Igor Cavalera: Why Early Sepultura Wore Swastika Shirts + Why We Stopped
Drummer Igor Cavalera recently addressed Sepultura's decision to wear t-shirts with a swastika printed on them very early in their career, as well as why the band stopped, while speaking with Drew Stone on the 'New York Hardcore Chronicles' podcast.
The swastika, a centuries old symbol now associated with the concept of white supremacy and the Holocaust, was seen on clothing in numerous photos of Sepultura during 1984 and 1985, as shown in the images shared on social media toward the bottom of the page.
Looking back at this era, Igor Cavalera, one of the Brazilian band's founding members who exited Sepultura in 2006, explained (transcription via Blabbermouth), "There's some old pictures where I was wearing a T-shirt — not only me, Paulo [Xisto Pinto Jr., bass] [and] sometimes Max [Cavalera, guitar/vocals] — with a swastika on, which a lot of people are, like, 'What the hell were you guys doing?'"
At the time of Sepultura's formation, Cavalera was 14-years-old and had been influenced by the punk scene. "But, as you know, in those times — 1982, '83 — punk was pretty big and [Sex Pistols bassist] Sid Vicious had a T-shirt with a swastika, and we, as stupid kids, we thought it was cool to wear that. And I remember that at one point, one of our friends from a different band, Dorsal [Atlântica], he came up to us, and he was, like, 'Guys, this is not shocking. This is stupid.'"
That was the end of Sepultura's association with the swastika. The band would later drift from lyrical themes of demons and evil to ones more socio-political in aim, decrying the corruption rampant in Brazil's government as the country grappled with democratization following the end of a militarized dictatorship in 1985.
"From that day on, we never wore the shirt again," Cavalera affirmed. "But that was the thing with punk at that time — 'Oh, we wanna shock the world. We wanna wear this.' But it was just plain stupid."
Ultimately, the drummer urged that this was a moment in his life he was able to grow from. "I think the most important thing and lesson about this is you need to learn and you need to evolve as a human. And that's why I think education is so important, so people can be educated and they can know about history, about those things in a deeper context — not just wearing for the fact of shocking values. There's a lot more behind this," he concluded.
Sepultura Interview — 1985
Sepultura — 1984
Igor Cavalera With Sepultura — 1985
Igor Cavalera on the "New York Hardcore Chronicles" Podcast
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