Posted on by Oran

By far, one of the most iconic names in the world of metal, Max Cavalera has been there and done it and is continuing to do it over and over again with each album, project he’s involved in. We talk about his involvement with the new Killer Be Killed sophomore album ‘Reluctant Hero’, his trip down memory lane with ‘Max Trax’ and of course, the new Soulfly album.

Chilling in his Pheonix, Arizona compound, Max Cavalera is in one hell of a chipper mood.

Considering the impact of the global pandemic, one of his [many] side projects, Killer Be Killed has just released their highly-anticipated, critically-acclaimed sophomore album ‘Reluctant Hero‘ amidst, what we can see as a joyful creative period in his career.

From his landmark career in Sepultura to the rise of Soulfly, his side projects, Nailbomb, Cavalera Conspiracy and now Killer Be Killed, it’s hard not to admire the career that Max has earned for himself over the last 34 years in the business.

As much as we would like to talk all day about his journeys around the world performing ear-bleeding Grindcore, Nu-Metal, Thrash, Death and Extreme Metal, there is a new Killer Be Killed album that needs to be addressed…

OD – The album [is without a doubt] a huge jump in sound and songwriting. You’ve stated that it felt more like a ‘band’ than just four guys jamming in a room this time around.

Did you feel more of a connection the concept of Killer Be Killed now and can you see it changing with each album as there are so many very different strong influences from each band member?

MAX – For sure. Even though it was a slow process it’s still just a solid follow-up to the debut. We would do up to 3/4-day sessions with the guys, and then we wouldn’t see each other for like, eight months. But during those eight months, I was working on collecting riffs for the next time that we could all be in a room together.

I’ve never done an album like this…at this pace. You know, taking up to six years to complete. We decided to do it all organically together, face-to-face rather than file sharing etc from remote locations like most bands do. but we really wanted to keep it very organic.

It’s like the conversation that I had with Troy [Sanders, Mastodon] and Greg [Puciato, ex-Dillinger Escape Plan] about our heroes. Going right back to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin those records were all created by people in the room together rather than going down the computer route. It was really important for us to connect in an old school way for this album.

The record definitely has a very organic sound from the get-go and the final result really shows that it’s a group effort. It’s a real band putting out a record, rather than just “Supergroup” as the media have been calling it. This was from the heart and we wanted it to sound as natural as possible. We did everything this way for this soul purpose and I really think it worked. Those jams sessions were incredible.

OD – I know that all of you worked on this album unlike the debut which was pretty much yourself and Greg and then Troy came in with some ideas. I get the impression that those desert sessions were really great fun with ideas bouncing off everybody especially now that it was a tight unit and having Ben [Koller, Mutoid Man/Converge] behind the kit. Would that be correct?

MAX – Yes, Ben [pictured below] was an incredible find for us. It was really what was missing at the start. When he stepped in for those Australian shows [2015] I just knew that this was the right fit. I had seen him [Ben] perform with Converge and he’s such an amazing drummer.

He brings a full-on, thrashy element for the fast stuff and then just sits on the pocket for the more progressive stuff like ‘From a Crowded Wound‘, where he’s playing kind of like Mike Bordin [Faith No More] circa ‘Angel Dust‘ era; and it just works so well. Laid back but doing all these kind of subtle interesting things that are just ear candy to me.

We actually wrote a song together [‘Animus‘] that scratches the itch for my love of Grindcore, I made the challenge to Ben to just write it really quick and not think to much about it and it fits the record perfectly. You can have some songs that are up to 7-minutes long and then you have ‘Animus‘ which is just over a minute. It just makes the album that much more different and interesting.

OD – Speaking of these desert sessions, at your home You seem to have quite a creative utopia there. Did you find that you are more productive there than anywhere else, especially now that you’ve been grounded there since back in March?

MAX – It’s all about cutting dreads and jamming riffs! [Laughing] This place is very productive for me.

OD – I’ve been keeping an eye on your ‘Max Trax’ over the last while and it really looks like you’re enjoying yourself. Having the time to go back to some of the rare, old classics stuff you wrote many years ago, does that open up any new ideas for you when writing new stuff?

MAX – It was Gloria’s idea [Max’s wife and manager]. She came up with the whole concept and I just loved it! I told her that I wanted to make it as ‘Punk Rock’ as possible. Those songs were not written in big fancy houses, they were written in shit-holes, kitchens, living rooms, back-stage dressing rooms etc.

So, I’m trying to pass the same feeling when I do live streams. What you’re seeing is me going right back to being an excited teenager, just loving what I’m doing and trying to write the most brutal riffs I can. Going back to ‘Morbid Visions‘ [1986] and ‘Schizophrenia‘ [1987] right the way through to ‘Jump Da Fuck Up‘ [2010].

There is a very diverse catalogue to choose from besides going in and directing each track and telling some really old stories from back in the day. It’s been a lot of fun! It’s becoming almost like a real job. We don’t get paid for it and just knowing that the fans are really enjoying it, that’s enough payment for me. I’m just really enjoying doing it.

OD – Now that you’ve been doing the Max Trax stream for a few months, would you say that the side-effects of going deep into the back catalogue has raked up a more old-school approach to the riffs you’re writing for new material?

MAX – Yeah, it’s a very positive thing that’s happening. I would have not realised that some of those songs would have such an impact on the new material that I’m currently writing. It could be the most simplistic arrangements/riffs that just work with some new ideas and sound so brutal.

There was a huge amount of feelings on those songs and it also made me look at those old albums in a very different like. Such as ‘Schizophrenia’, which is just not talked about when referencing Sepultura’s back catalogue and it’s a fucking killer album.

When I was looking back at ‘Escape the Void‘ [see above], I was really taken aback at how good a song it is. So, little things like that have been happening every other day and it’s been so much fun and really interesting to be able to look at stuff I had written at certain points in my life with fresh eyes and ears.

It takes me right back to the truest forms of my love for Metal. I try not to grow up and really enjoy the power of music and how it makes me feel. I’ve had so much fun doing this and it’s like that saying: “Like Riding a Bicycle” once I’m listening to the piece of music, all the memories come flooding back.

That old-school stuff is very powerful, like ‘Beneath the Remains‘, which I think is one of the most raw-sounding albums Sepultura had ever released. We recorded that from 7 pm at night, right through to 7 am the next morning. I was joking the other day, saying; “I’m gonna record an album all night! A nocturnal album!

OD – Kind of like the new Mr Bungle album [‘The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny‘], that is a re-work of their original demo but sounds so old-school…

MAX – Yes, I totally agree with you, that album is awesome. Also, I was listening to the new Possessed album ‘Revelations of Oblivion‘ [2017] and I was thinking to myself; “How did they do that? It sounds so old-school!” It’s a great comeback album. It’s unheard of in this day and age that a band can come back with such a strong, old-school album.

OD – With regards to Soulfly, are you currently in writing mode for the follow-up to ‘Ritual‘ [2018]?

MAX – Yeah, I’m currently writing loads of stuff with Zyon [Cavalera, Drummer, Max’s son] three times a week. On the way to the jam space, we are playing a lot of stuff that he [Zyon] has never heard before. Like, the other day we were driving along and I was playing C.O.C Technocracy‘ which is their hardcore stuff which they don’t play anymore. I was telling Zyon to pay attention and check out the old-school stuff. [Laughing]

Pic – Exposing Shadows Photography, exclusively for www.overdrive.ie © 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Having him in a band with me is such a cool situation as we get to jam so many different ideas and he will bring some new stuff to the table that I’ve not heard before. One of the things that is really cool is the way Zyon plays is very free. Not so much technical but more ‘free-spirited‘ if you know what I mean. Kind of like old Entombed. He’s a little out of control as it’s like an animal slightly crazy and raw.

Today, everybody is obsessed with making the most perfect sounding album and I don’t like that at all. I like mistakes and things to be kind of crazy. If you listen to those early Kreator records, the drumming and the riffs are all over the place. It’s like they weren’t playing together but it sounds so fucking killer. I want to go back to that old-natural live sound for the next Soulfly album.

OD – So, the new Soulfly stuff is sounding very, brutal, raw and old-school?

MAX – I’m not worried too much about the technical side of things and want to capture the rawness of sound, kind of like Hellhammer. I want that insanity and brutal beauty for this album. Going from Killer Be Killed to Soulfly is going to be a big jump in sound and songwriting, as they are two very different entities. Put it this way, I’ve never had so much time to work on a new Soulfly album so this new one is going to be very interesting…

OD – If you were to project a release date for a new Soulfly album when you say that would be?

MAX – Well, right now I can’t really say. I’m not really in a big hurry to put out the next Soulfly. I just want to write the best material I can for it. I’ll know when the time is right. I would say that I will be in the studio with Soulfly next year but whether that means a new album will follow in the same year? I just can’t tell at this stage.

OD – Was there any suggestions about delaying the new Killer Be Killed album due to the Pandemic?

MAX– We made the decision to get this album out and I’m so glad that we did and I’m so glad that Nuclear Blast was on board for that to happen also as lots of bands have postponed the release of new material.

OD – There was ‘fuck-all’ touring for the first album apart from those shows in Australia. When the Pandemic restrictions have been lifted and live music can resume to its natural progress, won’t it be too late for Killer Be Killed to tour this album as I’m sure everybody and their dog wants to get back on the road and tour when this is over?

MAX – I hope we can do a proper tour. Especially for this album. We have enough material to perform for an hour-and-a-half with a few covers thrown in. We could do a headline tour for sure. I would really love to get Killer Be Killed on some festival dates also, that would be so awesome.

OD – Would you consider doing a live stream?

MAX – Perhaps, we’ve not had that conversation. I think Lamb of God and a few others did a live stream but that will be something that we need to talk about. It would be kind of like making a video and we’ve already made two of those which turned out very cool.

OD – When you look back on your life and all of your achievements come to mind, is there anything that stands out for you that you still to this day, can’t believe happened?

MAX – Hmm, well I try not to spend a lot of time regretting stuff, or getting hung up on things that happened in the past. I’m kind of a present/future kind of guy and am always looking for a perfect “Metal Masterpiece“, which I don’t feel I’ve accomplished yet but I have to keep trying.

I don’t care about my age, I feel that the older I get, the more wisdom I have and I want to use that to the best of my ability to be as creative as I possibly can. I’m very proud of the things I’ve already accomplished like, the controversy over ‘Roots‘ [1996] and the impact that Morbid Visions [1986]made with some of those old-school Black Metal guys. They love that album. It’s crazy for me to think that I made an album that the guys from Mayhem and Darkthrone guys really enjoy, even though it was recorded out of tune. [Laughing].

I’m a pretty positive person when it comes to creation and all I can say is, there’s plenty more to come brother…

Killer Be Killed, ‘Reluctant Hero’ is out now on all popular streaming platforms, online records stores and local dealers. Check out our review of the album here.

Oran O’Beirne

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