Brazil’s “other” metal band, KRISIUN, has been consistently slaying metalheads since the mid-90s. It’s clear that their focus, dedication, and nary a lineup change has helped the band elevate their dominance beyond South America. Their latest album, Southern Storm, is added proof that these boys know and have what it takes to make noise in a noisy genre. APESHIT spoke to vocalist and bassist Alex Carmago about the new album and the KRISIUN metal machine.
APESHIT: The new album, Southern Storm, is a ferocious death metal album that tops even the awesome AssassiNation album, which was arguably the ultimate KRISIUN album up until that point. Did you guys feel any pressure to say “how the fuck are we going top that one?”
Alex: No, we didn’t feel any pressure. Actually we felt good about it, we knew we had to come up with something else, instead of just doing the same thing. It’s always a challenge in this business; there’s so much shit out there, so much overrated shit out there, we don’t really care about it. We just try to play our music, get focused and take it a step further, whatever people say. We’re very dedicated, we love what we do. There’s some kind of pressure here and there, but we like the challenge to try to bring things further.
APESHIT: You guys worked with Andy Classen again, what does he add to the recording and the production?
Alex: He’s a good guy, he became our friend after all these years. He wanted to do it, he respects the band, he respects this style of music that we play, he understands what we do and he really wants to add his stuff with our music. He was really up to do it; we had a few different options, even bigger guys in the scene, but he called us and said, “Man let’s fucking do it… I want to do it [and] I guarantee you guys I’ll get you guys a big sound.” It turns out we hooked up again and we’re very happy with the result.
APESHIT: Awesome. You guys recorded in Germany?
APESHIT: Does it make any difference where you record? Either at home or…
Alex: In a way, yeah. The German people, they’re very familiar with metal, they’ve been recording metal bands forever, they always have good production. We have good friends there, they respect what we’re doing, and we have good connections in Germany. I don’t know man, there are good studios everywhere. They can get a great sound in the U.S. too. It just matters whether you hook up with the right guy or right studio, you know what I mean?
APESHIT: You guys did a cover of SEPTULTURA’s “Refuse/Resist”. Why in particular did you pick that song?
Alex: I know everyone would expect us to do an early SEPULTURA song, but those [guys] are our homeboys. We respect them a lot and we wanted to bring that atmosphere back, and they are huge. The Chaos A.D. album was the biggest shock, they started headlining big festivals everywhere and plus it’s a groovy song. Most of our songs are fast so let’s play more of a heavy song or groove song. It was a combination of things, we could just do a fast song from SEPULTURA, but we wanted to jam and play more of a groove song.
APESHIT: You performed with the band when they did “Necromancer” for SEPULTURA’s anniversary show. What was that like?
Alex: It was great man! I was at home, and [SEPULTURA‘s] Andreas [Kisser] called me up and said “Do you want to do a song?” and I was like, “Hell yeah man!” He called me up and, like I said, we respect the guys. I saw those guys back in ’86 . We’re not real close friends or anything like that, we don’t really hang out, those guys, they all have families. It was good for me, it was a nice surprise that he called me up, and I would do it right away. Like I said, we have big respect for the band.
APESHIT: For an underground band in Brazil, what does SEPULTURA mean for you guys?
Alex: Oh man, they mean a lot man! It’s hard to say. Back in the day we had nothing there. The shows were rough, the gears were rough, everything was rough. Kids couldn’t afford gear or instruments. And then there was SEPULTURA. They broke the barriers. When I saw them in ’87, I could tell those guys were going make it man. Because everything was just rough, they had the fashion, they had the look, they played good and tight, and said, “Man this is it.” They mean a lot man…
APESHIT: I feel like KRISIUN is a type of band that is a good definition for what “extreme metal” is or “extreme death metal”. With each album you guys always grow and add new things, whether it’s an acoustic song, or instrumental, or using different kinds of riffing styles. How much more extreme do you think you guys can become?
Alex: Like I said, we’re in for the challenge, we definitely try to work it out. Some bands just stay within their formula and they don’t want to step further. I’m not saying we’re losing our background or roots, but we’re always trying to step further. We go crazy like typical traditional music from Brazil. Everything goes, everything works, as long as it’s organic. It can be jazz, classical…Music is such a wide open universe, so we can pick things, we always try to find out new things, try to put it into extreme shit. I love listening to extreme music but some of it is just noise. I have no problem with noise, it’s ok, but we want it to sound brutal, heavy, but clean; we want people to understand what we’re doing there. This is it, our main challenge is to keep playing extreme music, but listenable music.
APESHIT: What kind of influence does Brazilian music have on you guys as musicians?
Alex: Quite a lot, man. Those bands are little bands that have nothing to do with metal… They’re busy when they’re playing and with their messages. Like SEPULTURA did, not just the samba thing, there are a whole lot of things going on, the sound of the music, they got this native approach as well. There are so many things, I just can’t even mention. A whole lot of different things going on.
APESHIT: One of the unique things about the band is the fact that you guys are brothers. How did you guys start playing music?
Alex: Actually it was a high school thing. There was this guy there… we’re talking about a long time ago. This guy had a guitar and was into metal. We were playing some IRON MAIDEN, AC/DC on his guitar, we were hanging out, and that was it. We needed a bass player and a drummer, and I tried to be a drummer back then. We started jamming, and the guys back home, started to get interested in the same things. We hooked up with a guitar, we’re talking about the late ’80s, ’88 or ’89, we started jamming in high school.
APESHIT: So did you guys all decide to play different instruments on purpose?
Alex: Actually I was playing the drums for this band and I brought the kit back home and I sucked! I couldn’t play the drums at all, and Max was really playing the shit a lot better than me so it was like, “Let’s make our own band!” And that was it…
APESHIT: Was it hard to break out of the Brazil and go international?
Alex: Yeah it’s hard in a way, it takes a lot of work, connections…a lot of work. We’re very devoted to what we do, like back in the day we’re putting money out of our own pockets, and still whatever it takes. The SEPULTURA thing helped, but still it’s up to you. Back in the day we’re sending out tapes out to everyone all over the place. We’re spending our money on the postage. It takes a lot of work, a little bit of luck, patience, dedication, motivation, everything. It’s just hard. Things there, there is a big scene there–big shows and stuff. But to go over to Europe, do a tour, record an album, cover the U.S., it takes a lot of work man…a lot of work.
APESHIT: I first heard about you guys when I started seeing guys in famous death metal bands wearing their Black Force Domain shirts like Alex Webster, or Steve Tucker when he was in MORBID ANGEL…
Alex: Even Trey [Azagthoth] man…Yeah, that helps a lot, that was really something special. Trey from MORBID ANGEL— I remember he was doing this interview with Metal Maniacs, and people were asking him what was up with new bands, and he mentioned us. Those things really helped I think, that was a big deal.
APESHIT: Around the time that Conquerors of Armageddon came out, there was a couple of Brazilian bands that put out albums like REBAELLIUN…when I heard REBAELLIUN, they sounded too similar to you guys! They came after you guys right?
Alex: [Laughs] Right, they came after us. They’re already gone, and we’re still here. It happens. Some kids, they just follow what’s up. I think it was alright, one [inaudible], a few other bands just write to fuckin’ blast, you know. It’s like that’s not we’re trying to do, we play brutal, we play fast, but you gotta develop things, not just be a copycat.
APESHIT: One thing that I know about you guys is that you guys are hard working and dedicated guys, and it shows. There’s got to be some days when you’re like “Fuck this, too many problems…” or…
Alex: Yeah man, sometimes you think about it and it’s just tough being on the road and dealing with crap everyday. But like I said, we love what we do and it’s part of business. Actually, we like touring but there are a few things that you gotta tough it out. Sometimes things are just real [tough] but we love what we’re doing and as long as we’re healthy and motivated to keep doing this we’ve gotta keep going.
APESHIT: There’s got to be some days where you’re not feeling well but you still have to play. How do you get through a set physically?
Alex: That’s a good question, man. Sometimes…it’s just tiring. You just think about the show but you gotta play, and you got the energy, you gotta bust it out. It’s physical and mental at the same time, and you gotta use it, sometimes you just feel like “Oh I won’t be able to play tonight, I’m so tired…I want to go home” but then the kids coming out to the shows are the main thing, the main inspiration. You see the kids coming out and you say, “Hell yeah, let’s fuckin play!”
APESHIT: It’s not like you feel lazy and just play doom metal with 4 riffs…[laughs]
Alex: No no, no, it’s pretty demanding.
KRISIUN will be returning to North America for tour alongside OBITUARY and GOATWHORE. Visit the band’s website for updated tour dates: http://www.krisiun.com.br/
Also, check out the APESHIT review of KRISIUN‘s Southern Storm: http://www.apeshit.org/reviews/krisiun-southern-storm/