Renaissance men are found all over the world, but it might be said the metal community is teeming with them. Andreas Kisser, best known as Sepultura's shredder and finesse man has historically been found in scores of places outside his art thrash alma mater. Found in other musical hidey holes over the years such as Asesino, Betzefer and numerous classical and blues nestling spots, Kisser is as much about the fine arts to his musical expression as pure, unadulterated crush.
This year alone Kisser boasts a new Sepultura album, A-lex, a heavily-detailed metal interpretation of Anthony Burgess' novel for A Clockwork Orange. Kisser has found himself in a playground cover tune side project Hail! which is also fortified by the likes of Paul Bostaph, Dave Ellefson and Tim "Ripper" Owens.
Aside from random collaborations and scoring work with classical ensembles housed in his native Brazil, Kisser now unfurls his private sanctum for the world to hear, a two-album project called Hubris I & II which finds Kisser delineating his solo work into themes bearing all-electric songs on one disc and a largely-acoustic endeavor on the other. The Metal Minute caught up with Kisser in-between gigs as Hail! prepares for a landmark concert in Lebanon...
MM: What an outstanding job you and Sepultura did with A-lex, brother. We all know about the album’s connection to Anthony Burgess’ original version of A Clockwork Orange, but how close to the edge mentally did it feel for you to prepare, write and perform that album? You had to basically confront madness in order to convey it musically.
AK: Yeah, the story was very well-known by us of course by Stanley Kubrick’s movie. We watched that film since we were very young. The movie came out in ’71 and I guess I watched it for the first time back in the mid-eighties or something like that. Since then, I’ve been watching many different versions, like the director’s cut, the interview features... It’s a cult movie, you know? So the storyline and the character of Alex, we knew quite well, but as soon as we decided we wanted to work on this topic, me and especially Derek (Green) went after the book and then Anthony Burgess’ biography and examined his life. It was the same way we did with Dante XXI, not only the story, but where it was written and why. It was very interesting; the book is much more complete, much more detailed, much more violent and everything else. I guess we just started playing with this album with John Dolabella on drums. He brought a lot of energy and a lot of new ideas. He’s an amazing musician and drummer. Everything was very exciting to do this album. It was great to have somebody who wanted to be there.
Iggor left and it’s always bad when you lose such a great member and great fucking drummer, but we took our time in finding John and together with the concept of the book and his addition to the group, we were very excited. We actually did the album pretty quick. We spent two or three months writing everything, because the book is quick also, you know? You can read the book in a day! There are so many elements going on in such a short period of time, so it was very easy for us to do something very quick and very objective. We’re very glad with the results and the positive reaction and response we had everywhere. It was great.
It felt very natural to connect with this book, especially because Dante XXI was our first experience to grab a book or either a movie to be inspired by and write the music and lyrics. The experience was great and we decided to do the same with a totally different book, a different and more modern story. People can relate much easier than Dante, you know? The Divine Comedy is a very difficult book to read--it’s an amazing book, of course--but A Clockwork Orange, people can handle really easier than that. I think it brings people closer to everything, you know?
MM: Let’s get into Hail! for a minute. You have The Ripper (Tim Owens), Paul Bostaph and Dave Ellefson along with yourself. That’s a hell of a lineup, man!
AK: It’s amazing, man. It’s beautiful! (laughs) We don’t really have any ideas yet to do anything original. This is a pretty new project that we started earlier this year. We did five shows in Chile and it went fucking great. The buzz dropped on the internet and we got offers from many places to do this project, you know? It’s something I was invited to be a part of. This guy Mark is an American lawyer, manager or whatever, and he works with many different musicians and he put this idea together to do something in South America and he called me to be a part of it with the guitar. It’s going great and it’s going to a level I guess nobody expected, you know? (laughs) We want to keep it that way, you know? We’re enjoying what we’re doing playing covers and we’re having a blast onstage. We’re not thinking about writing anything new, but who knows? It’s something very new that just started and we want to enjoy it. If we get something original, only time will tell.
It’s just an honor to play with Dave, Paul and Tim. The first drummer we went on tour with was Jimmy Degrasso and now we’re going to Lebanon. This is the first metal show ever in Lebanon’s history and it’s very exciting, you know? It’s unbelievable, man. This is something that started almost as a joke to put it together, but now we’re doing stuff like this and it’s amazing. I can’t wait. November 20th is the show in Beirut and we’re very happy that we’re going to be able to be pioneers of metal in Lebanon!
MM: With your new solo album Hubris I & II, the first disc is all distortion and electric-oriented material, while the second is more flamenco and classical-geared. Tell us about the conception and perspective of this project. I mean, “Lava Sky” and “Breast Feeding” are bipolar opposites of each other songwriting but do they fit into a certain concept from your point-of-view?
AK: Yeah, exactly. Six years ago when I got this offer from Mascot Records to do a solo album, I started out going after my demos and the ideas that I had on tapes and stuff like that. I started to research everything I did in the past 15 years. There are songs on this album that are that old! So I had a lot of stuff and especially acoustic stuff, because I studied classical guitar and I love to play it on the acoustic. I had a lot of stuff written for whatever, soundtracks, Sepultura ideas that I didn’t use. So I started organizing this stuff and I saw I had so much stuff I decided to create this concept to do one album electric and the other one acoustic. With this concept it was much easier to find the right songs to be in the first project and to be filed into pieces, yet it’s the same album, you know? It’s something I wanted to show, all the stuff I do besides Sepultura. I’ve been playing classical guitar for many years and I’ve been playing with many musicians here and there, blues players, pop rock musicians, every country music here in Brazil. It’s a great school and it’s great to go different ways to represent metal in other fields. You’re always learning something new.
This is a very free album to make. I wrote songs for my wife, my kids and for my futbol team. It’s been very free, you know? It’s very different from everything else I did. I wanted to do everything myself, as much as I could, so I played all the guitars and bass. I did some vocals and percussion. I produced it, I went after studios and technicians and stuff like that, so it was really a great experience for me. I’m very happy this album is finally done and coming out, you know?
MM: I only hear Sepultura in a couple songs like “Eu Humano” or “The Forum” and to certain latitudes, “God’s Laugh,” but in many ways, Hubris I and II really distances itself from Sepultura, even if you have John playing on the first album. In some ways, though, I also think it’s the logical distant cousin of Sepultura, maybe Roots-era, you know?
AK: (laughs) Yeah, definitely! Metal and Sepultura of course is a big influence on everything I do, but this was the challenge for me, to respect what the songs were asking for. If the song was needed to be written in Portuguese, I wrote in Portuguese...the same with English or what it called for. I learned more than I was teaching! (laughs) The songs were really asking for certain elements, and I have so many friends and relationships here in Brazil. Some of them are famous, others are not very famous but they’re very great musicians who play in parts of Sao Paolo and I asked to be a part of this. Yeah, there’s blues, metal, classical, a lot of Brazilian elements, rhythms and melodies, Brazilian instruments. It was great. This is a very experimental thing to do for me and I guess I’m never going to be able to repeat something like this ever again! (laughs) That’s cool, though. This is a mark on my career that I’m very proud of, you know?
MM: Obviously you had a lot of internal musical expression to release with this album. Having it bottled up or least tucked away for so long, do you feel you’ve gotten a sense of relief getting it out now?
AK: Yeah, I guess it’s an open door. I love what I do in Sepultura and I love to play and write for Sepultura. It’s always a challenge and there’s always a spirit in me that’s looking for something new. My solo stuff is just me, you know? It’s stuff I like to listen to, stuff like to play, there’s instruments here I like to explore. It’s just great to open new possibilities in music and to play and jam with different people, and soundtracks for movies and everything. In Brazil I do all of that; I play with big names, I play with blues bands, I play on soundtracks. It’s very interesting and it keeps me fresh and alive, musically-speaking.
Copyright (c) 2009 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute