By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
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By Roger Calamaio
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"Every time someone would come back from the store with new stuff, it was like having a killer drug," Max says, his accent turning "killer" into "keeler."
By 1984, the Cavalera brothers and Paulo Jr. had all dropped out of school to get serious about music. Kisser, who grew up in Sao Paulo, moved in with Max and Igor after the band's original guitar player quit in 1986. Soon, Kisser also dropped out of school.
"In Brazil, they really don't take school seriously. The people that go to school until the end, they get out and they don't have jobs, man," Max says. "So nobody really cares too much. You don't feel too much embarrassed about it."
Igor adds: "It's more a matter of how you survive. Not that you're smart or you go to school."
The band gained momentum a few years later when it learned that tapes it'd sent to America were beginning to show up on radio playlists. At that time, the band couldn't get a gig, let alone peace of mind in Brazil. Club owners were afraid to book the band, fearing the damage its fans might do. And the police had made a sport out of abusing and arresting these rebellious, freaky-looking youths who played loud music. Even today, the band members say Brazil hasn't changed for them.
"When we go back there, we go back to being a piece of shit," Max says. "We'd be practicing and the police come and arrest us. They say, 'I don't care if you're a rock star in America, I keeck your ass here.'"
After releasing three albums in Brazil--an EP, Bestial Devastation, in 1985 and full-length albums Morbid Visions in 1986 and Schizophrenia in 1987--the band caught the eye and ear of New York-based metal label Roadrunner Records. Using a translator to communicate with its American producer, Scott Burns, the band went into a rustic studio in Rio de Janeiro in 1988 and came out with its international breakthrough, Beneath the Remains. Tours of America and Europe followed. In 1989, Roadrunner booked the band studio time at the Abbey Road of metal, Morrisound in Tampa. With Burns again behind the controls, the band made its first "mature" album, the brutal Arise.
One of the first places the band played material from Arise was in front of more than 100,000 people at the Rock in Rio II festival in January 1989. The entire band remains convinced that it was a bigger hit there than Guns N' Roses. The whole band also agrees that the festival was a turning point in its career. For the first time, mainstream media in Brazil began to feature the band prominently and refer to its members as "international stars." Even the band's family members were impressed.
"It's funny, in the beginning, the whole family didn't like it or nothing," Max says. "And today we play there, you have to bring the whole family or they'll keel you.
"They still don't like the music. But they like the vibe. For them the fans and shit is a big trip."
The success of Arise kept the band on the road. In 1992, Sepultura was part of two major tours: Helmet/Ministry and Alice in Chains/Ozzy Osbourne. During that time, the band played Valley shows at both the Mason Jar and After the Gold Rush. This weekend's performance at Rockfest 93 will be the band's first local show since moving to Arizona.
At this point, members of Sepultura say they don't know where they want to live. Max says they've become "nomads." Returning to Brazil is a possibility. The band is lukewarm about the idea of staying in the Valley. Igor says he gets bored here and misses being near a beach. They all agree that living in the desert is weird. And while there's enough social injustice in Arizona to keep Sepultura and its music raging, Max says that overall it's been a productive place to work on a recording. Compared to chaotic Brazil, Phoenix has been a hideaway.
"I like the calm, relaxing vibe here. After living in Brazil, it's a big change. I also like the fact that I can walk around here," he says, pausing to display a tattoo of the Tasmanian devil eating a peace sign, "without people saying, 'Look at that!'