The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Max Cavalera Soulfly - Interview
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I have had the pleasure of speaking to the legendary Max Cavalera several times now and every time, there is always something new to talk about. The man bleeds metal music and not many are as prolific as Max with several other bands on the side, numerous guest spots and the massive touring schedule that seemingly never ends. We talk about Soulfly's 10th album "Archangel", a very aggressive and bibilical kind of album with a beautiful piece of artwork that graces the cover as well as a discussion on metal music in general.



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Andrew: Hey how's it going?

Max: Good man.

Andrew: So how's things at the moment? Are you guys touring at the moment or just waiting for the album to come out?

Max: Yeah we're actually on tour, we are in Sheffield in the U.K. at the end of the European tour right now. It's going really good, we're having a great tour.

Andrew: We just saw you recently in Australia for Soundwave Festival when you were with Killer Be Killed. How was that for you?

Max: Amazing! We had such a good time and the shows were so awesome, people really loved Killer Be Killed. We wanted to do more but unfortunately we couldn't schedule anything after that but we hope next year we can arrange some more. It was an amazing adventure playing Soundwave with Killer Be Killed, it was really killer.

Andrew: And they were the first shows with that band wasn't it?

Max: Yeah very first ones.

Andrew: Now you have a new album with Soulfly, "Archangel" and we did a review of it recently and it took a few listens to really get into it but once we got it, it really hooked us. It's a great album, what can you tell me about it?

Max: Yeah it's very different, I think the best thing about "Archangel" is it's quite different from anything that I've ever done. At the same time it's very rooted in metal, it's a very metal album but it's still very diverse and a lot of experimentation in a lot of the songs. Things we did with the vocals and the guests are really cool. It's a complete record, a full record and I'm very proud of it.

Andrew: Just before we get into the details of the songs, I must say the album cover is one of the best pieces of artwork that I have ever seen. It's a great cover! Where did you get that from and what was the idea behind that?

Max: The album cover was designed by a guy called Eliran Kantor and he's a great designer, he's done some other covers for Testament and Hatebreed. But I think this one is really amazing out of most of the artwork that he's done in the past, this one is the one that was talked about the most. More people talked about this artwork than any other. What I really love about it is how classic it is, it could be in a museum kind of like a piece but at the same time it still has the Soulfly symbol involved which puts it in a modern world with Soulfly, with the weapon of the angel and the wings shaped in the Soulfly symbol. It was a brilliant idea of the designer and I love the colors and I think with the cover and the music, they go along together perfectly.

Andrew: It seems not just with the music but also with the cover that it all seems very biblical I guess. Was that something that you were trying to go for?

Max: Yeah it was one of the original ideas of the direction of the record. We were trying to go for something a little bit more different than I had ever done. My other works are more political and some of them more personal and this one does have some personal songs like "Deceiver" and "Live Life Hard!" and "We Sold Our Souls To Metal" but the others have biblical stuff like "Archangel", "Bethlehem's Blood" and "Sodomites". So it is quite cool to mix all of that on the same record, that's why it's not a concept album. So we have stuff that's biblical and stuff that's non-biblical and they all mix together really good inside the record.


Andrew: You just mentioned "Live Life Hard!" which features an Aussie! Youngy (Matt Young, King Parrot) on vocals there, how did that come about?

Max: Yeah we met during the Soundwave and became good friends and hit it off really good. I invited him to sing on the album, at the Soundwave shows and when we got near the time of the record we hooked up again. It happened that they were on tour in America at the time I was making the record and we went to see their show in Phoenix and the next day they played L.A. and I just showed Matt the song in my car, I played him the song and told him what to sing and gave him some of the lyrics and he went on and did an amazing job. His vocals are awesome! I really like how "Live Life Hard!" came out, it's one of my favorite tracks on the album.

Andrew: Yeah that's one of my favorites on there. I really like "Ishtar Rising", the riff on there is really cool. But I also think "Bethlehem's Blood" is really cool as well. Do you have any other pesonal favorites on there yet?

Max: I'm still getting used to it but I really like "Archangel" the title track, "Sodomites" and "Live Life Hard!" wih the guests. And also "Mother Of Dragons" with my kids, I think that's great on the album.

Andrew: Yeah "Mother Of Dragons" is an interesting one, obviously a very family oriented one with your sons. What is that song actually about?

Max: It's really for the Mother of the kids, my wife and it's like a tribute to her and all the kids sing on it. It has really cool lyrics about how proud they are to be sons and be considered dragons and we also have Anahid, a girl from Iran singing to make it even more exotic and more different and make a bridge between heavy metal in the west and heavy metal from the east.

Andrew: Did you ever think when you were first starting out that you would have your kids on one of your albums like that?

Max: Just really like a wishlist but never thought it would come true quite like this. It has actually been quite cool and quite fun and exciting to watch them be part of the Soulfly stuff.

Andrew: Does it remind you at all when you first started with Sepultura with your brother (Igor Cavalera)? Maybe a little reminiscent of that?

Max: Yeah I see a lot of that on my 2 kids with Igor and Zyon, a lot of similarities of how me and Igor started in Sepultura. Even how they argue with each other about stuff is really similar to what me and Igor argue about so it's quite cool to watch them go through the same thing.

Andrew: One song we should mention is "We Sold Our Souls To Metal" which is a good representation of heavy metal I guess. What is your take on heavy metal today compared to what it was maybe 20-30 years ago?

Max: I think it's the same, the spirit of metal is the same. It's the spirit of rebellion, anti- establishment and don't give a fuck about society, don't give a fuck about politics. We love our metal the way it is and we are proud to be metal. It's a very simple lyrical song, very direct lyrics with a message that is of course taken from Black Sabbath's "We Sold Our Soul For Rock N' Roll" but I made a new version of that with metal instead. I hope it becomes some sort of a metal anthem for fans, it's already happening in Europe where everybody is singing the song live and really loving it so I hope the song eventually becomes a cool metal anthem for a lot of fans.

Andrew: Yeah definitely, I can see that one playing out really well live. Out of all the Soulfly songs that you do have in the back catalogue, which is the one song that the fans respond to the most?

Max: It's kind of hard to say but I feel they like the classics. "Prophecy", "Primitive", "Eye For An Eye", "Rise Of The Fallen". And they like the fast ones like "Blood, Fire War, Hate", "Frontlines", "Carved Inside", a lot of the thrash stuff especially out of "Dark Ages".

Andrew: Do you have a personal favorite that you love to play live?

Max: At the moment I really like "We Sold Our Souls To Metal" which is great and fun to play live and such a cool song. I've always liked "No Hope, No Fear", it's such a simple song but very powerful and I also like "Bloodshed" from "Savages" because it has an amazing groove on there, it's really killer live.

Andrew: Well "Savages" was your last album and that was released about 2 years ago so in that 2 years, how do you view that album now? Do you still love it as much as when it first came out?

Max: I do, I think it's a very cool record because it was a very groove record, [it had] a lot of very powerful groove. Some of the collaborations were really killer, Neil (Fallon) from Clutch is on "Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rolla" and Mitch (Harris) is on "K.C.S.". I still think it was the right record to make, we had Terry Date record who is a master, it's the best sounding Soulfly record out of all of them so yeah it was the right record to make. I just think "Archangel" needed to be different for whatever reason, because it's the 10th album, it just needed to be different from "Savages".

Andrew: It seems like with "Archangel" that you kind of went for a more heavier approach, it's very death metal and grindcore-ish.

Max: Yeah that's just from the stuff I listen to from my own taste. I listen to a lot of different, heavy bands. Everybody from Nails to Hour Of Penance to Bloodroot so I listen to a lot of heavy stuff in my spare time and they all bleed through the music

Andrew: I guess one of the questions that comes up in metal is how heavy can it really get these days? Can it get any heavier than the heaviest band out there?

Max: Yeah I think so, you only get heavier and it's a never ending process. We thought it could not get any heavier than Slayer and then Napalm Death came on and you think it couldn't get any heavier than Napalm Death, then you have Nails and you think it can't get any heavier than Nails. It changes from time to time where the concept of heavy changes, sometimes heavy is more simple and gutteral, sometimes it can be a little more sophisticated but it's all heavy in the end and I think that's why people love this music so much because they are hooked on the heaviness

Andrew: Yeah and the aggressiveness as well.

Max: Yeah of course.

Andrew: I think I asked you this last time we talked but it has been way too long since Soulfly has been too Australia. Is there any chance we get to see you guys on this tour at all?

Max: I very much hope so. We have an "Archangel" world tour being setup and we're going to make a stage that looks a bit like an orthodox church so it's going to look really cool and different and we're going to try to come to Australia next year with a big tour. And maybe King Parrot can open the tour for us, that would be awesome!

Andrew: Oh yeah definitely! What do you think of King Parrot? Do you like their stuff?

Max: Yeah very much, I'm a big fan. I like the first album and I even like the new one even more, "Dead Set" is amazing.

Andrew: What do you think of Youngy? He has a bit of a stage presence doesn't he?

Max: Yeah it's really in your face, he learned it from the best like Phil Anselmo and (Henry) Rollins. The kind of frontman that really challenges the crowd and I like that about him, he takes no prisoners when they play live. He makes everybody get involved in the show and that's really cool and I like that about them.

Andrew: Well hopefully we get to see you on this tour next year. The new album sounds fantastic and thanks for your time today.

Max: Right on man, thank you!

Soulfly will tour North America with Soilwork and Decapitated in October

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on July 27th 2015