Sepultura - Going through purgatory with Paulo Jr.
In March, Sepultura played a great (but short) set in support for In Flames in the Effenaar. It was one of their first shows with replacement drummer Roy Mayorga (who has joined Stone Sour in the meantime) and it was also our first chance to hear some new material from their record Dante XXI (21). We had a talk with bassist Paulo Jr.
Roy Mayorga (ex Soulfly) is filling in for Igor who is staying at home to spend some time with his new baby. Playing with someone like Roy, is it different?
"Of course it is but the chemistry is great. We only had one week for rehearsals and Roy learned around 20 songs. We rehearsed for 6 or 7 hours a day and after a week everything was done. Now we have done a few shows and it sounds good! You'll see that tonight for sure!"
How is the crowd reacting to the new material?
"Very good so far! This is still the first leg of the tour and we only have 50 minutes to play. It's hard to pick a setlist if you have 20 years of material. We've been switching around songs. It's a sort of best of Sepultura with some new material. The 1.5 hour set will have more material; this is just more of a "taste of the new stuff"."
The press is saying that the new record is a "return to form". Personally I don't like that term but the new material is definitely more thrash-metal orientated. What do you think about those comments?
"For me, I just love the record. We took our time to do it. We started writing stuff, toured a bit, continued the writing, etc. We had a pretty good concept and we tried to focus the material in one direction. I am very satisfied with the final result. Not just the music itself but also the artwork."
About the art, Dante's Divine Comedy is illustrated by Gustave Doré. I wondered, why didn't you use something like Doré's art?
"We knew this Brazilian guy who had a great style, and because he was also from Brazil it was a bit easier and more comfortable for us to use his work. It was more the issue to find someone who captured the whole idea. We didn't really consider using something like Doré's art. Actually, I only have the version of the book without any pictures in it, and I bought a new one to read it again because it’s just a confusing book."
The record is called Dante 21, so in what way does it relate to the original material?
"The idea was to make a modern version of Dante's story, more of a parallel version set in our time. Hopefully people will relate differently to the songs because it's pretty open to interpretation. And of course, it's our 21st anniversary as a band."
Dante put a lot of historical persons in his Divine Comedy, and it was basically his view on the world. Did you guys try to aim for something like that?
"Since you can relate to the lyrics in so many ways I hope it's open for everyone. We hope people understand the lyrics like as if they have read a book that is made into a movie afterwards. When you read a book you can really use your imagination, and that is what we wanted. If we would be more specific, it would be like the movie which you might not like because you thought it would be different."
Did you happen to read The DaVinci Code?
"Yeah, I thought it was good. I really want to see the movie because I'm curious. I don't know about Hanks but he is a good actor and it's hard to imagine him being in a bad role."
If you could pick one person in the modern world that could go on Dante's journey, who would that be?
"Thats a hard one. There are so many, I can't really think of one right know."
Do you know why they call it "The Divine Comedy?"
"Actually, I don't know! Tell me."
Well apparently during that time, if you wanted to write a serious book, you should write it in Latin. But Dante wrote it in Italian. Books that were written in your "own" language were usually small, funny stories. They just labelled it a Comedy.
"Ah! Well. I've read it twice now and I still don't understand it. I actually had to go through a child's version of it to really understand it."
I just look at the pictures! I read something about a bar some of you opened in Sao Paolo?
"It’s already closed, unfortunately. It was a really fun place, but it only lasted for one year because we had some trouble with our partners. I really wanted to open a new one all by myself. It's really fun, it's just something different to do at home. We had a little stage with mostly blues and jazz bands, and that damn Derrick also had a hiphop night.. It started to do very well but we just got into troubles. It was a good experience so I can't wait."
Sao Paolo is a pretty big city. How big is it?
"I believe there are around 22 million people who live in the Sao Paolo area."
That’s huge. The whole Netherlands has around 16 million. Could you say that Sao Paolo is a small country of its own?
"I think it is. It is divided in areas, and of course there are parts of the city I've never been and probably never will. But where I live it’s really a town in a town."
People try to stay in their own neighbourhood.
"Yeah I live pretty close to the centre and I have everything that I need in walking distance. That’s important because the traffic is just... Not good at all. Andreas lives to the east so he has a lot of troubles with the traffic."
Are there some bands from Sao Paolo that should be more famous?
"There are some good bands that are starting right know but the problem is that they only sing in Portugese. That's a big wall that they have to bring down. There are bands like Angra and Krisiun that are more known and that have been around. Andreas is helping to produce a band called (editor: Siowa? Ciowa? Couldnt really hear that one) and they are actually half Dutch/half Brazilian. I believe one of them actually has family from Eindhoven. He is helping with the record and they are recording it in my house. They should be one of the new best bands. But there are a lot of bands that just stay and play in Sao Paolo and are fine with that. We actually started singing in English but Portugese was too complex, and English is easier for Rock music."
So no Portuguese Sepultura record?
"Well if Derrick can sing it..I know I can't!"
On Dante 21st you can also hear some classical instruments. Is that a thing we might hear more?
"I don't know. We really had the idea to use some classical things but it's not that we said that we should use it more."
Metallica did a cd with a full orchestra, but I think that’s not going to happen with Sepultura?
"Well, you should really have to re-arrange our music for that! If you play a Sepultura song on an acoustic instrument you really have to change it. If you would keep it the same it would be scamming! We tried playing acoustic once and that was great so maybe."
Roadrunner Records recently re-released Roots, what do you think about that action?
"Well, a record label thinks about money and they want to get as much out of it. We didn’t have anything to do with it. We didn’t want them to release that shitty live record but they just did it anyway. The only way to change that is to get our rights back and that’s just a really big fight. But it's the same with for example, Jimmy Hendrix. He's been dead for ages but every year they'll just release something "new" anyway. I don't buy it, it's just scamming."
Do you personally have something like a concept or musical idea you want to work on?
"Currently I am on the road and all I can think of is being on the road. I hope we tour a lot on this record. Usually we tour around 2 years on each record so I hope we can make it that long."
Ok, I think our time is up so thank you for the interview!
"It was my pleasure!"
"It was my pleasure!"
Details Written on 2006-06-11
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