SEPULTURA - LIVE IN SAO PAULO (2 DVD) - SPV
SEPULTURA - DANTE XXI - SPV
ANDREAS KISSER - HUBRIS I & II (2 CD) - MASCOT
July 22nd, 1991 is a warm day in Montreal where Sepultura, alongside Sacred Reich, Sick Of It All and Napalm Death, are playing at The Spectrum in Canada’s second largest city under the New Titans On The Block Tour monicker. Under the watchful eyes of the band’s manager and her daughter, Ali “The Metallian” sat down for an interview at Les Foufounes Electriques with Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser to talk about the Brazilian band, the tour, the new album, which was called Arise, and more. Friend and collaborator Andy Bernstein also supplemented the questions. Bassist Paulo Jr. and brothers Igor Cavalera on drums and Max Cavalera on guitar and microphone rounded out Sepultura. – Ali “The Metallian”
METALLIAN: I saw you last time here in Montreal and since then you have been working, touring and recording. Are you getting tired? Have you had enough?
ANDREAS: No, no way. We are just enjoying everything right now. We worked really hard to be where we are. We were supposed to play in Canada in ’89 on the first tour and we did not. We did last time with Obituary and Sadus. We are now doing ‘Titans On The Block’ at a better place and it’s great.
METALLIAN: Was the tour you missed up here supposed to be with Devastation?
ANDREAS: Devastation and Faith Or Fear… yeah. We didn’t because of visa problems.
METALLIAN: Any problem entering Canada this time?
ANDREAS: Canadian border is always hard. It takes a long time, you have to go there and show passport and everything, but this time was much better than last time.
ANDY: Would you say it is a lot harder than the other borders you have crossed?
ANDREAS: Yes, one of the hardest. England is hard also, and France!
METALLIAN: Do they cause you problems because you are from Brazil?
ANDREAS: Yes, Brazilian passports have problems everywhere. You always have to ask for visas for every country because a lot of Brazilians went out of the country to find a better life. They stayed illegally in that country and made a lot of trouble so South American passports are… everybody is more careful with them.
METALLIAN: You have been touring with bands like Sacred Reich, Obituary, Sadus and Xentrix…
ANDREAS: We just played one show with Xentrix in London at the Hammersmith…
METALLIAN: How do you compare yourself with those bands now that you have met so many?
ANDREAS: I don’t know. Every band is different and has its own style. All the bands are aggressive. We are from Brazil. We are from a different country, different society, different food, different money, different everything so it’s different in attitudes.
ANDY: What about other Brazilian bands. Do you think they are even worth mentioning?
ANDREAS: The bands in Brazil are really getting better. After we broke out and had the chance to play outside Brazil. We were the first band of this style in Brazil, you know thrash metal, everybody thought that this music was noisy and really… nothing. A lot of people didn’t consider this music… music! They thought it’s just noise. In Brazil, the situation is much different now. The media in Brazil opened a lot. All the press and newspapers, radio is playing our music. They know more about this music now so they respect the music more. Also, more bands are playing there now like Metallica, Motörhead and Testament so it’s much better now. The production of shows and bands are growing up. We have RDP from Sao Paulo, Dorsal Atlantica from Rio and Chakal and Holocausto from Belo Horizonte. There is Overdose. We have many little bands that will get the chance to play like us outside and show the world.
METALLIAN: Which is the first band that came up with thrash metal in Brazil? Was it Vulcano or Dorsal Atlantica?
ANDREAS: Yes, Vulcano, Dorsal Atlantica and Sepultura were the first three bands, which started the scene in three different cities. Vulcano for Sao Paulo, Dorsal Atlantica from Rio and Sepultura from Belo Horizonte, you know? These bands are really old along with Korzus from Sao Paulo also. Overdose is from the same time, you know? These are really old bands, which started together. There are other bands, which didn’t believe too much, did some shit and fucked up things. They didn’t try too hard, but now they try it again. They came together and sing in English because they see us as a new hope or something. Everybody looks to Brazil now with different eyes. They have a chance and I wish them good luck.
METALLIAN: Tell me about your connections. I remember two years back you mentioned that you did not have a manager. Scott Helig of Total Thrash fanzine is an acquaintance of mine and he claims he was the first person to introduce you to North America. Is that true?
ANDY: I think the first manager was an obnoxious person by the name of Borivoj Krgin.
METALLIAN: I heard about a person in Brazil with a radio show who was your first manager.
ANDREAS: I think it is a rumour. The first real manager we had was Sylvio who is now my roadie. He was the manager but really in the early days. Borivoj helped us a lot since the beginning until now. He is a really great friend. Now we have Gloria as our manager. Things are very good for us. The relationship between the manager and the label is doing great.
ANDY: Didn’t you receive a management deal of some sorts from the Slayer manager?
ANDREAS: I think Igor talked with him. We don’t have the… the… necessary to change because we really like to work with Gloria and things are happening very good for us. We get a long very good. It is good to know that people are interested to work with us, but we are very comfortable right now.
METALLIAN: How do you see the band a few years from now? You have already been using adjectives like “industrial” and “hardcore” pertaining to a new album. So, are you moving away from metal?
ANDREAS: I don’t know, man. I really don’t know. Sepultura is a band that lives really for the present. It is strong for us and we really like to enjoy. The future is just a consequence. Who knows? I don’t know what we’re going to do in five or four years. We have all these different kinds of influences, but we like to play aggressive music because it is inside in us. You can’t change this. I think it will always be aggressive and something to release… something. That’s the purpose of Sepultura always I think.
METALLIAN: Changing the subject, there are 12-15 bands coming out all featuring former members of Sepultura. There is Sarcofago, The Mist and others. Who is an ex-member of Sepultura and who is not?
ANDREAS: The real ex-member of Sepultura is only in The Mist. It is Jairo, the old lead guitarist who recorded Bestial Devastation and Morbid Visions. I replaced him. Now he is in a thrash/death metal band, The Mist. The other ones… I don’t know man (laughs). The people try to use our name to get something. I think that’s stupid because you need to show your work not being together with another man or something… trying to use our name to do something. It’s kind of bullshit. Just Jairo is the ex-member.
METALLIAN: So, let me see. Wagner Antichrist had nothing to do with Sepultura.
ANDREAS: Yeah, he was in with Max and Igor who were 11 or 12 years old when they started in Belo Horizonte. It was the same city, you know? They started doing that noise, but he left the band right before Bestial Devastation when they recorded in ’85 or ’84. So, he is not really a member – just this guy using our name.
METALLIAN: OK, I want to ask you about your religious beliefs. I saw a video of you – I don’t know if you personally were there on stage – but the band was burning inverted crosses. It was a very bad quality video, which I presume was filmed in Brazil.
ANDREAS: That video is from ’86. It was the first show from the release of Morbid Visions. It was a big show in Belo Horizonte. There were 2,000 people there and it was one of the first big Sepultura shows. At that time,Bestial Devastation and Morbid Visions just talk about Satanic stuff. The music is really death metal. The show was on that topic. They tried to do something like a production in Brazil. They put the cross and burn it and everything. The guys really had fun. That’s not really a meaning. We are not Satanic or something. We just believe in ourselves. We want to be peaceful with ourselves. The consequence is we get along with everybody. I don’t think we think about religion or Catholicism or protest or… you can label. It is music. We don’t have the maniacs… religious stuff.
ANDY: Where did you first hear this kind of music…this thrash music and what was it that made you want to play this music actually?
ANDREAS: I started to listen to Queen and Kiss back in 1981. It was the same time that I started playing acoustic guitar and Brazilian popular groups and basic stuff. I started growing and playing the acoustic guitar. The growing up we started listening to Iron Maiden and Def Leppard and then Ozzy and then afterwards Venom and Metallica and Slayer altogether with hardcore and punk stuff, which we always like to listen. We started to play the same thing as our idols at the time. I started playing with my friends from school like cover tunes. I had a little band that played in small clubs.
METALLIAN: What was it called?
ANDREAS: Esfinge like Sphinx in Portuguese. We played schools and small clubs. That is when we started to do it. I joined Sepultura in ’87 because I was playing some cover tunes with them and when the guitarist left I joined them.
METALLIAN: Back to the present: weren’t you happy with the Beneath The Remains album because you moved from producer Scott Burns to Andy Wallace for the mix of the current album Arise? Was it a push from someone?
ANDREAS: We like to work with Scott a lot. We did the recording sessions for two months. Right on the last day of the recording we started the tour with Obituary and Sadus. We didn’t have time and we were really tired. We mixed the album with Scott Burns in a real hurry. It was not good. The record label didn’t like it. We listened to it a lot after and we didn’t like it. So, they sent the tapes to Andy Wallace and he remixed Dead Embryonic Cells and we liked the final result. OK, so Andy Wallace mixes now. I think the final result is good.
ANDY: I am intrigued by the lyrics to the song Altered State from Arise. What the hell inspired you to write that one?
ANDREAS: I don’t know man (laughs). All my lyrics don’t have a topic or objective stuff or direct stuff. I like to write about general stuff and my experience. On tour, we meet a lot of people who see a lot of different things. In Brazil, we see a lot of violence and… that’s where the anger comes from. It is about general stuff like the personality of the people. It is about different points of view and sickness of mind. So, the lyrics are about the same stuff but with different aims.
METALLIAN: What sort of a reaction are you expecting tonight here at The Spectrum?
ANDREAS: I don’t know. We are really excited to play at this place. It is the second time we play in Canada. It is a bigger place and more people will show up. Now we have a better show and better equipment. We just came from Europe where we played for two months so we are really rehearsed for the show. I don’t think people will be disappointed.
METALLIAN: Any last message for the Canadian listeners?
ANDREAS: Yeah, thanks a lot for your radio station and all the fans here for the great support. We hope to be back in Canada as much as possible.
Thank-you and as long as you play this music we will be there.
This interview was later broadcast on CRSG cable radio in Montreal.
Max and Igor Cavalera, Andreas Kisser and Paulo Jr. are a Brazilian success story. Having crisscrossed the underground path to arrive at the brink of commercial breakthrough, the quartet is now here with album number six, entitled Roots, achieving their status via transplantation, uncharted career development and unconventional sounds, the band which began life burning inverted crosses on stage and graduating from the underground opening for bands like Sodom and Obituary and on to opening for the biggest names in metal as well as headlining is here to consolidate and prove that their marriage of traditional Brazilian values with raucous heavy music is valid, honest and believable. - 1996
Contacting frontman Max Cavalera one morning, Ali “The Metallian” finds himself confronting the accentuated man with question marks as they try to come to grips with the ironies inherent in this band. He finds himself getting frank answers to frank questions.
“It took us three years to record it. Plus the way we recorded, makes it more special to us. We finally did it with all the elements we wanted to put out.”
Talk is of Roots, the ’96 Sepultura album, unconventional in its recording locations, guest appearances and percussive beats literally from the rain forest of South America. Max knows how it all came about. “We wanted it to sound like that. We wanted a vibe that’s old without sounding like Black Sabbath; we wanted the vibe of Black Sabbath, though. In a way, it’s a '90s’ version of that. It’s heavy and intense, but there’s also melody and acoustics.”
As the title so loudly proclaims, the album touches with both hands upon the reality of the band’s background. Touches? Perhaps slaps you in the face is a better description. Max: “Roots shows our heritage; our Brazilian sides. I think you have to listen to the album a lot and hear something new everyday. We’ve always been blasting, that’s good, but after being hit in the head by a baseball bat we’d be missing something. The beating and intensity are on the album, but it has something else on it, too.”
In comparison to '93’s Chaos A.D, “the album is less political, more personal, and there are guest musicians. It is more spontaneous-probably due to my work with Nailbomb. We let things flow. We had more unpredictability.”
Unpredictable in the music, true, yet the record company, as well as the general consensus, fully expects a big demand for the album. Max sounds suitably upbeat and confident. “I think this album will do well. I am not saying that because I am in the band; I really believe it 'cause we put a lot of time into it. The time is right and the people involved in the record are the right ones. I believe it’s going to go beyond the Sepultura fan. All kinds of different people like this record.”
A bold statement, but has the fact that the album ultimately is a very personal one and a reflection of your personal experiences and background and not necessarily one that other people share worry you that the album may be confronted with a lack of comprehension? “Well yeah, but I am not preaching anything. I try to give people strength to face their problems,” reckons the vocalist/guitarist in a moment of self-reflection. “If people cannot relate to the album then they can get a Madonna album. They might relate to that!”
The irony in Roots, and all that is current with Sepultura, is that the band, very much like heavy metal in general, began life as a backlash to and repudiation of tradition and background. What has triggered this turn around from a shocking death metal band in Brazil of ’85 to paying homage to Brazilian values? Max offers this explanation, “We’ve always been a varied band. Myself, I am a reflection of the band. Today I like white, tomorrow black and in the meanwhile I like red. Sepultura moves around and adds stuff, to be honest with you the heavy percussion that we brought in is like Samba or Lambada, shit with Latin rhythms. The percussion of (guest musician) Brown is heavy-duty shit. When you really understand percussion, when you see the real people do it, you see it can be really heavy. It’s tribal, hypnotic and heavy as fuck.”
As you can read, the album leans heavily on percussions, and guest musicians to a lesser extent. These two elements seem to have been introduced to the album in a not so subtle way. “That’s the whole vibe of the album,” remarks Max, his tone growing anxious. “That’s why we used (producer) Ross Robinson instead of someone bigger. Every band he has worked with (Korn, House Of Pain, etc.) was able to bring out its real instincts. That’s what we wanted. We had guest musicians from House Of Pain or Jonathon Davis of Korn so we could mix different backgrounds without them doing what they normally do. What they brought to our band was an exchange of influences. There is nothing to lose; we’re open-minded. We are not territorial. It’s stupid to be afraid of other people. Music is to enjoy. It’s not gonna last forever, so enjoy it.”
Enjoyment, release, freedom: all strong concepts to Sepultura. Said, emphasized and insisted upon, so let me ask about your experience with major label Epic and the song Cut Throat which you have written specifically about your work with said label. The song is about “the disgusting ways and workings of corporate record labels,” says Max. “The song is talking sarcastically about major labels that think music and musicians are disposable. They think that they will use the musicians today and throw them away tomorrow. When you are on a smaller label the people listen to your music and sometimes even look like you! Epic, for example, are a bunch of dick heads and a business place - they are not on a musical level.” Words, obviously harvested from personal experience, yet I differ with Max in that I find independent labels hardly and better in this respect. Both levels of the music industry have adapted the above-detailed attitude. But Max, would you go as far as saying that your experience with Epic was negative enough to void the possibility of Sepultura working with a major again? There is little hesitation. “Well, we try not to,” he laughs. “I don’t want to write another Cut Throat again! We are happy with Roadrunner; they are growing. They are powerful enough that you don’t need a major. We wrote the whole record and Roadrunner never interfered. We had none of the bullshit - like getting asked for a tape so the songs can get approved. They believe in Roots.”
And from my vantage point there isn’t much more a band can ask for. Is there?
This interview initially appeared in Pit Magazine No. 16.
If you enjoyed this, read Benediction