Interviews : Cavalera Conspiracy (Max Cavalera)
One of the most influential metal musicians of all time, Max Cavalera started off at the helm of Sepultura and helped create the foundation for styles such as Metalcore, Nu Metal and along with Pantera, Groove Metal. Rarely does a musician leave a successful group and make it into another one alive, let alone two, but Max Cavalera has done exactly that – leaving Sepultura and going on to form Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy. Cavalera Conspiracy sees the reunion of Max and his brother Iggor (also played in Sepultura) and they are just about to release their second studio album Blunt Force Trauma, read on as Max talks album, history and the possibility of an Australian tour.
Metal Obsession: Hello Max, this is Jake from Metalobsession, how are you?
Max Cavalera: Yeah good man, how are you?
MO: Great! Only about a month out from your release of Blunt Force Trauma, are you excited to see it hit the store shelves?
MC: Yeah we’re really excited, we’ve waited a long time now and we put a lot of work into making it. It’s really cool to see it’s finally all been put together, we can’t wait to tour off it.
MC: It feels to me like a continuation of Inflikted, we just took everything one thing further. A little heavier, more brutal, more aggressive and more collective. We spent more time on it, so there’s a better feel to it, it feels more like a real band playing. All those elements combine to make it a perfect second album for Cavalera Conspiracy.
MO: You’ve always loved having guest musicians on your records, and this time around you have got Roger Miret from hardcore legends Agnostic Front singing on Lynch Mob. What was he like to collaborate with?
MC: Oh yeah, it was really cool working with Roger. I’m a big Agnostic Front fan, me and Igor have been listening to them since they started in the early 80’s. Agnostic Front was the godfather of New York hardcore, they pioneered the scene ahead of bands like Cro-Mags, Biohazard and Madball. Roger is a legend of hardcore music, and he’s a really cool guy. I had met him before and when I asked him to sing on the album he was very excited to do it and very proud as well. We wrote the song together in a studio in LA and it was a great collaboration. I’m really proud of it.
MO: You’ve taken a lot of influence from hardcore bands yourself, how closely do you think hardcore and metal are related?
MC: I think they’re very related. I think when thrash metal, death metal and grindcore started in the 80’s the similarities between the two styles started to become noted. Metal fans will listen to hardcore and hardcore fans will listen to metal. There was a crossover that went both ways. I think the first band to sort of bring the two together was probably Motorhead. The punk fans liked it, the metal fans liked it, there was that connection.
MO: Your work with Sepultura back in the early 90’s is often said to have set the foundation for both metalcore and Nu Metal. Do you find it interesting watching music evolve from a legacy that you created?
MC: When we started out with Sepultura me and Iggor in particular were more inclined to punk and hardcore bands like Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and Misfits. Then the grindcore movement as well took it to a whole new level of brutality. We weren’t the only ones to combine all the different metal styles, but I love that Sepultura was a big part of it.
MO: On guest musicians, you have worked with some of the absolute best. What’s your favourite collaboration so far and who would you love to work with?
MC: Some of my favourites would have been working with Tom Araya from Slayer, Chino from Deftones, Corey Taylor from Slipknot…Also David Vincent from Morbid Angel was really great. On the last record we had Greg Puciato from The Dillinger Escape Plan and Tommy Victor from Prong was really awesome. If I could work with anyone it would be Ozzy Osbourne, he’s been my idol for a long time. I love his voice and I love Black Sabbath and his solo career, I’d love to do a song with him.
MO: With Soulfly, the lyrical themes were rarely the same from album to album and often dealt with different main topics. Where have you drawn your biggest lyrical influences for Blunt Force Trauma?
MC: It’s a little bit mixed up. There’s history stuff on it like Rasputin and Ghengis Khan and a song called Burn Waco which is about David Koresh and the Waco tragedy. I speak hate is about the boxer The Hurricane who was wrongfully accused and imprisoned for 30 years. Warlord is about war of today and the people who instigate it. So yeah a little bit of everything, I was reading a lot before I wrote the lyrics and learnt a lot about Ghengis Khan and Rasputin from history books. The other stuff is just things that I thought would be fun to sing about. Torture is just crazy, I suppose it’s really just about Guantanamo Bay and people getting tortured. It’s definitely different to Soulfly for me, it’s a new style of writing lyrics. I think the main inspiration of the lyrics is the brutality of the music. That’s why Blunt Force Trauma is the perfect name to me, it’s exactly like the sound of the album. It’s like being hit in the face with an object, you know, real hard.
MO: On occasion, you’ve added sections of Portuguese lyrics to your songs and they sound really sweet in a heavy metal setting. Would you ever consider releasing entire songs in Portugese with Soulfly or Cavalera Conspiracy?
MC: I have sung a little bit in Portuguese a little bit, but it’s hard to do it right. It’s a really percussive sort of language, it sounds really cool but you need to pick the right time to use it. I’ve never wanted to overuse it, so I just use little sections. But yeah in the future, it could be a cool idea to do a whole song in Portuguese, probably in Cavalera Conspiracy with Iggor. Actually, after this interview is done I’m going to write down in my book that it would be a cool idea for the next album.
MO: I remember that when Soulfly’s Omen was released, you were just wrapping up recording for Blunt Force Trauma. In general, does working in the two bands make for a hectic schedule?
MC: I really just separate the two. When I’m doing Soulfly, I’m just Soulfly and when I’m doing Cavalera I’m just doing Cavalera. When I have a break from one I start working on the other, so when I got a break from Soulfly I contacted Iggor and we started work on Blunt Force Trauma. To me it’s kind of easy for me to divide the two bands, I know when it’s time for either one, it’s a natural division for me.
MO: I noticed you’ve got a show with Iron Maiden in Brazil just around the corner, are you looking forward to that one?
MC: Yeah very much, I’ve been an Iron Maiden fan for a long time. Me and Iggor use to walk around Brazil with huge Iron Maiden t-shirts on, they were extra larges and looked like pyjamas on us. I’ve always loved them, I actually got interviewed by Bruce Dickinson for BBC and he was a very nice guy. The shows in Sao Paulo, the city I grew up in, my brother’s going to be there with his whole family so it should be a great event.
MO: One of my friends is a massive fan of Soulfly and was lucky enough to meet you and the rest of the guys backstage at your Melbourne show year. Considering your influence, you must have some incredible diehard fan moments. Any stand out in particular?
MC: I had a fan in Afghanistan who was with the US Marines and he actually sent me a really cool old Afghani instrument that was like a drum mixed with a guitar. That came in the mail in a huge box that said Afghanistan on it, I was like ‘Whoa what the fuck is this shit’? The fan wrote a letter and said he listened to Soulfly in the camp all the time and had a Soulfly sticker on his helmet, to me that’s really cool.
MO: Unfortunately we lost the Cavalera Conspiracy tour with Judas Priest back in 2008, can you see a new Australian tour on the horizon?
MC: Yeah I don’t know what happened with that, we were on the tour and then we got a phone call saying we were off the bill with no explanation. I still don’t know why, we didn’t do anything wrong and we all love Judas Priest so I was surprised when we were kicked off. We were all really excited, we were like ‘what the fuck man, this is bullshit!’ But yeah, whatever. There will be definitely more chances for us to tour over there, we’re just going to keep our eyes open and hopefully get over there soon.
MO: Yeah you’re right, that is bullshit! Thanks a lot for your time Max, here’s hoping to see the Conspiracy in Australia soon.
MC: I hope so man, I know that we have a lot of fans over there and we have a killer show now with a proper set, two albums makes things a lot easier. But yeah man, thanks for the chat. Hopefully see you all soon.