heavy metal

Sepultura Interview

Never mind the gossip, the Gauntlet went straight to the horse's mouth to find out how things are going with Sepultura. Following Igor Cavalera's departure late last year, some have speculated that the Cavelera's would reunite with Sepultura-but don't tell that to Andreas Kisser, who says he hasn't spoken with Max Cavelera in over a decade. When you've got fans who are listening to your music while trying to survive in war-torn regions, as Kisser describes, throwing in the towel just isn't a likely option. Kisser also provided insight into the band's latest release, 'Dante XXI,' a modern day, heavy metal interpretation of Dante Alighieri's classic three-part epic 'The Divine Comedy'. Additionally, he brings us up-to-date with the recording of his double CD solo debut.

The Gauntlet: Where is (Jean Dolabella) from? What's his background?

Andreas Kisser: Well, he's from Brazil, from the same city that Sepultura is from, Belo Horizonte. Much younger guy than us, and he is an excellent musician. He's an awesome drummer. He can play some guitar, too. And he used to play in this band called Udora, a Brazilian band also, but they sing in English. But it was not metal - at all. It was kind of like a pop rock, very melodic and stuff. They came to US about five years ago to try to get to get a deal and to try to tour. And they stayed for five years. They did a couple of video clips and stuff, but they didn�t get anywhere. So Jean was tired of that situation.

The Gauntlet: They were on a major label?

Andreas: I think they signed, but they didn�t do anything with them. So it was kind of fucked up. And Jean was kind of tired, but meanwhile he studied - at the great schools in California, in Los Angeles - drums and music and everything. But always a big fan of Sepultura. Besides not being (in) a metal band, he knows the Sepultura material very well. And we did some auditions in Brazil, different drummers, and he was the one really to do the best job. He was amazing. And we heard about him before, because he�s from Belo Horizonte. And the people who works with us are from Belo Horizonte, so we already heard about his abilities as a musician. We kind of knew that he was one of the guys we wanted to try out.

The Gauntlet: What�s his background, musically. You�re saying there was pop, but did he grow up as a metalhead?

Andreas: I don�t think so, man. I think he likes any type of music. He says Sepultura was their biggest influence, not necessarily musically, but the way we got out of Brazil, we got the contract touring outside, and get a career worldwide and stuff. That was a great motivation for all of them in the band. So that�s why they moved to America, to try out. And they always follow Sepultura. I mean, he likes Metallica, he likes Slayer and stuff like that, but it�s not only that kind of stuff. He likes any kind of music. But he has a metal vein.

The Gauntlet: How old is he?

Andreas: I think he�s ten years younger than me, about 28.

The Gauntlet: How has your personal musical�I know you grew up with Metallica, Exodus, and things like that. Where are you at now? Is metal still a big part of your listening diet?

Andreas: Yea, pretty much. I mean, I listen to everything. Lately I�m writing more than I'm listening. I don�t go to record stores and hunt for new stuff. I�m not a type of musician like that. I let music come naturally, normally. I don�t hunt music just because I work with music. And I study music a lot; I study classical guitar; I read a lot about different musicians. It�s good to know the biography, why they wrote and when they wrote. And I produce a lot. But I still listen to the old stuff. A lot of Black Sabbath, (Deep) Purple, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Slayer, Celtic Frost - all that good stuff is always there. Especially with iPod. We have everything.

The Gauntlet: Speaking of Celtic Frost, what do you think of the new one?

Andreas: I like it. It�s very raw. It brings the good old memories [laughs] of the good old days. It�s cool. It�s great to see them playing together again.

The Gauntlet: How many years has it been that you�ve been studying, and also, as a musician, what other genres do you listen to, if not for inspiration to bring into Sepultura, just to flex your muscles and learn your instrument?

Andreas: Everything that I learn comes as an influence. But I started really studying serious 15 years ago, when we just moved to United States. You gotta learn how to read music and positions. But I played acoustic guitar since I started. It was my first instrument actually, when I started learning Brazilian popular music, the basic chords. And I also learn a lot with the albums, like with Randy Rhoades, Stevie Howie and Tony Iommi�all playing those clean parts. I put the album in, start listening and trying to find the notes. It�s cool. Acoustic guitar is part of my whole musical life. I use some parts on Sepultura. �Schizophrenia,� my first album with Sepultura, I recorded a small piece, the �Abyss.� And then on �Roots� we have some stuff acoustic and �Chaos A.D.� also (i.e. �Kaiowas�). I really love that stuff. And I have many side projects in Brazil where I use different musicians. I have this project called Brazil Rock Stars that I invite a lot of different musicians from very famous Brazilian bands. They do like samba and reggae and whatever different stuff. But when it comes together, we play only Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix, Cream and all that �60s, �70s stuff.

The Gauntlet: You do it live?

Andreas: Yea, live, yea! Like in pubs in Sao Paulo. Getting some friends, and no pressure of band, and record label, and selling albums and all that crap! [laughs] Just like the old garage days. Open a beer and play my idols! [laughs] It�s great. It�s kind of a relief, besides still working with music, it�s a relief not to have to have that kind of pressure all the time.

The Gauntlet: Is there any thought of turning any of those projects or get-togethers with your friends and musicians in Brazil into anything recorded?

Andreas: Yea, I have. I have a live CD. It was done especially for a factory. So I record an album only with those bands.

The Gauntlet: What label is it on?

Andreas: It�s not really (on) a label, because it was a CD made for these workers for a factory, like for the holidays, for the factory guys and their families. It was like a closed gig, and also it was through help of a Brazilian government law. How can I explain? This factory will not pay taxes because they invest in culture, so the government kind of have a deal with different factories and enterprises like that to cut taxes. So you know, they invest in culture. It�s cool. It�s not a CD to sell, to put out.

It�s pretty interesting. But I am recording my solo album right now. I�ve been working on this album for many years, and right now finally I�m gonna finish recording. I record a lot of stuff already. Now coming back to Brazil, I wanna finish everything. It�s going to be a double album, one more related to the electric guitar, the other one more acoustic guitar, instrumental stuff. And it�s going to be very different from Sepultura, of course. A lot of stuff that I didn�t use on Sepultura and soundtracks, and I write a lot of acoustic. I just organized my demos. I think it�s gonna be cool. Hopefully next April it�ll be ready.

The Gauntlet: The electric album, is that metal-focused?

Andreas: Of course metal will be there, man. [laughs] But it�s very free. I�m having a lot of fun with it. It�s the same kind of vibe of this side project I have. No pressure. Really enjoy music for the sake of it - for music. That�s why I�m here; that�s why I�m a guitar player; and that�s why I�m still jamming [laughs]. Because I love what I do. So on the solo album, I�m going to (be totally) free. I�m gonna do some vocals, try some different shit. Of course I�m going to have a lot of guests. Most�I think all of them is gonna to be Brazilian musicians. Jean recorded some drums for me, and friends. There�s some heavy stuff, but there�s some other crazy stuff. It�s going to be a guitar album, but not like a masturbation guitar album. [laughs] Like Blibliblibliba!

The Gauntlet: Not like Yngwie!

Andreas: Yea. Out of the fucking clich�s. Try to use different instruments and work more with sounds and pickups and amps. And if the song needs like 16 guitars, I�m gonna put 16 guitars. If I do something like that live later, I�ll worry about that later. But I wanna really try to enjoy it, and really find different stuff and experiment a lot.

The Gauntlet: Your old project with Jason Newstead, have you done anything with that lately, or is that something of the past?

Andreas: No. It was a period of time when I was living in Phoenix. We all lived in Phoenix, and Jason in San Francisco. And he got a pretty nice home studio with thousands of equipments and instruments, so he always invite different friends, musicians to jam. It�s a whole learning process also, like to deal with studio and produce your own stuff. So it was great. I did like three or four different projects, like going to his house for a weekend, invent a band.

The Gauntlet: Sounds like a lot of fun! [laughs]

Andreas: Yea, it�s like kids playing with really good toys [laughs]. It was the guys from Exodus, Jason, myself, and other people that I�d never met before. Great musicians. We did some really cool stuff � Motorhead cover. Having fun. Nothing really too serious [laughs].

The Gauntlet: I definitely have to get into this. Igor was a huge part of the band. What was the cause? What�s the actual situation? I could go on a million message boards - which I really don�t want to - what�s the real reason why he left?

Andreas: There�s no really one reason. It�s like a bunch of stuff that�s been happening. Especially in the last 3, 2 years, he was kind of bored to be on the road. He�s also in the process of separation from his wife, and three kids. Kind of crazy. And then he found another woman that he already have another kid. He�s gonna get married and stuff. So I think everything�s changed a little fast for him. And at the same time we were on the road. We did the album �Dante,� and it was cool. We were in Sao Paulo, recording there, working there. But he didn�t want to go on tour. So we did a European tour with Roy Mayorga [ex-Soulfly, ex-Nausea (NYC)]. The first part was excellent. But Roy Mayorga already had a commitment to join Stone Sour. We known Roy for a long time. But unfortunately, or fortunately for him, he got Stone Sour going very well. But Igor really after that decided not really to follow the tour. We had the new album, and the album was receiving a lot of good, positive reactions, and still�it�s really growing. So we felt the urge to be on the road. We didn�t want to waste two years of working to record that album, and then just quit, [laughs] you know? So we found Jean. Igor decided to leave. He�s in Brazil, doing some�I think he�s a DJ now, working with pickups and stuff like that.

The Gauntlet: DJ as in playing music, or scratching?

Andreas: I�m not sure, man. I don�t understand too much about that world. But I guess he just wanted to do something different. But we respect his attitude. I mean, I wish he could be here jamming with us, and after the �Dante� cycle was done, we could really do something else. Give a break, whatever. His decision was that. We respect. At the same time, he sees our decision to continue the band. He left�the name continues on. And we�re gonna enjoy what we�re doing, and so far it�s working amazing. Jean�s bringing a lot of new energy, and you can see the people really relating to the new guy and respecting this new formation.

The Gauntlet: Has (Jean) had any problems with crowds or intimidation, because it�s sort of like when Dave Lombardo left Slayer. There are some big shoes to fill!

Andreas: No, not at all. [This interview was conducted shortly prior to Sepultura�s set. During an interval between songs, one heckler asked, �Where�s Igor?� Derrick Green simply replied, �He�s at home,� prior to Dolabella ripping into a vitriolic and flawless rendition of �Territory�s� introductory drum solo - JG]

(We) just don�t think about that. I mean, something is not there anymore. We respect the time we been together. The same with Max, you know? We took our time; we found Derrick; he came to the band and we play heads up. We have nothing to hide and no shame about anything. It was their decision to leave. We didn�t kick out nobody. And we�re still here to play. If you don�t like it, just don�t come. [laughs] Everyone�s free really to do whatever they want. But it�s great to see people coming and enjoying this music of Sepultura. That�s why we�re here. Like I said, we�re here because we love what we do. I have three kids at home, a family. It�s so hard to be away, but at the same time, that�s what I do. I built my family around the music I do. I remember the old days when we dreamed to be outside Brazil, jamming and playing. Just grateful to be part of such a great band, and still have the chance to travel the world. It�s amazing.

The Gauntlet: At that age, back around, let�s say, �90 or something, did you think you�d still be here?

Andreas: You know Sepultura never really planned too much. The thing with music, you have to work a lot with improvisation. You improvise and you deal with stuff. And we release something that you expect a lot, and nothing happen. And then you release something that, you know, �Let�s put it out.� And then it explodes! It�s nothing that you can control that much. But, I dunno. We always did the present really strong, because the future�s just a consequence of what you do today. So as long as you live your present with a lot of energy and attitude, I think the rest will follow.

The Gauntlet: I take it from what you�re saying that things were completely amicable with your split with Igor. It was just a �life decision.

Andreas: Yea. We were a lot more mature to deal with something like that. With Max, we were at the height, the peak of our career. �Roots� was exploding and we were a year touring. And he split. Like, it was very shocking for everyone involved. It took a while to really rebuild the whole career. Because when Max left, not only did the singer we lost, we lost the manager. We lost the whole structure of the way of working, the confidence of the record label and the press, everybody. So we really took our time and really rebuild everything.

The Gauntlet: Was there any anger then? And regardless, what do you think of now when you think of Max?

Andreas: No, I think it�s not anger. I mean, it�s just the way people choose to deal with their problems. I think just like, you know turn your back and really fuck it [laughs]. You know, that�s the attitude, especially Max, you know? We don�t talk. Ten years we don�t talk.

The Gauntlet: Since he left, basically?

Andreas: Yea. Since he left. So it was really shocking. We didn�t have time to discuss�it was very turbulent times, really to rebuild everything. But now Igor was like two years, really talking, trying to find solutions. We did have a break before we started writing �Dante.� So we tried to work it out a little better. But we see it coming. So I think we all were a little more prepared for that kind of stuff to happen.

The Gauntlet: I don�t want to beat this issue to the ground, by any means, but I do have to bring up the fact that when Igor left, certain media outlets have speculated Sepultura rejoining with Max, with headlines like, �Sepultura to reunite.� First of all, when did they break up?

Andreas: [laughs]

The Gauntlet: Does that kind of thing get under your skin?

Andreas: Yea, it�s kind of disrespectful for what we�re doing these last 10 years, especially Roadrunner putting the greatest Sepultura hits, and it�s all with Max. And we had two albums with Roadrunner like �Against� and �Nation� (with Derrick Green). I mean, we can discuss like, �It didn�t have the same kind of success and did it reach that many people?� But at the same time, it�s part of our career, and there�s some really good stuff around that can really put together with our old stuff.

But that�s kind of stuff that always happened with Sepultura. Since day one, even before I joined the band, when the band was starting, you know was really to shock people. And to fuck off. And since day one, criticism was all over the place. And that was the stuff they always feed a band to really get hungry for it, and not to respond with words but attitude and actions. I think that�s how we show people, because words are cheap. You can really say whatever and have nice way of talking in lyrics and everything. But you can say a hundred words and make one move, and with that move you can really influence and inspire a lot more people. We always enjoy what we do on stage, and that�s our great response since the day one. I remember, before joining Sepultura, hearing about the Sepultura performances. You know? It was already there, that kind of vibe. And that spirit�s still here. Don�t ask me why and how, but [laughs] it still works.

The Gauntlet: Do you still get fueled by any backlash or criticism? Even lyrically, the things you write about a lot of the time are socially and politically driven. Do you still feel the same spark, the same anger, that gets you going that you had when you were�22 or whatever?

Andreas: Definitely. Fuck yea. Especially because you grow older, you get more information and you understand how the world works a little more. The more you learn, the more pissed off you get! You know? The more you learn about how politics works... all that crap...all that shit. It�s worse.

For instance, I have a song on my first solo album which is called �The Forum.� It�s specifically for the forum of Sepultura on the web page, because you hear any type of fucking opinion there. Like wars! And most of them are kids, spending their time thinking they know about the world. In a way that�s very inspiring, because sometimes I go there, I hear some cool stuff. It makes me happy and shit. Sometimes I go there and get fucking pissed and wanna try [laughs]�But I never go inside and try to respond. It�s fun. Most of the times it�s funny. No, but it inspired me to write and to express what I feel. It�s more like my point of view of what that type of place is. About opinions. You really don�t show your face, you have nicknames. It�s weird to feel people so full of themselves with their strong opinions. And I know many of them that really talk shit or criticize me or someone in the band, they come to the shows and they ask for autographs [laughs]. Face-to-face, they don�t show themselves. It�s okay. Everybody�s entitled to an opinion. Whatever.

The Gauntlet: From what I understand, Derrick constructed most of the lyrical direction for �Dante.� Is that true?

Andreas: No, not really. Especially me and Derrick was the ones who read the book. Derrick studied that book in college, and he suggested to use that because the idea was to find a book or a movie to do a soundtrack for it. With day one in practice room, I throw that idea, because it seems that Sepultura did everything in the past. Like, we record everywhere in the world, and Xavante tribe and Japanese groups (i.e. the drum ensemble Kodo), we record with our idols�Jason (Newstead, formerly of) Metallica. And because we have some experience doing soundtracks for movies in Brazil, try to find something to inspire us to write. And as soon Derrick talk about �(The) Divine Comedy,� I thought, �Well, �Divine Comedy� everybody used already.� Bands and many movies and stuff, but we can do something really different. We can do something related to today, the Dante of today - supposed to be us, whatever, every body.

The Gauntlet: About what�s happening in the world and how that relates to what Dante was talking about?

Andreas: Yea, I mean we see the worst, same shit. I mean, 700 years ago, was still a lot of fucking treason in politics. And Dante died in exile because he couldn�t go back to his city. The power of church and religion, the hypocrisy. A lot of stuff�s the same. The guns are different. That time was like rocks and powder, and today it�s the atomic bomb. But the attitude�s the same. So we could see a lot of similarities, the problems that Dante was living, and how he dealt with his problems on �The Divine Comedy.� Talking about his enemies, putting his enemies on the worst places of hell and his friends in paradise � dealing with his demons, really. So, it�s an amazing book. It�s a fucking powerful�you can read at any age of your life.

The Gauntlet: From the onset, it�s a big effort to try to capture in a metal album. How do you feel after it�s all done? How do you feel now looking back on it?

Andreas: It�s great. It really is, because from day one, we got that idea to work towards the Dante book, and when we writing the songs � this is more Hell, this is more Purgatory � so we already dividing the album in three parts. The most challenging one was to do Paradise, totally different musical idea. That�s why we use the cellos and the horns, to make a difference between hell and purgatory, musically also, not only lyrically. But you can feel, only listen to the album that the vibe changes, because he�s in another part of the story. So it was really fun. Once you have something to follow, an objective, the ideas start flowing.

The Gauntlet: You�ve specifically mentioned the issue of church and state. What�s your view on that? How should that relationship be?

Andreas: I don�t know, man. Throughout history we have so many different experiments already, from the crusades, to the fucking Arab world (that�s totally religious oriented), to communist Russia (no church at all). Nazis. [laughs] Everything that wrong. Because, it�s not really the problem of church, it�s a problem of respect. I think people don�t respect the place they live. I mean, technology it�s great, but at the same time, it�s trash. It creates so much litter. Even space, you see satellites and pieces of junk. It�s good to have technology advance for humanity, but at the same time you have to think of the consequences of that. Like atomic energy, so much litter, creates so much trash that we�re getting to a point that�s very dangerous. That we can lose the fucking planet. It�s pretty serious. So, I think besides all the church and politics, that�s the way we have to govern ourselves. Let�s try to save the place first [laughs], and then we can start fighting again [laughs].

The Gauntlet: You�ve lived in the US before. What do you think about the way American media covers world issues?

Andreas: I think media is the same everywhere. You see in Brazil also the way they prefer a candidate to another for presidential elections. That was like 10, 15 years ago. You see the big interests behind all the real politics. So yea, when we lived in the States it was during the Bill Clinton years, the �92-2000. It was great. Of course the world had the same kind of problems we have today, but it seems to me that American policy was a little more polite, and try to, try at least to arrange their own business with more political matters. But as soon as George Bush came everything was different. The terrorist attacks and all that, it changed the whole world, especially here in America. I miss those days when I used to live here. But every media is like that. I mean, anywhere. See the Arab world media is fucking crazy. In Brazil, in Chile, Argentina, you also have the political view stronger. So that�s why I think it�s cool to find different options, not only to count on only CNN or whatever big television in your country is, or the big newspaper. Especially with the Internet, you can find different options, like different point of views, and the other side of the same story. You can see different stuff that you cannot see from here. So just be aware and try to read a lot and be prepared.

The Gauntlet: You think your fans are listening to what you have to say?

Andreas: I think so, man. We receive throughout the years many responses like, from tough times, like, for instance, Sarajevo and Bosnia, during the war days. People listening to Sepultura daily, to get day-by-day during a certain difficult situation. Living on the front, fighting and stuff. Kids, man! Like Sepultura shirt, and really�not motivated to kill, but motivated to survive. Really to survive daily basis.

The Gauntlet: How does that make you feel?

Andreas: It�s great. That�s the power of music. We visit many different countries in the world: Muslim countries, Catholic countries, protestant, kingdoms and republics [laughs], everything. And Sepultura is always welcome. Not only Sepultura but many bands. Music, in general, it can really break barriers. It�s amazing. And with poetry, you can get your message across without the censorship, because you use different words to pass your message, and people get it. That�s why poetry is so powerful; it�s so great. It�s like a code [laughs] to pass your message.

The Gauntlet: Nowadays there�s metalcore, emo-sounding metalcore�this is what we have today, and of course the underground stuff is always there. How healthy do you see yourselves in today�s heavy music climate?

Andreas: It�s great. I think Sepultura is still a big influence on all those styles. It�s amazing to hear different people from, like, whatever - Linkin Park to, you name it, like Moby [laughs] � always talking about Sepultura, especially when they come to Brazil. Of course people know bossa nova (a Brazilian style of music related to samba - JG), but they always mention Sepultura. I think we really left a mark, a different option, a different style to play aggressive music. It�s a great feeling, and it�s a great feeling to still be here developing that.

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Tags:  Sepultura  , Andreas Kisserinterviews

    December 18, 2006

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