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Interviews : “I love Australia, great things happen to me in Australia” – An Interview with Max Cavalera

By on September 19, 2017

Sepultura’s Roots album is something rather special, a real ‘moment in time’ record in the band and heavy music’s storied histories. There has really been nothing quite like it, before or since, and it is so transcendent that it’s difficult to believe that it’s been more than two decades since it was unleashed upon the world. Arguably the album’s key creative force, former frontman Max Cavalera joins us to reflect upon what the record means to him, to the other people involved (and not involved) in its creation and how it affected careers and lives at that time.

“It was a real turning point, that album, metal never really had an album like that before,” he recalls, “it mixed cultural stuff, tribal stuff, metal, punk, hardcore, it was one of a kind. A lot of people, a lot of other musicians really loved this album, like Dave Grohl, Chino from Deftones and the guys from Gojira, they all love Chaos AD and Roots.

“It’s cool, because it showed the band could do different stuff, we did our death metal, thrash metal stuff, we had our early black metal stuff, and then Roots was the evolution of all that.”

The album is so very worthy of celebration that Cavalera and his brother Iggor have been touring the world, playing the album in its entirety to mark the twenty year anniversary of its release, and Australia is the next country to experience this tribute. “I’m just so proud that I got to live to play it 20, 21 years later,” he enthuses, “and do it with my brother.

“I love Australia, great things happen to me in Australia, and I know Australia loves the Roots album too, I’ve got all the gold albums for Roots from Australia on my wall to prove it. I think it’s going to be a special event. We’ve been playing it everywhere, and at a lot of the festivals, and people have just been loving it. It’s been sold out everywhere, and I think Australia will be the same.”

Purist fans of the original album will be very pleased with the way the Cavalera boys structure the night, plus there might just be a few surprises for the punters after they have played the album through. “The album is played exactly the same as the order on the CD. Or the vinyl, if you have the vinyl. Or the cassette if you have the cassette!” He laughs.

“Everything’s the same, which is really cool because it really works. We didn’t know when we made the record that the order was going to work live, but it does. Then at the end we might bring out some cover songs, maybe Procreation of the Wicked, maybe Ace of Spades, and maybe we’ll do some AC/DC for the Australian fans, that’d be cool!”

The fact that more than two decades have passed, and much water has flowed under the bridge since the release of this iconic album is definitely not lost on Cavalera. “It’s kinda hard to believe,” he admits, “a lot has happened in the meantime, we’ve had all the Soulfly records, the Cavalera albums, Killer be Killed, so much has happened.”

Cavalera has some very lurid memories of that time in the mid-90swhen he, his brother and the rest of the Sepultura lineup at the time were creating Roots. One of the things that springs to his mind is the broad range of new influences that the band members brought to the table during the making of the album.

“Musically it was good, it was an exciting time,” he remembers, “we were discovering a lot of new stuff, Deftones, Korn, coming from Chaos we started listening to a lot of Biohazard, Sick of it All, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, so it was a mixed time. Then, of course, we put all the Brazilian stuff, the percussion stuff, on top of it, it was a very prolific time, very busy time. A fruitful time.”

Prolific and fruitful, but also a little concerning at the same time. “But then there were some signs of strain, a lot of stuff in our personal lives. The whole Roots tour, I didn’t really dig it too much, it got a little bit too big. Especially in Brazil, Sepultura became a mania. Everybody knew it and everybody wanted a piece of it and we couldn’t even get out of the house. And it wasn’t really me, I’m a metal guy, I’m underground, I come from the underground, so that Beatles lifestyle is not for me.

“So I’m glad we’re done with all of that, I’m back to being a normal guy again. It’s cool sometimes to be recognised at the airport or on the street, sign some autographs. But it wasn’t like that in the Roots era, it was Sepultura mania, and it was annoying, I didn’t like it. I was drinking a lot, taking a lot of drugs to cope with that. But I’m still proud of the music, I think the music is great.”

The Cavalera brothers are actually towards the tail end of a long series of shows celebrating the Roots album, but in true Max-style he will definitely not be taking it easy thereafter, he has plenty of new stuff in the pipeline coming up in the next twelve months or so including a new Cavalera Conspiracy album with Iggor, a new Soulfly record and even some new stuff with Nailbomb. Cavalera is constantly on the go, and doesn’t think he will let up anytime soon.

“It’s always full on here, it never stops,” he says, “I never get tired, and never stop. I might slow down a little bit one day, but never stop completely. Retirement and all that bullshit, I don’t believe in all that crap. That’s not for us.”

Thursday 21 September, Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane – Lic./All ages
Friday 22 September, Big Top, Sydney – Lic./All ages
Saturday 23 September, Forum Theatre, Melbourne – 18+
Sunday 24 September, HQ, Adelaide – 18+
Tuesday 26 September, Astor Theatre, Perth – 18+

Tickets on sale now via



Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine,, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.