Interview with Max Cavalera (Vocals, Guitars) (Cavalera’s Conspiracy, Soulfly and former Sepultura)

Yeah we like being in Napalm, they're much better because they're fans of metal, they understand metal. Roadrunner, nobody likes metal there. Once they were bought by Warner...





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 Interview by Aaron Boggs


A.B. Hi Max, this is Aaron calling from MyGlobalMind Magazine in Northern Ireland. How ya doin’?

M.C. Hey Man, I’m doin’ alright, thank you.

A.B. It’s cool. Thanks for taking the time out to speak with me!

M.C. Sure…

A.B. OK, so I’d just like to discuss with you, your new album that’s just come out for Cavalera Conspiracy if you’d like to fill us in on that, yeah? 🙂

M.C. Yeah, the album just came out and we’re very excited. It seemed to come out really good ya know? like more brutal, heavier and faster than the other Cavalera records I think.  It was the album me and Iggor wanted to make …you know, we love this kinda music and I think that me and Iggor, when we play fast there is some kind of magic that happens – some really spontaneous combustion and I really love that. The new record was inspired by that, by me and Iggor playing fast together and make another record like that.

A.B. I checked out the album once I got it sent to me through Napalm records and just got another listen to it today again man, the whole album from start to finish is just an absolute juggernaut, listening to it through its entirety I just thought ‘WOW’ when I heard the tracks on it. It’s such a cool thing to see and hear metal sounding so healthy as opposed to the likes of Gene Simmons saying things like ‘Rock is dead’, maybe rock (in the conventional sense) but definitely not heavy metal.

M.C. Yeah, I mean …Heavy metal is awesome right now, I love a lot of the new stuff coming out, ya know what I mean like Noisem, Full of Hell, Hour of Penance, Aborted, Pig Destroyer, Converge …so many great bands right now …I dunno maybe the bands are not selling or the CD’s are not selling but the music and the fans are there for the shows and that’s what’s important you know.

A.B. Absolutely man… I’ve noticed some debate as of late over the value that albums have (as a musical format) or at least once possessed in terms of a comparison to the demand fans nowadays make for singles. What’s your thoughts on that?

(repeated question over phoneline difficulty)

M.C. I think it’s great, you know. We try to keep that tradition alive, we made a record and it’s not a concept album because it has all these different elements in it and different ideas, and our songs are all about different things you know …’Roots’ was a record that all about the same thing but Pandemonium’s all different, we got songs about Japanese fighter pilots, about witches of Salem, about Babylonian biblical times ya know, so like there’s very, very different topics you know so… without the concept for the record …so if a record is ten songs, a lot of Pandemonium from the beginning of Babylon Pandemonium (Title track) all the way through to ‘The Crucible’ half this record is just relentless, it’s very punishing, song after song – it’s just very fast and very brutal and it doesn’t let go you know …That’s actually one of the things the album was really inspired by; was the Noisem record ‘Agony Defined’, one of my favourite records that came out last year and I was very inspired by this album because it was all fast and I told Iggor  ‘We should do that, we should do a fast record, we should make the whole record fast have a couple of grooves but not too many but the majority of the stuff will be fast and brutal …and I think we did that, and for me I’m very, very pleased with the record. I think it’s the biggest and best record I could make right now.

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A.B. Yeah I’d definitely have to agree with you there! Having listened to Inflikted, and Blunt Force Trauma (for nostalgic reasons) before checking out the new album and how it’s gone from strength to strength it’s easy to hear the progression of Cavalera Conspiracy’s music in terms of your creative process in the studio and what stands out for you on the album …You’ve signed to Napalm records lately, was your departure from roadrunner that there were too many demands on their behalf in terms of studio time …was it too much for you guys at the time, that Napalm were able to accommodate a more ‘relaxed’ atmosphere for your songwriting or in terms of less commercial pressure maybe?

M.C. Yeah we like being in Napalm, they’re much better because they’re fans of metal, they understand metal. Roadrunner, nobody likes metal there. Once they were bought by Warner records it was all corporate, there was a corporate mentality and all they wanted was the next Nickelback and we got nothing to do with that shit. We love metal and brutal stuff and Napalm, when they heard Pandemonium, they loved it so we love being in a label that is like that, they love what the band is making and that it’s able to get behind a band and support them like that I think – I’m a big fan of what they made with the record, the special edition, the vinyl version, the [Brazilian Brotherhood] boxset edition, for me the coolest thing was having that on Napalm so we are very happy on Napalm records, I think they’re going to do a fantastic job with Cavalera and looking forward to a long future with them!

A.B. Absolutely, they seem to have a great deal of dedication towards the acts on their roster which in itself is quite an impressive one, which on that note I’m going to catch another act of theirs next week in London, Audrey Horne whose album ‘pure heavy’ came out several weeks ago…

M.C. Yeah it’s cool to be in a label that has a lot of cool bands and all kinds of metal you know… They really wanted to sign Cavalera, they were really inspired to sign us and they thought you know …we could make a really good record together, they were really enthusiastic and they signed us without even hearing one note of the record which is unusual you know because a lot of times, the label(s) – they wanna hear demos or you got to prove yourself first before you get signed but with Napalm they just believe in the power of the band, they knew that me and Iggor were gonna make something ‘powerful’ and we tried you know… and Pandemonium is really our way of thinking ‘Where is our metal right now in 2014, for me and Iggor as brothers playing metal?’ – Pandemonium is where it’s at, at the peak of that and I’m very proud of the record, I think the record stands on its own, holds it own calibre and I love how the songs are put together, how they go from one to the other and how it doesn’t let go you know – song after song -all fast with a couple of grooves between them but for the majority the material is fast and that was really the motivation behind making the record – to make a statement kind of record you know – …’This is us, it’s fast. If you don’t like it, Fuck off!’

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A.B. Haha, yeah. right on man! Cool. The last time I caught Cavalera Conspiracy live was at Graspop back in 2008, then I caught Soulfly during the summer this year at Hyde Park which was another awesome gig and I noticed a lot of Sepultura songs which were flowing through the Soulfly setlist …obviously for the fans but I understand that with yourself, you’re a bit more hesitant about having so many of those songs included throughout your live shows when trying to make your own stamp musically and individually to that of sepultura, even with where you guys are at now with Napalm, you’ve achieved that ‘1000 true fans’ niche as it were, which seems to be ideal for you guys you to have that creative freedom.

Around the time of the late 90s/early 00’s was it bands such as yourselves [Soulfly], Lamb of God, Damageplan (formerly of Pantera) and Black Label Society collectively who felt that needed to be a ‘changing of the guard’ in terms of a new direction for metal music and what was the general feelings at the time when considering there was sounds coming from bands such as Mastodon who were just then up and coming within that same ‘zeitgeist’?

M.C. I just love metal. That’s the thing I’m proud of, I think is most important is that we survived the grunge era. When grunge music was coming out that it could kill off metal which I think is bullshit because along with us, Pantera was in top form, SLAYER were still playing …a lot of bands were still doing great stuff at that time and we survived, it didn’t kill us and I actually ended up being really good friends with Dave Grohl, and he write the bio of my book. He’s a big fan of metal and I’m very happy with that. he’s such a cool metal guy, he loves metal and he’s on the Probot record which was amazing. I really liked the record and I love the arrangements of the tracks, ‘the Warlock track’ Dave Grohls tracks, my track ‘Red War’ was really fun to work on so you know …I just love being a metalhead and getting to make metal for 30 years is an accomplishment in itself and I have to tip off my hat to guys like Lemmy and Ozzy who have been doing this so much longer than me, they’re still here, they’re still doing it, it’s inspiration to look at them and see what they’re doing and for me I wanna keep doing this until I die. I want to play metal ’til I’m dead.  I don’t want to anything else except play metal.

A.B.  Where I’m calling you from actually, is a place you guys played with Sepultura maybe about 20 years ago called Derry City in Northern Ireland, but Iggor was recently here too doing a gig [Mixhell]

M.C. Where are you calling from?

A.B. Derry City in the north of Ireland.

M.C. Ah ok, cool. Your accent is hard.

A.B. Haha, yeah it can be a little difficult to penetrate sometimes…

M.C. Yeah you speaking english but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it it. Haha 😀

A.B. It happens 🙂 I understand you have plans to be out on the road with the Metal Allstars?

M.C. Yeah, I dunno if we’re doing that. I did the one in South America which I just got back from.  It was very un-organised and lots of problems. I dunno. It’s fun though because the musicians are good guys and I’m friends with a lot of them like Dave Ellefson and it was fun meeting Carmine Appice and the some of the Queensryche guys but it needs to be better organised to take off so I’m not sure whether I’m gonna be part of that or not but right now, what I have planned is actually a Cavalera tour in February [2015], then Cavalera comes to Europe in March, hopefully with Ireland also! …and then we just keep moving from there you know …we’re looking forward to some shows with ‘Killer Be Killed’ too. I heard there might be something about Killer be Killed at the download festival next year in England so I hope that happens, that will be great. We have an offer for Killer be Killed for Soundwave festival in Australia at the end of January. I think we’re gonna do that with the Mastodon guys and Dillinger Escape plan so yeah w’re just gonna keep busy with that and write the new soulfly record that’s going to come out next year that’s going to come out on Nuclear Blast records and it’s going to be our tenth record so it’s a huge album for me …I never expected to release ten albums in my life and with the same band, and I think it’s very important and very amazing that we actually have ten albums out so I’m going to try to make a very special record with a lot of really good stuff in it, try to get the best of my metal mind into this album and try to come up with something cool and awesome that the fans are gonna like it.

A.B. I’d imagine with the combined success of Babylon Pandemonium, this new Soulfly album will no doubt smash boundaries in that respect.

M.C. I’m really proud of Pandemonium, I think it is the record we wanted to make.  We started the record with a vision and I had a vision of a fast record with Iggor and when I wrote the song Babylon Pandemonium, I was extremely happy because it’s one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written and it’s just a brutal song that reminds me of Entombed sometimes or that kind of very very brutal metal and when you write songs like that, there’s some pleasure that comes with it that is unbelievable, the feeling that you get from the song – it’s such a good feeling that it’s kinda hard to describe in words but it felt really good when we finished making Babylon Pandemonium and I’m so glad that was the first video and opener of the album I haven’t opened a record with a thrash track in a long time, Soulflys ‘Savages’, Cavaleras last album album had ‘War Lord’  which all had neat tempos. It actually felt really good to go and open a record with a thrash track again like the old days. 🙂

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A.B.  Right on! We have a couple of mins left so I thought I’d get some off the wall questions in and saying as xmas is not far round the corner, are there any crazy metal/christmas traditions that go on in the Cavalera Household?

M.C. Not really, it’s pretty metal around here. Most of the kids/grandkids are all older and grown up now and don’t believe in Santa anymore, but it’s good fun though, it’s important that we get to spend the holidays at home. I’m glad that we are home right now as for a lot of years we were on the road that we didn’t get to take much of a break or celebrate anything so we’ll take a break for a little bit.  I just look forward to next year to start touring and playing live all over the world again, I think that’s my favourite thing in the world to do.

A.B. That’s your xmas present right there, getting to do that all year round 🙂 It would certainly do it for me!

M.C. Ha, yeah! Play live forever.

A.B. Yip, it’s a beautiful thing! I actually just caught Mastodon live a week ago here in Belfast on tour with Big Business and Krokodil which was another great show and I’m loving their new album.

M.C. Yeah, they’re a great band and I like Troy.  I was so much making Killer be Killed with him, he’s such a good guy, great bass player and singer.  I was listening to ‘Crack the Skye’ the other day …such a good, amazing record. I love the new album but ‘Crack the skye’ is my favourite.

A.B. Yeah, that album always seems to be the favourite no matter who you ask, myself included but I’m a late bloomer to Mastodon but better late than never.

M.C. Yeah it’s just such a good mix of melodic and heavy on that record and it’s just a perfect balance you know …and I’m just really glad I got to meet Troy and that I got to do Killer be killed with him because it was an honour making a record with a guy like that and I’m a fan of Mastodon so for me it was fun working with one of my favourite bands, one of the bands that I like the most so fortunately I hope we can do more with Killer be Killed, in a couple of years make our second Killer be killed record and try to make that better than the first one but I’m happy with the first one. I think it came out really good, there’s some very very cool stuff in it, a mix of melodic and thrash and heavy trippy kinda mastodon/soulfly/dillinger escape plan mix and I thought that came out really cool.

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A.B. I can’t even begin to think what that’s going to be like …is nay, would the world even be ready for something like that? Ha, it would need to be.

M.C. Ha, yeah.

A.B. So have you had much time to yourself the past few days, taking it easy, writing music getting things ready for next year?

M.C. Yeah pretty much just getting ready to write new material for Soulfly when I go into the studio in January hopefully we can get it recorded in the same time so at the moment I’m just spending time preparing for that and the songwriting is going good. I’m very inspired right now and I’m listening to a lot of great metal. I’ve been listening to a lot of ‘Bloodbath’, ‘Aborted’, ‘Hour of Penance’ – extreme shit you know!? So I can expect this album’s gonna have a big influence from these bands and that’s the bash I can think of right now for my music to be influenced like that.

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