Sepultura – Spontaneous IntensitySunday, 1st August 2021
Making the best of a global touring shutdown due to COVID-19, Sepultura created a weekly social media outlet called Sepulquarta – opening conversation to their fans about a variety of topics and also performing many of their catalog favorites. Incorporating some of their favorite musicians locally and abroad, the band wasn’t intending on putting together a record – but organically Sepulquarta is born. Fifteen tracks with passion, going through all eras of the band. We reached out to guitarist Andreas Kisser to get the scoop on this spontaneous record, the collaboration aspect, his new meditation practice while quitting alcohol consumption, thoughts on soccer, and how much he’s enjoying life in his fifties.
Dead Rhetoric: The latest album for Sepultura is SepulQuarta – recorded during the pandemic quarantine and featuring numerous special guests from the metal and rock community. Tell us about the genesis of this idea to revisit the back catalog of the band in this special way – and which performances stand out to you the most?
Andreas Kisser: This album was not really planned at the beginning. We had our album Quadra that came out in February 2020, and the whole tour mapped out and ready to go. And then in March 2020, the pandemic and quarantine, lockdowns took place. We couldn’t do anything, rehearse, tour, be a band, anything. We invented this event every Wednesday online, that we called Sepulquarta. We had a Q and A, open questions and chat with our fans, perform songs in the back catalog. We started playing the new material and then along the way we started playing the old stuff. And then we started calling friends to be with us and start jamming some of these songs together – also talk about different subjects outside of the music and Sepultura, about depression, environment, sports, etc. It was a great event – we did it Wednesday by Wednesday.
At the end of 2020 when we finished this, we looked back, and we had amazing material in our hands. A lot of Sepultura songs played with our friends, amazing musicians. We decided to choose fifteen songs and put them on an album, to come out later. It was an album created by itself. We mixed and mastered it properly, it was very unexpected. It’s not either a live album, or a studio album. It’s a very unique situation and a very unique way of recording. There are some vocalists that are singing on this from their bathrooms. The drummer may have recorded their drums with an iPhone in their backyard. It was very homemade, and that’s why it works so great. Everyone was very professional, sending their material in time for our guys to edit. I’m not a professional mixer, I put my ProTools in place. We kept the band working with a purpose, which was important.
“Territory” and “Inner Self” with two bass players was unique. “Ratamahatta” with three drummers. “Hatred Aside” with four singers, three of them female singers from the Brazilian metal scene. Alex Skolnick and Scott Ian, both good friends, we jam these songs on stage before. And of course “Orgasmatron” with Phil Campbell, that was really special. Of course it’s not a Sepultura song, but it’s considered almost a song of ours as it was a cover that was emblematic of our career in general. The tours we did together with Motörhead, we are very good friends.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you think scheduling this every Wednesday gave the band purpose and what did you enjoy most about some of the conversations you had with the fans?
Kisser: Definitely, it gave everything to the band. We used technology like everyone else. We had never heard about Zoom before. All the meetings we can do now that we didn’t do before because we were in individual places. It was a learning experience, and we were doing what we were learning. Very open to improve, open spaces and room and widen the spaces of the subjects and talks that we had. One of the very special conversations we had was about skateboarding. We had Bob Burnquist, Steve Caballero, all the masters – eight masters talking about everything. The fans were a part of it, making questions and making donations to organizations that were going through very difficult times. Especially in the entertainment industry, road crews, venues, and they still are. The whole business stopped. It was very positive and great. It was an intense learning experience that kept the band together.
Dead Rhetoric: Has Derrick’s approach to the different eras of discography with Max changed vocally now that he has been with the band since the late 1990’s – and how did you handle the initial response from the Sepultura faithful who may have been cautious in accepting him into the fold?
Kisser: Just jamming, touring, working. I respect opinions, they are there and you can express them. I’m not going to agree with them all. We have a different source of motivation. Ourselves, our goals, improving ourselves as musicians – I studied music growing up, read, and try to get different sources of information and influences to write. Quadra was amazing research that we did for more than a year, including all the recording, rehearsing, and writing. We are not here to please everyone.
The criticism is there, especially with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, everyone is speaking up about everything. Everyone is a scientist, or a doctor, or a sports specialist. We have to deal with that in our normal lives. It’s a part of the show. It doesn’t bother me. It’s not going to change anything to me.
Dead Rhetoric: What still excites you or keeps you happy when it comes to Sepultura? Where have you seen the biggest changes or growth in the band from your initial time entering the fold until now?
Kisser: The present that we have today, we are now in our best moments. We have an amazing history behind us, but here we are. That’s motivation enough. Especially with the pandemic, we had to cancel things, reschedule stuff, interact differently in the new world. We can show ourselves in many different ways. Even if my favorite place is to be on stage – that’s where I want to be as an artist. At the same time, it’s great to see Sepultura survive and explore new ways of being a band. This new album is an amazing achievement that we didn’t expect. We are living in the present, you miss a lot of situations that are happening now if you plan for the future too much. You have a calendar, goals, you have to respect the momentum and respect your own feelings and senses. It was a fertile situation, everyone was into doing their parts, it’s very inspiring to all of us.
Dead Rhetoric: Considering the global appeal of Sepultura and heavy metal music – what do you consider are key factors to the enduring passion and support for the band and the genre, especially when you have now crossed over into a second and third generation of fans?
Kisser: Being honest. Not trying to be what we are not. We have 35-36 years of a career, more than 80 countries that we have visited. Regardless of religion or politics, and here we are. We aren’t going to repeat Roots, Chaos A.D., or Roorback – whatever album we have done. We are not trying to fake or fool anyone. It’s great. Losing and gaining fans, that is normal in anyone’s career. Especially when you change members in the band. And that’s the story of rock ‘n’ roll. I remember until today I had friends where we would discuss – Dio or Ozzy? David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar? That kind of stuff. It’s very healthy, that’s what rock and roll is all about. Black Sabbath, they created a lot of fans and bands between them: Rainbow, Whitesnake, etc. As long as we are in the present dealing with the situation now and facing every day and not trying to live a myth or character from the past, everything happens for a reason.
Dead Rhetoric: How has the work of the band shaped your outlook and viewpoints on humanity, and where do you think people in general need to spend more time and energy on to make this world a better, healthier, and safer place for all?
Kisser: I wish I knew it! (laughs). That’s very deep. We have to start not slowly, but in small steps. Take care of where you live, small things. Small relationships to people, respect people, respect different religions. We travel so much and see so many different ways of the world, the history, and the cosmos, religion and creation. And they are all beautiful. It doesn’t mean that we will educate in a way that this is the only truth. There are many truths, many ways of dealing with different energies. Music, art, and culture has a lot to do with that. It helps people express things that they can’t express with words. Vibrations help to express music. We have this connection through our music, and this is something very powerful that we still have, the possibility to still do when the tours are back.
The relationship we have with our fans is still there, because they support us. The fans participate with buying the albums, touring, merchandise, they keep us alive.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you think would surprise people about Sepultura when it comes to the work and business ethics away from the music – as we all know to keep a band this active and thriving since the 1980’s, it’s a total mind, body, and spirit process as a team?
Kisser: No doubt about it. It’s everything. That’s where we put a lot of our energy, with our families as well. It’s all connected to make this happen. We have our brand, especially in Brazil, in different products. The beer, we have a spice sauce, we have a Sepultura tequila. Different merchandising that we do with different companies. You see the brands going places that you didn’t imagine going before. It’s really cool to meet different people out of the music business, to see how they deal with money, the promotion, how to sell a physical product. It opens up collaborations that are really cool.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ll finally get the chance to properly support your last studio album from 2020 Quadra soon. How do you think it will feel to finally be able to play live shows in front of audiences again after this extended break? And do you believe there will be a new found resurgence and appreciation for live performances and the performing arts that may have been lacking before the pandemic?
Kisser: Maybe, I hope so. We are seeing the announcements for festivals. Here in Brazil, things are going slowly. The population is starting to get vaccinated. Let’s go step by step. We are working very hard to go back on stage as soon as possible, to perform our new album Quadra. We want to be on the road in 2022, and make up for all the stuff that we didn’t do in 2020. See where we are then, take things step by step.
Dead Rhetoric: Now that you are in your fifties, what is left personally on your bucket list of goals or experiences you want to achieve that you haven’t been able to at this point – either with Sepultura or in your own personal wishes?
Kisser: It’s funny. I was thinking about it… it seems to me that the fifties has started a whole new life. I feel better than ever as a musician, as a composer, as a writer, more and more. The relationship with my family. I quit alcohol a year and a half ago, that really changed a lot of things in my life for the better. My relationships especially with my family. It was even before the quarantine that I made that decision. It was one of the best things that I did. I started meditating, doing more of the body, exercising more. And reading a little more. Maybe seeking for more quality. The possibilities with organic food, I’m not vegan – that isn’t my goal. It’s great that you see possibilities of eating better, as we are in a situation that I still struggle with my youngest son at 14, 15 years old – he still eats like shit. All the nuggets and stuff – no greens, no fruits. I try to teach by example, and not by rule. Try to be better so he can see the results are there. You really improve your life, at least it’s happening to me. I’ve lost a little weight as well, getting ready for the road. It’s going to be tough, and we will slowly get our rhythm back.
Dead Rhetoric: You say you’ve substituted the alcohol practice with meditation – what do you enjoy most about meditation?
Kisser: I quit alcohol around March of 2020, and I started meditation around October. Something like that. It’s about breathing, cold showers/ ice baths. Really connecting to my body and my mind as well, inside. Once you quit alcohol, a lot of open possibilities happen. I realized alcohol was a big part of my life, and making choices for me regarding where we would go to eat, vacations. I decided I didn’t want to live like that anymore. It opens more possibilities now for my day, especially during quarantine. I’m here every day, something I never had in my life. I made the best of a horrible situation as I could. I like to believe I’ve improved a lot.
Dead Rhetoric: Being avid sports followers in the group – any predictions for how the upcoming football/ soccer world cup will go, will you be rooting for the Brazilian team or are there other favorites you follow in the mix?
Kisser: I’ve been watching the European Cup, the games are very level. Brazil- Argentina as well are the best in the Copa Cup. The usual suspects – Germany, France, Spain, and Italy are ones to watch. All the teams are playing well, playing tough. Denmark in a surprise. Teams like the Czech Republic, Ukraine as well.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s next on the agenda for Sepultura now that borders are starting to open up – will the next year or two be spent making up for lost ground through touring and festival opportunities? Has work behind the scenes already begun piecing together material for the follow-up record?
Kisser: Writing, we are always writing. Eloy and I are always in touch, riffs and drum loops. We are building things. We want to tour Quadra, get back on the road and represent our last album properly.