When Soulfly came to York it sent a wave of excitement throughout the whole city. Max Cavalera and his band have reached iconic status by playing melodic and diverse heavy metal better than most, for the last decade-and-a-half. Our local reporter Adam Peeroo managed to catch up with lead guitarist Marc Rizzo before the band’s show at The Duchess to talk about the new album ‘Omen‘ as well as his own solo career and attitude toward making music.
“The biggest challenge was getting that old sound back”
S] Mark, how did it feel to get back in the studio with the band to record, ‘Omen’?
M] It felt really great for all of us to get back into the studio. we had been touring in support of ‘Conquer‘ for a long time and we had taken part in a whole bunch of other tours for around four years in total. So yeah, when we went in and did the new album, it was really easy to make and it just came naturally.
S] Is there a track on the new album that resonates with you particularly well?
M] I think that ‘Lethal Injection‘ is a really good one for me. There are some really cool things going on in that track and I am really proud of it. We did the song with Tommy Victor from Prong who I am a big fan of, so it was really great to work with him.
S] How was it working with Max Cavalera’s children Igor and Zyon to record drums for the cover tracks on the album?
M] It was great. I have known those guys for years, watched them grow up and play drums at our soundchecks and stuff, so it was great to finally have them part of the record.
S] Which international venue has been the most enjoyable to play for you as part of the band throughout its history?
M] I think that would have to be any one of the House Of Blues clubs in America. They are really top notch in the way that they treat bands and they work really hard. It’s always great to play one of those.
S] What is your favourite track to play live?
M] ‘Frontlines‘ is one of my favourite songs by us, so I guess I would say that one.
S] So then, what or who, inspired you to become a musician?
M] So many of my favourite guitar players are all inspirations in different ways. I would say that Eddie Van Halen is my biggest.
S] You said ‘Frontlines’ was your standout song, why is that?
M] That is one of the first songs that really brought Soulfly back to a real thrash metal sound and that song has all the elements that I like in music. It has the fastest style of drumming, the fastest guitar playing, I love my solos on that and it has got a really cool acoustic ending. It features everything that I like about heavy music.
S] Obviously Soulfly has got a massive history, so what has been the biggest challenge for you personally as a musician as part of the band?
M] I don’t know. probably just getting back to that older, heavier sound that I love so much. I like the low tuning songs a lot too but I am more into old-school metal like Slayer, Metallica, Sepultura. so yeah, I would say that the biggest challenge was getting the band back to that sound I think.
S] Since you started as a musician, up to this point how do you think you have progressed and developed?
M] As a musician I have gotten better, obviously everyone wants to get faster. They want to pull more of the shredding stuff. For me, on each record I have tried to get more melodic and more soulful with solos and melodies to create more feeling.
S] You have been to UK before and we know you guys have never played in York before. What did you want did you want to achieve this time?
M] It’s just great to be back, when I first joined we didn’t really tour very often. I came into Soulfly two-to-three years ago and it’s been a great experience through all of that time when we have been able to come over. I love the history here and it is obviously very metal orientated with all the great bands that come from the UK.
S] You have told us about your musical inspiration, so if you could sit down at a Soulfly release party dinner and listen to the new album with anybody who would it be?
M] I think it’d have to be Zakk Wilde.
S] Soulfly has always tried to get guest musicians involved in recording, how important do you think this is to the growth of the band?
M] Max has always asked people to be part of the records. He has been getting vocalists and other people in. He respects them that much to ask them to be part of them. I think that it comes down to the fact that he is a fan of music also, so if he finds an artist he likes and wants to incorporate them he will.
S] So, what has been your defining moment as a musician?
M] Probably joining this band and also being asked to be part of the House Of Blues albums. Also, I am on my third solo record at the moment. I have always wanted to get into putting out instrumental guitar records, so when I signed with Shrapnel Records back in 2004, that was a good accomplishment for me. I am such a fan of that label and all the artists that are on that label.
S] How is the inspiration different from your solo projects than working with Soulfly?
M] With my solo stuff, it is all guitar music, it is instrumental. When I am writing that I’m in a place where I can indulge more in the workings of a guitar and just really get silly with it. I mean, non-stop guitar solos is what I like. It is the music I love, instrumental guitar music, whether it is jazz, flamenco or metal.
S] What kind of emotions does working solo bring out of you?
M] It just means that I can get a lot more instrumental with the music, and I can make the guitar sing more. I like to keep a lot of melody. I could be writing guitar parts and using the instrument more as a voice.
S] So, will you be doing some solo stuff over here?
M] I have done five US tours already, so I will continue with that then also get over here to Europe as soon as I can. play the UK and do some live shows.
S] What has been your best experience in the UK playing as a musician?
M] I would say the two times we did Download Festival were amazing. First in 2004 and then in 2006 because it means you get to play with all the best bands in the world. That is probably the highlight for the band as a whole, actually.
S] What advice would you give to bands that are from smaller cities such as here in York that are trying to evolve and gain exposure compared to places like London or Manchester?
M] You have just got to practice, work hard, get out there and play. Nowadays especially you have got to gig as much as you can. Even if there are only five people at your shows you have just got to keep playing. Constantly play out loud then if you are good, people will come after you.
S] So, what are the biggest plans for the rest of the year when it comes to Soulfly?
M] We will be just touring. We will be here in Europe and this whole part of the world for the most of the summer. then we will go back to the US to do a big tour there. then after that myself and Max will be going to do a tour with the Cavalera Conspiracy because our new record is coming out next year. so we will start that out here in Europe. I will be here in Europe and the UK for a long time.
S] How do you manage your time being in so many bands and doing your solo projects as well Mark? Do you get to sleep?
M] I sleep a lot but I am always on tour. For the last 10 years of my life I have been on tour solid and making music, so you are just never home that’s it. I am always on the road touring.
S] What is your biggest driving force both as a person and a musician?
M] I just keep practising and trying to get better.
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