MAX CAVALERA on Rock Overdose:"The new album is the ugly & the beautiful side of being a savage"
Zisis Petkanas from the Greek webzine Rock Overdose, talked with Max Calavera (SOULFLY, CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, ex-SEPULTURA, ex-NAILBOMB), about the new SOULFLY album “Savages”, the band’s future plans, his feelings about SEPULTURA and many more things. You can hear the chat and read the whole interview below:
RockOverdose.gr: Max welcome to warm Greece and on Rock Overdose. How are you?
Max: Fine. How are you?
RockOverdose.gr: Fine. Despite the fact that we have an enormous economical crisis, we are ok. So we have an upcoming SOULFLY album, called “Savages”, to be released in October. What should the fans expect from this release and how it is different than the previous one?
Max: It’s a little bit different. “Savages” is a combination. Half is a continuation of “Enslaved” with extreme metal, some if it even death metal and the other half is more traditional, more old SOULFLY, more groove, like the first album, like “Eye for an Eye”, “Tribe”, “No Hope = No Fear” kind of stuff. The first single is “Bloodshed”. My son Igor sings on it with me… I think it’s a killer song, killer groove and very heave and intense, very catchy, I’m really happy with this song. The album is full of good surprises… very good collaborations with CLUTCH, NAPALM DEATH, I DECLARE WAR. There’s a song in Portuguese and Spanish, it’s called “El Comegente”, with me and Tony (Campos) singing. Overall is a very strong record, songs are long, 5-6 minutes, full of guitar solos, everything heavy metal is about, a classic metal record. I am very happy I made this kind of record. I wanted to make a record like this for a long time and I was able to do it. Terry did a great job producing the album, he is a master in producing and it was good recording with him and I’m very pleased with the album. I think the fans will really love “Savages”. It’s an album for a SOULFLY fan I think.
RockOverdose.gr: So it’s a combination of old SOULFLY stuff and new elements.
Max: Lots of new elements and there is also the same good SOULFLY stuff on it and some stuff a little bit like “Enslaved”, like death metal… a good combination.
RockOverdose.gr: Why did you call the album “Savages”? Is it somehow connected with the current instability worldwide?
Max: Yeah it’s a about the world itself, about the humans, about the human condition. How we are sold in technology, internet, media and in the same time, killing people, monstrosities. I think in the end of the day, we are savages and that’s why it’s called “Savages”. On the other flip of the coin, I think “Savages” is also beautiful. It’s a primitive state of man and savage can be very beautiful. So we get bothsides, the ugly side and the beautiful side of being a savage. I kind of let the fans decide which side they want it to be. I’m very happy with the album cover, it’s a very strong skull with some tattoo marks and it’s very in your face old school looking. Very metal, like an 80’s album cover, like IRON MAIDEN, BLACK SABBATH. I think it’s a very heavy metal cover and I love it.
RockOverdose.gr: You sound very enthusiastic about your new album and we’re looking forward for people to listen to it and tell their opinion. You said you have some participations, like Neil Fallon from CLUTCH and Mitch Harris from NAPALM DEATH. How did this cooperation happened and how the feeling is with these guests?
Max: It was great. Neil is a friend a long time, we toured with them in the SEPULTURA days. I love CLUTCH, I love Neil’s voice, I thought it would be great to do a metal song with him. I had this riff, this cowboy riff, we never did something like it and it was Neil territory for us and we called the song “Ayatollah of Rock ‘N’ Rolla”, which is from Mad Max. Very very crazy title and I like it a lot. I think it’s very unique and it was great. Then we had Mitch from NAPALM DEATH in another song. I love Mitch’s voice. He’s doingall the high pitched screams in NAPALM DEATH and it’s great and it was great to have Mitch singing a song with me. We called it “K.C.S.” and it’s a very heavy song and I share it with Mitch. We had one line each, going back and forth. Mitch was in the studio when we were recording and we asked him to sing in the song, he decided to do it and it was nice and really cool. Also there’s one more song called “Fallen” with Jamie from I DECLARE WAR. They are one of my favorite new bands and I listen to a lot of death metal, deathcore kind of bands. They are very great, very heavy, Jamie does brutal vocals. I gave him “Fallen” because it’s the more death metal song in the album. This song could be on “Enslaved” for sure. Completely made like that. I’m very happy, I picked very different guests, NAPALM DEATH, CLUTCH and I DECLARE WAR are completely different with each other, from different eras, with different voices and I think that’s the good way. That’s the way SOULFLY is about. It’s about different vocals, different ideas, different vibes and at the end of the day, this makes the record stronger. I think the vocalists are making the album stronger, because of what they did on the record.
RockOverdose.gr: In “Bloodshed”, your son, Igor Cavalera, takes part with you on vocals, right?
Max: Yeah he did the chorus and a little bit after that. He has this really good punk rock voice and when I did the song, I thought it would be great to have Igor’s voice here with me. I called him and he went in the studio to lay down the vocals and it was a great idea. I think it turned out really good in the end.
RockOverdose.gr: I believe that you are very proud of him as a father.
Max: Zyon did the drums in the whole record, Igor’s vocals on “Bloodshed”, it was really good to have them involved, we are a metal family, we have music in the house all the time and when I’m taking them on tour with me, they see no different, because they are raised on the road and they are playing musicas well. It was good to have them on the record with me, for me as a father, these are very proud moments.
RockOverdose.gr: This time you had the luxury to work the songs at home with Zyon. How did that affect the whole recording process? What was the experience like to work the drums with your son?
Max: I think it made the album more prepared. I love all the other SOULFLY records. I think all of them are very strong. I had more time to prepare for “Savages”, because I had the chance to jam with Zyon at home. I was creating riffs in the morning and we jammed with Zyon in the afternoon, creating songs and recording them, putting them in order, finding out which ones are the strongest, which ones we felt that could really make an impact on the album. The process took about 2 months, jamming with Zyon for 2 months at home and when we entered the studio, we were really prepared, really tight. I was really prepared for this album and he knew exactly what to do. He knew every song by heart and it took him only 3 days to do the drums for the whole record, quite amazing.
RockOverdose.gr: Max, being yourself a riff master, who do you consider to be the biggest riff master in the universe and the biggest influence to you?
Max: My favorite is Tony Iommi. He created the best riffs in metal I think. Chuck Shuldiner from DEATH, wrote great riffs. Of course James Hetfield, early METALLICA was great. Dino from FEAR FACTORY is really great. I consider myself a riffman. I just do riffs, I don’t do solos, that’s what I like to do. I like to write riffs. I spend hours writing riffs at home. I use some of them in SOULFLY records and some of them in CAVALERA CONSPIRACY records. To me, it’s pleasure writing riffs. It’s fun to do it. I started a long time ago, when I got my guitar. It was me, the guitar and a 4 track machine and we created this music at home. It was a very good experience.
RockOverdose.gr: Let’s go to CAVALERA CONSPIRACY and NAILBOMB. Are any future plans for these bands?
Max: Next year we will do a new record with Igor for CAVALERA CONSPIRACY. It’s the 3rd album, I think it’s going to be very strong, I wish to make a very fast album. I want Igor to play fast like “Arise”.
RockOverdose.gr: So with CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, you show a side of your secret desires in music?
Max: Yes it’s less complicated, the songs are not so long, they are shorter and I like the more brutal kind of metal that me and Igor are playing. That’s what I like to explore in CAVALERA CONSPIRACY. The brothers playing metal and for me the golden era for me and Igor, is “Beneath The Remains” and “Arise”. I could say “Chaos AD”, but it’s mostly “Arise” and I like to be more in this area of fast. Igor isgreat when he plays fast, he’s amazing and powerful and I can create the best riffs with him, like “Inflikted” and stuff like that. We are going to continue that and hopefully it’s going to be a very powerful record.
RockOverdose.gr: So talking about the first SEPULTURA period, which was really great and my favorite personally, is there something in the back of your mind for this band, or should we forget it?
Max: I have good memories from SEPULTURA, I created the band, I named the band, I started it years before Andreas and Paulo were in it. I created the band with Igor and we took it very far, we went against the world, we were considered the worse band in our city when we started, we took it very far. Until “Roots”. I’m very proud for the work I did, but life is strange and full of turns and I believe that I was meant to create something new.
RockOverdose.gr: It’s very sad that you created a great band and you are no longer a part of it. We are all sad about it. I was a big SEPULTURA fan.
Max: Yeah it’s sad. I myself, sometimes think about it, why did this have to happen, but on the other hand, something very good happened to me, SOULFLY surviving. Most musicians that play in a successful band and they try to do something else, doesn’t work, it fails. The fact that SOULFLY has survived and achieved this success around the world and have many fanatic fans and the fans are very expressive, they have SOULFLY tattoos and stuff, when they come and tell me that my music changed their lives, that’s a big thing and I take it very seriously. When they say it to me, I’m thinking that I must be doing something right. I think SOULFLY is my salvation, they saved me, because when I quit SEPULTURA, it wa the hardest time of my life, the hardest moment, I didn’t know what to do, I stopped playing music for six months, doing nothing, I was like what am I going to do with my life. SOULFLY saved me. The first album is a very strong album. It put me back on the map, rebuilt the trust with my fans again, showed that I could do something else outside of SEPULTURA, something powerful and now I have nine albums with SOULFLY, which is more than what I did with SEPULTURA.
RockOverdose.gr: Your country, Brazil, will organize both World Cup and the Olympic Games this year. Do you think that this will positive for your country, because in Greece we had major problems after this.
Max: In Brazil there are a lot of problems. A lot of protests. I don’t know if you’ve seen it on the internet or TV. There are a lot of people, even young people, going out on the street, confronting the police and I have made a message here for the Brazilian people on the internet that had a lot of views, which is great, encouraging them to go and protest, go on the street. I myself, thing that it’s too much to have 2 things to do. Maybe it would be better to do only one and do the Olympics maybe ten years from now. Not together like this. I think it’s too much to handle. World Cup is huge. It’s a worldwide event. Youhave to be a good host, because people will come from around the world to see this thing and they will have to feel safe. Brazil is not safe. It’s very dangerous, they will have to do something about it and see what happens.
RockOverdose.gr: Several years ago, you visited Greece, in Athens and Thessaloniki. What do you think of the audience and the country in general? Are you going to come over in Greece again?
Max: I will come again. I think we have a European tour in March. It’s gonna be a big European tour with DEVILDRIVER, co-headlining with them and I hope that will come again in Greece. I have great memories from Greece, I love the Greek crowd, I think it’s an amazing crowd, very energetic, very passionate, very loud, full of energy and I think it’s a beautiful country. It’s beautiful to see the sites and the Acropolis and Thessaloniki and the drive is beautiful inside the country. We drove and saw all the beautiful houses and the blue water… very very beautiful. I actually told my wife that I like to buy a house in Greece one day and live in Greece. It’s a great place to write music, it’s beautiful. We talked a lot of times with my wife about the possibility of this to actually happen. It’s not very far from reality. I hope one day we’ll find a place in Greece and I can spend some time there and some time back in America.
RockOverdose.gr: So you travelled around the world and you hope that if you want some place to stay it’s gong to be Greece.
Max: Yeah! I really love to.
RockOverdose.gr: Maybe Greek people are a lot like the Brazilians in attitude?
Max: Yes I think they are similar. It would be a great thing to do in the future.
RockOverdose.gr: What is the message that you like to leave to your Greek fans?
Max: The message is thank you, I hope they like “Savages”, it’s coming out in October, I really enjoyed making the record, it’s a special record, my first record with Nuclear Blast, a new label, a new beginning for me and I want to thank my fans for supporting me and following me through the years. I hope to see everybody in March in the big European tour and I hope Greece will be included in this tour, so we can bring our music to our fans. Thank you very much.
RockOverdose.gr: When the new video is going to be released? Do you have a release date?
Max: Probably in a month. It’s being filmed right now and they have to put all the pieces together. I believe that it will be ready in a month for all the channels and for the people to find it.
RockOverdose.gr: Max thank you very much for this interview. Is there anything that we forgot to say? Any news to reveal?
Max: No, thank you man and I hope to see you in Greece.
RockOverdose.gr: Me too. And drink a lot of ouzo and beers!