Posted on by Oran

If any band has made a triumphant return to the stage, post pandemic, it’s Sepultura. The bands recent run of EU/UK dates saw sold out across the board, proving that they are indeed a force to be reckoned with. Andreas Kisser sat down with us just hours before they took to the stage in the Irish capital…

Having been sold out for approximately two years (yep, you read that correctly), Sepultura’s return to the live stage in Ireland has been received with a level of celebration that is rarely seen at shows these days.

Despite the painfully over-reported line up changes over the years (time to just get over it folks), the truth of the matter is, Sepultura have never sound so good. With the bands latest album, ‘Quadra‘ reaching new heights of creativity, the future for this legendary Metal band, continues to burn very bright.

With a bill that includes, Crowbar, and Sacred Reich, it’s instantly apparent that this is one big happy touring family and judging by the wide smile that greets us in the backstage corridors, there is no doubt that guitarist, Andreas Kisser is in his happy place.

As we sit down the artist catering area, Kisser sits back and talks candidly about how much he’s missed the road, the excitement of performing night after night and how he’s really looking forward to performing alongside some long time friends in Pantera during their South American dates that kick off next week.

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OD – It must be a liberating feeling to finally get these songs from ‘Quadra’ out of your system in a live environment. I’m sure you have never experienced such a long delay with writing, and performing the music live since back when writing for ‘Morbid Visions’ in ’86…

ANDREAS – When everything happened, I guess we were lucky that we managed to get the album out before everything got shut down. We went to South America, did some press, played Rock in Rio, and things were really moving. Of course, we knew that what was happening was effecting everybody, and not just us. We kept pushing things back by three months, and then another three months, etc. It was a very strange time.

We then sort of turned off that touring switch, and we just looked at doing stuff on social media which is where the ‘SepulQuarta‘ idea came from. We kept the theme of the album in play with the shows, which took place at 4pm every Wednesday. It was great because it really kept the band busy, and helped us to just keep focused. I guess it was us taking you on our tour bus, behind the scenes, backstage, you know?

It was a positive experience, now that I look back. We just kept creating with each other, and then asked our friends to join us in that project, and at the end of the day, we got an album out of it [a compilation LP in which the band revisited their back catalogue, and songs from ‘Quadra‘ with guest artists], and in the meantime, we just put the new album to the side, and waited it out until things opened up again, so in hindsight, we did the right thing.

We were looking at what all the other bands were doing, and, in fact, we got some inspiration from Metallica as they were doing the ‘Metallica Mondays‘ stuff, and Charlie [Benante, Anthrax] was doing his favourite tracks with a bunch of his friends, and that led him to release ‘Silver Linings‘, which is a great album. So, yeah, it was an experience for sure, but I think we coped with it as best we could.

OD – When the pandemic hit, and all touring plans were put on ice for what became two years. Did the relationship you had with these songs change in any way, and with that, I mean, did the absence of touring make you feel differently about them as they aged?

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ANDREAS – No, not really. We just turned off that switch, and put the album to the side. When we were finally ready to come back, of course, we had to rehearse the material again, and in some ways, it just made the album a little more exciting for us all. We played some shows in Canada, and America, and it was such a great feeling to finally get that new music out.

OD – With the last few albums, there is a huge noticeable leap in confidence with pushing the bands sound in directions that had never been done before. From ‘Machine Messiah’ being a starting point [of sorts] for a new direction, to ‘Quadra’, do you feel that you’ve broken away from a stereotypical sound that most bands fall into, and can now embrace a lot more freedom with your writing?

ANDREAS – Totally! ‘Quadra‘ is very much a continuation of ‘Machine…’. From, ‘The Mediator Between…‘ (2013), we really started to move in a different kind of direction. With Eloy (Casagrande, Drums) joining, and both he, and Derrick [Green, Vocals] working with Ross Robinson for the first time, now, that’s an experience. These albums gave us the room to create to the level that we had never done so before. It gave us that kind of confidence to go forward, and create music that was a little outside our comfort zones.

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OD – One thing that you had said about ‘Quadra’ was that the band approached the album with a physical format in mind. Side A, Side B, what’s the track sequence gonna be before you have to flip the record. Does that still apply for things going forward, and also, what is just the last album that you began thinking that way again?

ANDREAS – The concept of the opening of an album, to what track will be on Side B, that’s something that I think has always been present in Metal. Even when the CD era came in. There are many bands that have a structure of sorts. Just look at Metallica’sRide the Lightning‘, and ‘Master of Puppets‘, they have a similar structure with where the title track is, and the ballad-esque placements of songs like, ‘Fade To Black‘, and ‘Sanitarium‘, so that influenced us a lot.

 OD – With the bands activity limited during the lockdown’s, ‘SepulQuarta’ sessions led to some fantastic collaborations with the likes of Scott Ian [Anthrax], Devin Townsend, and Phil Campbell [Motorhead]. It’s always interesting to work with other musicians, but did any concrete ideas for future Sepultura songs come from those sessions?

ANDREAS – We never really planned to do that album. It was purely a reaction to the circumstances that we found ourselves in. I was working from home, mixing, and mastering as best I could, while Eloy was sending his drum tracks via email. We didn’t do any overdubs, it was a very spontaneous project. We didn’t have any kind of a plan, and we never really knew that this was going to be an album. So, everything that is on that album is literally everything that we recorded.

There was no other material, and because of the spontaneity of the project, we didn’t really look ahead, with the intention of doing anything else, as we had no idea when thing would open up again, and we could get back out on the road.

OD – When you look back on the groundbreaking moments in the bands discography, there is no question that Sepultura has influenced countless bands from all over the world, but with so many genre-defining, and pioneering albums under your belts, what album do you feel made the most impact for Metal as a whole?

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ANDREAS – I would have to say ‘Chaos A.D.’ (1993), that’s where we really found the Sepultura sound. Up to ‘Arise‘, we were compared to a lot of great bands like Slayer, Possessed, it was really flattering, but we wanted our own identity. ‘Arise‘ was a big tour for us also, because that’s the first time we went to Australia to Japan…we opened for Ozzy, and played Rock in Rio for the first time.

Then ‘Chaos A.D.’ came out, and it was a little more groovier, less lyrics, stronger words that connect to the crowd and started really dealing with the percussion. We stared to really experiment with the cultural element of percussion, and you can totally hear that on ‘Kaiowas‘, which was a big step outside of what was considered “Metal” at that time.

We took a lot of influence from Brazilian music and applied it to the bands existing sound, and the results were like nothing we’d ever heard before. People’s reaction to the album was like: “What the fuck is this?” [Laughing]

OD – Having been around for over four decades now, you’ve seen a lot of changes in the industry with introduction of CD to streaming and now, the return of vinyl. Do you feel that the passion that was involved in tape trading back in the mid-‘80s had a huge responsibility for the beginning of a lot of new sub-genres, and do you think that element is now gone, due to the instant access that fans have now, to all kinds of music?

ANDREAS – It’s hard to answer that because there are so many variables. Things have changed so much over the years. I still believe that the best way to hear about new music is from your friends. That’s the way I found out about Metallica. I heard them for the first time with some friends of mine, and our minds were blown! I miss those days because it was such a romantic way of discovering music, and it had such a lasting effect on my generation.

We invested so much more into the artists, because it was kind of difficult to get the access to the music the way it is today. I guess, there was more value in the way we consumed music. Not that I’m against the way kids discover music today, because it’s just as important, but it was just very different back in my day.

OD – Can I get your opinion on the news of Pantera shows that have been announced, and were you surprised by how many people got so upset with the news?

ANDREAS – I think it’s so stupid that people try to judge the fact that there are gonna be some live shows. It’s just so stupid. Their music is so fantastic, and there are countless bands all over the world that are jamming their songs every single day. Phil, and Rex are gonna be doing it, and the actual family of the brothers are behind it…supporting it. So, how some people have negative things to say about it, it something I just don’t understand.

The existing band members, the existing crew, the family of Vinnie and Dime are all behind it, so, what’s the problem? It’s an amazing gathering of friends with Charlie [Benante], and Zakk [Wylde]…they have a long history with that band. It’s gonna be a big party, and I’d love to be part of it! In fact, we’re gonna be playing with them at some Festivals, and I’m very excited about that.

Look… it’s never gonna be the same, but people need to understand that. Even if the brothers were still alive, it would be different.  So, my advice is, relax, go out with your friends, see the show, and sing ‘5 Minutes Alone‘ with Phil Anselmo. [Laughing] I don’t understand what these people are complaining about! Just enjoy yourselves.

OD – With the rising costs of touring, do you fear that the prospect of reaching as many countries that you would normally pass through in the past will become an issue?

ANDREAS – It’s unbelievable that we have sold out this entire tour. We are so thankful, and grateful to our fans. We’re having a great run at the moment, and we’re just making it work. Of course, the rising costs are a huge worry, but we bring the minimum of the minimum, so we can present a Sepultura show, and it’s working out great. We don’t have loads of pyro, and stage ramps, or anything like that. It’s very much about the music. The fans also know that. They just want to be together, and enjoy the music, and not stand there with their phones looking a bunch of pyro, and shit.

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It comes down to the fact that we are giving everything we can on that stage, and the fans are enjoying it. It will always be about the music. That’s why we’re here, and that’s why we plan to be here for many more years ahead.

Sepultura are scheduled to perform at Knotfest in South America this coming week, see dates below:

December 9th – Knotfest – Bogota, Columbia

December 11th – Knotfest – Macul, Chili

December 12th – Santiago, Chili

December 14th – La Serina, Chili

December 18th – São Paulo

The band will also be performing at Bloodstock Open Air Festival next August with headliners, Killswitch Engage, Meshuggah, and Megadeth. The bill also includes, Anthrax, Decapitated, Sacred Reich, Whitechapel, Unto Others, In Flames, Fit or an Autopsy, and many more over four days from August 9th, through 13th. Tickets are on sale NOW via this link

Quadra‘ is out NOW via Nuclear Blast. Pick up a copy here.

Oran O’Beirne

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