Max Cavalera is undeniably one of the most well-known icons in the metal world, best known for laying down the foundations of Brazilian band Sepultura, with his brother, Igor. The Cavalera brothers have come a long way since then, having extended the family connection by adding Max’s son, Zyon, to the band dynamic of Soulfy as drummer. Front-man, vocalist, and guitarist, Max Cavalera has expanded his expertise in various genres of metal including thrash, melodic, and grindcore, with projects such as Nailbomb, Cavalera Conspiracy, and of course, Soulfly. He has created an extensive fan-base from the furthest reaches of Russia, to war-torn areas in the Middle East, and small towns in Canada.
I had the chance to discuss the new Soulfly album, Savages, with Max, which comes out on October 4th. Devout fans will be pleased to hear that the new album is tracing back to its roots, with a more melodic and “original” Soulfly sound. Cavalera seemed extremely optimistic about the tour, and is crossing his fingers (just like you are) for a release by Cavalera Conspiracy sometime in the future. In the meantime, Savages is here, and a new project featuring Soulfly, Mastadon, and Dillinger Escape plan waits, set to be released in the middle of next year.
Hey there! What have your days been filled with recently; what’s been taking up most of your time?
Max: Well, right now I’m recording at a studio in L.A. We just finished a project with Mastadon and Dillinger Escape Plan. I had a month off before my tour in October with Savages and Havok. We’ll be touring in America and Canada. Since the guys had a month off as well, we decided to come to L.A. and record this album. Today was the last day in studio.
Awesome. We’d love to hear about this project. Any details?
Max: It’s a pretty cool project; very different than the stuff I do with Soulfly. It’s a mix of these three bands, so there is a unique dynamic. It was fun writing heavy riffs, and combining it with the melodic parts that Greg and Troy came up with. We’re all going to be singing; I start the song with a heavy riff and vocal, and they follow up with a melodic riff and melodic vocal. It’s a cool contrast of voices, and it’s kind of been the theme of the whole album.
Check out the song “Bloodshed”
When will it come out and what’s the album’s name?
Max: We actually don’t have a name yet. It’s currently untitled. It will come out in the middle of next year.
What are the differences and similarities between South American and North American metal, if there are any?
Max: Mostly it’s same. Metal heads are similar all over world; I’ve met many from Indonesia, Brazil, to New Orleans, and everywhere in between. They love metal, they are passionate and they love getting crazy and wild at all the shows. Also, the pits are the same all over the world. Oh, here’s an interesting fact. Somebody told me that a study was conducted. It was previously thought that people who listen to classical are the most intelligent. Well, this study revealed that in fact, people who listen to METAL are the most intelligent, according to this study. We are smart and we didn’t know about it, haha!
Who did you and your brother listen to growing up?
Max: We started with regular rock bands like Queen, Kiss, and Van Halen, and then it got heavier, with bands like Motorhead and Black Sabbath. We got into thrash and started listening to Venom, Slayer, Metallica, Creator, and all that great stuff. Igor was always great at drumming so I had to find another instrument. I found guitar and later I ended up singing, which became my trademark. I didn’t even know I had a voice. So, we didn’t have anyone to sing and I decided to start signing with Sepultura and I haven’t stopped since then.
What is it like playing and touring with your son? Does it affect the father/son dynamic in any negative way, or has it brought you closer?
Max: It’s cool, and very natural. I played my whole life with my brother, it’s a family connection, so it’s not very different, My relationship with Zyon is cool; when we are jamming as a band I talk to him as musician, not my son. Our relationship is much more professional in the band. I leave the dad part for when we are off stage.
I would like to know if Nailbomb will ever put anything else out?
Max: No, it’s totally done, unfortunately. Alex is out entirely. I still play Nailbomb live; I love “Cockroaches” and “Wasting Away”. I still love Nailbomb, I thought it was a great project. This project we are currently working on is very similar to Nailbomb, a lot of the writing is very spontaneous. There are no rules; we can do whatever we want, which is a very Nailbomb side of this project. Nailbomb itself is done, we killed it.
What’s your favourite place to tour?
Max: I like exotic places, like, Siberia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other weird, far away places. They don’t have many shows there, they’re not spoiled like the West is with all of their metal shows. So, when they get a show, they go crazy and are part of something special. I think it’s very important for people in these parts of the world. In fact, there is song called “Forbidden Fire” in our new project about people in Iran and Iraq who are not allowed to listen to heavy metal, but they do anyways because they love metal, and are the taking risk of being put in jail and being beaten up. They fight against the system because they love metal, and I think it’s just so cool because it’s against the law in their country. It just blows my mind that this happens in this day and age, to have it be against the law to listen to metal… it’s insane!
What was it like working with Terry Date? What was the studio atmosphere and creative process like?
Max: Oh my god, it was so good. Unbelievable. We were in the nicest studio ever; it’s a very famous studio from the 70’s called Bad Animals, in Seattle. Killer sound. I wrote my album in my head and Terry didn’t want to change it. I love the sound of the record-I think Terry did an amazing job. I worked with Sam, his engineer. He did lot of stuff for the video game Halo; he was great with sound effects. All the sound effects you hear is all me and Sam, it was really amazing to be able to do that. Savages has to be one of my favourite recordings.
“Ayatollah of Rock n Rolla”! This song name off Savages struck me, I couldn’t help it. Is this a reference to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini? Who is the Ayatolla Khomeni of Rock n Roll?
Max: It’s actually from the movie Mad Max. I also heard it in Heartbreak Rage, some Clint Eastwood movie. Mad Max 2 has this line, “I am Ayatollah of Rock n Rolla.” I like this kind of title; I thought it was cool to have a name that is wild and crazy like this. It has no affiliation with Islamic stuff, just a name from a movie. I read a lot of Hunter S. Thompson, and a lot of the ideas for my lyrics in this song are inspired by Hunter Thompson.
Check out the song: “World Scum (ft. Travis Ryan)”
Sepultura’s lyrics, as well as Soulfly’s, have often spoken out against organized religion and repressive governments. War torn areas in the Middle East, in places such as Baghdad, have seen an emergence of heavy metal music. Would you consider metal a political tool against regimes?
Max: Music is good for this; It’s a form of expression. I think a lot of times, if I didn’t have music, I could have become a violent person. Thank God I have music, so I can sing about violence and don’t have to actually become violent. I don’t have to portray violence in my life; I use music as expression instead. I love writing heavy, angry songs. I think it’s a gift, just as The Beatles had a gift to write love songs. I have a gift to write angry songs on any day.
Is there a specific reason you oppose organized religion, besides the obvious?
Max: I don’t like the whole forceful thing, stuffing it down people’s throat. The whole,”LOVE JESUS!!!” thing. Everyone should make the decision themselves, it’s so personal. No one should be forced. I hate the scandals in Church; priests having sex with little boys and shit like that. How can they get away with it? That’s why I’m more connected to Orthodox religion; I think that’s cool. We have a lot of friends who are priests in Siberia and Oklahoma. We have a priest friend, Father Anthony, who comes and blesses me before every show.
I have heard rumours that Cavelera Conspiracy is coming out with a grindcore record, any comments?
Max: It’s my idea. It’s what I would like to do. I love the energy of grindcore, it’s very powerful. Igor plays so great and fast, I’d say he’s one of best fast drummers in the world. If I can convince him to make a super fast record, I think it would be super cool. It’s something that I am hoping happens. If it happens, it will be next year, because I’m busy with Soulfly right now. We are in no rush. Caverlara Conspiracy takes time and we don’t rush it. I thought it would be cool to do because no one is expecting it.
Do you have anything to say to your fans?
Max: For our Canadian Fans, we’ll be in your country with Havok in October! Thank you, and I hope you like Savages. It’s an album made for them, with fans in mind. That’s why I decided to throw in some groove, as it was requested from fans I saw on tour. They wanted older-sounding stuff. I hope to see everyone on tour!