Sepultura have released another ambitious record with Quadra, which is out now via Nuclear Blast (order here). These Brazilian metal masters managed to breakdown society by showing the layers behind the meaning of “Quadra.” We caught up with frontman Derrick Green to discuss the album, the time the group was banned from Lebanon, and more.
How long have you been working on the new album, Quadra?
We started in early 2019, around February we started talking about the concept and worked from then up until completion, which was mid July.
What was the overall recording process like?
I think with this time it was really important that we focused on the writing process as well as giving us enough time to do it, which was different from the last album. We were able to hear things over and over and really take our time with it. This was fantastic and also working with the producer (Jens Bogren) that already knew and connected with added to the process, which made things a lot easier.
Your previous album, Machine Messiah, left a powerful message. I’m curious how the theme has changed with Quadra?
The idea of Quadra, in Portuguese means an actual playing field that you play sports on. Within the Quadra there are certain rules that you abide by. That’s kind of a representation of each person who was born into their own type of Quadra and laws that you abide by. It’s difficult to question those laws but you are just born into it. That’s the way things are for a lot of people in general. We really wanted to talk about a lot of those aspects being within this Quadra and meeting different people who are coming from different walks of life. There were a lot of things that I wanted to touch upon that I’ve realized from my own life and friends from traveling. Certain topics like the prison system in the U.S. The fact that we have more people in prison than any other place in the world even though we’re a first world country. Wanted to talk about depression. It’s a big topic for a lot of people, there’s people committing suicide and dealing with depression. I wanted to talk about addiction. Coming back to the U.S, I haven’t lived in the U.S for 20 years and then I came back and realized there’s a huge epidemic of pharmaceutical drugs and people dealing with all types of addictions. Also the aspect of being in Brazil and being outside of Brazil and how people are worried about the Amazon and certain aspects that were going on and how tribes are actually being murdered in the Amazon. There are many topics that a lot of people can relate to, internationally. We wanted to touch upon it in this album.
I think a lot of times with certain things I was talking about, many times people, when they have certain problems they tend to point fingers at others. And they feel they’ve become victims. I think a lot of problems are caused by ourselves and people have a hard time admitting that out of fear, frustration, anger. It’s really hard to admit when ourselves are the biggest enemy of our own problems. It’s not the case for everyone but it is for most people and the things that are surrounding us. I knew with myself that I wanted to write about it and not be afraid to write about it and try to do as much as possible as an individual to really do the changes that I wanted to see happen around me.
Are there any particular songs on the album that were more challenging for you to write?
There are definitely songs that are challenging in terms of vocally that I wanted to push myself. There are certain things that are higher in register singing that I’ve never done before and I wanted to try. There are certain things I had in my head that I thought would go well on certain songs. I really pushed myself to do it and I think we all did in our aspects of the writing of the album with Andreas [Kisser], the guitarist, he had more acoustic elements in the album. I wanted to have more melodic aspects in my vocals in the album. I was always able to do but I think we opened a lot more in putting our personalities into these songs and on this album so it really created a big difference.
What was your initial reaction when you found out you were unable to play in Lebanon?
Disappointment. I felt bad for the fans that were there. The show was sold out and there were a lot of people expecting us to play there. I was disappointed for them for the most part because they were looking forward to as well as we were. It’s a shame the people who actually condemned the show. I’m sure they have no idea why they did. They have no idea who we are and what our music entails and how we are as individuals and there was no communication with us as to why they felt they needed to not allow us to play. I know that we will attempt to play there in the future. I believe our music is very important and as far as being able to cross borders in matters of religion or races and things like that, I think we’ll be able to do that. There are places in the past that I didn’t think we would be able to, but we’ve been able to break through those barriers with music. So if it wasn’t then, then it will definitely be in the future.
Have things been difficult booking shows in certain countries since?
No. Not at all. Actually, we were able to play in places like Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and we had no problem playing at those places but we haven’t ran into any issues aside from Lebanon and Egypt as well. We have to have a second go around and hopefully with the Embassy of Brazil, it can definitely help. I think we should approach them first so they can explain to certain countries and people there on who we’re about before they start banning us from certain shows.
When I first heard the news about you guys being apparently devil worshippers, I said to myself, no, that’s not them at all.
I know, it’s laughable. But like I said it all comes down to communicating and I think we can go about it where they aren’t terrified about us playing there. A good approach is to be able to use the Brazilian Embassy, which has helped us in the past to play in certain areas like Belarus. They really helped us and they communicated with the people there that we aren’t devil worshipers and they were able to explain what we’re about.
What are your overall thoughts on people trying to ban heavy music in general in 2020?
Like I said, everybody is born in this Quadra and people are really trapped in their circles of where they come from, unfortunately. They haven’t been able to go outside of their certain area or region and it’s mainly out of fear. Like I said, you have to have a level of respect of being able to communicate in a way where people can understand where you’re coming from and what you’re saying. It’s challenging but doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I don’t want to laugh at these places or put them down but I want to be able to communicate and explain to them that we are not there to destroy their culture or anything like that. If anything, it’s to open it. In the end, they’re not going to win because a lot of times the youth, throughout history have shown that when you try to condemn or put down anything it’s always taken over by a lot of young individuals in their thinking. It can’t be held back.
Is there anything else you want to say or add about the new album?
I am looking forward to the release. I think people will really enjoy listening to it and it will take them on a serious journey from beginning to end. We look forward to playing these songs live, we have a tour coming up in the middle of March with Sacred Reich, Crowbar, and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone at our shows.