On Thursday, June 15, SEPULTURA guitarist Andreas Kisser spoke exclusively to BLABBERMOUTH.NET about the recent departure of drummer and founding member Igor Cavalera and the group's future plans. A transcript of the chat follows:
Q: Igor told me a couple of days ago [read Igor's interview at this location] that it was as far back as December 2004 — during his last European tour with SEPULTURA — that he started having these strong feelings of not enjoying himself on stage and not really wanting to be on the road with the band anymore. Were you aware back then that there were problems? I mean, was it something that you had discussed even during that time?
Andreas: "Yeah, definitely. He wasn't really enjoying that much being away from Brazil. Especially because he was recently separated from his wife, with more than 16 years together and three kids, and he just got a new wife and new kid. I mean, for any man — it doesn't matter what kind of profession you are — it's a crazy deal, it's very disturbing. It's like you have to really review your whole life pretty much. And, of course, SEPULTURA… we were working on the MOTÖRHEAD tour and then working on the new album and stuff. But, you know, we talked a lot, actually. We did pretty much this together. I mean, he was aware of our intention to continue, especially because we had the new album and everything — to do the tours and find Roy [Mayorga, SEPULTURA's fill-in drummer during the European tour with IN FLAMES], etc. I mean, we respect his decision. I cannot [force] someone to be on stage who doesn't feel it. And especially for SEPULTURA — we always gave 100 percent of our everything to be on stage and… I have my family myself and kids, and for me it's hard also to leave, and to be away, but my situation is much more stable. I'm together with my wife for 16 years etc. So it's pretty understandable that he was confused in the head and all — he was not really enjoying being on the road. We had a break — I don't know… around 3-4 months. He said he wanted to treat himself and talk to some people and find some professional help — really put his head in place — but he never really got that feeling back, to be on the road and to promote the new album etc."
Q: Is this the break earlier this year that you are talking about or is this some other break you are referring to?
Andreas: "No, that was last year. It was before we started working on 'Dante XXI'. Well, we were working on 'Dante' since August 2004, but before we went actually into the studio to record and everything, we had this break and all. And we did the album and stuff, and everything was cool, but he was never really giving any signs of being excited to be on the road."
Q: Did it affect the songwriting process as well, in your opinion?
Andreas: "I don't know. Everything affects the songwriting — for good or bad. I mean, it doesn't matter… It could be a good situation or a bad situation. I guess everything [was] positive, because he was really into the album — he brought a lot of ideas. The guy who did the album cover — all the paintings — it was his choice; André Moraes, the co-producer [of the 'Dante' album], he really wanted to work with him and [experiment with] drum loops, and stuff like that. So you know, it was really cool — the studio was fine — but we were concerned to see what would be the next step after the studio; we wanted to have him on the road with us to at least finish the cycle of the album. And then we could stop and think about the future. My intention here now is really to… We found this new drummer from Belo Horizonte [Jean Dolabella, ex-UDORA], also, coincidentally. [Igor and his brother Max formed SEPULTURA in Belo Horizonte before moving to Sao Paulo — Ed.] Our intention is really to finish all the dates that we have ahead of us and try to play as much as we can — to finish the cycle, to honor the contract with SPV etc."
Q: Igor said in the interview I did with him a couple of days ago that there was a point before you guys went to Europe [for the tour with IN FLAMES] when you all apparently agreed to take a break as a band and regroup at some point down the line. But then he said that after you came back from Europe, it seemed like you had changed your mind and you wanted to continue touring, with or without him. Is that how you remember the course of events as well?
Andreas: "Around the whole process, we all changed a lot — not only the band itself, but individually [as well] about what we should do. I mean, before we left for Europe, I went to talk to him and stuff and he wanted to be involved but without being on the road. I thought that was very difficult, you know, because… I mean, he's the best at what he does on stage — playing drums. And I always made it clear that we wanted to finish what we started — to finish with our heads up and not really… like we did with Max on the 'Roots' tour; we had to stop and really review everything. We didn't finish that part of our career. Our intention, really, was to finish this, because we had so much great support from SPV, a lot of excitement, we did the video clip [for 'Convicted in Life'], we just finished the live DVD and all, and the album [received] a lot of really good response overall by fans and critics, and on stage with Roy, it was really awesome — it was amazing to have Roy there [playing] with a lot of passion and putting 100 percent into it. It was really cool that he also brought some suggestions from old songs, to do something different. That was really exciting and stuff. And you know, he knew that our intention was really to finish the cycle and to play as much as we could. And it was very difficult to have him in the band but without him playing on the road. He's great on the merchandising stuff — all the stuff that he did for the band — and the idea was for him to stay doing stuff like that, like making decisions; you know, like continue to work like more as an office guy instead of being on the road. But I guess he decided to announce [his departure] now, because maybe he has some different projects that he wants to move on [with], and he wanted to decide this first. I mean, what can I say? We respect the timing and all, but… It's a sad situation. I wish we could be together still, at least to finish this. I also have my solo album too and I have many other different projects and stuff, but I have a commitment with SEPULTURA, especially with this album and stuff, and I wanna finish this before I start something new."
Q: But I'm not sure if it's completely clear what exactly transpired between January 2006 and June 2006 to cause him to change his mind with regards to his status in the band. From your point of view, was there anything that happened that triggered this announcement — like a disagreement or something of that sort?
Andreas: "I don't know. I think he expected us to stop and… I don't know… finish everything and not continue with SEPULTURA. I don't know. We wanted him to wait, at least to finish this cycle and stuff, and then sit down and decide our future. I have no intentions to record another SEPULTURA album with somebody different. My intention really here is to finish the cycle. Especially because we had a great experience with Roy in Europe. I really believe this new guy is gonna bring a lot of new feelings, a new challenge for us. Our profession is moved by challenge, especially music, as we try so much different stuff and travel so many different places. As long as it's exciting… it's gonna be a whole learning experience. But I don't know… Like I said, he decided to announce [his departure] now, maybe because he has something else going on. Fine. But if I had the choice, I'd rather wait a little more and decide this later, but he decided to do this now, like I said, and we respect his decision."
Q: You said that you have no intentions of recording another SEPULTURA album without Igor. But the first statement that was posted on your web site after Igor made his announcement sort of implied that you would carry on, because I think it said something like, "SEPULTURA will continue."
Andreas: "Yeah, that's kind of decision that we don't have to [make] now. There are so many different elements that could change a lot. Like I said, our intention… We have this guy now, Jean, with us on the drums, we did some tests and stuff, we did some practicing, we were all very impressed by his playing and stuff. Our intention is to play. I don't know if it could go until the end of this year, or the end of next year. Hopefully we can do some festivals in Europe and really represent this album, work this album, and then we [can] decide if we're gonna continue or not. I mean, the message [posted on the web site] is that we're gonna continue with the 'Dante' cycle and see what's next. But what I can tell you now is that I don't feel like doing another SEPULTURA album right now, especially without Igor. It's something that we're not even thinking about. Our attitude is really immediate — really to finish this stuff and really clear this from our life, and finish this and feel good about it, and then make the decision together and talk about it."
Q: Igor also implied in his interview that there were some problems between you guys in the way you communicated and interacted with each other, and that it's something that became worse and worse over time. Do you feel that there were communication problems between Igor and the rest of the band that might have contributed to his decision to leave?
Andreas: "Yeah. I mean, besides Igor being married to Monika [Igor's first wife] for so long, Monika worked with the band also. So after the separation, Igor was finding it very difficult with the day-do-day business of SEPULTURA, especially because Monika was involved. It's really hard to change all the structure, especially because Monika was together [working] with us for so long, so quickly like that. So I guess in that respect the communication between all of us got a little bit weird. Everything around his personal life, or around personal lives, has a very strong influence on what we do together as a band, and he changed a lot. It's very understandable — he changed his wife and family and stuff. I just think he saw an opportunity, really, to make a bigger change in his life — not only in his personal life, but also professionally. I mean, you know Igor well, like I do, and stuff, and it's his style — he's very quiet, whatever, and it's hard for him to express what he really feels and etc. and it's something that is personal, something that is [part of] his character, something that… it's natural, whatever. I think it feels that it was his style to start something new. I mean, after 22 years together, being away from his brother for so long, it's very heavy situation. I think it's a ridiculous situation — especially between [Igor and Max], brothers by blood and stuff like that. I don't know… I think he feels that he can do something new and at the same time look back and try to resolve his stuff, his problems."
Q: You mentioned earlier that you have no intention of recording another SEPULTURA album without Igor, but you are not completely ruling it out. I mean, you basically will make that decision when the time is right.
Andreas: "Exactly. Like I said, I cannot really make any decisions now. I'm just telling you what I feel today. But it doesn't mean that [it's the way it's going to be]. I mean, Paulo and Derrick can feel a little different about the same topic, but that’s something that we're still gonna talk about and we're gonna live through the day we really have to decide something about that. And it's cool because we're clear with SPV, the contracts — we had two albums and everything — so I think we can make this decision a lot… it's easier; we don't have the obligation to do another album."
Q: So you're not signed to SPV right now?
Andreas: "We were dealing with some stuff for the next album when Igor was in the band and everything, but it depends a lot on what's gonna happen — now on the road, and with the drummer. There's a lot of elements that could decide to go either way. But let's wait."
Q: So were you surprised when Igor told you that he was going to make this announcement?
Andreas: "No, not really. Not surprised. I just thought it was kind of premature to announce it now. But we talked about this already."
Q: You mentioned that you had other projects lined up, and I saw on the Internet that you're still doing these other gigs in Brazil in the meantime. How much of a focus will be on SEPULTURA, as far as touring for the next few months, compared to the solo stuff that you're doing? 'Cause I think you're still working on your solo album, right?
Andreas: "Yeah. I've been working on my solo album for the last three years, or four years, and I'm doing it very slowly. I wanna enjoy [the process] and invite a lot of people to play [on it] and etc. But you know, SEPULTURA, of course, is my priority, especially because we have a new guy and we have the album and stuff, and let's see where can we go, and how many we can play. The intention, really, is to be on the road as much as we can — to go back to Europe and hopefully to play in the States — we haven't played in the United States in more than three years. The intention's really to be on the road."
Q: Is the U.S. tour now confirmed or is that still up in the air?
Andreas: "It's still up in the air — [it's] ninety-whatever percent. [Laughs]"
Q: I think you mentioned in another interview that you are supposed to be going out with HATEBREED.
Andreas: "Yeah, we're talking to HATEBREED and Jamey [Jasta] about doing something together in August/September. Let's see if it happens. It would be great."
Q: I've seen some videos of Roy playing with SEPULTURA and I agree with you that he did a great job. But I think that the attitude of the fans might be a little bit different this time around now that it has been announced that Igor is actually out of the band. How do you respond to those fans who say that SEPULTURA shouldn't continue without Igor — touring or otherwise?
Andreas: "Well, I heard that before — 10 years ago. I mean, it was not possible to have SEPULTURA without Max. And we did what we did, and we're still here talking about it. Let's see what happens. Anything is possible. I cannot really rule out any option. We could be surprised by what could happen; it could be something big or it could be a disaster. You never know. With Roy also, it was something that we didn't know what to expect, you know. But when you have musicians on stage that play the music honestly and enjoy what they're doing, I mean…. You know, there's no wrong. I mean, besides all the politics — who should be there, who shouldn't be there — we should respect the music and the history of SEPULTURA. And that's why I'm still on stage — because I really love what I do. It's amazing the respect and the love that the fans have for SEPULTURA. Even those that still don't like Derrick or they like Max and all the changes and all, they're still around — even talking good or shit. They're still part of the SEPULTURA life and the SEPULTURA family. And like I said, we're very excited about this new drummer — he's something really new for us, really fresh, he's playing so great and stuff, and let's see what happens. I mean, we still respect the spirit and the story of SEPULTURA, especially because we have this album, 'Dante', and we're gonna do our best and we're gonna enjoy what we do and let's see what happens."
Q: I asked Igor this question as well… Looking back on the whole split with Max and how that entire thing was handled, especially now that you see that not much progress has been made in rebuilding the relationship between you and Max in the last 10 years, do you wish that you could have handled that whole situation differently?
Andreas: "Yeah, I think Max leaving the band was just the tip of the iceberg. The whole relationship we had with Gloria [SEPULTURA's former manager and Max's wife]… I mean, the only regret I have was really to trust so much the manager, whatever the manager did. After Max left the band, we had to learn a lot about the business, to learn how to take care a little more about our own stuff and not to trust so much somebody. And, you know, he left the band and he pretty much had… it felt like he had the whole plan already going. I mean, he wanted with SEPULTURA what he's doing with SOULFLY — like have total control and stuff. I mean, you could say the first SOULFLY album, the only thing different there is the drummer, the bass player and the guitar player — everything else is the same as 'Roots'. That kind of relationship between the band and a manager that was really fucked up, because she came to be our manager first and then she got involved with Max and etc. Him leaving the band was just… the snowball was the biggest, so we couldn’t really handle the stuff. And of course, Max leaving and putting the letter in the magazines and all that stuff without us knowing, that was really fucked up and then only talking through lawyers and all that crap. It's something that's not going on right now. I mean, Igor and us still have a really good relationship besides all our disagreements regarding the stuff. We did all this together. The only thing I [questioned] was just the timing of the announcement, and stuff like that, but I like I said, we respect his decision, and we hope for the best. I mean, there's no reason, really, to talk shit about anybody. The way it happened 10 years ago, I think we're just a lot more prepared to handle this situation."
Q: Do you think that what happened now with Igor increases the chance of the "classic" SEPULTURA lineup ever coming back together or do you think that in some ways it makes it even less likely because Igor has kind of moved on?
Andreas: "I really don't know, man. It could go either way. I know there's a lot of people who want to make this happen — this reunion stuff — but I don't know…"
Q: In your opinion, what would it take for a reunion to happen?
Andreas: "I don't know. A relationship, you know. I think SEPULTURA was built on a relationship between us — growing up together, even though I joined the band a little later, but we grew up together as a band from then on. Everything we did together, and we talked to each other, and we discussed different opinions and ideas… I mean, it's not gonna happen through only lawyers and different buses and different dressing rooms and just meeting on stage and play the whole classic lineup, all the songs. I think we're capable of doing something really special, if we could do something together again, and maximize… I think to have the chance to do this again, it would be great, but it would have to be right. Because otherwise our fans will feel that and that would be a fucking disaster."
Q: So if somebody was to come to you and say, "We'll offer you this much money." Under those circumstances, you don't think that could happen. It would have to start with you having a relationship with Max, first of all.
Andreas: "Yeah, I think so. I mean, to practice and to at least respect each other's opinions and decisions. We don't have to agree with each other, but work for the best of the band. It's not because we're physically there on stage that the shit's gonna work. I mean, we just did the music we did because had an interaction together, we had a life together, we had agreements and disagreements, whatever — it was very healthy for the music of SEPULTURA. And I think that's essential. Besides all the money and all the structure and all the people involved, it would have to start from the inside to outside and not the opposite — I don't see it working that way. And it could be a disaster also — nothing really is certain that we could be together again and do great again. There's not a recipe to do it right again. I mean, if we had that going, I believe that would take time and stuff and a lot of conversation and a lot of talking and a lot of brainstorming, really, to make this happen. But any other kind of thing would be fake and it would be totally disrespectful to all our old fans and to the fans of the new phase and to Derrick and to Todd [manager] and to everybody involved in SEPULTURA. Here we have really to think in a calm [way] and respect SEPULTURA overall — respect everything we built together and to continue something special."
Q: You recently went to see SOULFLY in New York with Derrick. You didn't make any attempt to even try to talk to Max and most people don't understand why that is the case. Why can't you just go and talk to Max? Why didn't you try to talk to Max, just as a longtime friend, somebody you played with so many years?
Andreas: "I don't know. It's very difficult. It's been 10 years without talking to each other and, you know, he has a really strong army around him protecting his bunker, so to go there and try to talk to him… I've seen the roadies and seen a lot of people that I didn't see for a long time…"
Q: So they knew you were there?
Andreas: "Yeah, definitely. But we arrived like halfway through the set and we saw the end and stuff and… We did that once [before] in L.A. [back in 1998]. We were just in town and I don't see why not. It was great. The fans there were really happy to see us there and stuff, and there was no animosity in the air — it was really cool. We were just there to see this new lineup and to see Max on stage at least. I mean, to go there and try to talk to him, I think it would be kind of… That's not the way, I think, for it to happen. It could happen, but like I said, he's so much well protected and even the SOULFLY fans, it's very hard for them to get in touch with him."