Q&A with Sergio Cichovicz
Sheila Rene': Sergio, can you hear me?
Sergio Cichovicz: Loud and clear all the way to Brazil. Have you heard the CD already?
SR: I've been listening all week. I've already got my favorites. The opening is so great with all that Brazilian percussion...your trademark.
SC: Great I'm glad you like it.
SR: Let's go back to the last album, Progress of Decadence. How long did you tour?
SC: We toured for almost six months. We made 80 dates in the U.S. and 15 dates in Europe along with the Dynamo Festival. The first tour was with Skrew and Spud Monsters.
SR: What does the tour look like this time around?
SC: We'll be touring with Crowbar and Bile. It'll start in November with dates all over the U.S. It's been more than a year since we started putting this album together. We're anxious to get on the road.
SR: What's the story on the cover photos? It shows people being harrassed by the cops.
SC: The whole cover, front and back is one picture. It's a scene where the cops are hassling the No Land people. These people don't have a place to live. It's not like your homeless over here, more like this group who invade properties and start their own plantations. The farmers call the police and it becomes a bloody battle. It's getting bigger and bigger, this movement.
SR: On "Mister Rage" you talk about the people being quiet until now. Does that mean that there's something good coming to those people?
SC: I think that this is an example of how the people don't have to stay quiet. They can speak up for what they want and believe in. This movement is growing bigger and bigger all the time. They are only fighting for their rights. Most of the properties they are invading are useless. The people just bought them as they were left in ruin. There are more than 30 million people hungry in Brazil right now. It doesn't make sense to leave a big piece of earth useless and the people dying of hunger.
SR: Does religion still have a pretty strong hold on Brazilians?
SC: I think religion is a very strong instrument to control the masses. The people sometimes use religion and God in a way to console people's lives and make them stay quiet...offering them heaven if they stay quiet. Don't fight for your rights, poverty is not that bad. You get rich you go to hell but if you stay poor you'll go to heaven.
SR: Are you ever afraid for you life. You guys write some pretty strong anti-establishment songs?
SC: No, I don't think about that at all. It's not a danger for my life. When we had the military government up until ‘84 when we changed it to democracy. We spent 20 years in a dictatorial system and at that time I think I would be killed, but now democracy lets me write what I feel.
SR: I'm happy to hear things have changed for you. Let's talk a little bit about the scatting on this album on "My Rage." It's a jazz term. Ella Fitzgerald was one of the first to use the method when she forgot the words to a song.
SC: Actually when we were making the melodies on this album we did the guitar first and then the arrangement. The last thing we add is the vocals. I told the guys to not play percussion on this song, let's sing the percussion. I think jazz and some rappers do that but they do drumming. Sometimes it's funny, we do the same thing on "Manipulated Reality." On "My Rage" Baza said he wanted to do something funny here. We were in the studio so the idea was to sing some percussion. It was very Baza and now he has a new instrument. After I came up with the idea I thought about some musicians in Brazil who use that along with the instruments.
SR: Are all these all new songs written just for this album?
SC: We already have four new songs that aren't recorded. Claudio starts right away composing new material. He gets excited about the album and can't stop working. Some of the songs were written after Progress. We work every hard on each song. Sometimes it's not our favorite, but if the people like it, we'll use it.
SR: Tell me about working with Gauguin?
SC: Actually, we've worked with him a lot. He has a wonderful ear and great and different ideas. We know him since our third album. We work very well together. He was the producer and the engineer plus he mixed it the first time through. We didn't stay with that because our equipment is not very good so we took it to Ryan Dorn in Los Angeles where he remixed it. In some cases he has told us that we don't have to put him name on the album.
SR: Is good equipment hard to get over there?
SC: Yes, it's hard to find and it's really expensive. If we had gone to San Palo to record it would have been better. Belo Horizonte doesn't have very good equipment. We wanted to stay with our family and compose this time. This album sounds a million times better than the first one. Gauguin and Ryan work really well together. Somebody at our label hooked us up with Dorn and our ex-manager knew of him too. We talked to him and sent a tape over.
SR: You and Claudio must have a great relationship and it shows in the writing you do together.
SC: Yes, we have a great relationship. We discuss the subject matter on the album all the time. We're always talking about how to get various sounds with the drums and guitars. All the band works on the arrangements, but Claudio talk more. Sometimes we get mad at each other, but that way the relationship grows and we know each other better.
SR: Are all of your albums still available?
SC: I think only the second one is out of print. They should be available through import. I think now we have to work on Progress and Scars. There's a lot to talk about on these albums, but we're going to perhaps re release some of the older records.
SR: Were there any first takes on this album?
SC: I don't know exactly what you mean. Sometimes we record very easily and other times some parts have to be reworked. You don't understand why you're making a mistake. The studio is different. In rehearsal you think everything is fine and this is the song that's going to work. Then on a song you think you're not playing well enough, it comes out perfect. It's all in the different techniques we use. You never know for sure what it will sound like in the end.
SR: I like "School" with that symphonic metal opening. The song "Out Of Control" has that old scratchy sound of vinyl that we all remember so well.
SC: It was just a joke with us. We thought it was fun to do. We decided to put "Postcard From Hell" on first before the drums come. We then put his vinyl samples in there for fun.
SR: What kind of guitar are you playing on this guitar?
SC: We changed them a lot. We used all the guitars we had on this record. Each part needs a special sound..some heavier and some with distortion. Each pick up gets a different sound.
SR: Is there a new guitar out there you'd like to have?
SC: My new guitar. We got endorsements from a guitar here in Brazil. He's doing all our guitars now. I can't wait to play this new guitar to my specifications and one for Claudio and a bass for Eddie too. They are really good for us.
SR: Is this the best album you've made?
SC: Yes, but the next one will be even better. We let our imagination go on this one and used a lot of different influences. The drums are very Brazilian.
SR: I love the Indian influence along with the Brazalian. It's a great match up.
SC: Like on Progress, we used a lot of Brazalian percussion but that was just a case of using our imaginations.
SR: Do you perform very often in Brazil?
SC: No, there are no places to play. We don't ask for much but the equipment is horrible. The promoters don't get any support from the press.
SR: Who were your influences when you started out playing guitar?
SC: On guitar, Eddie Van Halen. He's the best. I really love the way Claudio plays. He has a very strong feeling in his playing. I also like the guitarist in Rage Against The Machine. He has some really new ideas and he's very free with his style. I'm always wondering how he comes up with these things.
SR: Do you have a favorite song on Scars?
SC: I have a lot of favorite songs. If I say which one I like I might influence someone else's opinion. You just have to listen for yourself.
SR: Would you ever consider moving to the States? Would that be easy to do?
SC: We like to play everywhere..all over the world. We've met a lot of great people and even the bad people have taught me some things too. The reaction of the people is different in every city. Sometime touring is very stressful, but we like it anyway. As far as moving to the United States, if we need to go there for our career and it'll be easier, we'll do it. The States or Europe wherever we need to go. In the future I think we'll have to end up in the U.S. because all of our business is there.
SR: I met a guy at a Fishbone concert who started talking to me. When he said he was from Brazil I asked him about Sepultura and Overdose and he sent me a tape of Progressions and another band called Planet Hemp.
SC: He sent a copy of Planet Hemp? They sing in Portuguese only and only play in Brazil. I look forward to meeting him. That's great.
SR: What is your message for your fans over here?
SC: I can't wait to get together with them, talk and drink some beers. I hope they all love our new album and will come out to see us.
SR: I guess you are still friends with Sepultura.
SC: We've lost contact with them because they're living in the U.S. now and are always touring. When we played in Phoenix they showed up. We're friends.
SR: Thanks for your time all the way from Brazil. I'll be seeing you when you get to Austin.
SC: Thank you for your support. I look forward to meeting you.