‘It feels good to be a band like Sepultura and still do what we want to do’

Sepultura certainly don’t need any introduction. The guys from Brazil are around for 30 years now. They’ve been there and done it. From the classic albums like ‘Arise’, ‘Chaos A.D.’ and ‘Roots’ to the very public and noisy split with the Cavalera brothers to their triumphant return to the world stages. Sepultura now tour around the world to celebrate their anniversary. I had tha chance to have a chat with Andreas Kisser.

Marc: Hello Andreas. Thank you for having some time for us today. First of all congratulations, Sepultura is now going for 30 years. You are part of that journey for 27 years, since the second album. When you started out, did you even dream of going for that long?

Andreas Kisser: I don’t know. I don’t think so. It’s really hard to project what the future will be. All I know is that we took things pretty seriously. We were always a band that practiced every day. We were really focussed. We were really honest with ourselves, working towards getting better on our instruments and going after new challenges outside of Brazil. And then one thing leads to another. I guess with all the changes we had internally and also the external changes like the technical changes from vinyl to CD and from CD to download and so on, it is great to be still here after 30 years. Who knows, maybe we go for another 30 years. We were always really into practicing, working very hard and going everywhere we can. We are now very happy to return to Australia finally. It’s been a very long time.

Marc: Going back all those years, when you were recording all the classic albums like ‘Arise’, ‘Chaos A.D.’ and ‘Roots’ were you actually aware that you made history?

Andreas Kisser: ‘Arise’ was a very special album because that was our first album that we recorded outside of Brazil. That led to a world tour that lasted for 2 years. And then ‘Chaos A.D.’ followed. We went to Wales for it and then there was ‘Roots’. You know, I think these three albums were really special. Each one of the three has a very strong part that is very different from the other ones. We were conquering new music and new territories. Unfortunately, we then had the departure of Max Cavalera after ‘Roots’. So we had to re-think everything. Every album is very special for Sepultura. ‘Against’ then was the first album with Derrick Green. Without him Sepultura would not be possible today. ‘Against’ was a very difficult album to make with the record label turning their back to us, not supporting the new line-up etc. With a new singer and a new situation it took us a while to re-compose after Max left. You know Max left and then the band management left and then the record label didn’t support us anymore. I guess it got to a point where we were really growing and then we had to re-build. And here we are. With that retrospective, all the albums were important. Of course these three were really special with all the classic song but Sepultura is a lot more than these three albums. And that is why we are still here. We have a great new line-up with a great new drummer and a label that support the group. Finally it’s time to go to a lot of places that we haven’t been to for a long time.

Marc: Sepultura is certainly more than “just” those three albums and your style has evolved over the years as well. You just mentioned the situation with Max leaving. I suppose you get a lot of questions about that all the time. Is that still an important situation for you? Is that still bothering you that it happened and the way it happened?

Andreas Kisser: I am not really bothered. It just happened and we had to deal with it. At that time lots of doors closed but ten thousand other doors opened. We always wanted to think our problems through. Those were difficult times but that’s when you really learn, how to create new situations, to find new options. In art and music this is very special. We are always trying different things and new stuff. We played with a Japanese group and we did shows with orchestras. Now we are doing a new DVD with a percussion group from France that we are going to do some shows with. We did a show with them at Rock In Rio last year. The DVD will be out in September now.

We kept evolving. Sepultura is never the same. We had different line-ups. Those different line-ups always brought something new from the band. That includes my start with the band in 1987. It changed Sepultura’s style a lot because I brought my different style and different gear into it. That is also true for Derrick Green and Jean Dolabella and Eloy Casagrande. That kept things interesting.

Marc: You managed through the difficult times very well. In the long history of Sepultura there must have been a lot of good memories that you like to think back about. Can you share one of your favourite moments with Sepultura?

Andreas Kisser: Well, I have to say that I have many of these moments. There were a lot a different situations and it is a bit strange to look back on 30 years, on such diverse situations. We travelled the world and we still do. We still play places that we have never been before. We just came back from China. We did two shows there. It is great to have fans that follow the band for so many years. And they are still there. Some see us for the very first time in these 30 years. We play songs from every album. It is great to have that opportunity to do all that and to go to all these places. That keeps our minds alive. There are always new things going on. Everything changes so fast with the internet and everything. It is really great to be here. It feels good to be a band like Sepultura and still do what we want to do.

Marc: You just mentioned that you still tour the world. You do that at the moment for your 30-year anniversary. Can you run me through your touring plans?

Andreas Kisser: We did Europe already twice this year. We just played some of the summer festivals over there. We just came back from China where we did two shows. We are now doing some shows around Brazil. Then we will go to Australia and on to South Africa. We are going to tour the US for much of the next year. And we are trying to do a lot of shows in Brazil with a lot of different bands celebrating our 30 years. The new DVD will be out in September so there will be more opportunities for more shows. Also a documentary about Sepultura’s history will be finished and released. The director of that documentary is following us everywhere for three or four years now. The main topic of the documentary is about what we do and why we are still here after 30 years. The intention is not to point fingers making judgements who is right and who is wrong and what kind of strange idea someone might have about our history. This will show what Sepultura is today. Actually we are trying to do something that not only the Sepultura fan will be interested in. We have a very unique story, coming out of South America and with our upbringing in an aggressive, extremely dangerous environment. We did what we did. Let’s see if everything will be ready for the end of the year. If not, the documentary will be released early next year.

Marc: Do you also have already plans to go back into the studio and record the next album?

Andreas Kisser: We still have places to go like the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America. We try to max out our possibilities to tour a lot with our current album ‘The Mediator…’.  Of course the ideas are always flowing. We will start putting together some ideas at the end of the year or early next year. Then we will see what happens. We are also talking with our label about what is our next best move. We are already booked for Wacken Open Air next year. That will open some more opportunities to do more stuff over there. Maybe we will have a new song for this festival. Who knows? You gotta enjoy the moment and think about the next step later.

Marc: You just mentioned ‘The Mediator…’ album. It was released in October 2013. Looking back at it now with nine months of playing the song live, what do you think are the strengths of ‘The Mediator…’?

Andreas Kisser: In the beginning it was a little challenging for us to play the new songs because of the drums. The addition of Eloy Casagrande on drums really brought new possibilities for our music. We have an amazing musician and an amazing drummer. I could write some stuff that only he could play and vice versa. We were really challenging each other to see where we could go.  It is great. The songs are amazing. We play a lot of the new material. It fits very well with the old stuff. We are growing to a new level with a young but very experienced drummer. He brings a new energy to the band. The first time we worked together in the studio writing the new material he was very well received. I think we just enjoy this moment and really think through our next step. The new songs are really challenging. It feels like they are one step up regarding the level of musicianship and the level of energy. It feels great.

Unfortunately, at this time the interview was cut short due to some problems with the intercontinental phone connection. There were lots more questions to ask. It was certainly a pleasure to talk with one of the legends of thrash metal. Andreas Kisser has been there and done it but he is still a very grounded and humble personality. Thanks Andreas. I am looking forward to another 30 years of Sepultura.