Andreas Kisser needs no formal introduction to most metal fans. He has been the main guitar player for Brazilian metal legends Sepultura for over 25 years and is the songwriter for some of the most classic Sepultura songs out there. Sepultura's latest album "The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart" is in some ways a return to some of the band's classic sound with bits of old school thrash thrown in but the album is also one of their most heaviest and darkest albums to date. As we found out talking to Andreas about their latest effort, the introduction of a new drummer and the return of "Roots" producer Ross Robinson were crucial keys to the new album's sound.
Andrew: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, it's much appreciated.
Andreas: Thank you man, it's a pleasure!
Andrew: I just wanted to talk about the new album "The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart". I've been listening to the album and it's a great album, one of the heaviest ones you have put out in a while. I understand it was inspired by the film "Metropolis" but can you tell us a bit about what the album is about?
Andreas: Yeah thank you man! We are very happy with the result, the album publicly has been getting a very positive response. The title came from the movie "Metropolis" from Germany but it's not a conceptual album about the movie. We did not do a sountrack from the movie like we did Dante XXI or A-lex which we did from books, we just took the traits from the movie and it inspired us to write about freedom, about everything that we see in the world today that we have the privilege to travel to. We want more freedom to talk about different topics that are true and close to the movie. The traits are very powerful, the movie shows a robotized society and this millionaire transforms a robot into a real person. And the main message through-out the movie, the beginning and the end, it shows we cannot replace our hearts, our human ability to have and express an idea. If you have information in your head and actions through your hands, you guide with your heart and not hold back any type of questioning. You are not acting like a robot. So that was very inspiring to us, to write about different people who view that society is more robotic than ever, through the media and movies and internet. I think you have to be careful that you do not really be totally enslaved and controlled by that fact. So that's more or less what we tried to convey on this album through the lyrics and the heaviness and darkness and the fast stuff that we got back a little bit that we used to do a little more in the past.
Andrew: Songs like "Trauma Of War" and "Vatican", they're bordering on old school thrash even a bit of death metal, it sounds so brutal and heavy. So was it because it was emotionally charged or was it all inspired by the film?
Andreas: Like I said, it's not really the film that inspired, it's more the traits itself. And the traits transform into what we see today. Musically a lot of the stuff has to do with our drummer as well. Eloy Casagrande has the ability to show a new way of possibilities. He's 22 years old, besides being young he's very experienced, he's played with lot's of people. He has lots of metal in his blood, he has that thrash metal kind of craving. He's loved Sepultura since an early age, he knows our music very well but I think he brought back a little bit of that kind of human (element). Our previous drummer Jean Dolabella was a little more technical and he's an amzing drummer as well but he does not have a metal background. Although he knew a little bit of metal and played the style very well, he didn't know it that well so I think the stuff that Roy brought gave us that new possibility to do stuff like the thrash speedy faster drum beats that we used to do a lot in the early days.
Andrew: Ross Robinson produced the new album and the last time you worked with him was on the Roots album. How was it working with him again?
Andreas: It was amazing! We love Ross, he's a great guy and a great producer. When we worked on Roots, it was one of the most important albums in our career, not only for Sepultura but also for Ross himself. It was great to see him after so many years and when we had the opportunity to work together again, he understands Sepultura so much. He's very spiritual, very organic, he didn't want the album to sound like a machine, no click on the drums, none of the pro-tools. The concept of the album also warranted it in the recording, just to be sure that the balance that we had without being attached to the technical stuff that we have to be. Even on Roots we used all that digital equipment but now he brought his own experience and can add different atmospheres and it keeps the music alive. We always try to bring the Sepultura sound that we have on stage live into the studio and I think with Ross we kind of managed to achieve that finally.
Andrew: It sounds amazing as well, how much of an influence did he have on the album? Was there some Roots thing going or any nostalgia?
Andreas: No I mean Ross worked with us on the last stage. We wrote the music in the studio here in Sao Paulo, me and Eloy wrote the music together. The drums and the guitars were really the base of everything and then Derrick (Green, vocalist) came in and brought vocal lines and Paulo (JR, bass) with bass lines and then at the last stage of course Ross came. We went into the studio in Venice Beach where we recorded the album and we gave the songs to him and then he came with suggestions and he was crucial. He made a big difference especially on finding the sound and the right atmosphere for the songs. It was really a group effort that you hear on the album and there's something that we respect about that, it's amazing. It's a different process when a new person comes in to complete that.
Andrew: For the drumming you had a new guy Eloy Casagrande which is his first album with you guys and he did a fantastic job. How was it recording with him?
Andreas: He's great man! Like I said, he has lots of experience, he has a great heart and is dedicated and professional, he was ready. Being in Sepultura from his side is a dream and it shows. It's great to have somebody who wants to be there more than anything else. His drumming is fantastic, I think he really stepped up. He never did something like that before, that type of music so extreme. Ross was also great to push ourselves to break that music, to really do like we do in live performing, we really had a great time with Ross. He really understood the way we wanted to record, without the drum click and everything. He was amazing, did an amazing job.
Andrew: I noticed that Dave Lombardo does a guest spot on "Obsessed" which is another great song on the album. How did his appearance come about?
Andreas: Yeah that was something really cool, it wasn't planned at all. Ross' studio in Venice Beach is a beautiful place and Dave Lombardo was there on Venice Beach having a good time with his kids and dogs and he called Ross and said 'hey I'm around, what's going on?' and Ross invited him to the studio and said 'Sepultura is here, do you wanna jam?' and he says 'Yeah why not!' and then he was there! We spent a few hours with that and we put together a 2 man drumset and Lombardo was thinking 'OK let's start jamming!' and that was inspired by the song that we wanted to have something special there. Dave is such a great guy, he's one of our biggest idols. Slayer has been such a big influence on Sepultura and to have him on the album is an honour and a privilege. The way it happened was even better, it was not like that kind of bureaucracy and all that kind of crap, it happened so naturally that it's even better
Andrew: Yeah after seeing his name on the album I thought that was amazing because he is such a fantastic drummer. Do you think if the opportunity came up you would ever consider him to join Sepultura?
Andreas: Ah wow I don't know, I don't think so! I think he was with Slayer at the time, still jamming and everything and of course Paul Bostaph I jammed with him in different projects and I know getting him as the drummer was an idea because at the time Bostaph was not really doing anything, maybe he was with Testament or something I don't know. But we wanted to have a Brazilian drummer, the Brazilian way of playing drums is very natural. It's something that you cannot really fake or learn, either you have the ability or you don't.
Andreas: Whether you grew up here or in Chicago or other places, even if you hate it at least give it a go. It's a beautiful thing that only happens in the zoo and at the Carnival and other stuff, it's so percussive, so musical. But I think we've been wanting a Brazilian drummer that ideally had that natural ability and fortunately we found someone who had that. We've been very lucky that we could find a drummer like Eloy who's perfect for us.
Andrew: What's next for Sepultura? Touring wise there's a lot of fans in Australia who are screaming for Sepultura to come back, any plans to come over here anytime?
Andreas: Wow man it's been 10 years! It's terrible, it's a shame. We haven't really spent much time to be able to do a proper worldwide tour and now people are ready. I think this album has been received very positively, everyone's doing a great job, we have this new label and I think the moment's right and for 2014 we are definitely going to be there and about time!
Andrew: Yeah we would love to see you back sometime! Well as I said the new album sounds great, "The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart" is one of the best albums you have put out in the last 20 years. Thanks for talking to us and I hope everything goes well for you!
Andreas: Thanks very much man, it's been a pleasure talking to you and I hope we see you soon!
Andreas spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe October 31 2013