Their Nation, Their Voice
CoC interviews Andreas Kisser of Sepultura
by: Adrian Bromley
"You know, this is where they filmed a scene for the movie "American Psycho" [the serial killer film based on Bret Easton Ellis' disturbing novel]", I comment to Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser as we shake hands at Montana's restaurant in downtown Toronto. "Really?", he relays to me with a smirk. "I haven't seen that movie, sorry." I add, throwing in the scene that stems from the shots within Montana's, "You should, it is pretty good. Just make sure I don't get you drunk and cart you back to my place and cut you into pieces." We both laugh. And so begins my conversation with a relaxed, though obviously jet-lagged Kisser who is in Toronto doing press for the band's ninth recording, _Nation_. He's been in Europe for two weeks to promote the album, while other members are in the US and Australia to discuss the new material. This being his last interview before catching a flight back to Brazil, it is obvious he is relieved his busy day has come to an end, but he still has the stamina to talk. He sips from his glass of Guinness and begins about _Nation_.

CoC: The band has obviously changed quite a bit over the years, whether it be the direction of the sound and style of the band or replacing your lead singer. Change has happened and the band has evolved. Does Sepultura [rounded out by drummer Igor Cavalera, singer Derrick Green and bassist Paulo Jr.] feel comfortable with the way Sepultura is now and with the new record -- this being the second record with Derrick singing?

Andreas Kisser: We feel very good about everything that is going on with Sepultura these days. _Against_ [1998] was a very difficult experience for us and it was definitely a difficult time for us. It was actually the biggest challenge of our lives to keep the band together. We didn't just lose our singer [Max Cavalera], but also our manager. And that made the structure of it all really weak and unsure of what was going on for us as a band. It takes time for us to develop new ideas and songs with Sepultura and right now Derrick is very involved with what we do as a band in every aspect: the music, the songwriting, lyrically and as a friend and part of the band. We are feeling very comfortable right now.

CoC: With _Against_ you had to really introduce Derrick to the sound of Sepultura, but with this record there seems to be a lot of diversity and varied ideas going on. That must make you happy. Is it all just coming together a lot easier now?

AK: Definitely. It is a great feeling to have the entire band working together. With Derrick, it is just allowing him to become a lot more involved now on this disc. With the last record, it was just the three of us writing the record and Derrick came in at the end to help complete everything and get the arrangements set up to finish the record. The way it happened, it was very confusing. We really didn't have any bigger ambitions for that album other than to keep the band together.

CoC: That record was definitely a turning point for Sepultura's career. Am I right?

AK: Yes, you are. It was a transition period for us. You can't really compare that record to any of our past records or any of the future works we will produce as a band. It was a specific record that kept us together -- and that is all it was.

CoC: What differences do you see between the last disc and the new one?

AK: I think this new record is really showing a new way for us to develop new styles and ideas for the band, because Derrick can really sing and use his voice in many different ways. That has allowed us to be able to bring new directions for Sepultura.

CoC: You went back to Brazil to record the new album, the first time in many years that you did so. How was that experience like?

AK: It was great. It was good to be home and near our family and friends. The studio work was pretty relaxed and we felt like it was a band again. It felt as a band working together to get the record done. It felt like it did for us with _Roots_ or _Chaos A.D._. We were confused during _Against_ and had to use our time very carefully in the studio. We weren't thinking too much, we just wanted to do it. With this record we wrote the album in Sao Paulo and just took our time to develop our demos and took the time to see what Derrick could do for the band and just grow and enjoy the experience of it all.

CoC: A lot of people will say that most bands lose their stride after five to eight years. But Sepultura has managed to stay focused and in form for more than fifteen years. Sepultura has managed to stretch their sound, but not lose momentum. Just how much further is Sepultura willing to stretch the sound and explore new ideas within metal music?

AK: It is hard to say or plan what we will do. We as a band have always felt strongly about the present 'cause the future is nothing more than a consequence of what you do today. We don't look too far ahead, really. We are enjoying what we are doing as a band and that inspires us to try new things and carry on with Sepultura. It keeps the ideas and the sound of the band fresh.

CoC: The thing that I think has been Sepultura's biggest gift to the metal community is your initiative to do interesting things with each record. Why is that important for the band?

AK: For us, we naturally want to have this kind of mutation or movement in what we do. Even if we wanted to make the same record as last time, we couldn't do it. The spirit of this band is really to be open-minded and learn from your experiences, and in the future, maybe bring those ideas into the band's music.

CoC: What about Max Cavalera leaving the band -- do you have any ill will towards him or any regrets with what went down?

AK: I have no regrets at all. We learn from our mistakes. That is the spirit of life. You don't always do the right stuff all the time and you learn from it. But the stuff we did with our manager Gloria [Max's wife] was the right thing to do at the time. Then it came down to those two thinking it was to be another way and they chose to part ways with us and do something else. It is unfortunate how it all happened, it was a very bitter split, and up to this day we don't really talk to him. It is very hard for Igor, being from the same blood and being his brother. It is a very stupid situation.

CoC: And from this incident with max going off to form Soulfly and you guys carrying on with Sepultura, many music fans have pitted the bands against one another.

AK: I know, I know. But both bands are slowly starting to fade away from each other musically. We are in two different worlds. I think it is probably difficult for Max because he is constantly changing musicians around him. It is very hard to create an identity with so many musicians coming and going. I think Soulfly is still very confusing. I don't really know what a "Soulfly" sound is. I think there is too much stuff going on. And having too many guests is making it hard to really find a sound to work with. It must be difficult to maintain a direction.

CoC: On the topic of direction and being inspired to create music and just go with it, what inspires you to stay at this work with Sepultura? What inspires you to do this after all of these years?

AK: I think music does. That is the beauty of it all. Everything you do in life eventually turns into a routine. Our routine is very special. We travel, we learn new things every day and we record music. Music just keeps us excited and inspired to grow. All the rest of things we deal with in life, we learn to live with. It is getting hard now, with me being away from home and away from my kids, but if I don't do this I won't be able to support my family. There is a balance between the two and I need both to keep things interesting.

CoC: I want to talk to you about your thoughts on each Sepultura record up to _Roots_. Tell me your thoughts on how they were made, anecdotes or whatever you wish to relay. Let's start from the beginning:

- _Bestial Devastation_ [1985] - This record was a really big surprise for Brazilian metal fans in the underground, especially because of the state the band came from, which was very catholic and traditional. It made a great impact.

- _Morbid Visions_ [1986] - This was the record where I started to like them, as I hadn't joined the band yet. They had a full-length album and even though the recording sucked, the aggression was there. That was something that really moved the underground scene in Brazil.

- _Schizophrenia_ [1987] - I joined the band right after _Morbid Visions_ was released and I brought more of a traditional heavy metal influence to the band's sound, while learning a lot about punk and hardcore from the others in the band. That mixture was such a great thing for us. It was a big record for us, a double LP with lyrics and big pictures. Recording-wise, it was a good recording and it allowed us to sign with Roadrunner.

- _Beneath the Remains_ [1989] - This was the first time we had ever had an American producer to work with us and work the sound. We were able to work in a sound we had never been able to get with a Brazilian producer. We recorded in Brazil with Scott Burns and he really developed out sound. This record really opened up the world to us with this being a worldwide release. We toured Europe and the United States and it was great to have this feeling of breaking down the barriers and letting us expose Sepultura to the metal fans throughout the world.

- _Arise_ [1991] - _Arise_ was everything that we couldn't do with _Beneath The Remains_. We had a booklet with lyrics, we had more of a nice layout and we recorded outside of Brazil, in Florida with Scott Burns. We toured for two years with that record. We played with Ozzy Osbourne, we played in Russia and Indonesia -- all over the place. It was a great experience that we would bring into _Chaos A.D._.

- _Chaos A.D._ [1993] - It all started to really develop for us. It was something new. We worked with Andy Wallace in the south of Wales. This record really put Sepultura in many places, not just in the metal scene. It allowed us to play with bands like Rage Against the Machine and to just be a part of various festivals.

- _Roots_ [1996] - When we had recorded _Roots_, we had been away from Brazil for a long time. We were looking towards Brazil with different eyes and ears and really exploring a lot of the things that we had denied before. We brought in African percussions, the sounds and inspiration from the Indian tribe [Xavantes] and also our urban experiences. It was a very rewarding experience for us all and we all got a lot of out it. We really established Sepultura not only as a metal band but also as a metal band with a wider audience. But unfortunately, we had a lot of problems going on within the band at the recording of _Roots_ and after a year of touring Max left the band. We just had to start all over again with _Against_.

CoC: I think a lot of metal fans know that with Sepultura you never get a half-assed job when it comes to a recording. Even with problems in tow, or long lapses between records, the band always seems to deliver the goods. How has fan reaction been towards the band's music and with Derrick in the band?

AK: It has been great. Very positive. The tour for _Against_ was just a great tour for us to get the ball rolling again. We were really facing our fans and trying to show what we were all about. And also, at that time, Max was saying a lot of stuff in the press about all of what was going on and we were just trying to stay out of it and not respond. It was just a bad vibe all around and we didn't want to feed that vibe. Only the magazines would profit from that, not us or him. Our intention was really to learn about ourselves again on stage and to keep this band going. Things had changed for the band and we just wanted to get grounded. Right now we are very much in form and our fans know it. Everything seems to be in place. This is something new for us and we are prepared to work with it.

CoC: What does _Nation_ represent to you?

AK: This album really represents a beginning. _Against_ was a real transition record for us. This record is really about being a band and working together. It is also great having this really beautiful concept and a real positive message in the album that inspires us to make music, write lyrics and still have a vision for Sepultura. We have a wide range of ideas that we can do as a band and it is a great feeling knowing that as a musician. It is great to have inspiration.

(article submitted 13/3/2001)

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