Duane’s World Issue 4: – Talking Metal with Max Cavalera

Anyone that has the sand to accuse Max Cavalera of being lazy is clear off their heads. While some of us spent the best part of covid camped out on our couches, emptying the entirety of Netflix into our brains while dodging the TP hoarders at the supermarkets for fear of the spicy cough, Max pumped out albums with Killer Be Killed, Go Ahead And Die, and his long time outfit Soulfly, the last of which is heading to Australia in December as part of the Good Things Festival. It’ll be his first trip to Australia since the pandemic, given his last shows down under were in 2019 for the “Beneath Arise” tour with his brother Igor (our Perth coverage here).

Wall Of Sound’s resident boomer fanboy (that’s me) sat down with THE HIGH PRIEST MAX CAVALERA to talk about Soulfly’s 12th album Totem, what has driven him throughout his career and the entire musically gifted Cavalera Family. We’re finally going to get to see Max for the first time since we found out bat soup was a thing, when he heads to Australia with Soulfly in December. I know I’m excited.

Yeah, we’re very excited. You know, we just actually got done playing Japan. We played Download and it was a blast. It was really fun, really exciting. And the new record just dropped. We gonna be ready to tear it up in Australia. It’s gonna be great.”

Speaking of the new album Totem, will we be hearing much of it when you’re here for Good Things Festival?

“Well, hopefully a good part of Side A because I really like side A of Totem. I think especially the first four songs are really strong, really killer. And I like to play them at first. Then after that we can play all the other hits the people love, you know, we gotta play Eye For An Eye’ we gotta play Prophecy’, we gotta play Primitive’. But eventually, I don’t know like, maybe we get a chance we will play Spirit Animal’ which is like 10 minutes. That might be kind of cool too, depending how much time we have in the festival.”

Well, the recently announced Sideshows in Melbourne and Sydney should make the legend and his fans happy. But with all the projects he has going on, most of which involve one of his family members, he could form a group consisting entirely of Cavaleras. I mean you have the brother Igor in Cavalera Conspiracy, the son Zyon in Soulfly and the other son Igor Amadeus in Go Ahead And Die. At what point do you just fill the stage with your family and play any number of songs from your huge ground breaking catalogue?

“Well, I think I’m waiting for when I’m a little bit older, I can do a residency in Vegas. HA!!! I’ll bring the whole circus with me. I will have the whole tribe. I have the whole family, and we are going to be there anyway. So we get to play whatever we want. HA HA!!! That’s a cool idea, though. I never thought of it like that. But there is a lot of music. I mean I don’t even think one night is enough if you want to play Sepultura material, Nailbomb material. Soulfly material. Cavalera Conspiracy material. Killer Be Killed. It’s a lot of freaking music. But it’s cool man, that’s what I’m here for, right? That’s why I’m here, to make music so I’m gonna make music, you know? There’s no such thing as, to me at least, no such thing as too much. Because once you’re done, you’re dead. Stop. You know once it stops, it stops. So while I’m alive, man, I’m gonna just bash out tunes because that’s what I like to do. It’s what gives me pleasure in life. It’s playing loud for the fans, my church. You know, the state is my church, that the crowd is my disciples. And you know, I’m the high priest.”

HIGH PRIEST MAX AND THE CAVALERA TRIBE, LIVE IN VEGAS!!!! You heard it here first kids.

It’s hardly a surprise to hear that his sons are following in Max’s footsteps. I mean, we all listened to music growing up, but Zyon and Igor grew up backstage, surrounded by the finest musicians the metal world has to offer. 

“They were born into this world. I think it’s cool. They had the best education you can get from us from touring anyway and seeing the world. I think what they saw about the world, it was much more valuable than what you can learn in school even. Because there’s only so much the teacher can teach you. But a lot of it, especially here in the US, what you hear in the news and stuff. It’s propaganda. When you go there in a country to visit, it’s a different story. You visit firsthand, you get a different feel for the country and for the people. You see maybe a different side, that is not what the news is showing, and the preconceived ideas that you had about that country kind of flies out of the window.”

“They had a chance to experiment, experience. You know, they went to Russia with us, they went to South Africa, they went to Indonesia. They met like Black Sabbath, Maiden, all the heroes, man. It’s kind of crazy. But I think in a way kind of prepared them for their own journey, they’re paving their own path. Zyon is doing great now with Soulfly. I’m sure if he wants to, he can probably get another band on the side and do some other stuff. He hasn’t said anything about that. He’s pretty happy with Soulfly. Igor, on the other hand, he does have Healing Magic. It’s a really cool band and we’re still doing Go Ahead And Die. We’re actually working on it. Next month we’re going to work on some new stuff for that.”

“But whatever they want to do with their life, I support. I told them, as long as you guys are doing what you want, and you’re happy with it, that’s the main thing. And they chose music. I told them, it’s not an easy life. It’s tough. You gotta be tough as nails. You gotta have thick skin. Especially in this day and age with internet, there’s a lot of just assholes. There’s a lot of assholes with the computer. Just talking shit, man, you know ha ha? I have thick skin doesn’t doesn’t affect me I can deal with it. In fact, I feed on it. More you talk shit about me, the stronger I get. More pissed off I get. More metal music people get from me!”

That’s probably why I have not released a, you know, a soft album yet because I keep getting pissed off. There’s always something to be mad about.”

It definitely hasn’t been easy. Max has been in the game since the mid 80’s and he’s seen trends come and go. He’s seen vinyl go and come back. He’s persevered through hair metal, grunge, the perceived death of metal, it’s re-rising popularity where metal bands were getting sneaker deals, the elimination and reintroduction of guitar solos, through to today where some kid called Eddie plays air guitar in a Netflix show about upside down monster shit.

“To me, it’s good to see Metallica in Stranger Things. I’ve seen some of my music in movies and stuff and it’s cool. Hopefully more of that will come too. But the beginning of my career, the Sepultura stuff. In Brazil, that was very tough, because nobody liked us, we were just scorn of the Earth man. People hated us. They hated us with a passion. There were headlines in newspapers, like, the worst band in the world. Like, really? The worst band in the world? Which is kind of cool in a way because it’s like, who does not want to see the worst band in the world. Plays both ways, I guess. But having survived that, we survived Hair Metal. I think Arise was done in the height of hair metal, and then in the height of grunge, we did Chaos AD. We survived both of those eras, because a lot of people jumped ship that didn’t want to be metal. It was all about being grunge, or some people went into the hair metal universe. We kind of stick to our guns.

But I’ve always been a bit of a curious person myself, and I wanted to kind of touch different sides of music. So that’s why, especially in Soulfly, there’s a lot of adventurous kind of stuff. The early stuff is more tribal, a bit combined with nu metal than then there’s a lot of mid stuff, Dark Ages, Prophecy, like back to basics. Then there’s like heavier stuff, Enslaved and Ritual, and now Totem.

Totem is totally stripped down, back to the roots of Max Cavalera. That’s my roots. Those are like my real real. The music that I really enjoy to listen and play is that. When I made Totem, I was like, I don’t give a shit if nobody likes this record, I want to play this. I want to play what I want to hear. It’s one of those decisions that you make that’s very selfish. It’s a selfish decision. You make it for yourself and if people like it, they’re on board. Cool. If they don’t, FUCK EM. We’re still going to do it. Because this is what you want to play.”

Max has been nothing if not a hard touring musician and Australia has been more fortunate on the Cavalera front than most.

We just did Download Japan. That was a massive festival. The Good Things Festival in Australia should be massive too. Should be really good. Of course, I always love Australia. I have a special connection from the early Soulfly. Big Day Out (1999) was one of the best shows of my career. Yeah, it was that first Soulfly tour in Australia.”

“Then Killer Be Killed. The only tour we ever did was Australia. We really had a good time. We actually tried to do more. We just couldn’t do it because our schedules are so crazy. I was talking to Troy (Sanders) in Japan. We play actually right before Mastodon, which was kind of funny the way it turned out. He just looked at me and goes, “Yeah, eventually we’ll get to do some shit. I just don’t know when”. He’s busy now to the end of the year. I’m busy til next year. I’ve got tours all the way to Australia in December. But next year, we’ll do some more stuff for sure. I love being part of all these projects, I like all of them. Go Ahead And Die, amazing. Killer Be Killed is amazing. Soulfly is amazing. They are very different from each other. I also love playing Sepultura stuff with my brother again. That’s also a lot of fun playing the old stuff, people get that nostalgic feeling. That’s really cool. I get why people want to hear that, you know, those are good fucking records, they need to be heard. They need to be heard the way we’re playing them, playing them right. So whenever people that saw the Beneath The Remains tour they’re totally blown away.”

Given Max’s longevity and all that he’s witnessed with the bucking trends, with his children following in his footsteps, surely he has passed on some advice to the two lucky lads.

“Follow your intuition and your heart. Let the music guide you. The music will take you to the place that you need to go. You’ve got to have blind faith. A lot of people are scared of it, because you’re not sure exactly sure where is it going to go. I think a lot of our records have that blind faith. Roots is very much like that. Soulfly I is completely based on blind faith. That record is insane. It was so difficult to make that record. So difficult, but it’s what you get such a pleasure from listening to it now and see that was the right record to make.”

What was it about Soulfly I that was so difficult?

“Everything. I felt that to prove myself to the world after leaving Sepultura, which was my band for all that time. To prove to the fans and to the world that I’m still the same guy. The high energy, the aggression and all the elements that people like about me in Sepultura, they were gonna like in Soulfly. So there was a lot of pressure because of that. It’s easy now to say, oh yeah of course it panned out. No, we didn’t know. Nobody had a crystal ball. It could have easily been a shitty record in my career. But I wouldn’t be talking to you here right now, you know. So those are pivotal records. I think there’s a couple of those in my career like Beneath The Remains is one of those. We had to make a really good record.”

“It was our first record on Roadrunner (Records). If we made a shit record, that’s it, Roadrunner would’ve dropped us and we will go back to Brazil. Go into obscurity. So we had to make a really good one. There’s all this pressure. But because of that pressure, I think greatness comes from it. That’s really weird how it works, but it’s connected. Pressure, anxiety, greatness, all combined. You know, and then of course, I think Beneath The Remains, Soulfly I for sure. Prophecy is like that and Totem, believe it or not, because it was one of the strangest records I ever made. done in a very strange situation. Because of COVID and all that.

Well all that pressure and experience has forged one of Heavy Metal’s true icons. One we’re all going to be fortunate enough to bear witness to this December when Good Things Festival and the subsequent side shows hit town. 

Interview by Duane James @duanejames666

Soulfly Aussie Tour Dates

Thursday 1st December 2022 – Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne
Tickets Here

Friday 2nd December 2022 – Good Things, Melbourne

Saturday 3rd December 2022 – Good Things, Sydney

Sunday 4th December 2022 – Good Things, Brisbane

Tickets Here

Tuesday 6th December 2022 – Manning Bar, Sydney
Tickets Here

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About duanejames (52 Articles)
Wall of Sound's resident Heavy Metal Bogan. Father. Husband. Professional Tattooer. Untrained Artist. Part time writer. Full time fanboy.