EXCLUSIVE – SEPULTURA INTERVIEW
In another rushonrock exclusive, our man Calum Robson caught up with frontman Derrick Green to talk producers, lyrics and the inevitable reunion rumours.
rushonrock: First of all, how was recording?
Derrick Green: It was amazing. It was really great to be able to work in Brazil again with producer Roy Z – that was a good twist. It was really a relaxed enjoyable time, I really learned a lot from this recording experience.
rushonrock: Brazil must be a place you’re accustomed to now since joining Sepultura?
DG: I lived there for about 10 years and developed a big group of friends. I planned on doing other types of business there aswell but I love Brazil. Sao Paulo is a great city. It’s pretty intense.
rushonrock: Do you think when you go to places now, you’re affected as a frontman and a lyricist?
DG: Definitely, a lot of what we write is from what we’re encountering from touring and day-to-day life. It made a huge impact on the writing process.
rushonrock: You mentioned Roy Z, he’s at the helm of production this time round. How did he help you as a vocalist?
DG: It was great because he has a lot of insight working with great vocalists like Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson. How he helped me was really to feel comfortable. We had a better communication of what was going on and it really opened me up to try different kinds of ideas – to go for different tones and different sounds. It was great. I felt more a part of the process instead of being on the other side of the glass where you don’t know what they’re talking about and what’s going on. It was really different to me.
rushonrock: Did you just let Roy Z to his own devices or did you have a specific thing in mind?
DG: Primarily we had most of the songs written. I definitely gave him an idea before going into the studio what we’d been working on. Then he worked from that and he gave his opinion on what he hears from us. He’s seen us live and he feels we have a lot going on live and a lot of energy. He wanted to tap into that and bring it into the studio – that was his goal.
rushonrock: Do you think that his attempt to exploit that ‘live’ energy has showed in Kairos?
DG: Yeah, it helps in creating a really powerful album. An album with a lot of character and feeling. This is what we really wanted. We wanted an album that was built on live – not trying to be perfect or mechanical. It sounds like human beings are actually playing.
rushonrock: The name of the record Kairos refers to the opportune moment in time – like a window of opprtunity. Could you tell us a bit about that?
DG: It’s definitely pertaining to that, or ‘time between time’ – certain moments when certain extraordinary things happen. I think there are these moments in the history of Sepultura that really helped elevate the band to being significant today. That was pretty much what the album was based on. There were certain things that happened in the past in growing and evolving, but they weren’t marked out on a clock or anything – they were just a feeling and not thinking about the time that really built this band in many ways.
rushonrock: Lyrically, what inspired you?
DG: I think a lot of it went really personal. There were a lot of things that happened in the building process of it on this line-up. It had an impact as far as the lyrics go. I wanted to write things like where there are certain people that are talking badly about the band and knew nothing about it and didn’t realise the advance that we’ve had doing what we do and really not taking any shit, moving forward and playing places that we’ve never played, doing shows that we’ve never done before, being creative and still doing great music. It’s kind of a response to that and the criticism of people but also the opportunity that came out of that and the ability to start all over.
rushonrock: Do you think this is Sepultura’s Kairos moment to silence the critics?
DG: Definitely. We’ve felt that way in kind of like a Rocky album! For me I definitely felt that way. It’s a very powerful album. But there always will be critics, I’m very aware of that, like it or not. But at least I feel very proud of this album and it’s a great response to people who were very critical in the past.
rushonrock: You had a lot to deal with in the past when you received a barrage of criticism after replacing Max Cavelera. How did you get through it?
DG: It was pretty overwhelming but then I was really listening to what people was saying and a lot of times they didn’t know what they were talking about. It would drive me a little bit crazy because I think I’m a versatile singer and I think I have a lot of range and perform really well live. I know for a fact that I’m very secure in this, because we wouldn’t be able to continue so long and have gone so far now as much as we have if it wasn’t serious. I just stayed focused with that and kept grinding the music out.
rushonrock: Do you feel sometimes that change can produce immediate cynicism and perhaps even a fear of what’s new?
DG: In general it’s only human nature if anything and everytime people aren’t aware of something, they either want to black out, or kill or just not acknowledge. Change can be a good thing and sometimes you have to embrace it because it’s constantly happening around us whether you like it or not. For an artist it’s important to have evolution because you learn more. I think that’s the point of being here – to learn as much as you possibly can. We’re going through a learning process being in this band, evolving and trying different things and I think as a listener you want to hear this. To hear music in a different way, not necessarily the same thing. There are some poeple who like to hear the same thing over and over again that’s crazy to me. That’s the definition of crazy!
rushonrock: There were some studio reports online and there’s plenty of evidence you had time to relax and jam things out. Did that bring some interesting ideas?
DG: Yeah, it’s very incredible how those moments happen. We’re not really planning anything or sitting down – we just let things flow and that does happen a lot in the studio. It’s great to hear later on because you never expected it but it’s there and it’s has such an impact.
rushonrock: There’s some numbered tracks on the album, how do they link into the Kairos concept?
DG: Those are different calendar years – there’s 2011 and there’s lots of different calendar years from different cultures and civilisations that describe what time it is now. It shouldn’t be what their interpretation of time is – time is something that human beings made up, all the other animals in the world go by their own moment. The feeling in that Kairos moment, not really so absorbed in setting these minutes and seconds. It just goes to show that everybody has their own interpretation and it’s very open and always surrounding us. Those little few seconds of background noise (on the tracks) are moments of us on the road, getting from one point to another and the space inbetween.
rushonrock: Do you think sometimes it’s best to just take one day at a time and not worry too much about the future?
DG: I think without a doubt. It’s very difficult to be a away from my family. When you think about taking one day at a time, it’s like; you have your wife, you have your children and they’re living their life there. It’s best that they live it the best they can over there and not really thinking all the time ‘we’re going to be together’. It’s the hardest thing to be away from family but there’s nothing you can do when you’re apart. You’re over the other side of the world and you have to do what you’re doing at that moment in time the best you possibly can, because you never know where anybody will be the next day. I think it’s important to live to the full, to really be occupied in doing the best you can and achieving goals or whatever.
rushonrock: Having a family now must have changed your perspective, but you seem pretty content in riding out the days in focusing on them one at a time. In what way do you think it has changed you?
DG: It definitely makes you proud of other things beside yourself! I definitely have more of a purpose in being here. I have more of a feeling about my purpose in life. It’s a wonderful thing. Before, many times I would find myself occupied in my own head about silly things, but now there’s such a greater importance. It’s kind of a relief in a weird way. There’s more responsibility but at the same time it’s like I know what I have to do. Unfortunately at times it is separate, but you really have to go all out in what you do in both.
rushonrock: On the album we unexpectedly have a Prodigy cover. How did the Firestarter interpretation come about?
DG: It was in the studio again! We wanted to come up with a cover that wasn’t so obvious, like us doing a metal band would be boring. We were thinking bands that were really heavy, that fit in the path of this drive that we have on the album. We thought that Ministry and Prodigy were two completely different bands from two different time periods but with awesome sounds. We wanted to do our own and Sepultura-ise these songs and give it our own flavour. We felt that we do that with these songs, it was more of a challenge. I like the flow and rhythm of the songs – really upbeat and straight-forward.
rushonrock: You continue to surprise with a ‘change is good’ aesthetic and both covers certainly provide testament to that. With that in mind, how do you approach that?
DG: I think the whole purpose and idea is to pick covers that really change the spirit. At least it’s challenging for us, because I can work vocally, try to do something different that I maybe wouldn’t do and that song brings it out.
rushonrock: Do you think this desire for variety crosses over with a generalised idea of your world view?
DG: I think change is necessary, it acts to the rhythm of the planet itself. It’s like we’re all connected but as far as we try to get away from it and as far as we’re hidden from it and there is a change that is happening constantly around us. I think it makes you question things and you can evolve from change.
rushonrock: After all the changes that have happened with Sepultura and everything you’ve been through, how do you think the press will receive the album?
DG: I have no idea! That’s the surprising thing about it and it’s exciting. I think it will be positive but it could well be negative. I’m sure there are always going to be people who are not satisfied with what we do. But I think a lot of people are going to really like it and I feel very confident about it, but have no idea what they’re going to say! I’m very curious – are they really going to listen to it and hear the changes. Maybe they didn’t like the last album, maybe they’ll hear something different in this. I want to see if they pick up on these things.
rushonrock: You’d still like a few people to dislike it…
DG: Yeah! It’ll fuel the fire!
rushonrock: For a band ever-changing there always will be critics but you must be accustomed to that now?
DG: For sure, and the new style of music, people are very critical. Especially in metal music, I find that a lot of people can be very closed minded – they want to listen to metal and nothing else, but I’m not like that. I like doing metal music and having a heavy style, but I don’t like to put myself in such a box and be trapped in it, because I’m not like that. I like to do different style of music but I think there’s always room for evolution in the music. I love the old classic bands from the past but I like the new bands a lot too and I’m grateful they’re out there exploring and experimenting.
rushonrock: Are there any frontmen or musicians that are impressing you at the moment?
DG: There was this one band that we toured with in Europe. They’re from Chino, California and they’re called Armed For Apocalypse. Their last CD was amazing and I’m looking forward to hearing the new CD. It’s really heavy like doom, but they have a technical, very heavy sound.
rushonrock: You have an underground but more than just respectable following over here and you have a tour this month. Glad to be back?
DG: I think it’s cool, it’s a really unique scene and they’re very supportive and always there. I really do like it and I think it’s incredible because people are very receptive and they love the lyrics and know all the songs, so it’s always a great feeling to be in the place.
rushonrock: You have a lot of dates coming up, but you have a book of photography with writings that is set for a late 2011 release. Could you tell us a little about that?
DG: I’ve been putting it together and I’m still working on it s it’ll probably be out next year. I’ve got all the photos together that I’m going to use and I have to write the texts that I wanted to have in the book beside the photos. It’s black and white, colour, of faces and people, architecture, film. It really has a lot to do with Sepultura because I was going to these places because of it. It was our surroundings and I wanted to show some people how this really had an impact on a lot the music and the ideas that are going through our heads. It’s something we’re able to see and not just a stage or a concert venue! I love photgraphy and I developed more into it as I travelled more with the band. It grew with me and you can see that in the photos.
rushonrock: Do you think finally with Kairos out, the speculation around a reunion will end?
DG: Nah, never! They’re never going to stop talking about it. It’s something that will always be in the back of people’s minds but that’s fine with me, we’re totally happy with what we’re doing.
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.