Kisser plays his EVH Striped Series guitar while tracking the new De La Tierra album. The instrument’s S-style shape fits right into his aesthetic bag.
How do you two split up guitar parts?
I do some rhythm, but I do more of the lead part so Andrés can focus on the rhythm as well as the vocals. I try to find the high notes that offer something different.
Do you feel your playing evolved or expanded on this album?
I hope so, man. I keep my eyes and ears open all the time. I play every day regardless if I’m on tour or not. And I’m always writing. I don’t necessarily write for De La Tierra or Sepultura. I just write. And it may go to a soundtrack, a movie, or whatever. So I keep that kind of rhythm going all the time. And I always try to be aware of new countries and new places, new people, musicians that play new instruments, or even musicians that play guitar a different way. That always helps to open new possibilities for my playing. That’s why every Sepultura album is so different. And in De La Tierra it’s happening the same.
You’ve created a very identifiable tone throughout your career. How do you get that sound in the studio?
In the studio I like to be open to any possibilities. Of course, I had my Jackson Randy Rhoads and Soloists. And I have Fender Stratocasters. But in the studio I have more options. Ross had some instruments and I have some friends that I’d borrow from, like an SG or Les Paul, or even a baritone guitar or sitar guitar. And amps as well. I use Orange onstage, which I love, and in the studio. But I also used a Peavey 5150, a Diezel, and a Marshall head. And even combos like a Vox. I’m not the kind of musician who has to only play that guitar and that amp and that pedal. I have my preferences, but in the studio you have to be open to certain situations, because anything can happen. That’s how you grow.
Playing with different instruments gives you different challenges. And facing them—that’s how you get better. So I welcome those challenges. That’s where you’re really alive. I like something that makes me really sweat for it. And then when you hear the results you feel like you actually achieved something.
What about your live rig?
The Randy Rhoads model is my favorite guitar. I have one from ’93 that I’m going to bring on the road with Sepultura. I have another one from 2010 with EMG pickups. One of them has Seymour Duncans. I also have the Duncan Black Winter pickups in one of my Charvels. And I love Stratocasters. I’m so happy to have this relationship with Fender for almost 20 years now. I use Strats a lot. It’s a design that I respect so much. It’s so diverse. You can go anywhere with a Stratocaster. And the shape! Ritchie Blackmore, Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix made the guitar have that magical aura. But it’s the Jackson Randy Rhoads that fits better for me.
Which Orange amps are you using live?
I’ve been using the Rockerverb MKII for four or five years now, and I’m a very happy man. I don’t use distortion pedals. I put the guitar straight to the amp. You feel the wood and feel more of the pickup. You feel more of everything and get a more truthful sound. I have pedals like my Cry Baby wah-wah and delays and stuff. But for distortion I like to have the straight pure sound from the head. For leads, I don’t use a boost or anything. I feel more comfortable working that way.
That’s what I like the most about Orange. It’s a very honest and very truthful sound. And very heavy as well. I was very skeptical at first. Of course, Black Sabbath played Orange. But I always connected it more to grunge and a kind of alternative-rock sound. But when I tried the Rockerverb MKII, I was blown away. It’s so clear and still very full in the bottom end. It’s great for leads and everything.
You’re known for a huge wah sweep. What type of Cry Baby do you use?
I’m so honored to have a signature Cry Baby. It was only released here [in South America]. It doesn’t have a switch. It’s like their 95Q. It has a Q and volume and a boost button on the side. It’s been working amazingly. It’s beautiful as well. It has the tribal Sepultura “S” logo. I’d been using the Dunlop Cry Baby for so many years, and I got the opportunity to have the signature model. I want to get it released worldwide. We’ll see what happens.
What strings and tunings do you use?
For my strings, I work with a Brazilian brand called SG Strings. They have a long tradition of making strings in Brazil. I also have a signature set with them. And they’ve been working great. I’ve been using them all over the world and on the past four or five Sepultura albums. They’re a Brazilian industry that makes everything here, and many of the machines are even built here.
I use .010s and .013s for the heavier sounds, which I use for De La Tierra. I use Db tuning with both bands. And I use D tuning for Sepultura as well.
Speaking of Brazil, the band is very proud of its Latin American roots. How is that translating in non-Latin-speaking countries?
We played in New York at Webster Hall. And we played at the Roxy in Los Angeles. Of course, you have a huge Latin community. It was great to see that they’re aware of De La Tierra. But our intention is to break that kind of barrier. Not to only play in Latin America, or the States, or Spain. We want to go Germany, to Holland, and to Japan. We had some great opportunities with the first album. But hopefully with this one we’ll have the chance to go to non-Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking countries and make a career outside here.
How has reaction been to the new material?
It’s been great! Really cool. I think the reaction for the first album was really amazing. The first show we did with De La Tierra ever was opening for Metallica in Bogotá, Colombia. And we already saw some De La Tierra flags and stuff. It was so great seeing the Maná fans, Sepultura fans, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs fans, and A.N.I.M.A.L. fans all together. And they were there to support De La Tierra. It was very motivating.
And now the second album came out and the reaction has been very positive. People are anxious to see us onstage again, but we have to work with everybody’s calendars. That’s our biggest challenge.
Does the band plan to do more touring behind II?
We have nothing planned yet. Sepultura’s going on tour right now. And I know Maná is doing a lot of stuff, and A.N.I.M.A.L. is on tour. But the plan is to try to put Sepultura, De La Tierra, and A.N.I.M.A.L. together. That would be an amazing tour, you know? A real traditional Latin tour. Then we could go to the States and wherever. Hopefully we’ll have the chance—if not this year, maybe next.
Can fans expect a third De La Tierra album?
Definitely. We want to have a long career and expand our possibilities and grow up as a band.
Catch the Latin influence in the phrasing of Andreas Kisser’s solo, which starts at 3:40 in the official video for De La Tierra’s “Maldita Historia” from their 2014 debut. He’s since retired the Charvel from his 6-string lineup in the band, and is now playing three Jacksons and an EVH.