guitarists by you to ask how important you regard their playing in the evolution of fusion playing, like jazz/rock and jazz/metal fusion…John McLaughlin…
CHRISTOPHE: Well, he was one of the guys who started all this and, to this day, is part of the history of the genre. So, yes, he’s one of the guys.
MD: Is he someone who’s been an inspiration on your playing at all?
CHRISTOPHE: Actually, not too much. I was more into Allan Holdsworth…those players who are a little more lyrical. I’ve always had a little problem with the machine-gun playing and Allan Holdsworth was much more fluid and sounded more like a wind instrument than a guitar. In the beginning, when I started playing guitar, I didn’t even know that you had to pick all the notes. I was just playing legato all the way through. When I discovered John McLaughlin and all these guys, it was embarrassing to me because that’s not the way I was thinking about the guitar but I could understand that it was a whole school that was influenced by those players so I just worked a bit on it. But John McLaughlin probably influenced me more by the way he composed than as a guitarist.
MD: Allan Holdsworth was next on my list but you’ve already mentioned him…what about Pat Metheny?
CHRISTOPHE: Pat Metheny I’ve always been amazed about how melodic he can be. And he’s probably the one in the fusion and the jazz/rock field who is the closest to what a singer would do in terms of melody. I’ve always been impressed by the control over his dynamics.
MD: And more the jazz/metal side of things as well as jazz/rock, what about Steve Vai?
CHRISTOPHE: Steve Vai…I’m a huge Frank Zappa fan and, of course, you can find that flavour in Steve Vai’s playing. He, again, like with John McLaughlin, I’m blown away about the way the guy arranges things and the compositions; how deep he can be in the arrangements and creative too. Of course, his playing is fantastic and the first time I heard Steve Vai play, I was just blown away. But, once again, if I listen to this on the long term, I would say that the thing that really stays on the top is the way the guy composes and the way he arranges the songs.
MD: Yeah, he’s more about layers I guess; there are a lot of layers of music in his compositions.
CHRISTOPHE: And when he arranges guitar parts, you know, harmonies and everything, he’s just unbelievable.
MD: Okay, the big question then – how do you rate yourself against those names and do you see yourself as flying the flag for fusion playing in the twenty first century?
CHRISTOPHE: I think it’s too much of a pressure on my shoulders to think like this and I’m far from this. Actually, I’m just trying to pay tribute to the people who really influenced me and trying to make all this with a smile and trying to make it as laidback and relaxed as possible. But I don’t put any pressure on my shoulders like I have to be at the level of anyone else. I’m just playing the things that I’m trying to play and as I always say, in most interviews, I’m not a solo artist. There’s nothing called ‘Christophe Godin’ that’s been released. I’ve always been playing with a band because I’ve always felt that I would probably be better as part of the team instead of just being the solo guy. And all the guys that you mentioned before are people who had a world just under their own name and this is something I don’t think I’m good enough to achieve. So I’d rather keep it humble and just trying to do my best, being a decent player in a good band.
MD: That’s a very humble and very nice attitude to have.
CHRISTOPHE: Well, lately, I’ve been playing with guys like Guthrie Govan and all those guys to me, they’re really monsters and have achieved such a high level of playability and musicianship that that’s a humbling experience to play with those guys. I think I know where my place is among all those people.
MD: That’s cool; a very humble attitude. I’ve got a couple of questions to finish up with – in the bio on your website, you describe yourself as looking like a wrestler?!
CHRISTOPHE: [laughs] I don’t know where…actually, that’s probably something stupid I started two decades ago and, to this day, I see that every time I read biographies on myself. I can’t even remember how it started! I started all this but it’s kinda funny!
MD: Do you think you have an inner wrestler trying to get out or is that just a random comparison?!
CHRISTOPHE: [laughs] Well, actually, it’s probably the second option!
MD: The final thing - last year’s ‘Cannibal Tango’ album with Gnô, an absolutely fantastic album I thought…
CHRISTOPHE: Oh, thank you.
MD: I have to ask about the vocal outtakes at the end with the “zeebooo” bits…what was going on there?!
CHRISTOPHE: Actually, we were rehearsing. The music of Gnô is really vocal-oriented and we try to sing all together as much as we can and, of course, that requires a little bit of practice. We were just practicing this section and I will tell you a secret that most people don’t know about – we’d gone through a lot of bottles of red wine before we started doing this and we try to record as many takes as we can to keep them as work files. And, actually, we recorded that one late at night when we were completely drunk…I shouldn’t say this but that’s the truth! When we listened back the day after, we decided it would probably be the best ghost track we’ve ever had just because there was all these trials and errors and, at some point, we just couldn’t control the laughing and dropping some stupid ideas to make the others laugh! That’s why we kept it because the vibe was really good and really funny. That’s the story behind it.
MD: It’s really funny to listen to. After I heard the outtakes at the end, I went back and listened to ‘Fever…’ again because I didn’t remember a “zeebooo” in there the first time and I was like, “oh, you didn’t keep that bit”!
CHRISTOPHE: [laughs] Actually, it was just a stupid thing that Julien just dropped in when we were rehearsing just to try and make Gaby laugh and that worked fine because we couldn’t finish the practice! [laughs] It was so stupid and goofy; it was definitely a good moment!
MD: Marvellous! So, basically, red wine is the answer to my question!
CHRISTOPHE: That’s the key!
MD: Okay, thank you so much for your time, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you.
CHRISTOPHE: Okay, no problem, it was a pleasure talking to you.
MD: Good luck with all the touring and hopefully catch you next time you’re in the UK.
CHRISTOPHE: See you very soon then!