Mediating Between Passion And The Heart – An Interview With Sepultura


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Like many long time running bands Sepultura had their fair share of misfortunes and many people are openly questioning whether they have any right to continue without the Cavalera brothers. However, The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart (Nuclear Blast), the band latest musical offering, is their most spirited release in years and it shows there’s still plenty of kick left. Ghost Cult caught up with frontman Derrick Green to pride his mind about the new album, working with producer Ross Robinson and the background of his lyrics.

Mediator is very spirited and dark album. How come?

I don’t know really. The album was recorded in Venice Beach, California. A lot of the material was written in Sao Paulo. There were a lot of things going on at the time in the world. There was a new pope elected and there was a lot of social upheaval about the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games, especially about all the corruption going. A lot of the money is invested in stadiums, while the populace are clamouring for hospitals and schools. A lot of it was coming from the things happening around us. Another major factor is our drummer, EloyCasagrande. Writing music with him changed a lot. He really likes to play metal and he’s really passionate about it. He’s very young and the energy he brought with him pushed the rest of us to step up our game. He really wanted to leave his mark and that makes the new album very different from the previous one I think. It was his dream to play in Sepultura and we really needed that type of kick and he really brought that.

Ross Robinson produced the new album. He has quite a reputation of bringing bands to the edge mentally in order to capture the best performance possible. How did he go about with Sepultura?

He had a free pass with Andreas and Paulo. He already recorded with them during the Roots album, so he was already familiar with the inner workings of Sepultura. He talked with them how Roots changed his life and how it opened a lot of doors for him as a producer. With the second time around he really wanted to make an album that was different from Roots, but with that same type of energy. He already knew what we’re capable of. He was there with us in the room while we recorded our instruments literally pushing us physically. He constantly asked why certain parts are there in a song and why certain words are there. We went through the lyrics together with everyone present in the room. This was something we never really did. I wrote the lyrics and I was done, just like that. He asked Eloy or Paulo what a certain lyric meant to them and whether they could identify themselves with it. Before we went in he would go and tell that he didn’t feel the emotion behind a certain piece or lyric. He was like give it your all or don’t go in at all. We’re living in special times. The album is all about freedom and a lot of different energies and a lot of people are relying on our music to get through the day and help them cope with daily life. He urged us to really think about what we are doing, because we’re an inspiration to alot of people. By creating that feeling and vibe he really got us to go as deep as we could. It really united the band in such a way that we didn’t even know we could be capable of. It was a beautiful experience.

I do think Mediator combines all the best elements from the best Sepultura albums. It has the thrash metal elements from Beneath The Remains and Arise, the groove from Chaos A.D and Roots and the punk attitude of the later albums…

I think so too. We wrote those songs and we got down to the studio. When Ross heard the songs he was really stupefied. He said that a lot of the things were already in place and that we only needed to take out the energy and capture that on tape. I really think that the new album has all those elements you just mentioned. We went through all the songs and we really wanted to feel that vibe and energy of each individual song in a natural way and have fun with it. Mediator does have all the elements from the history of Sepultura.

The last few Sepultura albums are inspired by famous books and movies, like Dante’s Inferno, A Clockwork Orange and Metropolis by Fritz Lang. What do you found so inspiring to use them as a concept for Sepultura albums?

Andreas and I like to read a lot when we are touring. When I grew up my sister worked at a publishing company, so I was surrounded by books as a kid. Those books were really inspirational and made me wanting to travel the world and see all those amazing places described in those books. Andreas and I really like to discussing certain issues and books that he and I read are often at the root of our discussions. In a weird way those things happen for a reason. The Fritz Lang movie was the main inspiration for Mediator. It’s a metaphor for the times we’re living in. A lot of people are very robotic in their way of life. It’s basically thinking and then action. A lot of the heart and the passion are essentially missing. Nowadays, most people are robotically typing things on their smartphone and they really don’t care about the world and the people around them. Sadly, I’m one of those people as well. On the new album I really wanted to write about the things I don’t like about myself and the times that we live in. It just ridiculous that I’m looking at this stupid phone. When you go a gig you see kids not paying attention to the show, they’re looking at their phones instead. What the hell is wrong with them?!

Sepultura has always been a socially-conscious band with a strong message, especially from Chaos AD on. Where does it come from?

Each person in the band has his own personal background and interests. I’m coming from the States and my mother was a music teacher and my parents actually met in church of all places. It was really an old fashioned style of growing up. Andreas’ parents are of German descent and his mother is from Slovenia living in Brazil. All these mixing of different cultures add to the band, you know and it really shapes our beliefs and ideas.

What is your ultimate goal with your lyrics? Are you an observer or do you want to make people think or do you want to raise a certain level of awareness for the things you believe strongly in?

It’s all about communicating a certain idea. Change will be up to the individual. I’m not trying to change anyone or anybody. I just want to communicate how I’m thinking about certain subjects, so people can relate to that or relate to it in perhaps a different way. It’s all about their own interpretation of my lyrics. For me it’s important to be responsible for what I’m writing because of the impact it can have on people. I know music can have really strong impact on people’s life. At the same time my lyrics have this positivity and raw emotion about whatever I’m trying the communicate. I really can’t get behind writing about wizards, castles and crystal balls (laughs). That stuff isn’t real to me, so I’d rather write about social and political topics, because they are more feasible to me and I think those topics are easier for people to get into, because they’re real. It’s coming from the heart and that’s why people are relating a lot to our lyrics and it’s something they’ve come to expect from Sepultura.

Finally, the band it’s celebrating its 30th anniversary. Do you guys plans to do anything special, like putting a rarities box set or releasing a special DVD?

We’re actually going to record a DVD at Rock In Rio with a French percussion group and when we have finished the current touring cycle for the new album with Eloy, we can sit down and put something special together, like people from the past of Sepultura showing up and perform at some great location. That’s something we’ve been brainstorming about for quite some time. But like I said, we need to finish the current touring cycle for the new album, because I feel our new album is really worth it. We really need to get out and play these new songs. We wrote these songs and recorded them in the studio, but playing them live on stage is quite something different. We really need to experience that first and I think a lot of these new songs will be included on the upcoming DVD. But yeah, celebrating 30 years of Sepultura would include a beautiful location and a lot of special guests (laughs).

Raymond Westland

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