Interview: ANDREAS KISSER of metal legends SEPULTURA on conscious vision behind Guardians Of Earth, album QUADRA, SepulQuarta, North American tour and more.
With more than three decades of music and fifteen studio albums under their belts, Brazilian legendary outfit SEPULTURA released their latest full-length QUADRA on February 7th, 2020 via Nuclear Blast.
Our editor-in-chief Alessandra had a fabulous opportunity to have a chat with guitarist ANDREAS KISSER who took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss the environmentally conscious vision behind most recent video release for single Guardians Of Earth. The video was shot in collaboration with non-profit organization Amazon Frontlines to inspire public awareness on deforestation and to promote action towards the indigenous tribes to defend their rights to land, life and cultural survival in the Amazon Rainforest.
We also talked about the collaboration with Brazilian director Raul Machado who brought into the light a unique footage including the Amazon Rainforest’s Indigenous tribes and wildlife. Andreas has shared the mindset behind SepulQuarta sessions and live Q&As, the reschedule of their extensive North American tour for March and April 2021 alongside Sacred Reich, Crowbar and Art Of Shock kicking off on March 6th, 2020 in Sacramento, California. Finally we discussed the key to the band’s success across more than three decades of music and 15 records since the band formed in 1984 and the concept behind latest album QUADRA, based on numerology, the number four and its significance related to Quadrivium.
- Hello Andreas, I would love to start by talking about your video for Guardians Of Earth. There’s a conscious vision behind that, you collaborated with Amazon Frontlines to inspire public awareness on deforestation and to promote action towards the indigenous tribes living the Amazon Rainforest. I would love you to discuss more the mindset behind this collaboration and vision.
This is a subject unfortunately we’ve been talking about in our music, especially since Chaos A.D. that came out in 1993, where we wrote a song called Kaiowas, which is the name of a tribe here in Brazil facing the same problems that all the tribes here in Brazil have been facing for many many years since 1500 when the Portuguese came here for the first time, you know. So this is a subject we’ve been talking about since Chaos A.D. and we did a work with the Xavantes tribe in Brazil as well. But that was also to do something really cultural, to mix the music and to show their vision of society, the respect they have for nature, which is something that we have learnt ourselves, to deal with it. In Brazil, we still have loads of forests and virgin places like that, that should be persevered because this is something that has been going on for years regardless of the government. But this government we have now is really the worst, they’re going in totally the opposite direction that is really destroying everything for the sake of business, investments, industries or the meat companies and all that stuff. It’s something that we have to fight for, you know. It’s not only a Brazilian problem, but a worldwide problem. After we put out the video we received many messages, of course from Brazil from all over the places, from Sepultura’s fans and music fans but also from many lawyers, doctors and journalists and people from all parts of society and from all parts of the world talking about that, as this is going on here in Brazil, but also in Thailand, in Africa and stuff..It is a problem we need to realize, we need to find a balance between building and respecting nature. And as an artist, as a musician, that’s our tool, a possibility to create videos like that and our privilege to work with Amazon Frontlines and Sea Shepherd and other organizations here in Brazil that can use Sepultura to bring awareness towards what’s going on. Especially now, because it’s a really delicate situation we’re going through right now.
- Your video was produced by Brazilian director Raul Machado. I would love to know more about the experience you had working with this director and how this collaboration was set up in the first place.
Raul was a good friend of ours, that we’ve known for so many years. We worked together for a few projects in the past including a videoclip, the first video we did with Derrick when he joined the band for the song Choke which also included the Xavantes tribe, the concerts, all the images and stuff. Raul is one of the many people that we know around the world especially here in Brazil, movie directors, videoclip directors and we thought he could be a good choice to do this official video – in a quarantine version. Because we are still in quarantine, Derrick is in Los Angeles, myself, Paulo and Eloy are here in Brazil. Paulo is in a different city, in Belo Horizonte, myself and Eloy in São Paulo. So you know, we had the make the best that we had. And Raul was fantastic, he was very sensitive about the subject and how the music drove his selection of images. Especially the way he played around the acoustic through the first part of the song, the beauty of the forest, the nature, the animals and people and then, when the heaviness comes in, it comes with all the impact that the human beings are doing, burning and looting nature like that. And at the end, our protest, the message that we really have to be careful and take care of our home. This is not like an astronaut looking at the planet Earth from the moon. What are we doing? Destroying our own home. There are loads of solutions and possibilities, we could deal with fuel and energy in many other different ways you know, but big corporations and a few people don’t want us to go that way and unfortunately politicians and crap ideologists are going toward this crazy, destructive direction.
- Sepultura are hosting regular sessions andlive Q&As under the name of SepulQuarta. Let’s share more details about this program you launched and its schedules.
It’s been a fantastic experience we started at the end of April. It’s been five months, we’re doing this every week talking about Sepultura, talking about the new album. QUADRA came out on February 7th, like a month or so before everything stopped and we had to cancel all the shows, all the touring. We had an amazing calendar for 2020 that was postponed for next year. So we created SepulQuarta really to maintain the connection with our fans, to talk to them, to talk about the new album, to play the songs from the new album. And it worked out great! We’re still doing it, now we’re not doing it every week, but every fifteen days. We’re gonna bring more people, we had a great experience for the launch of Guardians Of Earth video, talking to journalists, to Amazon Frontlines and Sea Shepherd. We’re gonna do like an automatic type of Wednesday including friends from sports or politics or any other field, it’s cool that we reach so many people around the world and we can relate with problems that we have here in Brazil, that are going on elsewhere so it’s a really cool sort of communication and something that we didn’t use that much before, because we were always touring and we were always on the road. And now we have to. It’s another choice we need to embrace and really use it at its maximum.
- You have rescheduled your North American tour for March and April alongside Sacred Reich, Crowbar and Art Of Shock if I’m not wrong. Yes, that’s right. How are you getting prepared for this extensive tour and what feelings and expectations are behind that?
It’s hard to create any expectations because it doesn’t depend only on us, I mean we’re ready with the shows. Of course, we have to go back to the rehearsal room and put everything in place again. But we were ready to go in March, when we had to put everything off so we are rescheduling everything for next year. Tour was already announced for March and April next year, but it doesn’t depend on us you know, it depends on laws and visas and all the politics involved. It’s the worst political situation ever it seems like, with the worst people representing the country and stuff, it’s crazy. So it doesn’t depend on us, I mean we are working, we are getting ready, we are finding possibilities here to play or to do shows and stuff. So far everything is very limited and everything is very uncertain. But a lot of festivals have already been announced, due date for next year. Sepultura are part of many festivals and hopefully that will happen, you know. We are working towards that, we are working with our managers and booking agencies and all the promoters as well really to make that happen, because it’s really important and everybody wants that to be back, the fans, the musicians, the roadies and everybody in the industry, you know. It’s our life. So we are working towards that for sure. Yeah, concerts is what we miss more. I do miss concerts so much. Because we’re behind a screen you know, working behind a screen now, which is very sad. Yeah, it’s very different of course. The stage is everything, that’s where you learn, that’s where you grow. That’s where the music really happens. All the rest is just fake, you know, even the studio. The studio is that place where you put every part in that little place, and then you mix everything with time and stuff, you know it’s very different. The stage is where everything happens, the stage is real. And I miss it a lot, Sepultura has always been a touring band, we’re always on the road, we like to go everywhere, so it’s really difficult to go through this. Especially with the new album which was so much well received and very positively. But you know, we take our time. It’s a day by day situation. Every day you hear something new by a different government or the world organizations and unfortunately it creates more confusion than clarifying the situation. That’s the way we’re going through this, day by day, getting ready for the moment to come back.
- I have a question on the concept behind your latest record QUADRA, which is based on numerology, the number four and its significance related to Quadrivium. So let’s talk a little bit about that.
Sure, yeah. The concept is something very important when we start working on a new album, which gives us a direction, a focus. I started looking for a concept way before we went the studio last year, so I really wanted to have a lot of time, much more time. Because MACHINE MESSIAH, the previous album we did in a hurry. In 4-5 months we did everything, we wrote and we recorded, it was really quick. It came out great and everything, but with QUADRA I really wanted to have more time, really to listen to a lot of stuff and make sure that everything was right, in place and not in a hurry. So the concept came very early. And yes, that came with numerology and algorithms especially, because that’s what controls our life basically, our choices and everything you watch and don’t watch, or buy and don’t buy. So that’s where I started and I found this book, Quadrivium, a fantastic book that talks about the four liberal arts of geometry, music, cosmology and mathematics. It’s a fantastic book with a lot of definitions, a lot of history. And the number four was really something that came out of Quadrivium, the four liberal arts, the number four as a definition of stability, of something you can build upon and that’s where it started, geometry and the four lines that constitute like a “quadra”, which in Portuguese it means “sports court” like a tennis court or a basketball court. Inside this “quadra” or this court, you have certain rules on how you should play the game, and that’s life itself. That’s why we go to school, that’s why we have laws, that’s why every culture has a different way to see the world, because we have different cultures, we have different ideas, different concepts of the cosmos, of religion, of politics, of everything. And we should respect that and not create stereotypes, and create an “I am better than you” just upon concepts which are created. Concepts are illusions, concepts are agreements between people, like: “Ok, we’re gonna call that an orange. An orange is that”. You know, it’s just a creation, it’s just a choice and people have a tendency to take that as the truth, the universal truth, whatever they learn, that’s the way it is supposed to be the world then. It creates what we see today, like wars and racism and phobias and misogyny and all those types of bad concepts that create these types of situations. And QUADRA talks about that. Why you believe in the stuff you believe? Why do you have these concepts in your mind and why you defend those ideas? Where they came from? Of course they came from school, from education, they were implanted in your mind. Because you have to go to school every day and you have to answer the questions in a certain way. So education is a doctrine as well. We are a consequence and victims of our own cultural baggage of the implants that we had along the years. And QUADRA tries to bring a message of respect: don’t create stereotypes and don’t create differences, respect the differences. We should learn. Imagine the Europeans that came here, like the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the English, to conquer the new world. And they destroyed everything in the name of the cross, in the name of an idea, in the name of a religious idea on how society should be. They destroyed the Incas, they destroyed the Maya and many other tribes we don’t even know about because they were completely destroyed. Now we have the pyramids, we have some symbols that they were very intelligent, they were very respectful towards nature, they understood the stars and how to relate with the cosmos. In the name of Jesus they destroyed everything, because they were savages, they had whatever concept of people in their minds. So QUADRA talks about that: don’t be scared of the differences, learn with them.
- What was the key to the band’s success across more than three decades of music and 15 records Andreas?
It’s to live in the present, in the now. Yeah, that’s a great secret. You know, people try to recreate – for whatever reason – ideas of themselves from the past, but that’s not there anymore, you’re here now. You’re always here. You deal with the past and the future in the present, all the time. The past and the future don’t exist, they only exist in your concept of what it is yesterday and tomorrow. And also you learn that in school, the chronology of things and stuff. We talked about that in our album Kairos, a few years ago. That talks exactly about that, the concept of time, not linear but just that moment, the Kairos moment. There’s no before or after, it is what it is. It’s very interesting and that’s the way we’ve always approached Sepultura. We don’t have those elements anymore, we changed lineup, we changed managers, I mean, all of a sudden the vinyl was gone and they you had CDs, and then MDs and stuff. It changed so much, so many times. But we’re always there because we embraced and we understood that the world changes every day, we create Sepultura every day. Something like a constant energy which is flowing, you know. So that’s why we’re still here in our best momentum.
- What’s next for Sepultura for the rest of the year?
Unfortunately it seems that we’re not gonna be able to do any shows outside Brazil, we’re trying some possibilities here. The airport has just opened, like a few days ago, for general travel and stuff. So now we have the possibility to bring at least Derrick to Brazil, but it’s still very complicated, very difficult, very uncertain, very confusing with the information and stuff. We are here dealing with the album, talking about that in SepulQuarta, we’ve just put out a new video. So the plan is really to continue, to perform and to talk about Sepultura in this way. And of course, when the possibility of concerts here in Brazil and elsewhere will be real, we’re gonna be ready to do that. We have other projects as well, like a soundtrack we did here for a Brazilian TV series that it’s coming out this month and other stuff that I did myself like a guitar video class that I had never did before in my career. Now I had time really to organize that and to teach guitar through Sepultura’s music. It’s gonna be very interesting. A very complete way of seeing Sepultura’s guitar, writing and playing, that’s gonna be cool. So when we’re hitting the stage, we’re gonna be hungry.
Andreas this is over, thank you so much for your time. All the best for the promotion of your record and success for your future endeavours.
Thank you very much, it was a pleasure chatting with you and hopefully we can see each other soon on the road.
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