Max Cavalera: Living Sacrifice

This interview was conducted in person at the House of Blue in Orlando, aboard the Cavalera family bus with main-man Max Cavalera. This interview also appeared within the pages of Connections Magazine. Special thanks to Dave Himes for arranging this interview!

Quick 10 questions:

image of max cavalera of soulflyMatt: Favorite food?
Max: "Feijoada" (Brazilian Food)
Matt: Favorite drink?
Max: "Guarana" (Brazilian Drink)
Matt: Favorite movie?
Max: Apocalypse Now
Matt: Favorite novel?
Max: lol, I don’t read a lot.(pause) I just look at the pictures (laughs)
Matt: Judas Priest or Iron Maiden?
Max: Iron Maiden
Matt: What’s in your CD player right now?
Max: Compilation with Fundamentals & Dead Can Dance
Matt: Any upcoming bands you’d recommend checking out?
Max: Iceburn’s new demo, Nacao Zumbi (Brazilian Band)
Matt: What was your first concert; how old were you?
Max: Queen, 11
Matt: What was your first instrument; how old were you?
Max: My dad’s acoustic guitar "Giannini" (Brazilian Guitar)
Matt: Favorite Soulfly song right now?
Max: Living Sacrifice

The Interview:

Matt: Tell us what kind of stuff Soulfly has been up to recently, how have the crowds and the tour been so far?
Max: This tour has actually been really good, the first part was with Morbid Angel, and that was great, you know, like, packed places, and they were really fun. A fun band to tour with, I really like, I knew those guys for a long time, but it was even cooler now, we got to hang out a little more, it was a great tour. Then we did some stuff in Canada, which, I haven’t been there in a couple years because of SARS. FREAK everybody out, and nobody go in there. They cancel the show, so we played there now, and the place was packed, the same with yesterday. Ft. Lauderdale, last year’s show was canceled because of the hurricane, so last night was packed, you couldn’t even breathe. So it’s been a really good tour, which just had the DVD come out, "The Song Remains Insane", and I’m playing two new songs from the next record even though we’re still touring for "Prophecy". During December and January, I went with the guys to the jam section in Phoenix and just wrote, like, 20 songs for the new record.
Matt: With only a few more U.S. dates to go, how are you feeling, and what’s next for Soulfly after this?
Max: We got one more week, a little more than that, New Orleans, Texas, Arizona, then we’re going… It’s confusing right now, they are booking right now, it supposed to go to South America, but I guess that its not happening, so now we’re going to Russia, which is insane, it’s completely opposite.
Matt: Soulfly has only been to South America twice.
Max: One in San Paulo, which is not that good, it was like weird, like a Monday night or something, and then we did one in Recife and it was great. We went on until 3:00 in the morning with 10,000 people going crazy. But I think now is the best time to go there, because finally the people in Brazil, you know, they’re not so much into the split, and the whole Sepultura thing, they want to see the songs, so I hope either now, or later in the year that will happen.
Matt: How would you describe the evolution of your music from the first Soulfly album to your current release "Prophecy", as well as the latest album you’re currently working on?
Max: I dunno man… that’s what I like about music. You can analyze the shit out of it, and still don’t know what it is. I think that’s why it’s good, when you get goosebumps, and the music make you do something like you normally wouldn’t do it. Like a riot, you know music can do that shit to people, and I love it. But you can’t really explain, like, why did you get in a riot? Why do you, when you hear some music, you get sad, or get super pissed off. I don’t even try to understand my music, or other people’s music, I just enjoy it.
Matt: I’ve read on that you hate recording, yet you produced the last 2 records. I must say that the production on both albums have been superb in sound quality, you should be commended! But really, why would you do that to yourself?
Max: I dunno its like, every album that comes along has got an excuse, not just me, but everyone around is like, you should produce again, listen to the last one, its pretty good job, even though you hate studio. Which I don’t really hate studio; I just don’t like spending that much time on it. Those guys, and I admire them, the people from the studio, they drink a thousand copies a day, and they don’t care, they just go into a trance with the music, I just can’t do that, I got to get out. When I produce a Soulfly album I do it very different than a producer would do it. The new record more than ever, its recorded in phases. 2 weeks, then I stop the entire recording. I went to Russia; I went to Turkey and record some stuff there, come back go into the studio again. Now I’m going back after this tour to try and finish because I haven’t finished the vocals yet. Of course not everyone can do that. I couldn’t do that when I started with Sepultura, we couldn’t afford that. But if you can, that’s a great way to do it. I like producers, so in the future I’m sure I will work with producers again. It’s just on those albums it was the right thing to do.
Matt: After a long musical career, where do you find yourself drawing the necessary inspiration to keep your music fresh, and continue to produce meaningful music for yourself?
Max: I don’t know exactly where it’s coming from. Honestly a lot of people talk about these riffs, and the Refuse/Resist riff being one of their favorite riffs. I honestly think I was jamming in the bathroom. I’m not dissing the riff, but that’s where I was when I did it. So there’s no real expression or frame of mind, I just know when to stop! I can see it on people’s faces when they aren’t into it.
Matt: At long last "The Song Remains Insane" DVD is released, can you tell us a bit about what to expect, and what you’re most proud of?
Max: There’s a lot of stuff on there that was shot all over the world. There’s some really funny stuff too, like stuff that only I find funny. Like this giant Brazilian cockroach that I had them put in the video. I told them I didn’t care what was in the video, but they had to show this cockroach that fell on its back. There is a lot of really good stuff on this DVD, stuff from the old days, all the different lineups, some personal stuff like Moses (Max’s infant grandson who recently passed away), and stuff from the big festivals.
Matt: What is it really like for you and your family while your out on the road these days? How do you like to spend your time while you’re finally off tour?
Max: Most of the time we’re on the road, but whenever we can we try to go out and see things, and do thing together with the family. It’s great having them on the road so I don’t have to be apart from them, and of course my dogs.
Matt: Do you have any pre-show rituals that you, or the band goes through?
Max: Not really, I think the weirdest thing is that I don’t use the dressing rooms. During this whole tour I’ve probably seen one dressing room. I just stay on the bus before its time to go onstage. I usually leave the room for the band to hang out in and have fun. Then right after I get off stage I come back on the bus.
Matt: I’ve always admired how you aren’t afraid to explore new territory on your albums. For instance the Flamenco guitars on "Porrada", and the soulful vocals on "Wings" are very interesting and beautiful pieces, yet many metal bands would never explore something like that. Can you tell us your perspective on why you include these elements in your music, and why you feel many bands never venture into those types of things?
Max: Well I don’t know why I don’t know why other bands don’t do that kind of thing, but for me I think it is really important to try and experiment with new sounds. Like bands like Black Sabbath experimented a lot with sound, and it was a good thing. For the new album I went to Russia and did a recording right there in Moscow. You could look out the studio window and see, The Kremlin, it was really cool. We recorded with a guy there using some instruments that I can even pronounce, and it turned out really good. Then I recorded some stuff in Turkey, with instruments that you could only find in that country, and people there were so friendly, nothing like what you think it is. I got recognized in the street by a couple of Metalheads, and they were totally freaked out that I was there.
Matt: Almost every interview I’ve read places a strong emphasizes your spirituality and beliefs; do you believe this focus is a necessary one, something you’re cool with, or perhaps a misconception?
Max: Well I think that it is unnecessary sometimes, but I also think it just comes along with the music. In honesty I am a spiritual person, I have to be, because there has to be someone upstairs looking out for me. So many times I should have been dead because I did some really fucked up shit, and shouldn’t be living anymore. But for some reason I survived, so I guess that kind of makes me spiritual. I’m not a Christian or nothing, but I do feel very spiritual, I have to be, or else I wouldn’t still be around.
Matt: What would you consider to be the biggest misconception about yourself?
Max: People think that I’m mean, and hate everybody. Like I was on a TV show and the people there were like "So you want to kill everybody?" and stuff like that. It’s like no man; I’m not like that at all. They think that just because you’re Metal that I want to suck out their blood or something.

Fan questions:

Static asks: Will there ever be another Nailbomb album?
Max: No.
Dirrty Craig asks: What kind of gear are you using, and do you use any outboard gear?
Max: I love ESP guitars, and on stage we’re using a combination of Mesa Boogie, and Peavey. I also use a flanger pedal that I don’t use much, and a really horrible wah pedal that might be broken? It’s aweful, and when you step on it, it makes this really awful sound. Mark Rizzo was the first person I ever met that actually likes is, and encourages me to use it.
Ludicrous Speed asks: What do you think of the current state of metal?
Max: I just hope that I can be a part of it. You know, if you look at metal 10 years ago, there’s a whole other set 10 years before that. Music changes, so that’s a good thing.
Alex asks: Favorite Soulfly gig?
Max: Playing with the Ramones in Brazil.
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