With their highly anticipated return to Europe at the end of this month (January), Overdrive had the pleasure of catching up with Max to discuss his lifetime love affair with metal and what we can expect from the “Archangel” tour as well as the possibility of new material from Killer Be Killed and Cavalera Conspiracy.
OD – The new album ‘Archangel’ has been out now since August and in my opinion is a much more aggressive release than your previous albums in recent years. The opening track “We Sold Our Souls to Metal”, is a fitting track to open this album for sure and is definitely an anthem of sorts. What was the mindset for this album in terms of writing, as I know you were listening to a lot of Death Metal during the writing process?
MAX – Yea, the older I get I seem to be getting into more extreme stuff and I’m really happy with that. I took Soulfly on that more extreme sound, which I think is really great, because for me, I really love the underground and I’m a big metal fan. The heavier we get the more excited I get and with ‘Archangel’ being the tenth Soulfly album, I really wanted to do something out of the norm, so I went and looked for different things, so you have half of the record that is biblical, with a really heavy ‘old testament’ kind of vibe, with songs like “Sodomites’ and ‘Bethlehem’s Blood’, which are really powerful songs. I’ve been really influenced lately by bands like Behemoth and a little bit of Belphegor, I just love bands that touch that type of religious stuff, so I went really heavy with that theme on this record and I think that it came out really great.
Everybody played so well on this album and Zion (Cavelera, Max’s son) just nailed it on the drums and Mark (Rizzo) did awesome on the guitars. I think it’s a really great record and I’m so proud of it. In fact, we are actually going to be playing seven tracks from the new album on this European tour next month. The reaction we have had with touring this album in the U.S. has been fantastic, as we have already completed two tours already with Soilwork and Crowbar, so Europe is next and I can’t fucking wait for it man!
OD – Looking back on your past as a musician, I believe that this album more than any of your previous, has totally captured everything you have previously done, but is bridging a gap into something different, almost a different direction for you. The first time I listened to the title track “Archangel”, I was really taken by surprise, as there was a definite presence of something new which I had never heard before from Soulfly / Sepultura. Did you realise that when writing this album, that it was a step in a different direction, with the keyboards etc?
MAX – Working with our producer Matt Hyde was just awesome, as he did Slayer “God Hates Us All” and he is just so experienced with this type of extreme music. He mixed Behemoth “The Satanist”, which is an album that I really love, so I was really happy to work with Matt. I explained the theme of “Archangel” to Matt and that I really wanted those biblical sounds with a sort of apocalyptic approach to the theme of the album and he was totally on board with it all. We brought in the keyboards and in fact, he got me chanting on the “Sodomites” track using my melodic vocal chords, which I very rarely use. We also brought in gang vocals on some of the tracks, which added that hardcore element to things also and just opens up the album to many influences that all work together.
The entire recording process was just so much fun to do and working with Matt was awesome. Looking back on things now, he just really understood where I was coming from with “Archangel” and incorporating all the mystic elements that we brought in to the recordings, works so well. Normally, I tend to sing about reality with political subjects, like on “Chaos A.D.” and the tribal stuff with “Roots” and “Soulfly 1”, which has more tribal influences, but I never really went heavy on the biblical stuff and out of it all, I think that “Sodomites” might me one of my all time favourite songs that I have written / recorded. I just really love the way that song came out, especially the guest vocals from Todd (Jones, vocalist of Nails) everything just really came together for this album.
It’s good to know that I’m not trapped with a certain style and can explore different ideas and take on new challenges with things. As you probably know, I’ve done the political and tribal stuff and with this album it just made me realise that I have the freedom to make something really different and I think “Archangel”, is something really different for me, which is really cool and has managed to get me really excited about music and what I can create in the future. I was just hoping that the fans really liked the album, which they did. I don’t do this shit for awards, or “best album”. I don’t give a fuck about any of that shit! I do it for the fans and that’s it!
I think the more time passes, the Soulfly fans know that I’m down with them and I don’t care about what’s hip right now, or what is generally expected from the mainstream metal scene. I really don’t give a fuck about any of that, I just love true, pure metal. I have a huge interest in all the underground bands and you can see that with all the t-shirts that I wear, as I try to support them as much as possible and I have made friends with a hell of a lot of bands from the underground. I just love metal, it’s my life and always will be. It’s not a job for me it’s something that I totally live by, everyday of my life.
OD – There are not many people who can say that they are living their life’s passion and doing what they truly love doing.
MAX – Yes, totally man! Apart from being able to write and perform metal, I just love cracking my head with new things and trying new stuff. That’s why “Archangel” is such an important album to me personally. I was really trying to do something that I had never done before and it was quite scary at times, but the result is just crushing and from what I can see, the fans have totally taken it on board and the reaction has been so positive. That’s why we are planning to play seven tracks from the new album when we hit Europe. The new material just goes down so well live and it’s actually the first time that I have ever included so much new material from an album in the live set-list. “Archangel” is a really strong album and is so fucking powerful live.
OD – With the tour in full force early next month, will there be any surprises in the set-list apart from the new material that you have already spoken about?
MAX – The show is a mix of the Soulfly legacy, so there will be a few tracks from all the albums and a few Sepultura classics, because they are sacred right? (laughs) I have to do that for the fans, but we are gonna be opening with “We Sold Our Souls For Metal” and then ripping into “Archangel”, which will be like a fucking explosion of metal! (laughs)
OD – Seeing as you will be touring with King Parrot, will you be performing “Live Life Hard” on this tour?
MAX – We might do that, but I was just thinking today of maybe doing a Motörhead track in memory of Lemmy (Kilmister, founding member of Motörhead and recently deceased on December 28th 2015), as we have performed “Ace Of Spades” a few times in the U.S. with Crowbar and it would be really cool to do, like a jam of that with Matt (Young, vocalist for King Parrot) at the end of the show or something cool like that.
OD – Speaking of Lemmy, his recent passing has been a huge loss for the metal community and although it was common knowledge that his health was fragile, were you and Gloria (Cavalera, wife and manager of Soulfly) still shocked when you found out the news of his death?
MAX – Yea, it was really shocking for us. The last time I played with Lemmy, was back at the Black Sabbath show in London’s Hyde Park, with Faith No More, Motörhead and Soundgarden, back in July of 2014. He didn’t really look that great at that show and that was two years ago, so yes, I was shocked that he finally passed away, but I was also not really surprised, as I knew his health was not really great. Lemmy had a great life you know? He did what he wanted and played by his own rules, doing what made him happy. Everybody has a Lemmy story and I have a couple myself that I have mentioned before in the past. We had our fun and fucked around with each other on occasion which was always a great laugh and I’m so lucky to have those memories.
Lemmy was a real mentor to me and I look up to him as an example to follow and live by, you know his ‘fuck the trend setters, do your own thing’. That’s always going to be there for me and he is now remembered as a total legend. The day that he died, I just jammed Motörhead on my iPod all day, that all I listened to and it felt really great, it was like my personal honour to Lemmy and Motörhead. That really got me thinking to do something to pay respect to him on this tour and doing “Ace Of Spades” at the end of the show, seems really fitting and a good way to honour Lemmy and the music of Motörhead.
OD – We are experiencing the beginning of a very strange time in metal, with some of the pioneer artists either retiring or forced to continue due to health reasons etc, do you fear for the future of heavy music, or are you confident in the younger generation continuing the legacy?
MAX – We are going to do our part and keep carrying the banner of metal and will never let go of it man (laughs)! I think that there are some really interesting bands coming up from the underground right now. Of course a lot of the death metal stuff, like 1349 and Aeon and such bands. I really love the grindcore scene also, with bands like All Pigs Must Die, Pig Destroyer and Misery Index. Actually, we have planned to do a tour with Misery Index and Cattle Decapitation in the U.S. right after this European tour which is gonna be so cool.
I think a lot of really cool things are happening in the metal scene now, because there is more music than ever, coming from all over the world and with the internet it’s really great to discover these new bands. For example King Parrot from Australia, Psycroptic from Tasmania, Test from Brazil, who are an amazing grindcore band and in Italy you have Hour Of Pennance, who are just a brutal death metal band. So, if you look at it that way, it’s fucking amazing to think that these bands are slowly rising and hammering away in their local scenes, keeping things going.
There’s a lot of great metal right now and even with the classic older bands, they are still releasing fantastic records. I mean, just look at the new Iron Maiden album, “Book of Souls”, that’s a fucking great record man. It’s very true to the Iron Maiden form and Bruce’s (Dickinson, Iron Maiden vocalist) vocals sounds killer. I think it’s a combination of the old guys still doing it, by the way I’m thinking of myself as one of those old guys (laughs)! It’s the older classic bands, still releasing good, solid music with these younger quality bands that are ripping it up on the underground or local scenes. We have to carry on and keep it going, this is what I’m going to do until the day I drop dead. I was put on this earth to make metal music and I don’t want to do anything else.
OD – Killer Be Killed did just a handful of dates last year and we were all hoping for some European dates, what is happening there in terms of another album or possibly some touring dates in the near future?
MAX – Yea, Killer Be Killed is gonna get back together towards the end of this year and jam out some new ideas for sure. We only did those Soundwave shows in Australia which were fucking amazing and so much fun. All of us just had so much fun on that run of shows and I can’t wait to get back in there with Troy (Sanders, Mastodon), Greg (Puciato, The Dillinger Escape Plan) and the other guys. It was just killer doing those shows and when I look back at the videos of those shows I just think it was so cool that we managed to get to play those festival shows in Australia.
We played with Lamb of God and got a fucking amazing reaction, so I really want to do more stuff with Killer Be Killed for sure, as well as some other stuff like Cavalera Conspiracy.
OD – Can you give me any updates on things with Igor and Cavalera Conspiracy, will we be seeing a new release any time soon?
MAX – We are taking a break right now, because I really want to concentrate on “Archangel” and the Soulfly stuff. I wanted to do a huge tour for this album and that’s really gonna be taking up a lot of my time. We have already completed two tours in the U.S. and as I mentioned earlier, we are going to be starting a new one, after we get back from this European tour. We are hoping to make it back to Europe again and then on to South America, Asia, Russia and all those other territories.
After we finish the wholet touring cycle for “Archangel”, then I will start thinking about Killer Be Killed and Cavalera Conspiracy, with hope of a release for 2017.
OD – So there is a strong chance that we will be seeing some new material from Killer Be Killed and Cavalera Conspiracy in 2017?
MAX – I expect so for sure! I mean, with Killer Be Killed, we write really fast. That album was written in one month, no joke! When we get together, we just get things together really fast because there is a lot of spontaneity in the writing process. It’s what ever sounds really cool you know? We don’t over think things, we just fucking go for it! There is just so much talent in the line up between us all so it just sort of flows out of us if you know what I mean. So when we finally get together for the next record, it’s going to be a relatively fast process to put together.
OD – You should have a word with Metallica and give them the some secrets into the Killer Be Killed writing and recording process, as they are taking forever to come up with some new stuff.
MAX – Yea right, they really need to put out something good, it gonna take as long as it takes! (laughs)
OD – Does it feel good to play the original Sepultura stuff every now and again with Igor, seeing as you guys were the real founding members of the band?
MAX – Yea, especially with Igor (Cavelera, ex-Sepultura drummer and brother of Max), there is a special flavor that we have together and in reality it’s the closest that you’re going to get to the real thing! On the last tour that we did together, we did “We Are Not As Others” which was great and “Desperate Cry”. I wanted to do “Necromancer”, but it never came to be, but I really want to do it on the next Cavelera Conspiracy tour and not just that, but we both are talking about going right back to the “Bestial Devastation” E.P. (1985), which would be great. It feels really good to be playing those songs again with Igor, as that stuff is a really important part of my past and those early albums influenced so many people. Even though things are really different now and Soulfly is a whole new world for me, it’s still good to remember those records and those songs, not only myself, but also the people and fans that grew up with us.
OD – As a pioneer of some of the most ground-breaking music of the 90’s within the metal world, do you ever find yourself looking back on everything that has happened to you since you started out on Brazil to where you are now? There has been some difficult times in your life, but how do you feel about things today and where you are with your music and your life in general?
MAX – Its’ been a roller-coaster for sure, but during the journey I found out what I like and what I don’t like. What I didn’t like was that level of ‘super-fame’, that we had in Brazil around the time we released ‘Roots’ (1996). That was just such a fucking strange time for me personally. I mean, I couldn’t go anywhere, without getting swarmed on by people. It was kind of like Beatlemania in a way and I fucking hated it. To be in Soulfly and playing smaller shows suites me so much more, I really hate that fucking over-the-top fame bullshit! Right now is such a great situation for me and it’s exactly where I want to be. I don’t have those dreams of playing the biggest venues, or winning Grammys, all I want is to just play my metal in a small, sweaty club together with the fans and the people who really care for the music and the metal scene and that’s where I am now.
I started out in Brazil with just some crazy dreams of making it to some of the clubs in our local area and then as each thing happened and we got bigger and bigger, there were so many things that happened along the way, including tragedy and death, but you know I wouldn’t change much as it’s been great! Even the split from Sepultura was something that gave birth to Soulfly, which is something that is very special to me.
The whole experience has been one hell of a roller-coaster, but I have learned a lot from it and where I am now, is exactly where I want to be. I’m so happy with just being involved with the metal bands that I love and I have my kids playing with me and for me that’s success for me. That’s the definition of success for me, just to be able to do what you love and share with others.
OD – What has been your album of 2015, that had you reaching for the replay button over and over?
MAX – I think my favourite album from last year was Black Breath “Slaves Beyond Death”, that is a fucking amazing album, from start to finish. I also really liked Cattle Decapitation “The Anthropocene Extinction”, that was also a great record and a great band. I’m so happy that we are touring with those guys. Hopefully we can bring them back to Europe the next time we get back over there.
In the mean time, I’m getting really excited to get over there and get that show happening in Ireland, I love that country and the crowds always give 100%. Also, I’m digging the U.F.C stuff with Conor McGregor, my son is really into him and thinks he’s fucking cool. I can’t believe that last fight, 13 seconds! That’s fucking crazy man! Anyway, we are gonna have a good time over there as we always do. See you in the pit!
Soulfly play Dublin’s Academy, Green Room on February 2nd with support from King Parrot, Incite and Lody Kong. Tickets are on sale now from Sound Cellar and all Ticketmaster.ie outlets as well as online.
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Check out the new lyric video for “Titans”, taken from the “Archangel” album below.
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Words / Transcription – Oran O’Beirne
Photography – Stock © Max Cavalera / Soulfly 2016
Editorial © OVERDRIVE2016