August 31, 2015 Interview – Max Cavalera of Soulfly
Musician Max Cavalera is an icon in the Metal music world. Born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, he formed the acclaimed band Sepultura at the age of sixteen. After twelve years, Cavalera left Sepultura and founded Soulfly, where he built a new empire from scratch. He can be compared to a shark in that he can never stop moving forward, and is always dangerous. In fact, Cavalera seems to be faster, and more dangerous, today than he has ever been. He is also constantly evolving, and like the ultimate killing machine, he fears nothing. The driving force behind the aforementioned Soulfly, Cavalera is crucial to the Metal ecosystem. Now with the release of their tenth studio album, Archangel, Cavalera and Soulfly have evolved yet again showing no signs of slowing down. Recently, we sat down with Cavalera to discuss Archangel, their upcoming tour, family, and the future of Metal.
CrypticRock.com – You have sustained quite an amazing career in Metal from your time with Seplutura, to Soulfly, and everything in between. First, tell us, what has this journey been like for you?
Max Cavalera – It has been great, I cannot complain. I am in it for the Metal, it is what is in my blood. Literally, the older I get, the more into heavier stuff I get, which I think is totally awesome. I am so glad that I am not like some of the other guys that got older and went more soft and more commercial. I did not want to do that. I had the chance to turn Soulfly into something unique and heavier. I think Archangel is one of the more extreme albums I have ever made. I am a very happy man, I am exactly where I wanted to be with my music, with the Metal, and with the projects. Everything is in order and I am just excited to go on tour; to take this thing on the road.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to hear. Obviously your work in Sepultura is considered legendary in the world of Metal. When you left the band, back in 1996, you immediately built something equally as powerful in Soulfly. At the time, did you find it daunting to start from scratch again, or did you relish the challenge?
Max Cavalera – I did not play any music for six months. I did not do anything, like I quit. I was so disappointed on the whole Sepultura thing that I thought, “I’m quitting music, I don’t want to have anything to do with this anymore, it’s too disappointing.” I was heartbroken, but little by little, I put myself back together and decided to give it a go. I decided to try to make it into something else, a new power, a new chapter in my career, and I created Soulfly. Soulfly just took off, it was great. From the first album on, fans loved it and we never stopped.
I think it is like my own desire to continue making music. I treat music in a very personal way. I use it for my own life and I apply it to when I am feeling negative, or when I feel depressed, I always like Metal. I always listen to other people’s music to get me in a good mood, and I use music for that. It is a bit like a weapon, something that you can rely on, something to have in your daily life. I have become more experimental in other projects like Cavalera (Conspiracy) and Killer Be Killed, so I am just really enjoying everything. I love the collaborations that Soulfly has, all the guests; I love doing that. I just want to keep doing that for a long, long time; that is my main goal right now. I do not care for album charts and Grammy awards, or any of that bullshit, that is all stupid shit that people get faded by. I do not live by those things, I live by hearing the fans say to me that they like the songs, they like the music, they like the album. To me, that is the only thing that is real that counts.
CrypticRock.com – Well, Soulfly certainly has done great over the years, continuing to grow as a band. The band’s latest record, Archangel, was recently released. What was the writing and recording process like for the record?
Max Cavalera – It was really amazing because we entered into it with a whole new mentality of doing something different. I hired Matt Hyde to do the record, which was the coolest thing I could have done, because he is such a good guy, he is such a great guy, and he was the best producer for this album. I think the team we had going into this album, Matt Hyde and Eliran Kantor doing the album cover, it was a really strong team going into Archangel. I think that I was really inspired on the album, with a bunch of different ideas, the biblical stuff, the sound of the record more extreme with a lot of extreme influence from what I listen to on a daily basis.
I think in general, Archangel is almost like a new beginning for Soulfly. I think from now on, we can take this even further. We can make more records similar to Archangel that would really work, that would really be killer, or do something totally different. I do not know, it is an open road right now. What is cool about it is actually that it started something, Archangel proved to me that this works, that you can actually mix exotic things, mystic elements with Metal, and something cool comes out of it. That is the thing that I am most proud of about the album. Everybody worked really hard on the album. Matt has worked really hard. I did a lot of different stuff on my vocals, a bunch of chantings that I have never done before. I love the collaboration with Todd from Nails and Matt from King Parrot, and I am stoked. I think it is a really strong record. We cannot wait to put it on the road and check out how people are going to react to it.
CrypticRock.com – You brought Matt Hyde on board as producer. What specifically has he brought to the process, what has he added to the record?
Max Cavalera – Well, Matt is very passionate about what he does and it is contagious. It is really a sign of a good producer, a guy that motivates you and wants you to reach deeper and try harder to make it better. He worked really close with my son on drums, Zyon, and got the best drumming out of him, and then worked really close with me on the vocals, with a lot of these biblical ideas. He was really excited about it. He knew about Kabbalah and all this other weird shit, and we discussed it and put in songs like “Archangel.” It was really fun because Matt was really into the record. He was as excited as us making it. I was like a fifth member of the band in the studio. It was really good working with a guy like that.
CrypticRock.com – You mentioned Matt Young and Todd Jones, that you had as guests on the record, and you also had Anahid, lead singer from Master of Persia. How do you choose your guest musicians?
Max Cavalera – Well, it is different from album to album, but a lot of times it is people that I listen to, that I love, and I want to collaborate with them. Most of the artists I work with, I am a fan of, going all the way from Tom Arraya, to Chino, and David Vincent. On the last record, we had Neil from Clutch. On this album, I just decided to use somebody newer; newer people. Todd from Nails, a new band I just got into, and I really love them. King Parrot, I just got into them last year, I really like them a lot.
We met Anahid through my wife’s Facebook and she is from Iran. Her husband was tortured because he likes Metal. He was tortured by the police and it really made a huge impact on me, in fact I wrote a song about that, about middle eastern Metal fans not being able to like Metal and being tortured about it, it is called “Forbidden Fire.” It is on the Killer Be Killed album. It was really cool having her on the album. It really does not matter, you do not have to be famous to be on a Soulfly album, it kind of can be anybody type of thing. I really think it is cool that we have newer bands like Nails and King Parrot representing the new generation of Metal on this record. I think that is the coolest thing about this record.
CrypticRock.com – You have always had a strong connection working with family, whether it be your brother Igor, or your son Zyon now with Soulfly. What has it been like working alongside your son with Soulfly?
Max Cavalera – It has been really good. He has grown a lot, especially on Archangel, he made a leap. He is a much better drummer, much more exciting and powerful, and more energetic. Zyon live is kind of like a wild animal and I really love this quality about him. He is like out of control and it is really cool. It is unique and I do not see a lot of drummers like that, so I wanted to capture that. I told Matt, if you can capture that wild beast, and put that on the record, we are going to have something really cool. That is what Matt did. I think his drumming on Archangel is amazing, and he is only 21, so he is on the right path. He is going to be a great drummer in the near future. I love working with the family, I am a really proud father, my kids all play; I love the Metal family. We are a full-on Metal family here, and I think it is great; it is kick ass, it is different from other families, but it is really cool. The way we live our life is different, but I love it.
CrypticRock.com – Sometimes a different path is the best, what matters most is your family unit is strong, and that is excellent to see. As mentioned, you have kept an amazing career going, thirty plus years actually. Tell us, to what do you attribute your longevity ?
Max Cavalera – I think, because I do not give a shit about some things that other people give a shit about; becoming bigger than everybody else, being on the Billboard, having Grammys, those things, they do not affect me. I do not want those things, I do not need them. I need Metal, I need music, and I need to be passionate about it, and that is kind of what leads me and keeps me going for all these years. Maybe that is the difference between me and other musicians. I am not attracted by those things like other musicians are. For me, just hearing from the fans that I made a kick ass record is gratifying enough. It is the best and I am happy with that.
I have a huge idea of doing more things in the future. I have a couple of things in my head for the future that I think are gonna be really cool, and really special. Kind of like the Sepultura Roots album type of thing, so I want to still do those things. I still would love to do another Killer Be Killed album at some point. Just keep doing, keep making Metal, making music, making my fans happy, and I am happy by doing that. Just that in itself really gives me happiness.
CrypticRock.com – Well fans certainly appreciate your passion and devotion to the genre. Soulfly will be on tour with Soilwork, Decapitated, and Shattered Sun this Fall. How excited are you for this run coming up?
Max Cavalera – I am really thrilled. We are going to play the whole record first, which is about 35 minutes. Then, we are going to play some other Soulfly songs that people like for another hour, so I think it is going to be a great set. We have never done anything like this before, play an entire record first, so it is kind of an experimental thing that we are gonna try, but I think it is going to be kick ass. I think Archangel is the perfect album to do that because it is kind of a shorter album, so you can play the whole thing at first. I am also excited because I think it is a great package, you know, Decapitated, Soilwork, those are all kick ass bands. That is going to be a great night of Metal for everybody. Anybody that goes to the show is going to leave just totally happy with a head full of Metal.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly is a great lineup of bands to look forward to. Some would say that this current Soulfly lineup is the strongest yet. With that said, what has the chemistry been like?
Max Cavalera – It has been good, we have had a couple of changes. Tony (Campo) left after the album and went to join Fear Factory. I use my son Igor, in Europe, to play bass, but for America we are going to try Mike from Havok; he is going to play bass for us. We will see, he might even stay as a member. I am hoping he will, he is a great bass player. I love Havok and I think his style fits what we are doing. I think Marc, Zyon, and I are solid. Marc is great, he is a solid guitar player, and I love him. He works well with me. We have been together since 2004 and hopefully we will continue for a long time.
CrypticRock.com – There certainly should be no reason why you would not with how positively everything is going. You mentioned your love for Metal is very strong. What are some of your musical influences?
Max Cavalera – I like a lot of extreme stuff, a lot of heavy stuff, kind of newer bands like Homewrecker, Genocide Pact, Mother of Mercy, Oathbreaker, and Nails. I also listen to a lot of Death Metal, and Black Metal; Our Penance, Bloodroot, 1349, Watain, Behemoth, and stuff like that.
CrypticRock.com – That is a nice mix of some Extreme Metal’s best. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror films. If you are a fan of Horror films, what are some of your favorite Horror films?
Max Cavalera – I really like The Exorcist (1973). I think it is awesome, especially the first ten minutes of it. The beginning is amazing; the priest in Iraq scenes are chilling, it is so killer. My wife is really big into B movies, so she has a big collection of B movies like Dementia 13 (1963), Sleepaway Camp (1983), just a really, really messed up B movie collection. I like it too, but for me, I like more the classics. I really like stuff like Rosemary’s Baby (1968), and Hitchcock stuff, like Psycho (1960) and things like that. I think Psycho is a great fucking movie.