The blunt force charge behind the primal power of Max Cavalera’s impact on the world of heavy metal is irreplaceable. He has carved out a fascinating niche for himself by creating a hybrid form of the genre that combines thrash, punk, and tribal music into a brand of vicious sonic carnage that is unmistakable in its signature style and sheer sonic force. Cavalera has his own distinct voice in a genre packed with imitators, copy-cats and coat-tail riders. He stands alone thanks to his unique approach and relentless work ethic.
Whether Max is playing with Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy or his mainstay Soulfly, he is about to unleash a tour to promote one of his most insane projects to date: Nailbomb. Nailbomb was a project that only did one album called Point Blank in 1994 that fused Cavalera’s blend of musical brutality with electronic and industrial elements to put an even bigger twist on things. This album has Cavalera enterting a realm similar to industrial metal the likes of KMFDM or Ministry. It’s unlike anything he’s done to date.
PureGrainAudio was fortunate enough to catch up with Cavalera about touring Point Blank almost twenty-five years after its release, the future of Soulfly, opening for the Ramones and the future of METAL!
It’s been a bit of a rough ride for metal in general, especially for the fans. With Black Sabbath permanently retiring, “Fast” Eddie Clarke from Motörhead passing away, and even Slayer announcing their farewell tour. I was wondering how that made you feel as a person and as a musician? But more importantly, did that make you feel like coming back to things like playing Soulfly, Nailbomb? To return to the fans and show how important that music really is and how strong you guys are to this day, as well as how it’s going to help you move on in your career?
Max Cavalera: For sure, you know? It’s sad, we lost many great legends, Lemmy, Eddie Clarke, the full original Motörhead is gone. But metal continues man, it never dies, that’s what I love about metal. We have the new generation coming up. Gatecreeper, Genocide Pact, and all these great new bands. I think metal is good man, I’m looking forward to this year. You have a lot of great new releases, new Behemoth, new Nile, new Soulfly. And I love touring, for the people that know me, to get my music out for the fans. So we’re doing Nailbomb and then we’re going out with Nile after that. I’m very excited for these upcoming tours.
Yeah, absolutely, and for returning to Nailbomb, of all the albums you could do.
Cavalera: Yeah, Nailbomb is kind of a special record. It was a project and we only did one show for it in Holland and we recorded it live. But then this year I thought I should take this on tour and have Soulfly play the Nailbomb record, which was kind of a cool idea. We put a band behind Point Blank (the only Nailbomb album) and it sounded great man. It was kind of an underground tour with Cannabis Corpse. It was so good that we wanted to do more, we’re coming back next week, started again.
A lot of Canadian shows, which is gonna be great. I’ve never done so many shows in Canada, like this time. We’re adding one song to the set, maybe we’re going to do a Dead Kennedys cover or something. Nailbomb, the record is very special, it’s very close to my heart. A lot of fans love it, it’s kinda a cult project, a cult album, a lot of people really dig it. It’s underground too. It’s not meant to be real big or popular. But for the people that really love it, it means a lot. It’s kind of a special thing. We’re treating it very special in a very respectful way, and play the songs as good as we can play them live.
I’m going to be seeing you guys in London, Ontario on your Canadian branch of the tour that a lot of the Canadian fans are extremely excited about. Because, instead of catching you guys at a festival or having to travel to the States, it’s just really amazing to see you guys make the extra effort to travel and really reach out to people. Especially with one of those rare gems like Nailbomb just because I remember hearing it in high school like fifteen years ago. It’s just extremely powerful.
Cavalera: Yeah, the record’s great and man, it’s so relevant right now. With all the political stuff, it’s right on. With songs against war, against political, and all that stuff that’s going on right now in the world. And we have the original backdrop with the KKK guy with the target on his face, HAS Mats on our microphone stands. A lot of camouflage all over the stage, like shooting targets. It just looks great, total Nailbomb military look. Then we just let the music do the talking, because “World of Shit”, “Cockroaches”, “Sum of Your Achievements”, “Wasting Away”, “24 Hour Bullshit”. It’s great man, it’s just pure power.
Absolutely, rather than go on some rant on like Facebook or something. It’s so funny to see some of the songs, especially “24 Hour Bullshit”, arguably become MORE relevant than they were when they were first released. Especially in the age of social media, citizen journalism and all of this super cutthroat live news.
Cavalera: Yeah, it’s funny because “24 Hour Bullshit” was written for TV but you can put that for the internet.
Get a sample of Soulfly’s latest release with their “Archangel” music video.
Cavalera: You can translate that to what the world is now for internet or trolls or whatever man. Nailbomb just hated everything, and that’s what I think was cool about it. We were like the hate project. We’re shooting in all directions man, we didn’t care. It was called the Hate Project first and then the record was going to be called “1000% Hate”. But we end up choosing Nailbomb, which is a better name. “Point Blank” was a direct kind of a name, but it’s still very angry and perfect for right now, for the times we live in. Plus we’ve got a great band with Soulfly, with [Marc] Rizzo and Mike [Leon] and Zyon, my son Igor doing Alex’s [Cavalera, Max’s brother] part. It’s so much fun having those guys on stage and jamming. It’s gonna be just AWESOME.
Oh yeah! Absolutely. One other question I had was about how the songs aren’t necessarily being reinvented but applied to a new context. You kind of tipped the hat to that kind of conversation already. What was it like to re-approach these songs with a completely different lineup and also being in a completely different headspace with some more years under your belt? As a musician, as a person, as a Dad and just as a human being in general and seeing how this album was being re-appropriated in this new amazing time in your life and career?
Cavalera: Yeah, it was fun practicing for Nailbomb because we were turning the songs into a band, so this sounds like a band. A lot of songs, like “Religious Cancer”, were really electronic on the album. Now we have a real drummer like Zyon playing the beat. But we still have all the samplers to go on top of it, so it’s still got the electronic feeling to it. But it just has that really heavy band behind it, because Soulfly is a power weight. We have the weight of Soulfly on it. So I think everybody wins, it’s a win-win situation man because the songs become heavier and kind of like organic with people playing them instead of machines.
But you have the sampler on top of it so that industrial feeling is still there, so it still mixed with all the stuff. It’s a mix where it’s a little bit like the record was, but if Nailbomb was ever to become a band, this is what it would sound like if it went on tour. We are as close to sounding like “Point Blank” as it can possibly be done. It’s like one song after the other, we’ve got no time to even breathe. We wanna play them real fast, there’s not much talking in between songs. It’s kind of in your face, one jam after the other. It’s fun, it’s just pure energy, pure punk rock fury in your face.
Absolutely, and like you said, it really reinforces the idea of letting the music do the talking instead of using the stage like a soapbox right?
Cavalera: Yeah! We let the music do the talking and it’s really cool to go from one song to the other. That’s even how we’ve been practicing, without any break. We just go song after song. I remember watching the Ramones when we played with them in Brazil, that’s how they were man. It was like song after song and only like, “One, two, three, four!” and there was another song. It was fantastic, just so much energy, no bullshit, no talking, just music. I always loved that idea.
Yeah. What was it like to access that other side of your musical personality? Not to say that you have a typical set of influences. But as you touched on, really diving into integrating that hybrid electronic feel along with the primal elements of Soulfly and combining the two into this weird monster of all the different aspects of who you are as a musician? Even compared to the record it’s a lot less like Nine Inch Nails and Skinny Puppy and more like Ministry and KMFDM because of how heavy the guitars are and how deep the grooves are.
Cavalera: Yeah, it becomes more like that. We’re closer to how you would go see Ministry live today. It sounds like a band! I just saw them, we played together last year and they had a whole full band with them. It was fantastic, but you still had all the samplers on top of it. It’s really kind of like what we do. We have a full band playing with all the energy a band can have. Which is great because there’s kind of like different speeds and different tempos. So nobody’s really playing with a click track or anything. You still have samplers on top of it to make it electronic. So it’s kind of best of both worlds, it works really good.
Get ready to rage! Stream the entire Nailbomb album just below.
Yeah. You have all of these amazing different line-ups and different aspects of the musical evolution of growing as an artist, going from Sepultura to Soulfly to Nailbomb to all of these different things. I was wondering how you navigate which project to pick next? Or is it more of a case where a particular project reaches out to you and calls you and let the music do the talking? Let those projects speak to you so, I don’t want to say you don’t have to think about it, but it feels more natural and organic than to pretend you’re going to create a trajectory for your career?
Cavalera: Yeah, I kinda go with the flow. It’s like I just like to stay breezy. I just finished the new Soulfly [album], I’ve still gotta sing two songs, but I’m gonna do that this weekend. Then I’m gonna deal with the tour, we were gonna continue with the Nailbomb tour. We had so much fun in October and we were like, “We’ve gotta do more of this!” and then we end up getting booked on the Nile tour too. Which for me, is fantastic, they’re one of my favorite bands so that’s gonna be insane. Just a killer metal package for the fans, plus we’re commemorating twenty years of Soulfly one [debut album] and Amongst the Catacombs. That in itself is already fucking killer.
I can’t wait for that tour to start but I’m also very excited about the Nailbomb one. I wanna finish Soulfly [their new album], I know a lot of musicians say their new record’s their favorite. But Soulfly really hits home because it’s got a little bit of everything that I love about Soulfly. It’s got some of the tribal elements back in the groove, it’s almost like a tribal thrash record. Which is kind of like it’s never been done before. So, it’s political and spiritual and really tribal and thrash. The tribal grooves go right in hand with fast death metal stuff, so it’s pretty cool man. I think people are gonna be turned up when they hear the new Soulfly.
Yeah, well, it sounds like you’re the perfect guy for the job. One last question before I wrap it up, what’s something you’d like to say to all the Canadian fans you’re about to see intimately on the tour?
Cavalera: I just want to thank them all and invite them to the shows, it’s gonna be fun. If you love metal, and you want to be a part of metal history, you’ve gotta come check out Nailbomb, man. It’s a legendary record, we’re doing total justice, we’re playing them as good as we can. Metal is kickin’ in 2018, we’ve got a lot of new stuff coming up, a lot of new releases coming up. I’m super excited for metal man, it’s gonna be a great year.