Igor Cavalera & Derrick Green of Sepultura

August 23rd, 2005
by EvilG

Igor Cavalera & Derrick Green of Sepultura
Interviewed in Jan. 1999 by David Lee

SEPULTURA are experiencing both the best and worst of times all in the same instant.  The departure of founder member, lead vocalist and brother, Max Cavalera, seemed to be the end of one of metal’s heaviest bands, that is until the survival instincts of the remaining three members took over.  A new vocalist was found and work continued on a new album.  This is usually where most bands change direction, not the case with SEPULTURA, not in the least.   “AGAINST” sounds and feels exactly like  SEPULTURA records have always sounded and felt.  The record is harsh, brutal and tribal yet maintains a lyrical intelligence that your average death metal band may be able to emulate but could never produce themselves. Along with American vocalist, Derrick Green, the remaining members of SEPULTURA have created one of their finest records which includes the bonus feature of having a track co-written by METALLICA’s Jason Newsted.  What exactly will happen next for this now international metal unit is a question that can only be answered with time but one thing is certain, there is a renewed strength and a feeling of power surrounding the band that is infectious. One listen to “AGAINST” and you will be convinced that SEPULTURA is here to stay. I had the chance to speak with both Igor Cavalera and Derrick Green on the phone from New York.


 

Metal Rules!!
I could try to gingerly dance around the issue but, this record must have been very hard for you guys to make with everything that has transpired in and around the group.

IGOR CAVALERA:
It definitely has, man.  I think that it reflects a lot of the period that we have been through this last year and a half.  A lot of those feelings are definitely very clear in this album.  When we wrote it we were really getting more and more afraid of it.

 

Metal Rules!!
Was it something that you thought may never come together?

IC:
I don’t know, man. At first when we started writing the album we had different ideas for everything.  We even thought about stopping playing music at all.  I was pretty much sick of everything that we had been going through for six or seven years.   It just got to the point where either I am just going to continue this with extra strength or I am just going to stop this whole music madness and it is lucky that I didn’t make any decisions at that time but it definitely came to my mind.

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you have a family?

IC:
Yeah.

 

Metal Rules!!
That has to have been a pretty heavy consideration then?

IC:
Definitely, plus if I had stopped they would, probably, have been starving(laughs) so, those kinds of things really tend to weight any decision that I make.  SEPULTURA is something that I love and at the same time I have a chance to support my family so, I take that very seriously.

 

Metal Rules!!
The departure of your brother from the band has taken SEPULTURA in a different direction because now you not only have a new singer but a new American singer which I would think has to change some of the culture within the band and ultimately its music?

IC:
I think that at the same time that SEPULTURA brings a lot of our Brazilian culture in, it has always been a really universal band where we really speak a language that people all over the world understand and can relate to a lot of the lyrics so, we have never really been only about Brazil.  We don’t sing only in Portuguese and limit ourselves.  We have always kept it very open and by bringing in Derrick, I think that is something that just adds to that whole idea.

 

Metal Rules!!
How did you find Derrick?

IC:
It was through Mike G. At Roadrunner, here in New York.  He knew Derrick from his old band and thought it would be great if he tried out for SEPULTURA.

 

Metal Rules!!
So you guys brought him down to Brazil?

IC:
Yeah, we brought him down to Brazil and once we jammed with him we were like “Yeah!  This is it!”

 

Metal Rules!!
Did he have a lot to contribute lyrically or was that something that was pretty much done before he came into the picture?

IC:
No, he had a lot to do with it.  Even on stuff that was already done by Andreas. They came back to it together and really focused on it and really ended up changing a lot of things together.

 

Metal Rules!!
Does he speak Portuguese?

IC:
(Laughs) He is learning.  He speaks English and also speaks German so, it will be his third language.

 

Metal Rules!!
I can just see you guys getting him alone in a bar down there and just hazing the hell out of him.

IC:
He understands a lot of it just by hanging out with us.  Sometimes we will be talking about something in Portuguese and he will come into it in English and just pretty much continue that conversation in a way that he had understood everything that we were talking about.  He has got some books and he is going through a lot of different things to learn Portuguese.

 

Metal Rules!!
It sounds like he will be pretty busy with a whole SEPULTURA back catalog to learn and then to learn Portuguese, that is amazing.

IC:
Yeah, yeah!  That is something that he got down really fast.  It was very natural for him.  He didn’t really stress on it and we just went through the songs and the lyrics and that is one of the things that we got down.

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you still feel like you are in a transitional period with all the recent changes or is it all done and you have already moved on?

IC:
I think that both feelings are very strong.  The feeling of still changing things around and the feeling of just looking forward.

 

Metal Rules!!
You have made it pretty easy for the fans to move on with this record. I have read that much of the record was complete before Derrick came in but how did the final thing all come together?

IC:
It has always been the same.  That is something that we have fought, in the past, was to see SEPULTURA as a band and not as a one person kind of thing.  That is something that from day one has always been the same.  The writing process has always been us locked up in the room just exchanging ideas and fighting over different stuff and at the end of the day coming up with something that is very powerful.  That is something that is always going to be the same.

 

Metal Rules!!
There is a bit different sound and I would imagine that the live sound will be even more different with only one guitar.

IC:
Well, Derrick actually plays guitar.  He is going to be playing a lot of songs live.  Through the album, Andreas did all of the guitars.

 

Metal Rules!!
SEPULTURA has always had a very solid rythimic feel to it and you have stretched out to include drumming form the Orient this time.  How was it to work with the Kodo Drummers of Japan?

IC:
It was amazing!  It was really cool, especially for me.  After working on “ROOTS” with the Shavanti tribe and taking us a step further going to Japan and working face to face with such energetic people, man.  It is not metal or rock or anything like that but the power that they put through their drums is just amazing.   They are so open minded because when we called we didn’t know if they would be into working with SEPULTURA and they were totally cool about it and totally into it.

 

Metal Rules!!
Are there many more experiences that you would like to have like that? Are their other artists that you want to work with?

IC:
A lot of people actually.  If not with SEPULTURA maybe separate.  John Zorn, he is a jazz player but also has a lot of death metal influences in his playing.   He is amazing.  His band is a mix between Jazz and NAPALM DEATH! (laughs) He plays all of these jazz festivals and he just don’t give a fuck!  He plays a lot of hard shit in the middle of these jazz tunes and it is really cool.  He produced the first MR. BUNGLE album and does a lot of stuff with Patton.

 

Metal Rules!!
Let me ask you a bit about the songs themselves…

IC:
Do you want to talk to Derrick?

 

Metal Rules!!
Yeah!

IC:
He can go through that with you, so that he participates a little bit with you on this.

 

Metal Rules!!
Great!

[Igor passes the phone to Derrick]

 

DERRICK GREEN:
Hello!

Metal Rules!!
Metal Rules!! Hey, man how are you?

DG:
Very good!

 

Metal Rules!!
I wanted to get your take on some of the songs and how they came together for this record.

DG:
O.K. I will do my best!(laughs)

 

Metal Rules!!
Well, as I understand it, most of the music was done before you showed up and it was the lyrics that you had the most input with?

DG:
Yeah, a lot of it was but so much of it changed after I stepped in. Everything really changes,, if you are ever in the studio, nothing ever gets done the way you expect it to.  It is just the way that musicians, they go through a lot of changes because, people are not satisfied and immediately there is always room for change.  Especially working with a different producer or mixer, even a mixer has a lot to do with the changes that go on.  By the time it came to certain songs we were changing choruses in the studio or changing a verse or adding different words or stuff.  It really wasn’t like “Here are the songs, let’s go through them.”  And there wasn’t any formation on how it was to be sung so it was really a lot of work.  It takes a lot of creativity to actually throw out there and have it work together, especially with other people.

 

Metal Rules!!
So, when you came in they just kind of let you freestyle it?

DG:
Yeah, yeah.  Basically, they would play the song and then they would say “Sing it now!”(laughs) That is how it worked and that was the best way to do it because “Against” was done that way and we kept it and a lot of “Choke” was already done and “Drowned Out” was the same way so, from the first week of doing it that way it was just like “O.K. we are going to play it the first time just to hear it and the second time, you sing it.”  There were no words or anything, I mean, Andreas had words but they were in no formation or anything.   So, there was a song and I would just make up whatever came into my head, just making sounds or whatever.  Just going by feeling really and if it felt good to everybody we would keep it.  Then we would take the lyrics and sometimes they would fit and sometimes they didn’t.

 

Metal Rules!!
So, the first run through was a kind of SEPULTURA scat? (laughs)

DG:
(Laughing) Yeah, exactly.  I think that it is on video tape.

 

Metal Rules!!
Oh, no.  It’ll show up on bootleg lists in no time.

DG:
Exactly.

 

Metal Rules!!
Before we get into the songs themselves I just have to ask you about how you plan to overcome the specter of being considered a replacement singer.   Do you just ignore it?

DG:
Yeah, just be myself.  I was a fan before I go into the band and I really enjoy doing a lot of the old songs.  I totally feel it when fans are like “I want to hear this and this”, I want to hear it too! (laughs) I think that it will be a mixture because, of course I want all of the new stuff to be heard but I think that it will be a great mix of old songs and new songs.  I don’t really think about people sitting there and saying “Let’s see what this guy can do.”  I like to play and there are people that are there to hear the songs and I just take all of the positively from it and use it as energy.  I just really want to connect with everyone from the stage.

 

Metal Rules!!
Alright, let’s get to some of those new songs.  How did “Against” come to be?

DG:
“Against” is something that something all of us really felt differently.   For them, as soon as Max left there were a lot of people doubting the ability of the band to go on as SEPULTURA and also the label had a little lack of trust in them and me in the beginning.  Basically we fought against that and the song is against all of the bullshit.  Also, with all of the stuff in the media, it was against all of that shit.

 

Metal Rules!!
Was there ever serious consideration given to changing the name of the band?

DG:
I thought about that before I heard the music but after hearing the music I felt that it still had the SEPULTURA vibe and I don’t see why they would need to change it.   They are just as much a part of the band as Max was so it is like, 75% of the band.

 

Metal Rules!!
I agree.  This is definitely a SEPULTURA record.

DG:
Yeah.

 

Metal Rules!!
What is “Old Earth” about or is it the obvious?

DG:
It is just about the destruction of the earth and that as it gets older it is getting destroyed by everyone.

 

Metal Rules!!
I love the title of this one, “Floaters in Mud.”

DG:
That was a song that Andreas wrote about a time where he was at a show and Max was at the same show and it was old friends and being divided and just being weird.  The whole situation , was to him, just like floating in mud.  Every thing was just really weird and surreal.

 

Metal Rules!!
When the band went and played with the Kodo drummers of Japan did you go along?

DG:
I was doing vocals in LA.

 

Metal Rules!!
Tell me about writing with Jason Newsted.

DG:
“Hatred Aside” is a song that we wrote with Jason Newsted and it is pretty much about unity and not giving a fuck about all of the bullshit and just being proud of the unity that we have now and at the time we were writing that song.  It was just a great time writing it and we just felt really together.  It was really cool.  I had heard a lot of good things about Jason before meeting him and it was even better to meet him in person.  He was a really down to earth and relaxed guy.   A lot of energy came from that music and it was just so easy to get along with him.   It was like someone that I had known for a long time.

 

Metal Rules!!
That is cool.

DG:
Yeah, it was really cool.

 

Metal Rules!!
I remember we bumped around Phoenix at the same time and I have never heard the word “relaxed” ascribed to him.

DG:
(Laughs) Yeah, he is definitely hyper but I mean, he turned out to be really chill!

 

Metal Rules!!
I think that he has reached a certain position of comfortableness in his life now.

DG:
Yeah, definitely.

 

Metal Rules!!
What else do you want to tell the kids about SEPULTURA?

DG:
That we are going to fuck shit up like never before!  Just have a really, really good time!

 

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Posted in 1999 | Comments (0)




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