Interview: Soulfly

By Max Watt
By August 15, 2014 September 18th, 2014 Features, Interviews

It’s time to unleash the words of metal’s coolest guitarist, vocalist and collaborator, the legendary Max Cavalera, who is rolling strong, working with fifty million people in the space of a day, and controlling a thousand projects and then some. And that’s just Monday. Oh, and when we say words, we’re not talking about his book, although we will be. Soon. Very soon.


If you happen to be one of the many who are dying to know more about what went down with Sepultura all those years ago, then (prepare to be redirected!) Cavalera’s book ‘My Bloody Roots’ (told you it would be soon) is the place to go. We ask Max about the thought process of this literary encapsulation: “I don’t know exactly how it happened. My wife was the one who said the time was right to get the story down. We started looking around and found Joel McIver who’s done some really great books. I started working with Joel, and it took about three years. But I’m really proud of it, it’s a great book. A lot of hard work was put into it. We got help from really great people like Dave Grohl, did interviews with people like Cheryl Osbourne, Sean Lennon, and David Vincent. It’s a very detailed story about my career. How does a guy from Brazil make it into the international metal world and put a mark on it? It’s a story I want people to hear.” When our metal heroes put these books out, it’s difficult not to wonder what they think of the work of others. Well, Max has done his research. “I’ve become a fan of reading biographies. I read the Ozzy one, I read a Metallica book, a Motorhead book that Lemmy wrote. Right now I’m reading a Van Halen one. I’ve had great comments about ‘My Bloody Roots’, the fans say they really like it, and that’s who it’s for.”

We delve further into the grisly details. “I made a lot of phone calls and spoke to Joel a lot. He would call every Tuesday or Friday, and we’d have a two hour phone call, and we’d hit a different subject each time. For instance one week the subject might have been my childhood, so I’d have to remember as much as I could about that. It was a cool process, a therapy almost. As much as I like to talk to Joel, it was like torture sometimes, like ‘No, not another two hour phone call!’ But it was important.”


For a man with three plus projects going on at once, it’s incredible to believe that this man can keep it all rolling in such a spontaneous manner. “I just let it all happen naturally, and things fall into place. I had a great time making Killer Be Killed, it was a really cool record to make. I love working with those guys, and I’m a fan of those bands. It’s a really positive fun record. With ‘Savages’ we had a lot of cool stuff. We’re playing some stuff like ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ and ‘Master of Savagery’ at the moment. So yeah, just keep doing it.”

Speaking of all those projects, what’s ‘appening with The Cavalera Conspiracy? “The new Cavalera Conspiracy album is coming in October, which is a kind of grindcore album.” Wait, what?! Grindcore?! That’s simply the best news this writer has had all day. Selfishly, he spends about a year talking to Max about just that. “I listen to a lot of Pig Destroyer and Wormrot,” he says. “Also newer stuff like Full of Hell, Disciples of Christ, Noisem, and Nails.” It’s pretty much impossible for this music buff not to put a massive red marker below those words and say this. See! Even Max Cavalera is into grindcore! Now none of you dumbass metalhead naysayers have a reason to complain about it. Just close your fucking eyes and enjoy the goodness that is grindcore. Not Nails though, Nails are hardcore, damnit. “There’s a lot of great bands,” Max continues, “grindcore is a great genre, it’s very powerful.”

Anyway, back on point where Max talks about genres that some people actually like. “Next year I’m gonna tour with Killer Be Killed, then start working on Soulfly’s tenth album, so we’re gonna try and make something special out of it. Some of the Soulfly stuff is influenced by Game of Thrones, I’ve been watching that so I might do an epic dragon battle record or something, that’d be kinda cool.” Woah, we’ve sped ahead. We’re talking about album ten when we haven’t let out a peep about ‘Savages’. “It’s a little bit slower than the predecessor, which was borderline death metal, which is cool, I love doing that, it’s very brutal. I love stuff like ‘World Scum’, that’s one of my favourite songs I’ve done, but with Zyon Cavalera on drums, he’s into blast beats, double bass, all that stuff, so he’s more into the groove so I base the music structure more on him because he’s more comfortable with groove. Songs like ‘Bloodshed’, ‘Master of Savagery’, and ‘Ayotollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla’ have that groove structure. It’s a cool, strong Soulfly album.” That it is. And whaddya know, Max collaborated with brother Igor on ‘Bloodshed’ too. Looks like the good times are still rolling, and Sepultura still exists the way it used to, it’s just scattered inside many musical brains. “It’s always good to work with Igor, he came to play Roots with us. He’s a good guy, we’ll be brothers forever, we never lost the passion for metal, that’s why we keep The Cavalera Conspiracy going. It’s a special project because we don’t over tour with it, whereas Soulfly tours a lot. The fact of what happened to Dimebag really bothers me, so I really treasure the time spent with my brother.” Sorry Max, but you just made everyone cry. Let’s have a sniffle and move on. A sniffle is exactly what you thought it was by the way, and not what you wanted it to be. “I’m looking forward to the album, it’s coming out on a different record label, we had Nate from Converge playing bass on it, and he did a great job. It’s gonna be a kick ass record. It should please a lot of people who like brutal music.”

And the creators and entrepreneurs of brutal music are just like the rest of us, it’s a comfort to hear. “I watch a lot of movies, a lot of the songs are based on movies. I like a lot of Hunter S. Thompson, and Stephen King. My son is into that too, he’s writing his own book and has been for a couple of years now. Mostly I’m into movies. I like a lot of series like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad and stuff like that.” Guess we know what Max is like in his downtime, a man who is just as wrapped up in popular TV shows as the rest of us. What else does he do to chill? “I listen to a lot of music, I’ve got my favourite music here. I got two iPods full of stuff. On tour you get to watch a lot of movies. This tour we’ve been watching Game of Thrones a lot. We’re in the middle of the third season right now. It’s a fun way to spend the time, but mostly we just kick back and wait for the gigs to start. I get excited and possessed by the shows, and when it happens it’s time to release all the energy, the frustration, and the feelings. It’s great that you get to share that with the fans.”

Finally, here’s an interesting and totally rad fact. Max Cavalera is punk as fuck. “I’m a fan of small venues,” he tells us. “I’m not one of those people who only plays big places. The more shi**oles I play the better. I’m attracted to the most fucked up venues ever. We played one in Ireland and it was just horrible, man.” Truthfully, intimacy with the audience could be one of the most important things in music, it keeps things fresh, pure, and devoid of corruption, which of course is the rightful spirit of metal. “In the big shows you’re not really connected with the audience, you’re too far away and the energy is missed whereas with the small venues you can touch the crowd, you can talk to them, you can hear things. It’s fun.”

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