So unless you’ve been hiding up a bantha’s rectal cavity on the frozen surface of Hoth for the past 25 years, you’ll of heard of Max Cavalera. One of the founding members of perhaps my favourite band of all time, Sepultura. The legendary Brazilian also fronts Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and Killer Be Killed.
We talk plans involving his many projects, as well as making homemade bullet belts.
So you’ve just released Cavalera Conspiracy’s 3rd album, Pandemonium, hows the feedback been since?
Max: Yeah, it’s been good. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the fans, people really liked the record because it’s a lot more brutal and aggressive. The video for Babylonian Pandemonium got a lot of good feedback too, we’re just waiting for the tour now, which starts in February. We have an American tour, then a European one right after, I’m looking forward to making a world tour with Pandemonium, playing those songs live is going to be great.
Pandemonium is arguably the heaviest album you’ve ever produced. Does the fact that you hired Nate Newton from Converge factor into it, and how did his hiring come about?
Max: Me and Igor were listening to Converge,and we were like “It’ll be cool if we can get this bass player involved”. We didn’t have a bass player involved with Cavalera (Conspiracy), so we called Nate, and he was totally honoured to be part of it and he did a good job. I love his bass sound.
He didn’t really help with the writing though, I did all that myself and Marc (Rizzo) helped with the solos. He had a great tone and aptitude about how he played on the album, undeniably from coming from that Converge mentality, he did help sing on ‘Crucible’ though. I love Doomriders, and Old Man Gloom, so I knew he had a great voice. I hope Nate can tour with us next year, he said he might be able to join us, so that would be great.
This is your first album at you new home, Napalm Records. How are you finding it with those guys?
Max: Well, we were originally with Roadrunner, but they turned to shit, not really caring for heavy music anymore. Once they were bought up by Warner, it wasn’t a good label to be on. We looked to be involved with a label that loves metal, lives for metal, a label that when we give them Pandemonium, they’d be excited.
That’s what happened with Napalm, they went crazy for it, the owner called me, and said he loved the record. This is the kind of relationship we have, and it’s great. I loved everything they did with it, the special packaged vinyl, the Brazilian brotherhood box set, they’re doing a lot of things with Cavalera that makes me happy to be with them.
The album cover is sick, and completely different to your previous covers. Who designed it?
Max: A friend of Igor’s called Stefan Deutsch Nov, a Brazilian graffiti artist. He’s very cool, he’s still underground in Brazil but I don’t think he will be for too long. He gave me a book of his art and all the vivid colours, religion and politics that goes into his work is just insane!
I love the Pandemonium album cover, the details are so good. The little burning flags, the church factory, the tank with the face of a skull, the globes, the thunder, the whole thing, you know? It’s a beautiful piece of artwork, we needed it because the first two covers are very similar. There was only the logo Igor created, it looks very Black Flag, especially Blunt Force Trauma, which was all black, like the Crass album cover. We needed something different, and I think we found that in Stefan.
You’ve been a busy guy as of late, what with having just released another album with Killer Be Killed. This band features past/present members of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon, The Mars Volta and of course Soulfly, on paper this shouldn’t work, yet it does. How did this project come about?
Max: It started with Greg (Puciato, Dillinger Escape Plan), he called me saying he wanted to start a project much like Nailbomb. I started working with him and in the beginning, it was very much like Nailbomb, you know, with the synth songs that are very heavy. We’re actually thinking of putting those early demos on the internet next year because it’s very cool to see how Killer Be Killed first started, it’s very different to what it became.
When we added Dave (Elitch, ex Mars Volta) and Troy (Sanders, Mastodon) to it, it became a super band with all these great musicians. I’ll be honest with you, the first time we entered the studio, we had no idea how it was going to sound like, it was a mystery to all involved. Only halfway through making the record, when everyone started singing, was when we knew what it’d be like, even on the last day of recording, there were a few surprises going on.
I’m very proud of it. I love The Dillinger Escape Plan, I love Mastodon so it was an honour to make an album with these guys in a very honest way. I think the music of it is very awesome, it just came out killer, the songs are powerful, melodic, different, and I’m very glad we did this project. Hopefully we can do a lot of live dates next year.
We’re actually playing a festival next year in Australia called Soundwave, and there are rumours that we’ll be at Download in the UK. I really want that to happen, to see Killer Be Killed play England for the first time would be great.
So what’s the plans for your “main squeeze” Soulfly?
Max: Gonna start work right away, probably this month and December as I have them off. I have some great ideas for the new Soulfly, it’s going to be a very organic record, very inspired by the first. People really like Dark Ages and Prophecy, so I’m bringing those elements back, as well as some of the percussion to the Soulfly world. I’m just trying to keep the heaviness really.
A lot of people Dark Ages was our heaviest record, but for me it was Enslaved. So for part of the album, I want to keep this death metal, grindcore passion that I have, some of the songs are going to be very brutal. So yeah, just a mix of tribal and brutal, but I think it’ll be a big record for Soulfly.
Just out of curiosity though, you’ve had the likes of Tom Araya, Corey Taylor and Chino Moreno feature as guests on songs. In an ideal world, who would you have on the new album? Anyone at all spring to mind?
Max: I would love to do a song with James Hetfield, or Lemmy from Motorhead. That last one would be a dream come true as far as guests go. Also bands like Aborted and Our Penance, like the young metal that’s being done now. I’d love to get some of these guys involved on the album, which I’ll probably end up doing anyway.
Now you’re a guy who’s toured around a fair bit. Is there any bands deserving a mention that people need to know about?
Max: Yeah man, straight away, Cattle Decapitation. We did a tour with them a while a ago and they’re awesome. We also did a show in Phoenix with Decrepit Birth, another great death metal band. Umm, we had Dillinger (Escape Plan) open for Cavalera Conspiracy before, a fucking amazing live band. All bands people should check out.
You mentioned Nailbomb earlier, any chance of one more run?
Max: Nah man, it’s not going to happen, Alex (Newport) doesn’t like playing live, so I won’t force that. We officially killed Nailbomb on purpose anyway, to betray that would be like a cheap shot. We like our integrity and stay true to what we did. It’s great though, because the record is a cult record, and people still go back to it, but you know, life goes on, and there’s other things that can be done.
I’d probably start a grindcore project in the future though, that’s just pure madness and chaos. I’d involve loads of members of bands I like and do the project like that.Just for the hell of it. *laughs*
Final Question. A friend of mine said to me a while back that when you and Igor were younger, you’d find old batteries and paint them gold for bullet belts. If that’s true, that’s the most “thrash” thing I’ve ever heard.
Max: That’s because they don’t sell bullet belts in Brazil. It’s against the law.
Max: Yeah man, it’s illegal to sell any army uniform in Brazil, you can’t even wear camouflage pants. When I first went to Europe and America, and saw you could buy these things, I went crazy. I started wearing the black/grey/white urban camo, even to this day, it’s become a sort of trademark.
But back then, we’d collect the “bullet batteries”, use super glue and create bullet belts. You know the bullet belts from the photo shoots from Bestial Devastation and Morbid Visions? All of them are batteries,you can’t make it out from far away. That’s an idea Igor had and I’ll give him credit for that, they looked real, just like the band Destruction who we wanted to look like at the time. I was to cool to find a way of doing it, without doing it you know?
Now I have a real bullet belt, and I’m really proud of it. *laughs*
Pandemonium is out now via Napalm Records.