Intervju med Derrick Green i Sepultura!
För en tid sedan ringde jag upp Derrick en route till Milwaukee för ett nytt gig på pågående USA-turnén.
Precis som sist jag pratade med honom, var han lika trevlig och tillmötesgående. Det blev ett samtal om bla nya plattan "Kairos", tornados, producenter och ett nytt projekt han jobbar med tillsammans med George Clinton och Cee-Lo.
Derrick Green: Hi Niclas from Stockholm, this is Derrick!
How are you?
Derrick: Ah, we´re almost there. We´re not really there yet. We´ve stopped at some bus repair place.
Derrick: Exciting! (laughs)
Very! First off, I gotta say that the title track sounds a lot like “Territory”. Do you agree?
Derrick: Really? I thought you were gonna say Led Zeppelin. (laughs)
There´s a certain riff in there that was kind of similar.
Derrick: (laughs) On the title track, yes! It has that element from “Chaos AD”, I think. Definitely that vibe.
Was that something you thought of and tried to make it sound like or did it just happen? It also says in the promo papers that it could be likened to “Chaos AD” and could be seen as the follow up to “Roots”.
Derrick: I think it kind of happened and we also talked about it. A mix of both, because there were certain elements like, “Ok, we´re gonna write an album about the history of Sepultura, ourselves, fights and struggles that we´ve had against whoever or whatever. The challenges that we´ve had”. With that we also wanted to write a lot of old elements that were there and made the characters of Sepultura, so as a fan before I got in the band, I kind of took that approach in speaking with Andreas or commuting with them or everybody, that “Look, on the past albums there are certain things I think we didn´t really hit on that much, that we can do on this album!”. There´s a lot more guitar strumming as far as like picking and a lot more guitar solos. Those are elements that I really like about Sepultura, before even being in the band, so I just think we skimmed a lot of stuff down on this one for a straight forward approach. We wanted to have more head banging back! Simple riffs, like where you just wanna bang your head, you know!
Even the artwork has a bit more classic heavy metal look to it, in a way.
Derrick: Definitely! I think it kind of happened, as far as hooking up with Nuclear Blast, the new label, they gave us some ideas. They were getting into the vibe as well, “Hey, since you´re going down that road writing the history of Sepultura, you should have like a classic metal style artwork!”. We agreed that definitely that would be cool to have that vibe and it happened in such a random way. The artist, Eric Sayers, we met him backstage at our show and it was really in that moment. It was not planned at all and he really got the idea quickly.
Has he done a lot of metal albums?
Derrick: No never! This is his first album. It´s like really over the top. He really wants to work with more artists, but he´s done professional jobs for like the videogame “Call of duty” and things like that and he´s really experienced with that. Once I saw his work and heard about him I was like “Man, this is the guy that´s gotta do it!”. A, he´s a huge fan and B, he knows what he´s doing as far as coming up with sick designs. We got really lucky!
What was it like working with Roy Z?
Derrick: It was awesome! Roy has been to Brazil many times working with different bands and he´s been longing to work with Sepultura for a long time, so this was his opportunity. He came in with a very cool attitude and he really understood exactly what we were going for. The fact that he´s experience working with other vocalists, like Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson, he had a lot of cool ideas in the studio for me, that really helped me open up and try different ways and different sounds. It was awesome! He really made everyone feel comfortable and created a vibe where not everything has to be perfect, but just capture the energy that we do live. It was really cool and he was very easy to work with and it´s great because he can really understand the aspect of being on stage and performing live since he´s playing with Rob Halford.
Did he tell you any cool Halford stories?
Derrick: (laughs) Yeah, he had a few stories, but I can´t really say.
A band like Sepultura, do you always need a producer?
Derrick: Yeah! (laughs) I think that we do! I think it´s something that has always worked really well and I think there´s a reason why. We have a lot of ideas and it´s good to have somebody that´s not directly in the circle that you´re working with. We´re open to hear other people´s ideas and interpretations who know what they´re talking about. When you have a good producer who knows what he´s talking about, they´re gonna tell you the truth and sometimes you may not like it, but you need to hear it from an outside source. That´s something that works well with us and that we need and I know that I need it. I like to hear that outside voice and a producer´s tremendous in helping in so many ways. We´re just fortunate to have good ones. There might be people who´ve had horrible producers and they´re just tired of it and they feel that they can do it better. I´m sure there are bands that do that, but for us, a producer!
How much was recorded? Were there a lot of songs that didn´t make it?
Derrick: I think there´s maybe like one extra song. Everything pretty much made it. We had to cut out one. It worked pretty well. We knew that we didn´t want to make it too long because people tend to… you can only take so much and it just becomes boring after a while. We were just like “Ok, this is the number we´re working on and this is what we happen to have!”.
Are the two cover songs both gonna be bonus tracks?
Derrick: “Firestarter” will be a bonus track and the Ministry song (Just one fix) is gonna be on the actual album. It´s something we´ve never done before, but we´re like “You know what, this song came out good!”. The idea for it came in the studio and the vibe of it kind of fitted the album. It´s really driving and we made it like a Sepultura song. For us it felt that way. We kind of kidnapped the song and the idea. We have so much respect for the original song, but we wanted to make it our way and we liked it so much. It really fits in with the vibe of the songs on the album.
And coming from possibly the best Ministry album, “Psalm 69”.
Derrick: Yeah, definitely, hands down!
Have you ever met Al Jourgensen?
Derrick: Very briefly.
He always seemed like a crazy dude!
Derrick: Very crazy! (laughs) He´s very nice, but I´ve only met him a few times and he´s extremely nice.
Why the song “Firestarter”? Gene Simmons did a really lousy version of that one! And why not “Smack my bitch up”?
Derrick: Well, we thought about “Smack my bitch up”, but it doesn´t really fit the mold of Sepultura. (laughs) “Firestarter” has such great energy with the build up and then the break down and it´s a song we can really relate to much more than the other songs and we´re big fans of The Prodigy and we thought it would be cool to cover something that wasn´t that obvious and Prodigy I think are fucking heavy! We wanted to do our own version of that and in our way and it´s a cool challenge.
The title “Kairos”, I read an interview where you described the meaning of it and it´s about time and in between time. Is that stuff you know of or did you just find the word and then looked it up?
Derrick: (laughs) Yeah, I don´t think most people are… I mean, many Greek people don´t realize that id means weather in Greek, but there´s also another meaning to it. It´s something that Andreas came to me and was like “I´ve been reading about kairos!”. We read a lot of different books and this came up and I was like “What´s that?” and then I started doing research and the idea for this came out from that, from reading. We read all the time, so it´s just random things, but this really caught me because I was trying to get my head wrapped around it and I´d never thought about like time in between time. The more I read about it, the more I started to understand. You know these moments when you´re not really timing out everything. I thought it was pretty interesting, you know that moment when things do happen and things happen like that all the time.
Are you reading any good books right now?
Derrick: No, unfortunately not! (laughs) I´ve been here in the US and the tour is just like show after show with no days off, so I´ve been like really resting. I think once we get to Europe I have time to get some books before we go over there.
You should read the new Neil Strauss one, it´s pretty funny!
Derrick: Oh really?
“Everyone loves you when you´re dead”!
Derrick; I gotta write this down. (laughs)
There´s a hilarious Paris Hilton story in there. It´s a good one. How come you ended up on Nuclear Blast and is it a multi album deal?
Derrick: Well, with SPV, our previous label, they were having some internal issues. Not the greatest times for record labels or businesses in general with the economy, so we wanted to move away and get somebody that was stronger and has everything together really. Nuclear Blast really understood the predicament that we were in and they understood where we need to go and they believe in us, that we´re capable of producing more albums, better albums. That was like an incentive to us, “Man, they want to take on the challenge. Finally somebody´s that´s on the same level as we are!”. It was a good match and we got really lucky to be able to work with them. This album will definitely have the option of doing another album. It´s really a good time for us!
Back to the album, there are four songs that are just numbers, 2011, 1433, 5772 and 4648. What´s the story there?
Derrick: Those are calendar years. 2011 is the number we use and in other cultures there´s different numbers for what year it is. We´re just showing that the representation of time is something that we´re making up. It´s something that we´ve made up and those numbers there are just like sounds that we´ve recorded from when we´ve been on tour. Certain moments, certain places that were just background noise and it kind of fits into that mold of… time is really irrelevant and what´s really important are those sparks, those moments that happens sporadically or just happens because of a feeling or a vibe.
How´s the tour been going so far? You´re gonna be out for quite a while now?
Derrick: It´s been really good! We´re playing a few new songs even before the album is out and “Kairos” gets the most insane reaction from people. People are extremely attentive and are really paying attention and the reaction at the end is always above and beyond. The shows have been pretty good in the US and I say that because we haven´t been here in five years, so it´s been interesting to see the changes that have gone on in the scene in the middle of the US to the border cities. It´s been ups and downs, like on a Monday night in Texas, it´s not gonna be the greatest number of people, but the people that are there are really into it. I´m looking forward to coming back again once the album is out and doing a more structured tour. It´s exciting to be back and we really miss touring in the US, but we´re gonna be going nonstop like you said.
On this tour, have you been anywhere near the tornados and all that crazy stuff that has happened?
Derrick: Yes! Actually right after it happened we had to drive through that area from Georgia to Texas, so we got to see a lot of Alabama and Missouri that were just like devastated. It was really intense seeing all these trees and houses just leveled. It was unbelievable!
Yeah, I´ve seen footage and pictures and it´s just like a nuclear bomb exploded.
Derrick: Yeah, it´s like somebody took their hand and just swiped it across the land. It´s not good and everything´s out of order. There´s been more tornados this year than in the history and just like this earthquake in Japan, it´s like it set the earth off its axle!
You came out of Cleveland, how often do you go back there?
Derrick: Never really! We were just there like four days ago, but I haven´t lived in Cleveland since 1992 and I don´t have any family that lives there anymore, so I don´t go back that often. The last time I was there was maybe five years ago and even in the US, I haven´t been here in five years.
Well, does Cleveland still rock?
Derrick: Cleveland was rocking the last show that we played, but the other times that we´ve played there it really sucked! I was made fun of from my other band mates, like “Man, we thought Cleveland was gonna be the heart and soul of this tour!”. (laughs) But on this tour it was absolutely amazing! Andreas was saying that it was better than from when he played there back in the 90´s.
Finally, would you do another Volkswagen commercial if the opportunity came up? Do you all drive Volkswagens?
Derrick: Yeah! But I don´t even have a car! I haven´t driven in like 15 years since I´ve lived in cities where I didn´t need a car, like Amsterdam, New York and Sao Paolo. I usually take taxis and I hate to drive! I´ve already done another commercial, where I´m singing again, because I do sing. (laughs) It´s for Blackberry and I did it with George Clinton, the godfather of funk! It´s a song that got licensed and maybe a week ago they picked it up, it´s like Blackberry Urban, if you look it up on YouTube. It´s pretty cool and it was fun to do. Really funky and extremely different from Sepultura. It´s a project that I´m working on and the song got picked out. It´s the complete opposite of like metal. The concept is very futuristic and about digital and sex in the future and the age that we live in and there´s special guests like George Clinton and Cee-Lo sings on a song. We´re doing a song together and I´m doing falsetto and crazy harmonies. I wanted to do something so extreme that people would never ever believe it! I think I achieved that, but it´s done well and taken very seriously. It was a lot of fun because we were laughing a lot during some songs and I´ve never done anything like that and it´s going really well writing the songs. I think it´s gonna be such a crazy reaction, whether bad or good and I´m looking forward to it! (laughs)
Sounds awesome! Is that an album coming out this year?
Derrick: Yeah, we´re gonna try and release it in August and I think people will be excited about it. I think it´s done well and I´m singing my ass off on this. (laughs) Like really doing crazy, crazy stuff and not holding back.
How did you hook up with a guy like Cee-Lo?
Derrick: The thing is that the guy that I´m working with, Sam, he´s a producer and a songwriter and he´s friends with all these known people, so he was able to get in touch with them and he´s been able to do that in the past with other artists like Kanye West and M.I.A.. Different artist that he wanted to have on the album to mix it up. On this I´m primarily singing and these guys are doing like the choruses and stuff like that. He was just able to get all these people.
Cool! What are you gonna do if this just explodes and becomes a big thing? You´re gonna leave Sepultura and go for the funk instead?
Derrick: (laughs) God, I don´t know! Maybe we´ll go on tour together! (laughs) We´ll see what happens. I enjoy doing both and they´re so radically different and that´s what makes it so cool! I don´t like to be stuck in one thing.
I´m looking forward to this! Cool stuff!
Derrick: Alright! (laughs) If anything, I´m sure I´ll make people laugh or smile or dance and those are all good things!
Yeah, it can´t be bad if you´ve got George Clinton and Cee-Lo in there!
Derrick: Yeah, I know! That´s what I´m saying. It´s awesome!
Well, thank you so much Derrick and I wish you all the best with the show tonight and I hope to see you in Sweden soon! I know you´re playing Norway, but no dates in Sweden yet?
Derrick: No dates yet, but I know that there has to be because we´re playing Finland also. Thanks man!