Don’t call De La Tierra a supergroup. Sure, any group featuring members of such legendary Latin American groups like Sepultura, Maná, A.N.I.M.A.L. and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs would be worthy of such a title. But as Andreas Kisser put it to us, “it’s something that just can’t define the group.” If anything, it’s a refreshing re-start for the Sepultura guitarist, being part of a group that organically came together out of a desire to play heavy metal in Spanish and Portuguese. In fact, though signing with Roadrunner Records (and Warner in Latin American territories), De La Tierra even went as far to fund their recently released self-titled debut on their own.
With the self-titled album out digitally and with De La Tierra poised to make its live debut overseas, Kisser took a moment to chat with Metal Insider. We spoke with the guitarist about the group’s formation, its DYI roots, his return to Roadrunner Records, and the group’s intent to play the U.S. (as well as Sepultura’s return State-side).
I know you joined the band pretty fast after Alex [González, also of Maná] and Andreas [Gimenez, also of A.N.I.M.A.L.] reached out to you via email. What about the project made you feel so passionate about joining them so fast?
Well everything pretty much. I knew Alex for a few years. He came to down to Brazil with Maná, and we had a friend in common that introduced us to each other. Since then, we had this kind of relationship of mutual respect and admiration for the music. I had jammed with Maná at the Rock In Rio festival a few years ago, so we know each other. And he was the one who actually approached me. Of course I knew Andreas from A.N.I.M.A.L. because in the 90s we played together and stuff. I knew the guys for a little bit and I thought it was a very interesting idea and a very big challenge to make heavy metal in Spanish and Portuguese. It’s something really exciting and really new. And I said “Yeah let’s make it happen, let’s do it!” Then we started exchanging demos and ideas, names for songs, and we spent almost a year between that stuff.
And finally in 2013, we met in Guadalajara to play our demos and ideas together. The chemistry was great. I thought everybody was really focused, more than 20 years of experience that we had with our own groups and careers. We wrote the 10 songs on the album in 10 days, it was really cool and really quick, and was really great to get the privilege to play with such amazing musicians. And also, it’s something that was not organized by any sponsorship, or manager, or any reality show type of vibe that create bands like that. It’s something made by the musicians that wished to play heavy metal together. We financed the project ourselves, we produced the album. It was great, it was very new and very honest. All around it was a very positive idea for me and I accepted [the invitation to join] right away.
You mentioned it’s a very DIY kind of vibe with De La Tierra. What inspired you then to return to Roadrunner Records with this group?
Actually, when we had the album ready, done, recorded, and mixed with the cover and everything, Alex had the connection with Warner through Maná. Warner had the first look at the CD, and they loved it. So they wanted the project, and signed us right away, and Roadrunner is a part of Warner. And Warner wanted to take the album not only in the Latin American market but everywhere. It’s just as much a priority for the Latin speaking countries as it is in Germany, France, England and everywhere really. So Roadrunner came to fulfill that – to really focus on the non-Latin world, so we have the best of both worlds pretty much.
I mean, it’s great! I started a beautiful story with Roadrunner with Sepultura in 1988. It’s great for both sides and now I have a chance to start with the new Roadrunner and a new band, and that’s a privilege to do that. Of course it’s not the same people who used to work with Sepultura, which is good because it’s good to have new people with new heads thinking about De La Tierra only. I think it’s great, I feel loved. Roadrunner has been around for so many years. It’s great to work together again and start something new like that.
Do you see yourself working with Roadrunner again in the future – maybe with Sepultura or other projects – or do you think it’s a “one step at a time” situation?
I don’t know man, I didn’t even think about that. I’m very focused on what we’re doing now with De La Tierra, the album just came out and we’re just starting the full relationship, just knowing the new people at the office and everything. We want to go slow. Sepultura is fine with Nuclear Blast Records, we’re doing a great job together. We’ve done two albums [together] and everything’s great. The possibilities of the future are endless, but we don’t like to think about that right now. We’re just very focused on what we’re doing today.
Fair enough. As we briefly discussed early, De La Tierra is really an interesting mix of musicians, some would even call this a super group. What would you say would be the biggest misconception that some might have when calling De La Tierra a super group?
I don’t like that term super group, it’s something that just can’t define the group. I mean, our history with our own bands can be considered like a “super career” – almost 30 years on the road and we all have really amazing history with our bands and stuff. But we feel like we’re starting something new. We feel like kids starting a band in a garage. It’s a great feeling, I feel like a teenager again, fifteen years old starting my first band. It’s really natural. Like I said from the start there are no managers, it’s the simple feeling of a musician playing metal together. Hopefully we can keep that feeling for many years, and use it to make more albums and play as much as we can everywhere and continue to enjoy this, because we’re bringing something new to the metal scene – not only because we’re singing in Spanish and Portuguese, but because of the sound. Especially with the bass playing from Sr. Flavio [also of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs]. He’s an amazing musician who is not a metal player, but he brings so many new elements to metal music that it’s amazing – like slapping, two hand techniques, and many different effects. Just the way he plays is so unique and so original. And that’s great, it’s a new reference for bass playing in heavy music, it’s just starting. Like I said, we’ve never played live before; our first show is going to be in Colombia opening for Metallica. We still have a lot to conquer and a lot of growing together to do.
When I was listening to the album, I was really impressed with how you guys just seemed to gel really well together.
That’s great to hear, because actually we’ve never played live together. It’s difficult to get that kind of chemistry going. And I guess the history that we’ve had with our bands helped a lot, the experience working in studios with different producers, and just the time we’ve had the time together was fundamental. It’s almost magical to make this group of musicians sound like a band. But like I said, now we’re about to go to onstage, and we only have room to get better.
I think what makes that even more impressive is the fact that a lot of the demoing and writing was done when you guys were in different locations and even in different countries What would you say was the most difficult part about that kind of process, being so reliant on technology to help create music?
I mean it’s not that difficult. It was difficult for me actually because I was in the process of writing the new Sepultura, so practicing every day and at the same time having to record. That part was a little hard, but in the end everything worked out great. Like you said, technology really played a hand to exchange the files, and we had the engineering done by Stanley Soares, who worked with Sepultura for so many years. That was really a factor that made the whole process much easier. He took control of everything. We are very happy with the results, very happy.
So you mentioned that the band’s going to perform its first show opening for Metallica – not a shabby gig right there. Are there any plans that are set in stone for the band to finally come to the U.S.?
Yeah, we have blocked off end of March and April for De La Tierra dates. We’re going to start with Metallica, as well as the Vive Latino festival on March 29 in Mexico City. And then in April we want to work in the States and in Canada, who knows. We’re still working out the dates and routing. There’s even some possibilities for Sepultura and De La Tierra could play together at summer festivals in Europe.
Well speaking of Sepultura and touring, I know a lot of people were bummed about Sepultura not being able to tour in the U.S. last Fall. Any plans to come back and tour in the U.S.?
Yeah definitely man. It was really a shame we couldn’t play last year. Second semester this year, we’re planning to come back and pretty soon we’re going to announce the dates hopefully some of them later but we want to come back for sure.