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A space between risk and unknown territory. It’s from here that Andreas Kisser believes creative expression springs. Coming from Sepultura’s long-hauling guitarist it’s not too difficult to believe.
Returning to the group’s inception and tracking it through the many changes of a 33-year career, there’s a restless creativity which defines. With a terminal aversion to repeating the past, every one of the Brazilian heavies’ 14 albums instils their sound with a new feeling of possibility.
Outside of the studio Kisser reveals that he operates on a simpler ethos. Another one sitting in the middle of two ideas, this time not entirely complimentary. He’s looking to hold the band together but at the same time striving to embrace life in the moment.
Latest record Machine Messiah pulls this overarching creative impetus and focus on the present together. As the title suggests, it draws from the anxiety of losing perspective amidst technological innovation and change. Hard-edged thrash, power, anger and primal aggression mediated through the screen of a smartphone. With part of our human selves irrevocably lost to new technology, it’s time to ask how to grab hold of what’s left.
Striking a resonant chord, it’s unified by one final philosophy. At least as Kisser sees it. The idea that the future will, very strongly be, a consequence of our actions of today.
I think we are in one of our best moments in our career with a great album, a great label, and an amazing following all over the place.
[ Andreas Kisser ]
Hysteria: Documentaries, countless tours and now 14 albums under your belt. Are there any mountains you’ve yet to climb?
Andreas Kisser: Oh yea man, many mountains ahead of us. I don’t know, we have 33 years of a career. We did so many different things. With all the history—the ups, the downs–I think we are in one of our best moments in our career with a great album, a great label, and an amazing following all over the place. It’s a great momentum, really exciting for us.
And that’s it. We are a band that really enjoy living the moment you know? The Present. Of course, we have our plans for the future and everything, but we don’t look too far ahead. We respect so much what we’re doing now, and we have a whole year of touring and a we have the plan to release our movie, Sepultura Endurance, on DVD format plus the concert we’ll do with Rock in Rio and basically another album in 2019—maybe who knows?
But the challenges will be ahead of us y’know, it’s something that we take day by day. To keep this band alive? It’s a challenge big enough. So many changes within the band and outside with technology, but we’re still around enjoying ourselves. [Laughs] You know that’s enough!
We change members in the band, but we never look for a clone or somebody who could copy the previous musician.
[ Andreas Kisser ]
H: As you’ve said the group has had its fair share of personal and also musical evolutions over the last 33 years. But at the same time, you have had these fans who seem to follow the band no matter where you take them. What is it do you think that keeps drawing them back?
A: I think it is because we are honest with ourselves. We do not try to cheat anyone. I mean, we’re not trying to repeat albums we made in the past or trying to fool the fans around. We are what we are.
We change members in the band, but we never look for a clone or somebody who could copy the previous musician. Everyone who came inside Sepultura and is here now had total freedom starting with myself when I joined the band in 1987. I brought everything I’d got, my lyrical ideas, my guitar playing style and everything. That changed Sepultura a lot. The same with Paul Jr., with Eric [Green] and with Eloy Casagrande!
We’re honest with ourselves. Like it or not we are what we are. We’re not trying to please A, B or C. It’s impossible to please everyone and this is not even our goal you know. I mean our goal is to express ourselves, we have the privilege to be musicians to have a band like Sepultura that is heard all around the world, so we can express ourselves in our lyrics and music.
That’s great and it’s beautiful. We really feel privileged to have this outlet in our expression. It’s great that we’re still around and feel very motivated to do what we do.
I mean our goal is to express ourselves, we have the privilege to be musicians to have a band like Sepultura that is heard all around the world
[ Andreas Kisser ]
H: Tell me about the new LP. Machine Messiah, what kind of headspace were you in when writing and going in to record it?
A: Again, we have the privilege to travel the world and we see the world with our own eyes and ears. We been everywhere, 76 countries–77 countries because we’ve just been to visit Thailand for the first time a few months ago–and everywhere we go it’s a new influence. It’s something that we use to create lyrics and topics.
With today, with smartphones and technology being everywhere, a part of every human being, that’s what we talk about. Trying to find a balance with technology without losing our human abilities of talking to each other or having a human interaction. It seems like we’re losing touch with each other in trying to make the robots resolve everything for us.
In general, what we see today, what we use today is not like a futuristic sci-fi, it’s not a new topic or idea it’s something that we see. It doesn’t matter if you are in the United States, in Georgia or in South Africa, people are using smartphones in communicating with each other and in a way losing touch with each other.
Even at concerts! People are losing their time not watching the concert but filming the concert! Little things like that that we see day-to-day, not only in Brazil but everywhere we travel. It’s what we see today and our perspective on things and trying to save our human half!
Trying to find a balance with technology without losing our human abilities of talking to each other or having a human interaction. It seems like we’re losing touch with each other in trying to make the robots resolve everything for us.
[ Andreas Kisser ]
H: Some of it at least! So Andreas you’ve worked with violins and horns before on your past albums, but here you’ve combined the two really tastefully and with a really light touch to create some grander symphonic elements. What gave birth to the idea of bringing in the whole orchestral section?
A: That was great man! That was a suggestion from Jens Bogren the producer. We had the demo and of course we try to be as ready as we can but also, we leave room to work in the studio. To improvise and create new ideas and of course the input from the producer. We had a lot of room for percussion, guitar leads and maybe extra vocals. A lot of stuff was not really defined.
Jens really felt that the violins could have a strong presence in some specific songs. And everything he suggested really worked. Of course, we’re very open to any idea. Some ideas don’t work, and some ideas are not really doable or whatever.
But everything he suggested was great for the song and music. It opened new possibilities for us in the future to really work with those elements a little more, to expand the possibilities of having music with violins and all the different instruments that we’ve used on Machine Messiah.
We’re never really too scared to try out new things or to risk. You’re only going to do something new on the unknown territory. That’s always a risk, but that’s where art really lives. Where you’re going to do something new or original or different at least. So it was great that Jens really felt the music is was making the right suggestions and taking the right direction. It was great!
H: Do you have a personal favourite or standout track?
A: We are playing a lot of the new stuff on tour, basically five or six songs. They are great to jam live, but I think Machine Messiah and the Iceberg Dances are really, really cool to play live. They’re very different songs for Sepultura, I’m using the acoustic guitar on stage for the first time on the guitar stand. It’s great! It’s a new challenge for us live, it’s working amazingly great. Those are my two favourites.
H: You’re also bringing the new album to Australia! What can fan expect?
A: It’s to play the album like I said, it’s the Machine Messiah Tour, playing a lot of the new stuff. But of course, playing the old stuff. We have the room to celebrate the whole career of Sepultura.
We’re also celebrating 20 years of Derrick Green in the band and 20 years of Against which is amazing. So we might put a few different songs on the setlist to mark that phase. We have a lot to choose from. We’re going to do a very special show in Australia for sure. It’s going to be great!
H: You’ve been thrashing out heavy metal for thirty-three years now. Where do you see yourselves in another 30? Is it a beast that will just keep going?
A: I hope so man! It would be very difficult 35 years ago to imagine we’d still be doing what we do you know? But the future will very strongly be a consequence of what we do today. The most important thing is now and that’s why we’re still here. Almost 34 years of living the present and building something really special. Let’s see if in another thirty years we can do another interview and talk about it!
Catch Sepultura on their Machine Messiah Tour with special guests Death Angel at the following dates:
Friday 11 May // The Studio // Auckland
Saturday 12 May // San Fran // Wellington
Sunday 13 May // The Foundry // Christchurch
Tuesday 15 May // 170 Russell // Melbourne
Wednesday 16 May // The Gov // Adelaide
Thursday 17 May // The Northern // Byron Bay
Friday 18 May // Eatons Hill hotel // Brisbane
Saturday 19 May // Metro Theatre // Sydney
Sunday 20 May // Capitol // Perth