Sepultura

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INTERVIEW WITH ANDREAS KISSER

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“‘Kill ‘Em All’ by Metallica and ‘Bonded by Blood’ by Exodus were big influences in the early days of Sepultura,” recalled guitarist Andreas Kisser, “and the band Sacrifice from Canada was a band I listened to a lot when I joined the band, back in ’87. Kreator was also a big influence. Max and Igor (Cavalera) and Paolo (Xisto Pinto, Jr) listened to a lot more death metal; more of the Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and Sodom stuff. I liked all of that, but I was more into the thrash – technical guitar leads,etc. With our second album, “Schizophrenia”, I think we reached that junction; that collaboration where I brought my ideas and combined with their thoughts, we started to create a new Sepultura. We discovered our sound and talked about our stuff instead of just copying bands like Antichrist and Morbid and all of the bands I just mentioned. We changed a lot of our topics and what we were singing about. “Spreading the Disease” from Anthrax was a significant influence. We began to embrace living in San Paolo with chaotic traffic and police brutality. All of those experiences, we used to suffer with during those days as teenagers with long hair, listening to heavy metal and the consequences of all of that was ‘Schizophrenia’. We started to put all of the influences in, instead of just copying other bands and talking about black magic and that kind of stuff. Bands like Metallica had the inspiration from hardcore bands like Slayer, G.B.H and Discharge which was a big influence on us as well. Hardcore helped to shape thrash metal a lot.”

“I think Sepultura only found their sound on “Chaos A.D”, Kisser continued. “We started to find our place in the metal scene on that album because up to “Arise”, we were still very much compared to Slayer which for us, was a fantastic achievement but at the same time we wanted to be recognized for our own sound, and that’s when the Brazilian rhythm and instruments – especially the percussive instruments – came in. That’s where we started to find our Brazilian roots and heritage and all of the influences that Brazilian music has that we were denied for so many years because we all had radical minds as teenagers and we hated anything from Brazil. With travelling – the Arise tour was huge – we went everywhere. We played with Ozzy. We played Rock in Rio. We went to Australia and Japan for the first time. These were places that really opened our minds to new ideas and we started looking back to Brazil and finding these unique elements that only Brazil has; things like Samba and all of the percussion and different rhythms. That’s when we began to embrace that and use it in or music and that’s when we really found our sound. It takes time. It’s not something you can force. You have to develop, and there’s nothing wrong with copying your idols. You see Led Zeppelin taking the blues to a new level and many other bands too. The Beatles copied their American idols and stuff like that, so it’s natural. Along the line of a career, there is a time you find your characteristics and sound, and I think on ‘Chaos A.D’ we finally found the real Sepultura.”

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Being at the forefront of the thrash movement almost since its inception, Sepultura has been privy first hand to many of the trends and fads that have at times engulfed the scene, with Kisser admitting there have been numerous changes within the genre over the years.

“It has changed a lot,” he emphatically stressed. “The thrash metal and the metal scene, in general, has survived and is still very strong today because it can mingle with other styles. Metallica brought the country music from America. Sepultura brought the Brazilian percussion, and you saw Anthrax going into rap and doing a collaboration with Public Enemy. Even Aerosmith did a tune with Run DMC and the Scandinavian bands have used more of that dark, gothic influence because of their cultural influences and it’s great to hear. Metal has survived because we have that ability not to lose the main characteristics which are heavy guitars and distortion but at the same time bring in new elements. It’s great to see nowadays bands like Municipal Waste and Lost Society bringing that thrash metal vibe back and it’s great to see young kids playing music like Kill ‘Em All and wearing denim and leather on stage. It’s cool. Young kids with energy using thrash metal to express anger, that teenagers-know-everything attitude and revolting against the world through music. Thrash metal is an incredible source of expression, and it’s great to see young kids having that urge and that power still.”

Getting to the summit of your chosen career is difficult enough, but staying there is another challenge entirely. You have to contend with up and coming bands wanting to knock you off your perch as well as people’s changing tastes and fickle expectations, but according to Kisser if you continue to push yourself musically and personally, there is no reason why you can’t maintain your success.

“It’s so dynamic, and there are so many things that happen every day in our lives, being in a band like Sepultura that travels the world,” he enthused. “We have numerous, great opportunities to play with people, and I think the main factor that keeps us alive and well is; how can I put it – we are not afraid to try anything new. I think art is a risk. If you don’t risk in art, you’re not doing art because somehow you are repeating either stuff that you have done before or stuff that other people have. There’s nothing new, nothing challenging. I love classical music – I play classical guitar and study as much as I can. If you read the biographies of these great masters like Beethoven, Mozart and Stravinsky; they all survived a lot of criticism when they brought new ideas to music because people weren’t prepared or ready to hear or listen to anything new. Without them, music would not have had that kind of evolution that we see today from rock and roll to blues to reggae and everything that happened afterwards including metal. Every time you do something new you are going to hear criticism because people are not ready for that.”

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“Along the line of a career, there is a time you find your characteristics and sound, and I think on Chaos A.D we finally found the real Sepultura.”

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Every time we release a new album we bring something new to it. I know we are going to lose and gain some fans doing that which is normal. We respect every Sepultura fan from all through the years. I know some people prefer the older music over the current but we recognise them all. We don’t do a political set list. In it, we play songs from all of the albums. We move in music because of the challenges we present ourselves with. We did, for instance, Rock in Rio with Steve Vai and here in Brazil, we play with pop musicians on the same stage. We learn so much as musicians, playing with people like that, and at the same time, we keep Sepultura alive with fresh ideas regardless of if people like it or not. We can’t think about all of them otherwise, we wouldn’t move. We love to risk, and that’s the beauty of art. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but every time we learn something new.”

That sound is about to be furthered even more with the upcoming January release of “Machine Messiah”. While not abandoning the notion of musical progression, Kisser concedes that Sepultura did embrace some older elements for the album.

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“One of the biggest goals that we had was to make an album like the old days, the vinyl days. At that time, you had a limited amount of time, and you had to think about things like an opener for side B or a closer for side A. Along these lines in the early stages of the writing process and demos and pre – production we already had things like the title which helped us to build the album. Going to Sweden and working with Jens Bogren, we wanted to add a different spice; a different know -how and different influences and ideas. We worked with Ross Robinson at Venice Beach on ‘The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart’ album but this time we wanted to go back to Europe. Since we did ‘Chaos A.D’ in ’94, we hadn’t recorded anything in Europe, so it was great to change the vibe and have a different taste for the album. Musically we wanted something more such as working more on the leads. We have violins from Tunisia. We have a horn quintet in some songs. It’s our second album with Eloy Casagrande on drums as well, and we are a lot more comfortable with each other. Our goal is always to do something different with each album. The last one had a grey cover. It was very dark, very noisy, hard and aggressive however this one has a colourful cover but is still heavy and aggressive. We have a song like ‘Machine Messiah’ which is an instrumental one, so we just deal with different aspects of our musical baggage. We spent three years touring the Mediator album, so we had a few ideas that we wanted to use. We’re happy with the result. It’s one of our best works for sure.”

Written By Kris Peters

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