[This interview also available as an mp3 file]
This was a biggie for me. Sepultura were huge at the time and there was a hint of something big coming soon. It turns out that the “big” news was the band splitting with Max Cavalera, something that was being withheld from the press until the UK tour was over.
December 12th 1996, interview with Andreas Kisser – one hell of an early birthday present.
We were shown backstage at Manchester Apollo by Gloria, Max’s wife, press laison, tour worker, backstage hand… A hard-working woman and no mistake! Max held doors open for us as we went up stairs to meet Andreas. Let nobody tell you otherwise – the Sepultura touring machine is filled full of nothing but damn fine people. Dragging himself away from the TV (BBC2 with atrocious reception), Andreas pulled up a chair and answered a few questions…
This is the second UK gig. We have five gigs.
It was Newport last night, wasn’t it?
We played Newport and today Manchester. Tomorrow Glasgow, then Wolverhamptom and Brixton.
How did last night go down? I know a couple of people there and they said it kicked ass.
Great, man! It was beautiful! Great crowd, the show was smooth…
Have you played the Apollo [tonight’s venue] before?
I’m not sure, man. I don’t think so. I think we’ve played some different places here.
The last time you toured there were only three dates in the UK if I remember correctly. Nottingham Rock City was the one you did closest to here.
Yeah – we’ve played a lot there. That was the Chaos tour. ’93 or ’94. Something like that.
Seems like a long time ago! So what’s taken you so long getting back round?
We just took our time, really, writing and stuff. We spent a whole year in Phoenix. And then we had some breaks, ’cause I got married in December two years ago and Igor got married, also, in July. So we have breaks for family things. And then we were rehearsing, then we went to record. We spent about a whole year writing without playing live.
You mentioned Igor getting married, and his wife’s due to give birth in January…
Actually, the baby’s born already. It was born in seven months. Which was too early for it to come out. It’s still in the hospital so day by day it’s still a slow recovery. Getting weighed and getting a little bit stronger every day. It’s a very difficult situation for Igor and his wife and family having those problems in Brazil. But he’s doing well, and we’ve almost finished this tour. In a week we will be back home.
Yes, yes. We’re not sure yet what we are going to do. Whether we will bring him or if Igor will be feeling better to go. Australia’s in January, so…
How’s the baby holding up?
It’s alright. Every day’s like a problem – like infection and shit like that. It’s kind of normal. The critical phase is really past, which was the first two weeks, so every day you have a better hope.
Have you ever played with Chris [Kontos] before?
No. In fact, we’ve never really played with another drummer actually! We had another guitarist when I broke my arm. We did a German tour.
I saw you in Glasgow on that tour [“From The Jungle” tour if my memory serves. The one after the “Arise” tour] with the huge rig on your arm! You’ve had that incident, Dana dying just before Donington as well, Igor’s child as well… All these things have come up, but the band’s always been one to just come up and say “we’ll play”.
Well, that’s the main reason. We are together and this is our life – the band. Our profession, the main income. We make it for our families and the best part of it all is to be on the road. If you lose a close part of your family, it’s much worse to stay home, being sad and crying all day. So it’s better to just be working. Put your head towards different things so you can heal better, you know? Of course it’s a difficult situation for Max and Gloria, and Igor right now, but I think we all get focused on our tour. And that helps us to be stronger in those kinds of situations.
The band’s been together for about 12-13 years now. In all that time I think the only line-up change has been with you. [Jairo T. left and Andreas joined between Morbid Visions and Schizophrenia]
Yeah, I think that was around ’87.
That’s almost 10 years with no line-up change at all.
That’s very important – to get a united sound. Like one as a band, actually. If you have too many changes, you lose a lot of time; you lose energy; you lose a lot of things. So it’s important to keep that.
It must be difficult getting on all the time, surely?
We’re like brothers, you know. We’ve lived together for so long, especially on tour in the same bus. When I joined Sepultura I moved to Max and Igor’s house. When we moved to Sao Paulo, Paulo moved into my house. We used to just live together and fight together. Whatever! Of course, it’s not always fine. We have a lot of fights and arguments and shit, but that’s all for the good of the band. It’s like when we do music. We have a lot of fights but when everybody agrees on a part – that’s it.
Max seems to have free reign over the lyrics, being the vocalist, while you seem to do a lot of the guitar work. How do go about putting a song together?
The lyrics come last, actually. We just work on the music first. A bunch of the lyrics – I think fifty percent – was made in the studio when he was recording and making changes here and there. We like to work on the vibe of the song and then depending on the vibe of the song, we choose certain topics for the lyrcis. Then move them around so those lyrics fit with that song. But basically we write everything together at the practice pad. Me and Max mainly come up with the structures and riffs because they come from the guitars. And Igor has the unique approach with the drums – a very Brazilian approach. From there, all the ideas come. Everyone’s got very great input. We all listen to different kinds of music. If you put together what we all listen to you have everything from jazz to hardcore to classical to blues. That’s when our influences come about: when we write music; when we’re stuck somewhere – “What are we going to do, now, man?” We remember something from… whatever… Steve Ray Vaughn! That inspires us to do something and from there we continue with the song.It’s a very open way to write. We never did songs by ourselves at home and shit like that. We always like to work together. Of course, we all have ideas and put shit together later, but when it’s actually time to write a song, everybody’s together. That’s the way we like to write.
I heard that Igor started playing the drums because at Brazilian football matches, everybody hits drums. So what made you decide to pick the guitar?
Well, I wanted to play some instrument. I didn’t like piano at all. My sisters used to do that. Actually, I won an acoustic guitar at bingo. So I decided to start learning some instrument, the guitar came up and I started learning some basic chords – Brazilian popular music. From there I started listening to Iron Maiden, Kiss, Queen… I liked the electric guitar and my mom bought one for me with a lot of sacrifice. I think the guitar came into my life like that. In the bingo! That’s the instrument I love to play, really. Nowadays I play a lot of acoustic, classical guitar. I play electric, 12-strings… Whatever. If it has strings, I like to play it.
You can hear quite a bit on the albums. A lot of the intros are acoustic. Beneath The Remains and stuff like that. What about your family? You start off with this guitar and now you’re in a major band, earning… however much… and touring the world! How have they taken that?
Ah, it’s great! In Brazil, everyone is proud of what we’re doing. We’re bringing the Brazilian idea, the Brazilian music more than ever nowadays. So I think if you’re showing something of Brazil, not only the rain forest, the beautiful girls in bikinis and Rio de Janeiro and shit, but also the other side of Brazil: the Indian music, the mixture of races. It is a big country – you have a lot of different races. You could do ten different Roots with ten different parts of Brazil. Because it’s so rich. So many different rhythms and instruments. So I think we’re exploring more of the best of what Brazil has to offer, instead of just pointing out the bad stuff, like the corruption and the big city problems and the police violence and shit. Also, we have on Roots like Dictatorshit and Ambush and songs which relate Brazilian problems. But at the same time we have music like Ratamahatta with Carlinhos Brown with the more African influence. I think people rally enjoy what we do, especially from Brazil. We are showing a better image of Brazil.
How did you enjoy the trip out to record all the tribal material for the album?
It was beautiful. It was just very strong. We only spent three days there. A very short time, but at the same time a very strong time. Xavantes is a tribe which is very special because they did not sell out for the white culture. A lot of different tribes in Brazil have cars, normal clothes, TVs and brick houses. Xavantes have the contact with the white culture but they have a mutual respect. I think they were one of the first tribes to be encountered, but they still live the same way as hundreds of years ago. Building their own houses, hunting round the area where they live. They still have their rituals and their language intact. So that’s one of the tribes we wanted to look for. A very specific tribe who didn’t have any influence from TV or radio or electricity – especially their music. Their music is very spiritual, almost from their religion. It’s a very simple beat. We spent three dyas there. They were very patient, to rehearse, to repeat a song over and over so we could do it right and stuff. Just a great experience. They’re very calm, you don’t see any stress in their faces. It’s a totally different life, you know?
You mentioned that there were a lot of different cultures around Brazil. Would you ever consider doing a Roots 2 or something?
Yeah. We were always hoping for something like that. We don’t want to make this stuff as a trend, like for Sepultura to be doing that forever! I think every album has it’s specific message and it’s own influence, but we don’t want to stick to one thing and do that forever. Of course, it’s cool and interesting and we grow up a lot, but we have a lot of other stuff to explore. Different music outside Brazil. We like the Japanese percussion, bands like Codo [I think. I haven’t heard of them before – Mosh]. It’s very heavy, all percussion, very powerful. We don’t want to repeat Roots for the next album. We want to go away from that because every album is a different step in our career. But for sure, we’d be open to try different stuff like that without being compromised to copy ourselves.
You’ve gone back and re-done older stuff before. Like Antichrist/Anticop a couple of years ago, and the Troops of Doom re-recording on Schizophrenia. Have you ever though about going back and doing other old material?
No, not completely. We’re never going to do that, like Suicidal [Tendencies] did with their old albums. There’s no reason to do that. I think one of the meanings of Roots is that – not to be ashamed of what we did before. Because those albums were special at the time they were released like Roots is now. Without those albums, Roots would not have been possible. Every album is a very strong step in our career: Bestial, Morbid Visions, Schizophrenia, Beneath The Remains, Arise, Chaos A.D. and Roots. So every album we’ve got is a little more. More chances to play festivals and shit like that. We open our crowd, not only a metal crowd but people who don’t even enjoy that kind of music are now enjoying the music that we do. It’s kind of weird to repeat and re-do all the old songs. We do that on stage when we play old songs. Like Necromancer, which we do live, and Troops of Doom also. But just for specific projects like Troops of Doom and Anticop we could do something, but not a whole album.
So how long can we expect to wait for the next album?
Well, we still have at least two years so we can think about the next album. I think Roots is very fresh, is very young still. We want to tour until the end of next year, and go to places we didn’t manage this time, especially in Europe. We could do hundreds of albums with all the ideas that we have on tapes, but we have to be very careful what we use. We’re not going to use everything that we write.
What sort of set can we expect tonight?
A lot of material off Roots but also everything that we’ve done. Every album. It’s the Roots tour, it’s the Roots of Sepultura. Instead of just talking about our past, we document it. You can hear it. Now you understand why we talk about bad production and bad studios, crap equipment and shit like that. So you can hear that. Our gig’s probably the most complete that we’re ever done. We have the fast part from the past, and now the different instruments, the percussion instruments, the more slow-paced music of Roots, but without losing the aggressiveness and heaviness. We feel we’re in the best part of it all. We’re playing much better, especially the percussion, and it’s a complete show for a Sepultura fan.
How was it when you did Donington and you did the vocals? I know you’ve covered for Max a couple of times before but never on a gig of that scale.
You know, it doesn’t matter. Well, the number of people matters, but Castle Donington was a very unique situation. Everybody was still in shock, “What happened?”. A lot of people, especially Max and Gloria, were still lost. But the support that we had backstage from all the other bands – Biohazard, Fear Factory, Ozzy… everyone who was involved in the festival – and then the support we had from the crowd was amazing. Unbelievable. At the time I went on stage and explained what happened. Why we were just playing a three-piece. People understood right away and the sound was great. We did that before and that’s why we felt comfortable to do it again. I’m glad we did it. I think the reponse in letters and reviews in magazines and words from fans who enjoyed the gig a lot, make us really happy that we went on and did the gig.
Well, that’s me about out of questions! Thanks for taking the time out to answer all of them. Now could you sign these…?