David E. Gehlke of DeadRhetoric.com recently conducted an interview with SEPULTURA guitarist Andreas Kisser. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
DeadRhetoric.com: Since you're working with Ross [Robinson] again, it makes one think of the first time you recorded with him, which is when down-tuning became really big with bands like KORN and the DEFTONES doing it. Max [Cavalera] was always a big proponent of it; were you as well?
Kisser: At the beginning, not much. I was skeptical of the low tuning because bands like KORN or the DEFTONES, they don't have the fast pace of SEPULTURA's music. I was concerned to lose that kind of fast ability and the picking, the heavy picking on sloppy, low strings. But there are so many possibilities of using heavier-gauge strings, which give that kind of tension, and you don't lose that ability to play fast. "Trauma Of War", the song that opens the [new SEPULTURA] album, it's in low tuning, but it's a very fast song, but we don't lose that kind of ability. I learned how to do deal with that, and you open a lot of worlds in music, but yeah, at the beginning I was a little skeptical.
DeadRhetoric.com: Your very first meeting with Derrick, what do you remember the most about it?
Kisser: It was great. He came down from the States to Brazil because we were holding auditions with different people in Brazil. Derrick came down after the demo and he did "Choke". I have "Choke" with so many different singers [including Marc Grewe of MORGOTH; Phil Demmel of MACHINE HEAD and VIO-LENCE; Jason "Gong" Jones of DROWNING POOL; and Jorge Rosado of MERAUDER) some day I'll release it with all the different versions. Even Chuck Billy from TESTAMENT, he did a tryout. It was interesting the way he sang "Choke" and stuff. It would be cool to put it out some day. Derrick was for the future, though. We weren't looking for somebody similar to Max, or trying to replace him with a clone. Different visuals different attitude we liked Derrick we felt he could really grow up and be into simple terms is it, which he did. His vocals are great, he's very diverse, he can do melodic stuff and aggressive shit, and he hardly loses his voice. He's very professional and he takes care of his voice on tour and everything. He's great. He's a guy who is also very intelligent. We talk a lot about different movies, documentaries, books, and we do lyrics together. We come up with song titles, concepts, and everything. He's a great partner in that respect.
DeadRhetoric.com: Personality-wise with Derrick, did you guys connect fairly quickly?
Kisser: I think it was different for him. He came to Brazil, replacing Max Cavalera, which was very hard in the beginning — being black as well in such a racist society everywhere in the world, not only in America. It's great that he was able to face all this with great courage and great professionalism. SEPULTURA as well, with somebody like him in the band, and we said what we always said, that we're for justice and equality, and respect. We live that; we not only say that for the lyrical purposes. We really are what we are. He was the best choice for us. He's a guy who could understand the SEPULTURA way of living, of hard touring everywhere and we can survive in a bus together without wanting to kill each other and stuff. [laughs] We have the same type of ideas and conversations. I think Derrick was the perfect guy for us, and it shows.
DeadRhetoric.com: The big vocalist search in 1997 and '98, was your head spinning from all the submissions?
Kisser: Oh yeah, definitely. Right after Max left at the end of '96, back in January and February of '97, me, Igor [Cavalera, drums], and Paulo [Xisto Pinto Jr., bass] got together and started writing new stuff. We didn't want to play any old stuff. We didn't want try people out on something like "Refuse/Resist". That would be too easy, so we wanted to see the new guy singing something he never heard before; we wanted to see his input and his ideas and his possibilities with the vocals. We took eight to nine months just as a trio. We had the idea of staying as a trio, me being the singer and I even took vocal classes and tried to do demos, but I sing like crap. [laughs] I was the first singer of SEPULTURA that received a "no." [laughs]
DeadRhetoric.com: I've seen and heard you do backup vocals — you don't have a bad voice.
Kisser: I can use my voice fairly well, I can scream, but to be a singer and to embrace it, it's much more than having a good voice. You have to embrace something different. I am a guitar player. I didn't want to lose my guitar playing time just to embrace something that I am not. I don't want to force the situation. The trio time was great — we didn't do any live shows or anything, but we were practicing and trying out stuff, putting our heads in place, without making any big decisions with the turmoil that was going on. We resolved everything with Max, we signed all the papers, he's out, he didn't want anything to do with SEPULTURA. He left, and we started looking for a new singer. Then when Derrick came at the beginning of '98, he moved out to Brazil, and we started our journey.
You can read the entire interview at DeadRhetoric.com.
Chuck Billy's (TESTAMENT) audition tape for SEPULTURA - "Choke" sample:
SEPULTURA - sample of demo version of the song "Common Bonds" with Andreas Kisser on lead vocals: