Sepultura Interview

Still with us then? Good. Anyway, it’s Saturday now, Nottingham. Had a few hours sleep since those System gigs. Anyway, Forest have just drawn 2-2 with Villa, and I’m pretty sure that some, if not all of Sepultura were probably there. But they’re not now. Instead they’re back at Rock City, as am I with a bunch of other people waiting to do interviews with the band. We’re told who we have, and one by one the members of the band are brought out to greet their interrogators. I get Andreas. It feels kinda strange. Intrusive. They’re a band that don’t really need the support of fanzines like this, and within myself there’s a feeling that maybe there could be other things they’d rather be doing. But if there is, Andreas doesn’t give that impression. Anyway, because of this apprehension, I’d tried to come up with a few questions. What I’m not going to do is hark on about the split. We’ve all read more than enough about that. There’s an element in my mind that I’m going to try and look in part at how things have changed for the band since they started out. If it works it might be interesting, if not, well, then it might not be so interesting. Obvious huh? Yeah, but it’s not so easy when you’re nervous. I mean, Sepultura. The concept is the same, do an interview, but the reality is different. We’re talking established people here. Anyway, we’re each appointed a corner of the Rig, in which the interviews are to take place. And we have 15 minutes. It feels like an exam. Your time starts ... now.

I’ve just been down to see 2 of the shows in London oh yeah and was well impressed. How did that tour actually go then, with the three bands.

It was amazing, really good. It was the first chance we had to play with Slayer, to finish all that bullshit talk, and we had a great relationship y’know. We actually met the guys only for the first time on this tour, and it was great for both bands and System of a Down together with us. It was a very nice finding for me, the new CD and the band live and stuff. It was just great to be back in Europe and back on the road, especially with this package.

Do you think that with some people trying to claim that metal, or whatever you want to call it, is dying, that kind of three band bill, where there are two major bands is the way to go.

I think so. We’re trying to put this package together in the United States for next year. And I think especially there, we need to bring that metal feeling back. And it’s like, we’ve played three sold out nights at the Astoria, and a lot of sold out shows around Europe together with Slayer. And I think that’s really the way, to put these heavy bands together. The Ozzfest is another great example and stuff. So that’s the way, just to put all the bands together, hopefully Pantera will come back really strong with a good album. So we’ll see what happens.

How do you feel the new stuff is going down.

It’s doing very well, overall it’s been very positive reaction. Of course we didn’t please everybody he grins, but even before we never really did. It’s not possible to please all of the people all of the time. But overall Derricks been very well accepted by the old fans. And we’re just very excited y’know. (It must be said that the acceptance was in evidence later in the evening, with a number of chants for “Derrick, Derrick” going up. Which was nice to hear.)

The reaction I saw the last couple of nights was pretty good.

Yeah, especially last night. It was the last night of the tour, and such a great vibe y’know.

Yeah, and I don’t know who it was, but the coloured guy in security was just amazing.

Yeah laughs Andreas. They should video that guy and make others watch the video to see how it should be done. Catching everyone, urging them on, for all the bands. Yeah, that’s what I like about the place y’know. All the rest really, it’s hell for the crew, to load out and shit like that. There’s a lot of equipment and both bands. And at the time of the show the security did an excellent job and the kids really enjoy it, and we enjoy it. (Indeed, at the end of the gig when Araya thanked the security, they received a round of applause from the crowd that was well deserved.)

It makes it so much more fun. Yeah, fun and so much easier.

So one thing that I was wondering, now that you’re back to a different city every night, as opposed to three nights in a row, is there any difference.

Yeah, there’s a difference because you have everything set up there, and so the next day you have a little more time to do extra stuff whenever you stay in one town for three or four days. It’s not like days off, but you have more time to do extra shit instead of just being on the road travelling. But we enjoy both ways.

I was just wondering if it actually affected the performance.

Yeah, well we try to play different songs, change a little bit the order, we had Kerry King coming out each night, which was amazing. So we try to play different stuff so that we don’t get bored amongst ourselves. I know a lot of the people only get to see one night, some people like you see two or three, so that’s why we’ll change the set a little bit.

Which made it even better I thought.

Yeah cos we have the chance to play the same place three nights and we have a lot of songs, so it’s a chance really to explore different avenues.

So with varying the set, have you adjusted any of the songs in order to accommodate there being just one guitar?

The old stuff? Well, I mean most of that is being played by one guitar, but Derrick is playing on some songs, and he’ll pick up some more songs, basically the old songs, but there’s some where we feel that it’s going to really need someone on extra guitar. He does some extra percussion as well on some stuff. We’ve just done some different arrangements, speed, style, Roots, stuff here and there where Max used to do things, now Paulo does some parts, I do the other parts. It’s going well.

I think that’s the only thing that I’ve really heard people saying, is the lack of a second guitar on some of the songs.

Yeah, it is weird because Sepultura music was always two guitars. Now it’s a little different, and so I think it’s going to take a little time to get used to that new sound.

You’ve been going now I don’t know how many years. Have you seen things change since you started in the band. In the music industry in general.

Yeah I think so. Since we started, we started listening to Slayer and Metallica, heavy metal, Iron Maiden whatever. Then came grunge, Nirvana and stuff which changed the whole scene. That stuff killed a lot of metal bands, and thank God killed all the glam metal he laughs. It change like that, and I think now it’s time for bands, metal bands, to come back. I think that’s the feeling that’s about. I mean Metallica coming out with this cover album, all Mercyful Fate and stuff like that. Old metal stuff, it’s great to see that.

(Ok, I probably didn’t explain it well at the time, and someone was soundchecking the drums. I don’t think it was that ‘kin Psycore drummer, cos he spent ages hitting the bleeding thing just before the doors opened. Anyway, what I meant to get at in that question was attitudes in the music industry towards bands, towards the support of bands and the promotion of bands. Reissues, that sort of thing. Maybe I’ll remember later.)

How about your expectations when you play compared to when you started out. I mean, I remember reading about how you had to borrow equipment when you started and that sort of thing.

Definitely that stuff changed he grins. Now we have better conditions, our own equipment which makes it far easier. But it’s still the same in that we’re still glad we have the opportunity to play in Europe. Since the very first time we came here in ‘89, we still feel the same. Still excited to come. Just now it’s kinda harder cos we have a family. I have two kids at home, so some of the priorities change, but I think for the better. We have to pass through different stages in life and it would be very foolish on our part to think we are still like young kids playing noise y’know. Only noise and shit. Now it’s a little more pressure and stuff, but still very enjoyable.

Last night you did the Bad Brains cover. Any reason why that particular track was chosen to be covered

We used to play a little part of that song on Policia. On that song there was a little part that we’d always play stuff by different bands, like Biohazard and Bodycount and Bad Brains. And when Derrick came into the band, one of his favourite bands was Bad Brains and Cro-Mags. So we chose to do a cover in the first week of his audition. We just played new songs, we didn’t do any old ones, and we just chose a cover to get more relaxed and stuff and have something roll. And we decided to record it.

A pause ensues. “There was something in my mind then that I meant to ask, and it’s gone again” I say to Andreas’ amusement. Hey, I’m still shite at this. Some things you don’t get better at with experience. And with that little pause, the thought has returned.

You recorded a song “Diary of a Dope Fiend” with Mike Patton.

Yeah, we changed the name.

But that’s been withdrawn from the single?

Yeah that’s right. Because of the name. Because Mike Patton wrote the lyrics to do vocals on the song Kamaitachi, and the Japanese people didn’t like too much of the title, the drug thing. They have to sign a release because they are on the track also, they are part of it, co-wrote the song and co-arranged the song. And so we needed their release form, and that took some time, and we actually changed the name to The Waste, and it’ll be out on the next single.

Ah, because the way it seemed to be reported here was that it was pulled from the single because the radio stations in America wouldn’t like it.

No no, not really. It was strictly for the Japanese, and we need to respect their point of view also.

There seems to me to have been a progression over the years from, shall we say “dark” subject matter, to something that is maybe even spiritual on the latest stuff. Was that a reflection on changing attitudes in the band.

Yeah, Max was the one who really got deep into religion and stuff. He was not like that before when we started. And he was reading that spiritual stuff, and it’s cool and we respect that. It’s something that we really enjoy doing and he was going to churches and stuff like that. And that influenced the music also. But music is always a spiritual experience. Whatever you do with music, it could be acoustic guitar or percussion. You go somewhere else, and that’s very spiritual.

At this point, Eddie the tour manager wanders round with his hand raised to indicate five minutes left. Shit, it feels like an exam. And you realise that you’ve not answered (or in this case asked) half the questions. Time for a quick scan down the sheet, re-evaluate, does not compute, brain fry yeargh.

One thing that you might regard as being linked to spiritual, I don’t know if you’re able to keep up with the news and whatever, but in the States this week, there’s been this case of Dr Jack Kervorkian and the assisted suicide. I wondered if you had any kind of feelings or views on this whole idea.

Yeah, it’s a very touchy subject. I think for each specific situation there’s a case where it could be helpful to bring death earlier for certain kinds of people. I don’t see that like as a general thing, but if you’re going to terminate someone suffering from cancer or something very bad and you know they’re going to die soon, then why suffer. I think they’ll be able to he starts before rethinking. Well in America it’s so difficult to do that sort of stuff, laws and stuff like that.

Yeah it’s the same here. So hopefully they’ll review this problem and do something about it. Because there are some specific situations where I think it can be helpful. For everybody y’know, the family.

Yeah, well I went through similar last year (and you don’t need to hear the rest of that conversation). Anyway, time to return to a little of my problems currently with the industry. Reissues.

A lot of the albums have been reissued recently. Have you got any feelings about that.

He grins and laughs, well yeah I mean this remasters stuff I don’t enjoy too much. It’s kinda cool with the packaging and stuff, but the fans buy it, that’s the problem.

Yeah, well my solution is that if they want to release these reissues, then they should allow you to trade in the old CD for the new one.

That’s a good one Andreas laughs as I do my best to do him out of any more royalties.

Ok, the final one, I wasn’t sure whether to ask, but I figured that as we’re at the end it’s safe. You mentioned Ozzfest at the beginning, so say Sepultura and Soulfly were asked to play the Ozzfest. Would you do that?

Definitely yeah. We’re going to have our time onstage. I think it’ll happen someday. If it comes to us, then we don’t have a problem. Maybe we could do a jam together.

Ha, finished in time. These exams never beat me for time. I may have fucked up on some of the questions at times, but finished within the time limit. Well just, as Derrick is wandering by at the moment. Still, time to sneak in one last one. Honest, it will be the last one. I know, cos I was there and know that no-more got asked after it.

Jello Biafra is currently in legal action with the Dead Kennedys. Any views?

I think Jello is very strict in his beliefs and stuff and he doesn’t want to allow the Dead Kennedys’ Holiday In Cambodia to be used in a Levi’s ad, and I have to respect that. That’s a really punk attitude. And he’s still very true to those feelings, and I have to respect him for that.

As do I, and right now I have to respect Andreas for allowing me the time to do the interview. So I forgot to ask (ok, didn’t have time) to ask the System question, and (dumbass Dave), I forgot to ask the two most important ones. What the hell happened to Brazil in the world cup final, and how’s Derrick doing at the football. See, put a bit of pressure on me and just fall to pieces. And as you come out, it’s time to do the “what did you get for the answer to question 3” routine. Well, it could’ve been anyway.

So there you go. Nothing earth shattering or revealing for you. Maybe it’s evidence of an old hand dealing with interview questions. Maybe it’s just someone asking them who kinda froze again. Who knows. Doesn’t really matter now does it, cos you’ve read this far, and you’re not going to be able to claim the time back. So according to Rollins then, I’ve just murdered you, “just a little bit”. Hope you enjoyed it.

Live Pic courtesy of Graham from Intoxicated zine.