Long-running metal band Sepultura are finally touring next year in May in honour of their latest album Machine Messiah and Karen Lowe had the opportunity to speak to guitarist Andreas Kisser about the tour, Kisser Clan and… Britney Spears!?
You guys will be touring Australia next year to celebrate the release of Machine Messiah early this year. Are you looking forward to the tour? And do you have any favourite memories of Australia?
Very much. We are very excited since we announced the tour. We played Australia in 2014 last time and it was an incredibly short tour where we didn’t play that many cities but now we are going to many places including New Zealand â€“ cities where we have never been before. Probably Japan as well. There’s a possibility that we could do a show in Japan â€“ in Tokyo.
Fortunately, we are bringing out our friends with us, Death Angel! so that is a fantastic way to tour with people that you know and a band that we admire so much. They are a great band and it’s a great package for us to be back in Australia with the new album.
The tour is in May and people are very excited. We’ve been receiving lots of messages on social media and doing lots of interviews with you guys. Derrick and I are doing today and so much in advance. It’s perfect. That’s the way it should be. It creates excitement and anxiety. Healthy anxiety (laughs).
You have seen a lot of turmoil and changes within Sepultura over the years. How have you dealt with that as a band?
Music was the main factor and that has kept this band together. I think our first huge break was when Max left the band in 1996 and it was a huge thing for us as it left us without a singer and Max was very charismatic and he was the face and voice of Sepultura. It took awhile for us to restructure everything because we not only lost our singer but we also lost our management and trust from the label.
We reviewed everything with a lot of work and always focusing on the music. Me, Iggor and Paulo went to the studio and we started working on music that would be the album Against. Derrick came in after a year when Max left the band.
We were very lucky to have musicians and people like Derrick and Jean Dolabella who replaced Iggor in 2006 and now we have Eloy Cassegrande who is an amazing monster musician which is bringing in lots of new possibilities and ideas and influences for Sepultura.
It’s not easy but it’s what we do. We never really went after clones. We didn’t want to have someone that was another Max or a drummer that wanted to do the same as Iggor. We always respected the new member; the new influence. It happened with me when I joined Sepultura back in 1987.
Sepultura was a very different band before. They had a very different influence and way of playing and I brought my ideas and lyrics as well and the way I play. Schizophrenia came out â€“ (my first album) in 1987 and it was very different. The same with all the musicians that came into the band.
We use that factor of changes for our own good. We each respect the new elements, the new ideas and the new way of singing or playing stuff and we take Sepultura to new places and here we are. 33 years of our career and vast momentum. We have a great formation, a great label; unbelievable fans all over the world and it seems that we are on the right track and the right direction.
Most important of all is that we are enjoying it a lot. It’s the best. That’s why we are so happy with the Australian tour; to play our new music and we love what we do. I think that’s very motivating to face all the problems and all the changes. We are very focused on music all the time.
Sepultura has been around for over 30 years now. Did you ever think that it would still be what you’re doing all this time later?
I don’t remember (laughs) but I don’t think so. You never do. You have dreams and stuff but with Sepultura, we’ve gone past beyond the dream level. We couldn’t dream everything that has happened with Sepultura and still happening but still, it’s amazing.
We have done a Sepultura movie as well â€“ Sepultura Endurance that the idea is to release next year as a package with a CD and DVD with a lot of extras and the movie shows this. Our history, the way we kept the band together and the way the music was the main factor that kept us together.
We are in the present â€“ very strongly. The most important thing is that we are here now. We are not trying to live off the past but we respect our past so much. We play music from all our old albums but we are here now and we are living the moment because that’s the best. We are very alive and very real.
Touring usually means that you are in close quarters for long periods. What steps do you take to make sure that you all get along?
It’s because we respect each other. We pass our time with each other and we spend more time together than we do with our families. It’s important to not to only have the ability there to sing or to play drums or instruments but also to be able to live together in a tour bus, in hotels and being away from family and kids and wives and we are together doing something very special and very real.
We respect each other so much; we are friends, we go out to dinner together and I think that’s very important to keep that balance of the professional situation; to be on stage and to prepare physically, mentally and technically to perform. Not to abuse any substance, to be ready and aware of what’s going on.
Also, when the show ends, we enjoy our company and friendship and talk about if something happens professionally with managers and labels and we talk about women, football, movies, documentaries and that helps a lot to really build something together. Especially me and Derrick talking about song titles; writing lyrics. We talk a lot about books and movies and documentaries. I think it’s very important to have that kind of feeling because it’s hard enough to be on the road without having to create a hellish environment; to make things worse and to do the opposite.
What are some of your favourite Sepultura memories that you have?
Fortunately, we have so many amazing things happen; and still, happen in our career. Most recently we just played Rock in Rio in Brazil at the end of September and it was the first time we performed the song Machine Messiah and we invited violin players, we presented a new stage and it was amazing. The concert was focused mainly on the new album which is something that we are doing; playing a lot of the new stuff.
We have played many Rock in Rio’s before and so many great festivals in Europe and recording albums in great studios; historical studios like Rockfield Studio in South Wales where Led Zepplin and Queen and Black Sabbath recorded.
So many different things â€“ meeting our idols, opening for Ozzy with Black Sabath. Something that is so great to remember and so awesome.
You are in a band, Kisser Clan, with your son and also host a radio show with him. How is that going?
Amazing. It’s really good. We just celebrated five years of the radio show last week. My son is 20 years old now and he’s studying music. He has his own band and he plays great guitar; acoustic guitar and classical guitar as well so he’s really going through the same steps. This band is a band that I created for him basically to be on stage, play in different places and for him to know how it works.
It’s all good to have long hair and to be on stage for the girls but there’s a lot more going on. With the guitars â€“ new strings; he knows a little bit about the amps â€“ where to connect and how to use and to be aware of stage times and be responsible in that direction and being professional.
Kisser Clan has been going for about 5/6 years as well and we play only metal covers and it’s a great school for all of us. Especially for me as I am the main vocalist. It’s good to use my voice; to try different things and it’s a lot of fun! It’s great fun to play Metallica, Led Zepplin, Sabbath… whatever we are playing and to be together with my son on stage is unbelievable.
You have been in a super-group metal tribute band Hail! where you paid homage to some of the great metal songs. There is a punk cover band called Me First and The Gimme Gimmes who take pop songs and play them punk style. Would you ever consider doing a metal group in a similar vein? For example, turning Britney Spears into metal?
(laughs) Why not? It’s a great challenge. It’s something that we did on an album with Sepultura called Revolusongs which was released in 2003 if I’m not mistaken and we did bands like Devo, Jane’s addiction, Massive Attack, U2 so in that sense, we tried to do something like you mentioned â€“ to pick some artists that have nothing to do with metal and metalize them but I don’t know about Britney Spears (laughs).
Do you still go out and actively seek out new music? And is there any genre that you just can’t get into?
I like it all. We learn something from everything and even learn how not to do things which is great information. I keep my ears open. Being a musician, a touring musician in a band like Sepultura, we have the possibility to meet and know so many different musicians; especially at festivals or award shows and stuff like that.
You meet not only the metal people that inspired you and all the bands that you inspired but also bands from so many different styles. We play festivals, for instance, in the south of Spain where you have that flamenco music. It’s so powerful over there and we play in a festival with only bands like that and flamenco music.
And there we were â€“ Sepultura. We have that Brazilian sound as well. The percussion, the drummer which being Brazilian, living here in Brazil with the samba and the music from Baia from the north of here which is very unique â€“ especially with percussion and I think it’s great that Sepultura can play in places like that â€“ probably because we have our minds and ears open and respect every style of music.
We have the privilege to travel. We did 16 shows in Russia four years ago and you get to see so many different great bands mixing weird instruments that I have never seen before in metal like harmonicas or violins or weird balalaikas and stuff like that. It’s great! It’s interesting to see new possibilities that naturally, we wouldn’t think about so it’s great.
What advice would you give to someone who was starting out now?
I think the most important thing is to play the music you love regardless of the style. Don’t do music just because something is popular on the radio or TV. You can have some influence but don’t try to copy because these kinds of waves come and go very quickly and you could be lost with no identity. I think you have to defend an idea that you believe regardless of what the idea or the sound or style of music
And prepare yourself. Study music â€“ that’s important; respect other styles and have the ears open to absorb new elements and new instruments and study music; prepare; practice so you will be ready by the time you are on stage only to perform and feel the music without really thinking of the technical stuff and all that stuff.
Have a clear mind ready to perform to go through and recite the lyrics, the music and we go to different places because music has that power to take us to some other places that we never visited before so I think that’s it.
Really prepare yourself and play the music you like; you love. All the rest is just a consequence of that attitude.
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AMNplify – DB