Sepultura Interview (Andreas Kisser)

"A reunion of Sepultura would be a disaster"

29/10/2013 @ 15:37
The biggest metal band from Brazil. One of the most important bands of thrash scene. A charismatic and low profile guitarist. had the opportunity to talk with Andreas Kisser about the new album, "The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart", some of his collaborations, the relationship between the band and Max, and if we have ever a reunion.

SepulturaAndreas, can you tell us what to expect from the new album?
Well, you can expect the unexpectable. Like in every album of Sepultura we are trying to do something different, something new, because this is the spirit of Sepultura. The main difference is the new drummer Eloy Casagrande which despite his age (22 years old), is very good, very professional and has a lot of experience both in studio and live. He brings a new blood in the group and we are happy to have him with us. The new album has elements from all our history. You can hear in some songs elements of thrash, groove, even death metal. It’s the sound of Sepultura during the 00s along with some elements from the past. In this album we are talking about different topics, such as politics, religion, economics, environmental changes . It’s the second album with Nuclear Blast and we are very happy with the result.

Sepultura - The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The HeartI really like the new album as much I liked “Kairos”. Can you tell me after 2 years what is your impression from this album?
I cannot tell that the “Kairos” is the best album , but I can tell for sure it is one of the most important albums. We were on tour for almost 2 years, we played a lot of songs from this, and we earned a lot of new fans. Also with this album we had the opportunity to do some different things, such as playing with an orchestra or in a festival with a percussion group

Can you explain to us the concept behind the title? Do not you thing is too long for a title?
We never had a second thought about the title. I believe the phrase is complete and explains everything. Imagine that if you have some kind of information in your hands you have somehow to work with that. If you were a robot you would have specific options. But the heart works as a mediator. For the same thing there are infinite choices. Someone will do it this way, some other will do it completely different. The purpose of the human being is to break the limits. This can be done through art. Imagine people like Da Vinci, Dali, Mozart , all of them the bring something new. If these people were machines is there any possibility to achieve something innovative?

SepulturaThe phrase is from Metropolis by Fritz Lang, correct? Is another concept album like “Dante XXI” and “A-Lex”.
This time we decided not to make another concept album. We did not want to use the same formula. The phrase is from “Metropolis”. It is a film which is 90 years old , and it is scary if you realize how prophetic is. If you think how dependant we are on technology, that we are living just to work , that the machines determine and consumed the lives of the people, it’s impossible to say that all these things are in the film about 90 years ago.

For the new album you worked again with Ross Robinson. How it was like to work again with him and who suggested this co-operation?
Monte Conner is the president of Nuclear Blast US and he was the A& R at the time we were in Roadrunner. It was he who suggested to work again with Ross Robinson. Last time we worked with Ross it was for “Roots” and we all know how important that album was. So we said yes, and we decided to work again with Ross and to record our new album outside of Brazil in his studio in the US. Working again with him, it is like seeing again an old friend. Someone who knows you very well, he knows the history of the group, and both sides know what to expect from each other. Also he is a producer who likes to experiment with different techniques and he always pushes the limit to try something different either in vocals, arrangements and so on.

SepulturaOne of the songs that I really liked is the “Grief”. Its totally different from all the other songs and can I say that this is  a Sepultura ballad?
Well, it is our opportunity to bring more girls to the audience. It was an effort from us to be more romantic (laughing). In this song Ross’s contribution to the arrangements was crucial. It starts with clean guitars and turns out to a heavy song trying to express as the title said some emotions. The purpose is to play it live but not exactly as on the CD, but in different versions like we did with “Kaiowas” from “Chaos A.D”.

Did you ever consider having an additional guy for rhythm guitar. I know and I have seen that Derrick can play guitar.
No, we never consider having an additional rhythm guitarist. Derrick can play guitar but he does not have the thrash style, as his previous background was punk/hardcore way of playing guitar. For instance he cannot play “Arise” in the guitar. In the beginning with Sepultura he played guitar in some songs , but he preferred to stay only on vocals. From the beginning , when we started auditions for the new guy we did not want to be slaves of our past. When Max left, they came many people for auditions as clones of Max. Not only like guitar-voice, but some of them looks like Max in the appearance. There was never a single reason to find a copy of Max. Max has his own personality; I have my own personality and so on. Even when we pick Derrick for the position, we tried to build our relationship step by step. This happened throughout tours, albums, and long discussions about everything and now Derrick has been in the band longer than Max was. You have to realize that bringing someone new in the band is not so easy. You have to live with them for years and he has to have the ideal “package” for everything. Maybe you can find for instance a good singer, but there are more things that you have to consider.

SepulturaAndreas, my first concert of Sepultura was in 1996 in Manchester a few days before Brixton. Can you tell me what really happened in Brixton?
Well the situation with the band was the worst ever. Actually Sepultura was nearly broken 2 months before Brixton. We had a big fight in Buenos Aires and we were ready to finish the band. Somehow we managed to resolve our problems and we finished the European tour. The funny thing was that on stage, everything was ok. “Roots” was our big album at the time and we still had the energy on stage. But backstage it was a mess. When we were in Brixton it was the exact day that the contract with Gloria (manager of the group and Max’s wife) was expiring. We had come to realize that Max and Gloria wanted to do something else. So in Brixton we agreed not to renew the contract with Gloria, and Max did not care and just left. As you know the company decided to put this show as a live CD (“Under A Pale Grey Sky”) despite our will as it was not the best show to represent our moment of time. But this is how companies work…

Sepultura1984-2014, 30 years of Sepultura. I know that you are preparing a documentary. Can you tell us a few things about this?
Since 2010, Otavio Juliano has been preparing a documentary about the history of Sepultura. He was filming since we were recording “Kairos”, then at the tour, and at the preparations, recording of "The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart". The last 3 years we have played in different places along with an orchestra , with Les Tambours Du Bronx and so on. The purpose of this documentary is to present the history of Sepultura. Where they started from and how progressively became what we are now. There will be interviews from people like David Ellefson, Scott Ian , footage from the first days etc. Our intentions is not to judge anyone, just to present our history.

Is Igor and Max will be part in this?
I have tried many times to contact with Igor but he does not respond. Well , somehow, Igor and Max will be in this documentary. Without them it would not be a proper documentary. The problem with Max is that all these years he has talked in negative ways about us and in the same time he still plays Sepultura songs in his shows. Don’t you think there is a contradiction it the way he talks and the way he acts? Anyway, we will try in this documentary to be something special not only for Sepultura fans, but generally for all metal fans.

SepulturaI have read that Max said that you were very close for a reunion. Is this true?
We never were so close for reunion as Max said.  Well 3 years ago , Sepultura and Soulfly were in the same festival in Germany. I went and visited Max and Gloria in their bus , we talked and we exchanged e-mails. But you have to realize that Max and Gloria are different people than they used to be. They started talking about money and this kind of things and realized that it would have been an “honest” reunion. I cannot imagine to be in the same room , talking about songs,  shows, and so on. I believe that a reunion of Sepultura would be a disaster. I have seen some reunions that are pretty OK , and some others which are not good and happened only for money. To protect ourselves, our history, our band and to respect our fans who supported all these years, at this moment I do not see a reunion of Sepultura.

SepulturaAndreas I want to go back and discuss some things about your collaborations with some bands. Starting with the auditions with Metallica. How close you were to be part of the band for the tour?
I was very close to be part of Metallica for the tour in 1992. I pass the first part of the auditions with some other guitarists and I was in the final round. They decided to take John Marshall who was an old friend and they have used in the past and he was a little bit more prepared than I was. I knew all the songs but I was not so familiar with “Black Album” as it was new at the time. But jamming with Metallica is an experience that you cannot forget. Since these auditions I have a good relationship with them and each time we meet we hang together in a good terms.

Favourite album by Scorpions?
One of my first live experiences was in Rock In Rio (1985) when Scorpions was part of the gig. I like albums like “Animal Magnetism”, “Love At First Sting” and the albums with Uli Jon Roth. I even like the newer stuff, you know with all the ballads. You can find nice melodies and nice licks in these songs. Scorpions is one of the dinosaurs of rock and always have my respect.

SepulturaTell us a few things about the shows you did with Anthrax.
Scott Ian asked me 6 months prior to the shows. Of course I said yes at once. Anthrax is a part of my DNA. I grew up with records like “Fistful Of Metal”, “Spreading The Disease” and you can understand that I was very honoured to be part of such a tour . We played a few show as part of the Big 4 shows and also I took part in the big jam at the end of those shows with Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax.  It was a great opportunity for me to represent somehow the metal scene of Brazil in these shows.

How did you feel when you performed The Beatles songs at The Cavern Club?
In Liverpool every year there is a big festival celebrating the legacy of The Beatles. People from all over the word are in Liverpool for this festival. The Clube Big Beatles is from Brazil and they have been participating in the festival for many years. I was invited as special guest and I played at the The Cavern Club. Also I visited all the historical places that The Beatles’ lived. To play in this historical place is something that is not easy to describe. Now, they have my name written at Cavern Club’s wall of fame along with some other famous artists and I am so honoured to have my own brick.

SepulturaIn the first part of the European tour , Greece is not included. Do you plan to visit us again? Also what is your opinion about the economic crisis we are facing?
Last time we were in Greece we played not only Athens but in some other cities and we had a great time. Well the tour is going to last for 2 years and we usually come back in Europe 2-3 times so I am sure that we will visit Greece again. As for the economic crisis, I am aware of what is happening is it is in the news and my feeling is that the worst has passed. A rock concert is to make you feel better and forget your problems. I hope that next time , you don’t have  too many problems on your mind and come to the concert to have fun.

Andreas, I have an idea. Let us say for the 30 years you are planning to play one album from the Max-era and one from the Derrick-era at the same show. Which album would you chose?
"Chaos A.D.", "Kairos". I think these albums represents very well both eras. It would be fun to play these albums at the same shows.

Andreas thanks very much for this interview. I am looking forward to see you back in Greece, and perhaps you will play here the above albums.

Panagiotis Loukas