Interview With Max Cavalera of SOULFLY

February 14th, 2013 | by Nick


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If you’re familiar at all with the underground metal community, you’ve heard of Max Cavalera. He’s been hard at work writing and performing his own brand of ferocious, unapologetic heavy metal for almost 30 years.

This month he takes his band SOULFLY on the road through North America. They will be accompanied by his stepson Richie Cavalera’s band INCITE and his sons Igor and Zyon Cavalera’s band LODY KONG. The “Maximum Cavalera Tour” makes its stop in Fargo on February 27th at the House of Rock. I caught up with Max to get his insight on the upcoming tour and his most recent SOULFLY album:

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE: Max_Cavalera_Interview_2122013

Nick Hirchert: Thanks for taking some time to talk with me. You’ve got less than a week until you hit the road again…

Max Cavalera: We actually leave tomorrow. We start the tour tomorrow in San Diego. We’re very excited about the Maximum Cavalera Tour. The whole family on tour again. It’s gonna be great, man, we’ve got Zyon playing drums for SOULFLY which is gonna keep it more in the family. We’ve got a killer setlist prepared. A lot of great songs. It’s good to be back on the road again. I’m just excited to be back on the road. It’s been too long, if you ask me.

Nick: Fantastic. When was the last time you played a show?

Max: Two months ago I was in South America with CAVALERA CONSPIRACY with my brother Igor and before that, I was with SOULFLY in Europe. About five months ago we did a big European tour, so, it’s about time to get back on the road here. I gotta ask you, is it cold there? Like real cold?

Nick: (laughs) You don’t wanna know, man! 

Max: Oh, yeah, I wanna know! (laughs)

Nick: It snowed so bad a couple days ago that they had to shut the entire city down the following day. 

Max: Holy crap!

Nick: It was a disaster!

Max: Wow. So, I better get some warm clothes then, huh?

Nick: Yeah, bring a parka if you’ve got it, maybe some long underwear… (laughs)

Max: Whoa, yeah, I am packing right now, so…after this interview I gotta go pack! (laughs)

Nick: The Maximum Cavalera tour follows up the release of your newest album “Enslaved”. What can you tell us about the new record? Is this Soulfly as we’ve come to know it or are there new innovations to your band’s sound?

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Max: “Enslaved” was a big step forward for SOULFLY. It was a heavier record, a very extreme kind of record. Some of the stuff even sounds like death metal which is really cool. I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff like that, bands like I DECLARE WAR, MOLOTOV SOLUTION, ACACIA STRAIN, PSYCROPTIC. So I wanted to make a heavier record because i’ve been into a lot of this new heavy kind of stuff and, of course, my love for death metal goes way back to the SEPULTURA days, so it was really kind of cool to make a record like that. I think it surprised a lot of fans who didn’t expect it.

We’re gonna open the show with “Plata O Plomo” this time, which is totally different. It’s a song that Tony and I sing in Spanish and Portuguese. That’s gonna be really cool and different. I’m really looking forward to this tour. We’re gonna play songs from all the SOULFLY records, even some SEPULTURA stuff and NAILBOMB which is a project I did with a lot of people. I got to dig up some different SEPULTURA songs to play, like “Straighthate” which is the first song I worked on when I did the “Roots” record. My son, Zyon wanted to play “Straighthate” during the set, so I think it’s gonna be great, man. It’s gonna be fun having the whole family on stage with me.

Nick: You have three sons (stepson Richie: INCITE, sons Igor and Zyon: LODY KONG) touring with you in their respective bands for this round of dates. How would you best describe their style of music?

Max: INCITE is more like LAMB OF GOD which is really great. I love that kind of style. I love that energetic kind of metal. It’s also melodic with really cool guitars on it and Richie is a killer frontman. I think he does a really great job. LODY KONG is completely different from everything else. They’re kind of like FUDGE TUNNEL, like THE MELVINS or MASTODON. Punk-metal, kind of heavy. I am so proud that both bands are completely different from what I do. That’s what I think is cool about our family’s bands. LODY KONG and INCITE sound nothing like SOULFLY and we’re all together on the same tour. That is gonna make the whole package different.

Nick: I agree. I’m really looking forward to it. You’ve got a pretty decent mix here and you keep it all in the family, so that’s excellent. “Enslaved” contains a song titled ‘Revengeance’  that credits contributions from you, Richie, Igor and Zyon. How did that song come about?

Max: There was an idea to do a family song. We decided to write about their brother Dana who was murdered in 1996. It has really deep, heartful lyrics. Each one of us wrote our own verses for the song and we’re all singing the chorus together. It was a very special day in the studio and the song turned out really killer. I love the energy of it, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the SOULFLY show when we all come together and do ‘Revengeance’ because it’s the end of the set. I see a lot of people taking pictures when I do that song. It’s great. We play that every night. I’m looking forward to the tour. I can’t stay home that much. If I stay home for more than 2 weeks I go crazy! I feel at home when i’m on the road, man, the road is my home. I love it. I’ve been on the road for 30 years now doing this shit. You get used to it, become addicted. I still love touring. Going from city to city, meeting the fans, playing the show, watching out the window of the tour bus. All that is part of the great experience of being on the road.

Nick: In the past, you’ve collaborated in-studio with some of the biggest names in rock. Did anyone lend their talents to the new album?

Max: Yeah, with SOULFLY, every record has at least 2 people from bands that I like. On the new record we had Travis from CATTLE DECAPITATION on “World Scum” which is a heavy, heavy song and there was a song with Dez (Fafara) from DEVILDRIVER. I know Dez from back in his COAL CHAMBER days. They used to tour with SEPULTURA. Dez is a great guy. We did “Redemption of Man By God” which is a religious kind of song. The next record that i’m working on in the studio later this year i’m recording with Terry Date, who is a great producer who did work with SOUNDGARDEN, WHITE ZOMBIE, PANTERA. I’m so excited to actually work on a whole record with him. That’s gonna come out next year and have 2 other guests. I don’t know who they are yet. It’s a blessing to be able to do these collaborations.

Nick: That’s very unique, to be able to share your talents in studio.

Max: I’m not competing with anybody. To me, it’s more about sharing the love of your music with your friends. That’s what’s great about being a musician. We are all a part of something. Metal unites everybody, from here to Singapore, to Japan, to Indonesia. Metal is metal. When you see someone with a black shirt and camouflage pants in the airport, you know this guy is metal so you can say ‘what’s up’, you know? That’s what’s great about it and what I love about collaborations. I get to work with my favorite people. Bands like CATTLE DECAPITATION–that’s not a huge band, but I love their music. They don’t need to be as big as METALLICA to work with me.

Nick: You recently made an appearance on the video game Grand Theft Auto IV by way of some downloadable content; DJ-ing for the “Blood Fire War Hate Death Metal Show” featured on one of the in-game radio stations. What was that like?

Max: It was great. I got to be a DJ on a radio station so I got to play a lot of my old favorite death metal songs I grew up with in the 80s and 90s. I play a lot of ENTOMBED, MORBID ANGEL, CARCASS, NAPALM DEATH, KREATOR. A lot of stuff that young kids today don’t know about. Without those bands, there wouldn’t be newer stuff like SUICIDE SILENCE and LAMB OF GOD–they all came from these kind of bands. I don’t really play video games much myself, but it was fun to be part of it, to be invited to do that.

Nick: With Soulfly, you put forth a very unique sound with Brazilian influence, what one could call tribal metal. Songs about war and fighting oppression. What would you say inspires your songwriting?

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Max: Through the years it started with SEPULTURA, the album “Arise” (1990) was the first time we kind of did that. There’s a jungle intro on “Arise” for the song “Altered State”. After that, we got more interested in Brazilian, started listening to more of our native sounds. We thought it’d be cool to mix metal with tribal rhythm. Not a lot of people were doing that back then so it was kind of unique. We were pioneers of it, and it felt cool to do it. “Roots” (1996) was big. We did that in a big way. We recorded with a tribe in Brazil, did an amazing collaboration with a real tribe in Brazil. It was so awesome. When I did “Soulfly I” (self-titled album, 1998) I continued the Brazilian element. I was working with the guys from CHICO SCIENCE on that record. I really like the style that came out on “Soulfly I” and it continued, but through the years I didn’t want to repeat myself. I kept looking for different things. That’s why I did albums like “Prophecy” and “Dark Ages” that were more thrash, heavier. Then “Enslaved” which is more death metal just because I always wanted to keep doing something different.

Nick: I understand you’re putting together an autobiography? Can you give us an update on that?

Max: Yeah, i’ve been working on it the last 2 years, man. It’s been great, been a lot of work. Nonstop interviews. It’s going to be very, very detailed. Stories from childhood, the creation of SEPULTURA, then the creation of SOULFLY to everything i’ve been through. There’s some funny stuff, like Lemmy (Kilmister) pouring whiskey on my head. I call that my “baptism”. I said I was baptized by Lemmy when he did that. Of course, he was doing that to get rid of me (laughs). There’s a lot of fun stuff like that. Interviews with a lot of cool people in bands. Tom Araya, Chino from DEFTONES, Sean Lennon, Sharon Osborne. The introduction of the book is gonna be done by Dave Grohl. He loves “Roots” as one of his favorite records ever. It’s gonna come out before the end of the year. I can’t wait for people to read it. It explains a lot of facts people don’t know about me, like why I really left SEPULTURA. The real reason behind it.

Nick: You’ve been writing and performing heavy metal music pretty consistently since the mid 80s. What advice would you give to any musicians eager to follow in your footsteps?

Max: I think first thing, you’ve got to love what you do because it’s a hard road. I still, even today…we’re not millionaires. Nobody makes millions of dollars. We do this because we love it. We struggle like a lot of people do, you know. We have garage sales and shit like that at my house to try to make ends meet, man, especially now that people don’t buy CDs. It became harder and harder in music, but you survive just getting by. It’s the love of music. It’s your joy. For me, when I grab my guitar and write riffs, it’s a great feeling. I get satisfied just doing that and when I know that thousands of people are gonna hear that on record that gets me excited to do more and to keep doing it. I’ve been doing this for 30 years. It’s been amazing. I wouldn’t change my life for anything. I’ve been blessed to be in a famous band, SEPULTURA, then got out of there and got to be successful with the 2nd band. Not many people have had that chance. Most people just get one shot, but I had a 2nd shot with SOULFLY and took it and made it through. It’s a lot of hard work, man. You’ve got to be committed. Got to be ready to do everything; ready to do what the other person will not. That’s what makes the difference between making it or not; you’ve got to be ready to do the things the other person will not do.

The Maximum Cavalera Tour hits the House of Rock at the Hub in Fargo on 2/27. BUY TICKETS HERE

Stay in touch with Max and his band SOULFLY:

Official site: www.soulfly.com

On Twitter: 

Facebook fan page: facebook.com/SOULFLY


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Nick

Co-Founder at FM Observer
Interstrapolating condectistic devariance via opentasmic protensive mindopathy.