“I am a very positive person. I like to really think about the reality of what is really going on in my life.”
Despite Sepultura replacing vocalist Max Cavalera in 1998, there is, sadly, a portion of the band’s fan base that are still regularly speaking negatively of the band’s decision. Derrick Green has shirked off those heavy shackles and has continued to create a solid musical catalogue of work since. Now a huge eighteen years later, Sepultura’s musical legacy has in recent years seen the band move away from their musical roots (in-joke for Sep fans) and seen the band record several albums which could be termed as “concept” albums. The band are due to release a new album termed Machine Messiah at the start of next year. On viewing the quite detailed album cover, together with the title track, I wondered if the new album would also be termed as a concept record. We got behind the Sepultura creative process. Derrick Green even revealed some quite surprising musical influences to me over the course of our chat. Initially, however, he attempted to explain what the new album’s lyrical matter referred to, and what subjects were referenced through its tracks.
We talk a lot about the political situation that is happening in Brazil with a lot of people going to jail, a lot of people standing up wanting to change, wanting to see a change. There is a mixture of a lot of these different events that are happening during the process of writing. They had a big influence and impact on the album.
The band have chosen to release “I Am the Enemy.” Was that your own personal favourite from the new album? If not, can you explain to me what is, and tell me a little about the creative process involved?
Well, I think for now that track is great to play live, and it is the only song from the new album that we have played live already. It’s at the top of my list, but the song “Phantom Self” is probably my favourite. We are working on a video for that right now. I am looking forward to playing that live, so I would definitely say “Phantom Self.”
Can you explain to me how the song creation process works within Sepultura? Do you work collectively in the studio, or individually sharing ideas through file sharing? How do the band develop a song from a basic idea?
Usually there is a lot of stuff individually. I write a lot of lyrics down just from travelling throughout the year. Like certain things that come to mind, I just keep a record of everything. Then when it comes to the writing process of everybody together we usually sit in the studio and pick out what direction we want to go or what topics we want to talk about. Then usually Andreas is the one who is coming up with the riffs, and Eloy is doing a lot of different beats at home. Then switching each other’s ideas and maybe listening to Eloy’s beats will give me inspiration for lyrics or a pattern flow. Maybe it will give Andreas ideas for guitar. We will come in together again and we will talk about what we have listened to, and then we will start playing together. Just jamming and see what flows and what fits. We do all this five days a week, certain hours set aside in the writing process for a few months. Once everything is recorded we make a simple demo and we send that to whoever is going to produce the album. This is to give them an idea before we get into the recording process so they know what is going on with the songs and they can give suggestions or rearrange stuff. They become like another member of the band. Normally we do it in this fashion.
You have now recorded several albums with the band over the last eighteen years. I would like to just take you back to the very first song “Choke” that you did with the band. Does that remain a very special song to you personally when you perform it with Sepultura before a live audience?
Yeah, it definitely has a special place for me every time we play or do that song. It was an incredible experience. I received the tape, it wasn’t even a CD at the time (laughs). I really love the song, I got to hear it also with Andreas’ vocals and I never really got to hear it with anybody else who tried out. There were a few different people who tried out and I was always curious about it. I always felt very comfortable with that song and going to the studio and doing that. It definitely reminds me of that time period of joining the band.
You have been in the band now eighteen years, but still there is negativity generated towards you personally and the band. Is this something that bothers you or not?
I don’t focus on it. I don’t think I would be where I am today if I did. I am a very positive person. I like to really think about the reality of what is really going on in my life. The internet and technology is really something that we talk about on the album as well. It has such an impact on people’s lives nowadays where people tend to believe anything that is out there. Whether they are fact-checking it or not. They just really believe it because it is there. This is something that is very disturbing in a way but not for me. I already know that a lot of the stuff that they are talking about with negativity they don’t know what they are talking about. There is a lot of crap that is on the internet like more crap than good, unfortunately. It has become such a place there’s shit there that you must dig through to find the actual realistic things that are going on. For me, I don’t pay too much attention about it. Most of the time it is just the same people bitching and complaining and they haven’t done anything with their own lives. It’s just kind of miserable how they troll around spewing out negativity. We even have a song about that on the new album. It’s called “Cyber God” and it’s about very small-minded people. For me it doesn’t have any bearing on what direction or feeling for me. The realistic thing for me is playing shows and seeing people at the shows and feeling that. That’s what I got in to music to do – to play for people.
You have done other musical projects outside of Sepultura, have you anything lined up for the future?
Yes, it is really difficult sometimes just getting the timing down. We plan on doing a little bit more of this side project that I have, Maximum Hedrum, next year. We plan to search for band members in Brazil. I really wanted to get everything started here. We had such a good reaction. Even my partner in the band Sam Spiegel is from LA, and we already did a few gigs here. There was a great reaction and I think that a lot of people will be in to it because they know that I do Sepultura and they would be really shocked, surprised and interested to see this other side with me singing. I think that it would be interesting to document everything and that’s what we plan on doing, finding these musicians and start doing shows in this area. Then we would release all the stuff that we have recorded. We have around fifteen songs, or so. It’s kind of like completely…I don’t even know how to describe it. I guess if Rick James and Devo got together. It’s like funky and electronic and weird, that’s why I really like it. It’s something completely alien from what I do and I learned a lot from working with different artists in different genres. I always grew up listening to different styles of music. I have been a big fan of funk music, old school funk from the seventies and electronic stuff from Kraftwork and Devo and that age I grew up in. I had a lot of that mixture and that’s what Maximum Hedrum is – it’s really just a mix of all that.
It must be nice to be able to open yourself creatively without constraints and restrictions?
It’s beautiful, really. That is something that I think each member in our band can do and it’s very special because you can keep creative ideas circling within us, and I think that it is important for any musician to really step outside their box, explore and listen to other stuff. It can have such an influence on you.