Interview by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
Alan: Hi Max. Welcome to the Download festival. When did you arrive?
Alan: Did you get a chance to check out any of the other bands?
Max: No. We actually arrived here [at Donington] this morning, so we couldn’t really see anything. We just got up an hour ago. Threw some water on our faces and drank some coffee.
Alan: Did you travel here directly from South America?
Max: Yeah, I was home for one day, but we just finished touring Central America. First time ever in Nicaragua; it was insane man; so cool. Some of my favourite shows I’ve ever done. Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay…
Alan: Were those festivals or your own shows?
Max: No, they were our own shows, but they’re almost like mini-festivals. In Nicaragua there was almost 5,000 people, and there was a lot of bands all day long. The son of the president was a fan and came to the show which was wild and we had dinner with him after the show. That was a first. We already had one of the British royals here in England come to one of our Sepultura shows in Manchester. It’s not every day that you mix with big political people, but his Dad was the president and helped put up the show, so it was really cool. He was a nice guy and a fan of the band, and Nicaragua was probably my favourite show of the whole South American tour.
Alan: Obviously you have amassed countless fans over the decades with bands including Sepultura, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and recently Killer Be Killed. At your recent shows, can you get a sense of which bands are their favourite? Maybe from T-shirts or audience participation?
Max: They like everything, because we play everything, you know? Even today we’re doing a little bit… There’s a bit less Sepultura; I think maybe only two songs; We’re doing ‘Roots’ and ‘Refuse’. But the crowd seem to like everything. They like all the Cavalera stuff, they like the Nailbomb stuff, and of course they like the Sepultura stuff, because that’s classic; it’s timeless.
Alan: Do you feel a bit obliged to play the Sepultura tracks still?
Max: I don’t feel obliged. I almost feel it’s cool to play with me and Igor because that’s the closest to the original that you’re going to get – back to how it was; this is it. I think that we owe that to the crowd too. To have those songs heard with my voice and Igor’s drumming. Especially with Cavalera Conspiracy. I don’t even think I’m going to play Sepultura songs with Soulfly any more. We already did an American tour that was only Soulfly songs and it went great. People didn’t complain. It’s kind of good to separate both things. My intention is to have Cavalera be the band that plays Sepultura. Soulfly has so much material now with ten albums and a shitload of songs.
Alan: I know this isn’t a Soulfly interview, but you mention ten albums. So number ten is almost ready?
Max: Yeah, Archangel is coming out in August. It’s killer. I love it.
Alan: So Cavalera Conspiracy still kind of has a reputation for being a side-project. How do you feel about that? I know you say Soulfly is your main band, but Cavalera Conspiracy is a fully fledged band in its own right.
Max: It’s kind of a band. Especially like this year when we did a proper US tour that was almost two months with Death Angel and Corrosion of Conformity. That was killer. That was like 15 shows. It is my and Igor’s thing; it’s the brothers. And we got Johny Chow back from Stone Sour playing with us on this. I love that. And Mark Rizzo.
Alan: And why did Nate not come on tour?
Max: Nate couldn’t come. He had a baby and I think he’s going to be busy with Converge. So unfortunately he couldn’t come. We still want, at some point eventually, to try to do some shows with him. It would have been cool. I love the guy and I think he did a great job on the record.
Alan: What was your favourite track to record on Pandemonium?
Max: My favourite one was ‘Cramunhão’. It’s a weird song because it’s in English, but it’s about Brazilian devils, and it’s really kind of like Brazilian folklore about the devil that appears in people’s back yard and shit. But the song itself is a thrash song and I just had a lot of fun. It was a record that we went in and decided “Let’s make a record that doesn’t get big”, “Alright, let’s do that. Let’s eliminate any chances of this record ever getting big”. So we did the dirtiest recording and the most fucked-up sound; this thing’s not going to get big. It’s really like the opposite state of mind we had when we made Roots; we wanted to make the biggest metal album ever. This one was the opposite; “Let’s make the least biggest album ever”. It was kind of an approach, but it worked, and it’s a really underground record. I like that quality of Pandemonium. It has that “Fuck You” quality, you know?
Alan: What about your favourite new track to play live?
Max: The first track ‘Babylonian Pandemonium’ is killer. It’s got the Wizard of Oz chorus; “oh-we-oh”, that one is really cool, really fast. I think we play all my favourite Cavalera tracks today. We play ‘Killing Inside’ which is an absolute favourite of mine; I love the track. ‘Sanctuary’ is a ripper. ‘Inflikted’ is really good too. So yeah, I think Cavalera has had a proper career. I like the records, I like what I’m doing with Igor. It’s on the side, and it’s our thing, and we don’t care. We’re having fun with this. That’s what we did with this project to start with. The brothers connected and playing metal again for the people they love.
Alan: I think the last time you played here with Cavalera Conspiracy was in 2008. And you’ve been here with Soulfly as well. Of the bands that are here this weekend, if you are aware of the lineup, are there any bands that you would like to get up with to perform a track with? Anybody you would like to collaborate with?
Max: I haven’t really seen the lineup yet. But…I want to get up and sing “Rebel Yell” with Billy Idol.
Alan: That would be cool.
Max: I actually like Billy Idol. I think it is cool that he is in this festival, that’s kinda different. I also like Lamb of God. I heard they are here too.
Alan: Yeah, today is a big day actually.
Max: Big metal day, right? So today is the main day?
Alan: Yeah, for me anyway. Well, we were at Slipknot on Friday and we had Marilyn Manson last night. He put on a good show actually. He’s aged well.
Max: Was his ass showing?
Alan: No, not this time!
Max: So he covered his ass? Alright. He is doing better.
Alan: If you could have any artists, be they here or elsewhere, that could come up to join you for a song today during your set, who would you like to have up there with you?
Max: That’s a good question. It would be cool to have Randy from Lamb of God do something. You know, like do a Pantera cover. Something like ‘Walk’ for Dimebag, that’s always fun. I did that on the 70,000 tons of Metal. I covered ‘Walk’. We had a jam band. I had to learn the lyrics and everything.
Alan: I thought everybody knew the lyrics to ‘Walk’!
Max: Haha! You know most of it, it’s like drunk singing. “Re-spect! Walk!” Everybody knows that. But you’ve got to get the proper words – the verses!
Alan: You are renowned for writing politically motivated songs and lyrics. Are there any global events or issues that you have wanted to write songs about, in the past maybe, but never had the opportunity to do so, but would still like to?
Max: There is a lot of stuff that piques my curiosity. There is a tribe in Africa that is supposedly the last lost tribe of Israel, supposedly they are Jewish, but they are black. That’s really wild. I would love to do a song with them or something. And there is a tribe in Brazil too. They are also connected with the lost tribe of Israel. They all dress in white. That stuff has always interested me. I also would love to play a lot in the Middle East, because there is a big metal scene there, even though it’s forbidden to listen to metal. That’s why we did the Killer Be Killed song ‘Forbidden Fire’; it was about that. I would have loved to play in Iran, even in Iraq, if it’s possible. The chances are slim, but it would have been cool to bring metal to that part of the world.
Alan: Any last thoughts on the festival? You’re lucky with the weather today!
Max: But I see your boots, man. Shit! [notices very mucky Wellingtons]
Alan: Yeah… We pretty much had 24 hours of heavy rain.
Max: Did that discourage the crowd?
Alan: Not at all.
Max: So the moshpits get even crazier with the rain. Do you think it’s going to rain today?
Alan: I think it’s dry today.
Max: Is it better when it rains or not?
Alan: Not for me, I think I am a fair weather mosher.
Max: You should have it on your shirt: “I’m a fair weather mosher”.
Alan: Haha! Thanks for taking the time to chat. Good luck with your set today and enjoy the festival!
Max: Thanks man.