We all listen to music, but Igor Amadeus Cavalera was born into it. Most of us dream of going backstage. Igor was raised there. What happens when a child of music hangs out with, and in turn, becomes directly influenced by the icons of heavy music, including the band that started it all? This is the story of a man who was born to raise hell…
CAVALERA. You know the name. It’s a name that’s been synonymous with some of the most groundbreaking and innovative heavy metal for over 30 years. From the birth of Sepultura, through to Nailbomb, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, Killer Be Killed and the myriad of side projects and guest spots that have graced the name, particularly the icon himself, Max Cavalera.
The next volume in the Cavalera legacy comes in the form of the upcoming self-titled album Go Ahead And Die (our review here). But you’d be mistaken if you think this is Max’s doing. Whilst he is definitely a huge part of this project, it’s his son Igor Amadeus Cavalera that is the brains and driving force behind this enormous album and I was stoked to sit down with the man in question for a chat all about it.
When asked about how so many other news feeds have mistakenly touted this album as a Max Cavalera driven project, Igor explained:
“Yeah. A lot of people are… it’s going over their head that I was more involved on the creative side than my dad, but I figured that was going to happen. He has a lot of clout, a lot of respect. It’s hard for anything he touches not to be associated with him, so I’m just happy to be on the ride, you know?”
What a ride too. But Max is a busy bloke. How do you get the guy to sit still long enough to produce a whole album with him? Well, it turns out all that was needed was a global pandemic and lockdowns to get the ball rolling:
“It was something we wanted to do for a while. We’re both fans of extreme music, we both love extreme music… So we both wanted to do something that was fast and old school and aggressive sounding, so it was one of those things we talked about for a while. But as you’ve mentioned, he’s so busy all the time. It was one of those things; it was like, okay, maybe next year, and then next year gets filled up. And then maybe next year, and then that gets filled up, and the next thing you know, the pandemic hit and no shows were happening, no touring was happening.”
“It’s been a year now without shows and touring, so we just took advantage of that and said, ‘Let’s do it. We have the time right now.’
“He had just done stuff with Killer Be Killed, just done stuff with all of his other projects and stuff, so he was free to do it, I was free to do it. And we just took a couple months out of the year and started from scratch, just right from the first couple of rifts all the way to what it is now. We just started from nothing.”
Fun Fact: In addition to being a prolific multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Igor is also a published horror author. His book “Killing My Insomnia” is 5 star rated on Amazon and after listening to their debut single ‘Truckload Full of Bodies’, it was suggested that lyrically, it read like a fictional horror story. Did his history as a horror writer play a part in the songs lyrics?
“Absolutely. I am a big bookworm, horror nerd, sci-fi nerd, fantasy nerd, all that stuff, so it does find its way into the music. And especially when it’s hard, like Truckload, it’s definitely depicted in kind of a horror, scary story, dystopian type way. Even though it’s talking about a real life thing that’s going on right now, I guess you could say the way I write lyrics and the way that I come up with things is certainly inspired by writers, by books and stuff like that.”
But it doesn’t end there, Igor goes on to tell us how another track from the album was inspired by the greatest horror writer of all time and the realistic effects of COVID-19:
“‘Isolated/Desolated’, is kind of based on The Shining from Stephen King but also ties in to being in quarantine and being alone, and being trapped in your house for weeks on end and kind of going crazy. So we definitely do implement a fictional storytelling to current events and stuff, and that’s definitely something that we did on the record.”
The self-titled record which Igor, Max and drummer Zach Coleman (Khemmis, Black Curse) have produced is being released in the wake of one of the most tumultuous times in America’s history, with the Trump governments mismanagement of the COVID pandemic, the Capitol riots, and the Black Lives Matter protests that emerged on the back of the murder of George Floyd on 25th May, 2020.
I asked, despite not being anything new, was it important to cover the subject of police brutality with the song ‘Toxic Freedom’? Igor explained:
“I felt so. I mean, I’ve always believed that there’s some corruption within our government and some corruption within our police forces and things like that. I grew up heavily into punk rock and with a father who’s singing songs like ‘Refuse/Resist’ and ‘Primitive’ and stuff like that. So I was raised with, I guess you could say, a little bit of that mindset. And when we did this record, and it was centered so much in punk rock elements and stuff like that, that I felt like we should write about current stuff and write protest songs, write some middle finger type songs. And yeah, I mean, how could you not, with how it was for Americans last year… We saw countless people being murdered and cops getting away with it.”
“It took this long just to finally charge Derek Chauvin, who everyone in the world saw him commit murder, and it took a year to charge him with anything. So if you can’t see an issue with that, I don’t know how to explain it for you.”
“But it is something that I want to talk about in my music and it is something that I want to speak up about for people to hear and know where we stand and how we feel about this stuff, because this is as much my feelings as my father’s. We decided what we were going to write about, we decided what it was going to be centered on. And to me, it’s funny that people are surprised with some of the content on the record, with what he has written already, but I still find myself to be like, ‘Oh, man, they completely misunderstood that or completely misinterpreted something else,’ but you do need to talk about it. You need to bring it to the surface and you need to write about it, I think, if you care about it.”
Given Igor’s unique exposure to the world of music and the topics being discussed on GAAD, where does the bulk of their musical influence lay, especially in the lead top to this album? Turns out, it dates way back to his punk rock roots and early beginnings of finding music/bands on MySpace:
“So when I was young and I got into punk, I just like, I looked for any band I could find. I was lucky enough when I was a young teenager or whatever, I had MySpace. So once I found out about punk, I spent five, six hours a day looking on MySpace for new bands and I’m thankful for it. It taught me a lot, but definitely stuff like that. And then once I got into metal, it was bands like Celtic Frost and Venom and stuff like that. That was what breached me from older bands like Sabbath or Deep Purple to heavier stuff, was definitely bands like Celtic Frost and stuff. And through that, I eventually just got into everything…
…with this album that, for both of us, because my father as well, he started with extreme stuff in punk and he started in that vein of music. I mean, that was one of the earliest things I got into as well, was punk and hardcore. I actually got into [it] before I was into a lot of the more metal stuff. So yeah, like you said, Black Flag was definitely a band I liked. Bad Brains, Minor Threat; from the American side, those were bands that I enjoyed. But personally I’ve always been more into the English crust scene, like Discharge and Doom and Concrete Socks and stuff like that. And I really liked Scandinavian hardcore as well, which gets slept on. A lot of people don’t know about it, but there’s really cool bands like Kaaos and Rattus from up in Finland that are really big influences.
Nowadays, I virtually listened to every type of metal and just about every type of music, but for me as a young teenager, yeah; it was definitely that hardcore and then old school thrash and death metal vibe like Entombed, Celtic Frost, stuff like that.”
This is the thing about Igor A Cavalera. His father is an icon of the genre. When any of us are born, it might get announced in the local newspaper. When Igor was born, it was announced in Metal Hammer magazine. Growing up as a child of Max and Gloria Cavalera means you’re raised on a lot of music, a lot of politically driven discussion and a lot of summers spent backstage at a lot of massive music events.
So I had to ask, “aside from your family, were there any other musicians that you met over the years that you’ve drawn any advice from or true influence from?” And you better strap yourself in for this anecdote:
“Yeah, of course. I remember when I was quite young, I’d say eight or nine, Soulfly was opening up for Black Sabbath on five or six shows in Europe. And it happened to be over the summer, so we were on tour with my parents. My parents would take us every summer because we didn’t have school. So we were on tour with them and it was opening for Black Sabbath, and it was really cool, everyone was really nice. And on one of the last shows, I think that either Sabbath’s tour manager or someone came over to my folks and they were like, “Hey, if the little one’s want to come meet the rest of the band, we’ll take them in to meet each one individually.” So it was me, my parents and my older brother, Zion. We got taken…
It was pretty bad ass. They each had their own dressing room, each member. Geezer had his own, Bill had his own, Tony had his own. And we just kind of went in and hung out with them for 10 minutes each. And my brother was more of a drummer, so Bill Ward told him some of his most influential albums. And I’ve always been more of a guitar player and lyricist and stuff, so I remember Tony [Iommi] just… I don’t remember exactly what he said, I was young, but it was along the lines of ‘just, play what you want, don’t give a shit what people think, do it because you want to and you love it’ and stuff like that. And he said something along the lines of, that was what they did when they were young and they were starting out, and they wanted to do all of this.
So, that was definitely one of those things I’ll never forget. Despite being only eight or nine years old, I already knew who Sabbath was. I liked their music, I have pretty much always been a fan, so that was really amazing. If I had to pick one right off the top of my head, that was definitely one of the coolest experiences I ever had, thanks to, I guess, thanks to what I was born into and stuff like that.”
TONY FUCKING IOMMI… I mean honestly, get fucked. Being raised on a diet of political activism and punk rock, then meeting the man that created the genre of heavy metal, Igor may just be this next generation’s RATM, SOAD or Rise Against. Go Ahead And Die isn’t just a band. It’s the culmination of a lifetime of experiences as seen through a driven writer, musician and activist. A perfect storm that has resulted in an album that is a must have for any hard music fan.
But what’s a band without a tour. In the wake of COVID, what’re the chances of a GAAD tour (maybe even kickstart it down here in Australia/New Zealand where COVID is largely under control)? Well, it’s certainly a reality that’s for sure:
“I would imagine, once we get vaccinated and once, I think once you guys let us in, because I’m not even sure what borders are open and what are closed. I know Americans can’t get to certain countries right now. I’m not sure if Australia is one of those that’s on the travel ban. I’m not sure, but I imagine once cases go down and numbers get better, we’ll be there. We want to tour just as bad as anyone, but we just want to do so responsibly. And America is still pretty rough with COVID. It hasn’t really gotten better here, just more open. So we’ll see how it goes, but you guys are doing a lot better. So actually the chances of coming over that way and playing are, I would say higher than even seeing us where we are. So, you never know. Keep on the lookout for us.”
How fucking unreal would that be? If this album is anything to go by, then the tour is going to be huge. High energy, huge sounds and the distinct Cavalera sound turned up to 11. Hook In. Full interview at the bottom.
Go Ahead And Die’s debut self-titled album is out Friday, June 11 via Nuclear Blast Records.
Go Ahead And Die – Go Ahead And Die tracklisting:
1. Truckload Full of Bodies
2. Toxic Freedom
3. I.C.E Cage
5. Prophets Prey
7. El Cuco
9. With Less Than Piss
10. (In The) Slaughterline