Sepultura

author PP date 19/02/09

Technology is really catching up these days. I had the chance of conducting an interview with Derrick Green, the vocalist of Sepultura, but since he's in Brazil and we're in Europe, it's kiiiiind of expensive for them to be calling around a whole bunch of European magazines giving 10-20 minute interviews to each. Since we're not into business of paying something like 10 DKK per minute for calling to a Brazilian mobile phone, the obvious solution was to use Skype and record the conversation with the computer. It's surprising how well that actually works out, and consequently we have a much more interesting interview than it would've been if done through email. Enjoy the read and check out their latest record "A-Lex".

RF.net: Can you please introduce yourself to the readers?
Derrick: Okay, my name is Derrick Green, I sing in Sepultura.

RF.net: How are things in Sepultura for the time being?

Derrick: Pretty good. We're very excited about our new album, "A-Lex", it's actually out in Europe today. It was basically an album surrounding the story by Anthony Burgess, "The Clockwork Orange". That was the whole concept of it. So everything from the music to lyrics and the artwork are based on this story.

RF.net: Tell me a little bit about why you chose this particular book?
Derrick: Well, we've always been interested in the actual story itself and the movie, and we really thought that we could do something very special with it, just because it was dealing with free will, the battle of free will. Actually preserving your own free will, the individual within yourself. And so I thought that was very important especially nowadays because there is this battle that's always going on, and I felt that we could write a lot from it. Once you start doing research, it became more and more appealing to us. The book actually has an extra chapter that's not in the movie. It actually really completes the story unlike the film where you're kind of left with the idea that this character Alex is gonna go back to his same ways. But I think that with the book and with words in general it just becomes.. it had more of an impact on us. So from that, a lot of the energy started to flow from it.

RF.net: How did you go about transforming the book into the music and the lyrics?
Derrick: Basically you have to use a lot of your imagination and a lot of communicating between band mates. So we would sit in the studio and come up with ideas, and talk about what we got out of the book or what was different between movie and the book. And try to stay away from actually the sounds and the visuals of the movie. In distinct aspects of music, I think for us it's something that we're able to do because we've had experience working with films and soundtracks where people have told us, you know, a particular part in the movie that we'd have to create the sound. And so since we love working with other musicians and creating these types of vibes, we thought we could do this from the words from the book. And we don't limit ourselves. We knew that we needed an orchestra. We knew that we needed a keyboardist. You know, we wanted to bring in these different elements and not be afraid to do... I know a lot of times people have these preconceptions about a metal band, but I think with us, always from the past, we've been able to add elements to our music and not be afraid to bring those in in order to create this vibe that we're going after.

RF.net: I've read somewhere that the album was actually a result of a couple of months of jamming in a studio, which you guys then put together? Is this how it happened?
Derrick: Well I think it's natural for us to always have these jams in the studio but a lot of things have been written on the road, or certain ideas have been thought of while travelling and recorded, and then brought out in the studio when it came time to actually sit down and write. So I don't think it was only in that one session, I think it was many things building up to that. We never really forgot we already had recordings... we had little pieces that we had recorded, but it did come about in a very natural way like that.

RF.net: So if you were to pick up and read "A Clockwork Orange" today, would you pop on "A-Lex" on the background?
Derrick: [laughs] You possibly could. I know that when I hear the album, I think of the book. I mean we wrote the album in a format where it's following the book. Four basic parts of the album are written that way. In the very beginning of the album, the songs are very brutal and very chaotic, very aggressive, and that's a representation of Alex, the main character, and his gang, and them going out and doing whatever they wanna do without any consequences. So it's pretty much straight in their face, that's how we felt like from reading the book, that they were being completely intoxicated and going out and wrecking havoc on whoever. Second part of the book actually takes place when Alex is in prison and he's given a treatment, and his free will is being taken away from him. So the elements that we wanted to put in the album start to change. The songs start to change into a more robotic feel, which prison might feel like, being encaged and being told to do the same routine day in and day out. Also, with the treatment being given to him, there's this psychadelic feel that we wanted to give a more dreamy feel to. Just really bizarre. And so then we changed the music, the music actually started to change, and going onto the third part of the album, Alex is out of prison and he's lost pretty much his free will. It's a revenge stage, it's like everything that he had done in the past is coming back to haunt him. So we wanted the music to take on this backlash of what he had done, and then the fourth part of the book is taking on.. he's given his free will back, and it's kind of a realization of what happened, kind of looking over his life and wanting to make a change on his own with his own free will for a better life, and knowing that he has done wrong. So we wanted to bring that song, you know, 'back to his free will, a very heavy song, a very powerful song. But a more positive song in a way, knowing that he has made a mistake, that he's done mistakes, and he doesn't wanna make the same ones again.

RF.net: Towards the end of the record, you have a track called "Ludwig Van" which is essentially a Beethoven's 9th symphony fitted into a metallic format. Was it difficult to transform a symphonic orchestra piece in this way?
Derrick: Yes! [laughs] Yes and no. I think classical music and metal music... there's always been a tie. There's always been something very similar about the two, just because they're very powerful and they're not written in a way of trying to appease the people. It's not pop music. And so it's something that's written from the heart as far as really abstract sometimes, it can be really crazy. But I think it was something very necessary that we wanted to have on the album because it's such an intrical part of the story, but it was difficult. It involved a lot of reading the music, and working with different people, but we were able to really bring it together in the very end, it all started to work out. It was challenging and it was something that we really needed, it's always good for us to be challenged.

RF.net: The previous album, "Dante XXI", was also a concept album about a book, the book by Dante. So is this a new trend, are you guys going to write concept albums about books for the next couple of albums as well?
Derrick: [laughs] I don't think so since we've done a back-to-back. I think from touring and talking to many people, we'll come up with something different for the next time that we write an album. I mean it's always great, the words are really inspiring, and they do that. At least to us, we get a lot from reading and from books. But I believe we'll probably wanna move to something different for sure for the next album.

RF.net: Both of these albums have been received pretty well by the critics. How do you personally feel that the latest two records compare to some of the older Sepultura material?
Derrick: I think it's really evolved since I've been in the band. It's been evolving and that's always been a goal for us to really get better at what we do and to move forward. I think we've been able to accomplish this and we can feel this as well, the critics and people's opinion are starting to become more positive and I think they're starting to understand a little bit more of the evolution of what's been happening with us. So it's really great to hear, it really feels that we're doing something... that we are correct in what we're doing. And so it really motivates us to want to do more and to wanna tour and to play live, and to represent that on stage. It's wonderful for us, it brings us unity within the band, and it makes us strong.

RF.net: Right. If we speak of the media and the critics, you guys have always been the centerpiece of people saying lots of things because of the whole Cavalera brothers mess and stuff. This new album "A-Lex" is the first one without either of the Cavalera brothers, which has obviously just fueled the fire of the critics. First of all, how do you feel about Sepultura without the Cavalera name behind it?
Derrick: It's definitely difficult because there's always going to be people who are going to have their opinions about the band if it's Sepultura without them and things like that. I think we've been able to disprove many things just through the music, and just concentrate on that and not really think about all the negative things that happened as a result of people leaving the band and things like that. I think we just have to really show them the music and show that in our live show. I think that's where all the talking we want to do about it, it's just lies. It's really just doing what we do and leave it at that. I'm not really into the whole gossip thing and it can be quite boring a lot of times. So I think for us to stay focused and to prove ourselves through music and our live shows is the best thing to do.

RF.net: Of course. When Igor left two years ago, he was replaced by Jean Dolabello. Those are some big shoes to fill, would you say he's been able to fill the expectations?
Derrick: I believe so. He is and he will I think in the future as well.. He's a very focused person, he's a drum teacher so he knows many different styles to play, and I think he's been exceptionally well especially in the liveshows with this energy and the ability to beat the hell out of the drums. So I think with this album we'll just definitely add to this. We were so looking forward to record with him and he's also able to play guitar and play bass, so all these elements really went into writing the new album. I think you can really hear the diversity in the album, his ability to play. And I think he'll gain a lot of respect just through that.

RF.net: What I've always found interesting about the later Sepultura music is how you integrate elements from the Brazilian culture into the music. Some people have gone as far as saying that you guys are coding the nationality within your sound. What do you think about that?
Derrick: I believe those elements will always be there. It's only natural because everyone except for me are Brazilian and were born here. I've been living here for almost 11 years now, so I think that it's inevitable that these elements are going to seep into the music. In Brazil, the culture of the music is very rich and very strong. So to be able to collaborate with these elements is something that's gonna happen just from living here, just being here and being surrounded by this richness of culture and music.

RF.net: What made you guys go for the sort of.. 'tribal ' sounds when you originally went for it?

Derrick: I think it's in all of us, this primitive side. I think metal music is very primitive because it's so brutally honest and very aggressive, and I think it's something that lies dormant in all of us, this aggression, this brutality. Sometimes it can be anger but it doesn't necessary mean that you're lashing out at somebody else. I believe that you can push and experiment with this in different ways. So with us, we use our music to get to this primitive side that I believe is within us all that we need to unleash sometimes, because we live in a society where everything's kind of closed and attempted to be controlled. People go crazy when they try to control and contain things, I think that there's an explosion that can happen within people. You can see it all around you with different things going on in the news and the media. So I think it's something that's very positive, using our music to show this different side, and I think a lot of people can relate to this primitive sound of just very raw basic things. I think it makes us feel incredibly well to release this. I think people going to shows love to release this energy as well by jumping around, being in the pit, and being a part of it. I think that it's something that's very truthful and something that's appealing to us.

RF.net: That's all the questions from me, thanks for the interview! If you've got any last words for the fans and the readers, now's a good time!
Derrick: Yeah, we definitely look forward to coming back, it's been quite a few years since we've been there. We have a very special setlist prepared for us on this next tour where the fans can vote for songs they wanna see at the show. Basically we have a part of the set where there's three songs that are open, and so people can choose different Sepultura phases on our website. Either whether it'll be "Roots" or "Rise" or "Beneath The Remains", "Against..", they can pick what phase they wanna hear and there's three songs that they can see there. And they can pick these phases to be in the setlist for their city. It's exciting and we look forward to coming there again and playing.

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