This year marks the 20th anniversary of ‘Against‘ and more importantly, twenty years since vocalist Derrick Green entered the band as the new vocalist in the midst of a media shit-storm surrounding the controversial and dramatic exit of founding member/vocalist/guitarist Max Cavalera.
OD – The last time I spoke with you was back when ‘Machine Messiah’ had just been released. Now that we’re over a year into the albums life, would you say that the transformation from recording to playing live has truly given the live material another dimension with regards to the personal connection that you have with it?
ANDREAS – Yes definitely. We’ve been touring non-stop since the last time we spoke. We did that Kreator tour, which was the very first tout for ‘Machine Messiah‘ and then we went out with Testament in the States and Canada, then we did a bunch of festivals in Europe, as well as Rock in Rio back in Brazil and slowly along the way we introduced more and more songs from the new album.
The last time we were here, for instance, we didn’t play the opening track ‘Machine Messiah‘ nor did we play the instrumental ‘Iceberg Dances‘. So yeah, I guess you can say we started step by step and getting more comfortable with the new material. It is a very demanding album to play live and I remember when we were recording it, we had to prepare ourselves technically and physically. So, when we get to the part about playing this on stage in front of people, it’s…. worse (laughing).
Seriously, it’s a very intense show that really takes a lot to pull off live, but we are much better and more confident with the material now for sure compared to when it first came out, as is any band when they release new material and start touring.
OD – Do you feel that the show is now complete with the new material well and truly embedded into the setlist?
ANDREAS – Absolutely, man! We are playing six tracks for the new album, plus we are doing a block of tracks from “Against” as it’s the 20th anniversary this year and more importantly, 2o years of Derrick (Green, vocals) being in the band. Right now, things feel great and really comfortable to play the new stuff alongside the older classic stuff and the show is really flowing well.
OD – When I was last talking to you about the process of writing for Machine Messiah you touched on the fact that you felt like you were kind of breaking the shackles of the “old Sepultura” and pushing forward with new and exciting ideas etc. Do you both feel that many bands are afraid to do that because from the outside it looks like things are in a really great place creatively for the band?
ANDREAS – Since Max left, we started to restructure the band, by finding a new singer, new manager, agent, record label etc. It took some time to deal with all of those things but for us, there was just no other way, we had to do it in order to continue doing what we love to do.
There was no magic wand that was gonna appear, so we could just skip over the problems and continue on like everything was perfect. We had to deal with this stuff, head first! So, we decided to take our time and really develop new ways to rebuild and be Sepultura. To be honest, we are creating a new Sepultura every day that we are waking up and performing new and old stuff, representing the bands legacy and not just certain periods of the band’s history, but all of it, everything! Of course, now we are really focused on playing the new material and we all think that this album has opened up loads of new possibilities for Sepultura, which I’m personally very happy about.
OD – What do you think about people that are still bitching and complaining about the situation after all of this time?
ANDREAS – It genuinely does not bother me. Listen, if we even tried to copy what we sounded like back in the early 90’s, we would be different. (laughing) It’s impossible to keep things in just one way forever and people need to just get over it. We have! (laughing)
There are a few bands that have a formula, like AC/DC, Iron Maiden and the Ramones for example, they have all evolved but, along the way they have an unmistakable sound that is part of their formula. What I’m trying to say is, you will almost hear what you expect from these bands and that’ totally fine. ‘Somewhere in Time‘ and especially ‘Seventh, Son of a Seventh Son‘ were really different albums for Iron Maiden. But that was a very natural process for them. When it comes to art/creativity, you have to be in some kind of unrest, you must be outside of your comfort zone in order to create something different and exciting.
Personally, I think that being in your ‘comfort zone’ is the worst thing that can happen to an artist. If an artist does not feel the challenge to create something different and new then they are just kidding themselves. Every day is a challenge and as an artist, you must keep your eyes and ears open at all times, to embrace new ideas and challenges, because that’s the real challenge and that’s when it also get’s really exciting. Otherwise, we’ll just end up creating the same thing over and over again and again.
OD – We have seen a lot of bands over the last few years come to the end of their career, do you worry about the legacy of heavy music that is expected to fill the void?
ANDREAS – Yes, our idols are dying and moving out of the spotlight, but you have to be grateful that we saw them all and were part of this exciting musical history. When I look at the future of heavy music, I don’t get too worried because just look at Metallica for instance. Metallica being strong, has always helped the scene from top to bottom and when I think about the concept of “The Big Four“, it was just fantastic to see that happen in my lifetime.
OD – Do you think ‘The Big Four‘ had a positive effect on the metal scene, as a whole?
ANDREAS – Totally! It really stirred it up and got the mainstream to start talking about it. That was back in 2010/2011 and Anthrax really came strong out of it and have been smashing it ever since, as did Megadeth and Slayer. It was very good for the whole of the metal scene as it really created discussion and excitement amongst the fans and media, which can only be a good thing at the end of the day.
Just going back to Iron Maiden again, to see them filling arenas and playing the old stuff alongside tracks off ‘Book of Souls‘ is fantastic, just like Metallica who did so well with ‘Hardwired..‘ they are playing new and old material to a huge demographic of fans giving all the generations of fans a show that they can be proud of.
It’s important not to try to survive from the glory days, as it’s too much of a risk and you end up not trying anything new and can find yourself in a stagnant place. The radio show I do back in Brazil with my son is a fine example of how exciting new music is coming from everywhere. I’m hearing new stuff every day and being totally blown away by it all. For example, there is Project 46, Claustrofobia and Nervosa who are all from Brazil then there’s the revival of thrash metal with bands like Municipal Waste and Havok, who are mind-blowing.
I understand what you are saying as there are not many bands that are playing rock or metal. A recent report in Brazil just came out stating that guitar sales in the country had dropped by 80%, then you have Gibson Guitars being bankrupt, which is just amazing to me! We need a new Eddie Van Halen, someone that can inspire a whole new generation of kids to pick up the guitar and start playing instead of pressing buttons. My oldest son is all about music, but my other 12-year-old son is not that interested as he’s part of what they call ‘the internet generation’, which is kind of concerning to me.
OD – When you look at a band like Royal Blood. They managed to bring guitar-driven music back to the mainstream charts and they were pretty much the only band representing rock, on a global basis.
ANDREAS – We need more of that to happen. Back in the late 70’s, there was kind of a similar situation with the likes of Sabbath, Zeppelin and Deep Purple pretty much on the way out as Punk began to become more popular with their three chords and no solo structure. Then disco took over and just when we thought it was all over, Van Halen came and brought guitars back into music in a huge way. We need a saviour that like that again. These days the kids are like ‘aww my fingers hurt’ and I’m like ‘yes, your fingers are gonna hurt, now keep playing” (laughing).
OD – With regards to new material, has there been any writing happening and if so, would it be correct to assume that it’s a natural progression to “Machine Messiah”?
ANDREAS – I’m always writing new material. Right now, I’m working on the new De La Tierra stuff with my friends. We are planning to record a new album in January of next year and am currently in the process of working on that material. Also, with regards to Sepultura, I’m laying down some new ideas while out here on the road. I’ve got my pro-tools on the bus and even use my smartphone to log my ideas, when and where I can.
I have some demos also completed for another solo album, but that’s way down the list of things to do right now. I know that Eloy (Casagrande, Sepultura drums) is working on some new drum loops and ideas for the next album but it’s very early days right now.
OD – Jens (Bogren, producer) influence with this album has been discussed in the past especially when the album was released last year, but I wanted to ask you about ‘Phantom Self,’ as the orchestral arrangement was a new thing for you guys. Can you see yourself writing more of this into the music going forward because it sounds epic?
ANDREAS – This album really opened lots of ideas for us and with the 30th anniversary shows a few years back and the ‘Mediator‘ album, being a poignant time in the band’s career, I feel that we closed a big volume of many chapters of our history over the first 3o year’s and now with ‘Derrick‘ it feels like we are starting a new phase in the bands legacy.
I feel that everything we tried on ‘Machine Messiah‘ really worked in my opinion. All of Jens suggestions and ideas that were really outside of our comfort zone helped us to become a better band and push our boundaries. So yeah, I really want to explore more new ideas, possibly some classical guitar, kind of like I did on ‘Iceberg Dances’ and I know Derrick is really into trying some more melodic stuff going forward, so there’s lots to look forward too.
In saying that, everything has got to be connected to the concept of the new album. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it’s going to be a “concept album” but we have to have some type of concept, name or vision which will help us to write the songs and shape the sound and feel of the album.
OD – Would you ever consider doing the full orchestra show again like you did back in 2011 for Virada Cultural festival in São Paulo?
ANDREAS – The arrangements of the orchestra was completely amazing to me and really transformed the music. I would love to do that again and even better, take it on the road. We really wanted to bring in something really different with that show. With all due respect to Metallica, I feel that they didn’t really stray off the path with the songs when they were with the orchestra and it felt a little ‘safe’ for want of a better word.
They (Metallica) didn’t really change anything about the performance. In our case, we really wanted to shake things up and try new things and see where it could take us, sonically.
OD – It would be fantastic to see that tour happen. Can you imagine doing say a show in London, New York, Brazil, with the full orchestra?
ANDREAS – Aww man, that would be incredible. I would love to do that. I’m getting chills just at that the thought of that happening. We just want to try new things and are not afraid of running away from new things and in fact, we tend to run towards the unknown, because you just never know what might happen.
‘Machine Messiah‘ is out NOW via Nuclear Blast. Order your copy via this link.
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