Revisiting the Roots: An Interview with Sepultura


Two years after the acclaimed album Kairos the Brazilian thrash metal titans Sepultura are back with The Mediator between the Head and Hands Must be the Heart. With every new Sepultura album countless rumors and speculations arise regarding a reunion with the former, founding members Max and Igor Cavalera , but this time the band decided to shut everyone up by hiring the renowned producer Ross Robinson, who had previously worked with Sepultura on their legendary record, Roots. With new found energy, a fresh line-up and under Ross’ guidance Sepultura are determined to prove that the band is stronger than ever and here to stay.

We spoke to singer Derrick Green about the new album, the recording process and much more.

Read our review of The Mediator between the Head and Hands Must be the Heart here!

“Ross Robinson was able to bring out the performance in all of us, to really have us dig deep into the meaning behind why we are doing these songs and why we wrote these songs.”

Metal Blast: You have a new album out, The Mediator between the Head and Hands Must be the Heart, your second album released with Nuclear Blast records. How does this album compare to the previous one, Kairos.
Derrick Green: I think this album is a little darker and very sinister. We worked in the US, and it’s been many years since we’ve worked there on an album. We worked with the producer Ross Robinson with whom we had worked on the Roots album. We’ve also worked with a new drummer, who’s been playing with us for two years and this marks the first recording with all of us together. So I think that these are the elements that create an entirely different album, in terms of sound and everything. It’s always natural for us to do something different from the previous albums in every aspect.

MB: You chose the famous quote from 1927 movie “Metropolis” as the title of your album. Is there a common theme connecting all of the tracks lyrically.
DG: I think so. The idea of the album is to put our passion and our hearts into what we’re doing, to show that not everybody is perfect and to dig deep into our own personal feelings along with a lot of things that are going on around us. It shows that sometimes this feeling of being weak and only human is a part of being alive, a part of the process of being human and not a robot. 2.40

MB: I’ve read on you website that the recording of this album was done old-school, in Andreas Kisser’s words: “no fake studio tricks, we were jamming together in the room exploding in an energy so strong you could grab it.” How important do you think this aspect of the band recording together is in the age where most band rely heavily upon the internet, sometimes never even seeing each other during the recording sessions?
DG: I think it’s essential. To be in a band you have to be together and communicate, and the best communication is the old-fashioned way, face to face. We’ve had such a great bond developed in the recording studio as we all stayed in the same house. The studio was in the house, Ross’ house. So we were all connected; we’d wake up in the morning and we’d start recording and we could go late into the night. We could always pop ideas off of each other even when we weren’t working because we’re always around each other. And we had the energy, we were focused on doing the best that we possibly could just by giving it all. So I think it’s extremely important and you can hear that in the music as well, it’s very honest and very real.

Derrick Green (Photo: S. Bollmann)

MB: Having hired Ross Robinson for the first time since 17 years, were you planning on revisiting your roots (no pun intended), moving forward or getting the best of both old and new Sepultura sound.
DG: I think the idea was getting the best of the new Sepultura sound. Ross was already on that page, he wanted to bring out what we had. We came to him with the songs and he enjoyed most of them. He was able to bring out the performance in all of us, to really have us dig deep into the meaning behind why we are doing these songs and why we wrote these songs. I think we were looking at that moment in time, it’s the most important thing and the only thing that we can really control, so we took advantage of that.

MB: How did the collaboration between Ross and you go? Were there some compromises to be made on either side?
DG: The process was extremely comfortable. At the same time there were definitely some compromises made. There were a few songs that we took off from the album, but it’s something we all agreed on. In the end you know that it was not the best idea you had written. So there were some really good compromises which totally made sense in the end. I think that you have to be open to have those in order to work properly with other people.

MB: The album features a guest appearance by Dave Lombardo, Slayer’s legendary (now former) drummer, on the track “Obsessed.” How did this collaboration come to be?
DG: It came together pretty naturally. Dave was in the neighborhood, he was out with his kids and their dog. Ross asked Dave to stop by, and I know Dave had wanted to see Eloy Casagrande, our drummer, play. So he came by, he wasn’t expecting to play and we weren’t expecting him to play anything. But it just ended up happening, we set up another drum kit and Eloy and Dave started jamming across from each other. In the end we were able to use that on the song, and it is great to have Dave be a part of the album. It just happened one Sunday afternoon.

MB: You’ve enlisted Eloy Casagrande as your drummer back in November 2011. As far as I’m aware he’s 22 years old, so does the age difference affect the chemistry in the band in any way (good or bad)?
DG: I think that his young energy definitely has an impact on the band. It’s just contagious, it’s really bringing us to a super-powered level on stage. It’s great having somebody that can really destroy the drums every night, from the beginning to the end. And we’re all feeling that energy. I think we’re very lucky and fortunate to have him. He’s very focused, very talented drummer and I think that he’s only going to get better. At his age he’s constantly learning and there are a lot of things on this album he never imagined he could do. So it’s great to see and feel that, to be around somebody who wakes up excited about playing.

MB: What can you tell us about your recent collaboration between the band and Les Tambours du Bronx? You’ve been performing quite a lot together. Who came up with that idea, and on whose initiative did it all go down?
DG: It was an idea that we thought about when we were in France and witnessed them playing the same festival we were playing. We saw the raw energy that they had and thought that it would be great to collaborate on something with them. I think Andreas [Kisser] made the first contact with Dominique from the group, and we did a song on the Kairos album (“Structure Violence”). It was just so natural, sending the song to them and having them do what they want on it. But in the end we always wanted to perform live with them. And this collaboration has been going so strong. We just played Rock in Rio for the second time in the past few years. We were playing the small stage, and then we moved to the main stage to do the show. But it’s been great doing some of their songs and adding guitar, bass and vocals to them and then doing Sepultura songs. It’s such a great mix and great power on stage, something visually intense to see. So, it’s something that a lot of people have never seen before, and hopefully we can do more shows in the future as well as record more songs.

MB: You mentioned Rock in Rio. I found out quite recently that you’ve performed with a Brazilian musician Zé Ramalho. I’ve done a little research and found out that he’s a famous Brazilian composer, but being an outsider I’m not quite familiar with his work. Nevertheless, seeing the collaboration on Youtube seemed rather interesting. Can you comment on that a little bit?
DG: Well, he’s from the north-east of Brazil. He’s from the 70’s and his style of music is very psychedelic and dark. A lot of people were really curios, because there are a lot of people who hadn’t heard anything from him in a long time. Our first collaboration was five or six years ago when we did one of his songs (“Dança das Borboletas”) and I sung it in English. It was a part of the soundtrack for a movie (“Lisbela e o Prisioneiro”), and the soundtrack did pretty well. We felt that it would be great to collaborate with him again, do something different not everyone was expecting. We just went in believing in him, believing that our collaboration would go well and it really won the people over. People had no idea what to expect, they were hearing about it and were curious. Once it happened the energy was there and people just fell in love with it. It became a very emotional show and it was a super success, I have to say.

MB: I have to step back to Kairos for a bit… I was quite surprised when I’ve heard that you had hired Roy Z to produce the album, having in mind that Roy Z is a traditional heavy metal producer with bands like Helloween, Judas Priest and Bruce Dickinson in his resume. How did it affect the outcome and from this perspective, are you satisfied with the job he did?
DG: I’m very satisfied. He was definitely the right person at the right time. What’s great about Roy is that he’s a musician and a producer. It helped in so many ways to be in the city with him, get his insight, and have him get this energy flowing out of us. He knows how we play live and he wanted to have that on record, it was our primary goal. And he had wanted to work with the band for such a long time. I remember he approached us year ago, and finally getting this opportunity to work with him was great. It worked out perfectly with him, being with Nuclear Blast for the first album and brought us a lot of attention and new fans with his sound and his ideas.

MB: What’s your opinion on digital music download steadily replacing the conventional, hard copy method of music distribution and what’s your take on piracy?
DG: I think that it’s almost unstoppable at this point. If people really want to get it, they will get it. I mean if they really want it and are really passionate about it, that’s great! But at the same time it’s great to see people at shows, see people support the band in that way. So if they are downloading fine, if they are going to shows – even better, because we really like their support, like to see them showing their faces. I think there will always be people collecting vinyl and dying to have those hard copies the old-school way, so of course we’ll keep producing them. They will always be around.

MB: Do you have any final messages for your fans?
DG: Definitely check out the new album and really listen to it from the front to the end, it was designed in a way that everything is connected. I hope everyone enjoys it and show your support by coming to shows, because that’s what real fans are and real fans do. We hope to see you all there!

The Mediator between the Head and Hands Must be the Heart is out worldwide. Support the band (and us)! Get the album at Amazon US or Amazon UK!

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