THE EUROPEAN METALZINE
Interview with Soulfly - Max Cavalera
Interview by Matthew Haumschild
Photo: courtesy of Steve Dempsey /Down the Barrel Photography
I’ve been waiting to speak with this man since I was 15 years old, twenty years later I finally get my wish. I am very familiar with the story of Max Cavalera and even more so since I read his autobiography, which by the way is available electronically for download. In the interview, you will not see me ask about a Sepultura reunion, I’ve been around long enough to know that if it happens it happens and that’s great if it does, but that’s something they have to decide on and as a journalist and a fan of both groups, it’s my obligation not to start crap or to beat a dead horse for the sake a few more clicks. Both bands have moved on and created music that people rather enjoy and I’ll leave it at that. Max is a personal hero of mine that through music, through other interviews, and his autobiography has guided me down a path that has led me to where I am today. I cannot express enough of my utter gratitude for the opportunity. How often do people get to speak to one of their heroes? Check my review of the new Soulfly album here.
I like location videos
Matthew Haumschild: By the way, cool video for Archangel.
Max Cavalera: Yeah it's a simple idea of us playing live but it just had something about it that's really cool. Just the energy of it and the interaction with the crowd I think it was really cool.
Matthew Haumschild: That is really cool. I saw how it looked as you guys were performing and everything so yeah. It looked very, very good. How many takes did you have to do to get that one down?
Max Cavalera: We did two takes. We did it in two takes. One take was the regular one and then the other one was with the 360 camera because the video is 360 you know. So to get it right we did it twice. And then he got some shots during the concert that he added to the video and them some stuff afterwards that he did just with the fans.
Matthew Haumschild: You've done an awful lot of videos in your career. Just tons of them. At least since “Beneath the Remains”. You probably have a lot of stories to tell for just making videos. I know you had one for shooting Arise in the middle of the desert right where Charles Manson had once stomped on. You know that sort of thing. Do you ever have other fun memories from making videos then?
My favorite videos ... I like location videos ... The Prophecy video in Monument Valley was awesome. The Territory video in Israel, the two Soulfly videos we did in the Serbia carving side of front lines. I like those kind of videos, that you go to a place but you can't ... It's not all the time that you can do that. Sometimes you got to, you know, whatever you can. This time around we only had the budget that we could just do the 360 video on a live situation so we just did that. It depends where you are at that time what can you do. If I have to choose a favorite one, I would say the location videos are my favorite.
Matthew Haumschild: That's really cool. I did read your autobiography, which I absolutely loved. I got done with it within at least a week because I just couldn't put it down. I just had a few other questions regarding that if you don't mind?
Max Cavalera: No problem
Matthew Haumschild: There was a story about the song, "To the Wall" (a song from Sepultura’s Schizophrenia album circa 1987) where, this was back in the '80s, probably even early '80s in Brazil, where there was a military dictatorship, do you think since that time things have done a lot better in Brazil since that time period?
Max Cavalera: It doesn't change much. The police are still real corrupt. I mean it is better than when it was dictatorship. We don't have military power anymore so that's ... we have democracy and free elections. We actually have a woman president right now for the first time which was inspired by American things like having Obama being the black president and that kind of reflected on Brazil and they decided to have a woman president. So I think things are a little better than they were when we lived there.
Matthew Haumschild: Not as bad then?
Max Cavalera: It's better. It's getting better. I think every time I go there it gets a little better. It's definitely more advanced. Technology is catching up with more modern and it's really a beautiful country. It's really beautiful in terms of landscape and things like that. Just like America. America is also really beautiful in landscape and all that stuff you know.
Matthew Haumschild: . Do you think it is just as hard for a band to make it out of Brazil now as it was back when you were first starting out, given the state of music?
Max Cavalera: I think it's easier now with internet. It's easier everywhere around the world for bands to get more ... you get exposure to internet and people can take notice of you I think. Back then was just all word of mouth and a lot of hard work. A lot of touring and trying to get the name out. Today you have different tools, like internet and things like that to help more. At the same token, you have a lot of bands, so it becomes very difficult because you got more competition you know? I think if you ask me straight up if its easier or harder, I'd say easier nowadays to get more popular. I'm assuming more bands will come out. Not just from Brazil but from different parts of the world.
Matthew Haumschild: That's cool. You've been a successful musician for an awfully long time now. You've been at the forefront of metal since the '80s. Of all the decades that you've been in the business, when do you think was the golden age of metal?
Max Cavalera: You can argue, say that was the late '80s, beginning of the '90s, the thrash era. I think that was really exciting at the least. It was different, it was new, it was exciting with stuff like Slayer, Metallica and Sepultura and Pantera and all these bands coming out and doing the thrash metal thing. More aggressive, faster, kind of political a little bit. Changing the guard you know. Heavy metal went through a change and I think that was very exciting.
Matthew Haumschild: I always kind of thought it was probably right around when Soulfly started right when it started to get much better; personal opinion.
Max Cavalera: I think it's always been here. That's what's cool about metal. It never goes away. It never stops. It's always growing and always developing and always evolving and it's always going to be something new and different. I'm really excited for the underground metal right now. Stuff like Genocide, Bat, Homewrecker and Nails, Young and In The Way. There's a lot of great new bands coming out that makes me very excited for the future of metal.
Matthew Haumschld: Talking about the new album, Archangel, what made you decide to go biblical for this album?
Max Cavalera: Just try something different you know. I needed some ideas to put the album ... It's always good if you have a kind of theme around the album. That kind of helps for you to make the record so I center on Archangel and have all the biblical, a lot of heavy, hard-core stories from the bible mixed with metal. I thought it was kind of a cool mix, a different mix that works. I really think it works. I think the album ... I'm very happy about the record, the way it came out and very excited for the touring and everything that Archangel is going to bring.
Matthew Haumschild: What was your inspiration for “We Sold Our Souls to Metal?”
Max Cavalera: We always wanted to try to write some kind of metal anthem about my love of metal. I always loved metal. I just never found the right time and the right idea to do it. This time came. I had this riff that sounded really kind of like Cannibal Corpse and Discharge together and it was sounded really cool. Then I just kind of borrowed the name from Black Sabbath, "We Sold Our Soul to Rock and Roll", switched to metal and made my own. I was hoping it would become some kind of metal anthem for metal-heads around world because it's a universal feeling on that song about how we feel about the music we love.
Matthew Haumschild: Have you ever thought about producing?
Max Cavalera: I did produce a little bit but it's not really my forte. I don't know, it's more about ... producing my own stuff. I did some Soulfly stuff. I produce myself and came out really cool and I had a kind of a good time. I produced a band from Argentina called A.N.I.M.A.L. back in the '90s. You know it's different to work with somebody else. It becomes kind of hard. It's not your band, it's somebody else's music and you don't know how much opinion you want to give. I kind of preferred just to do my own thing and just leave the production to the real pro guys you know.
Matthew Haumschild: Like Matt Hyde right?
Max Cavalera: Guys like that, yeah. Matt Hyde is great, great. Terry Date too that did the last record, Savages.
Matthew Haumschild: What made you decide to go with Matt Hyde this time?
Max Cavalera: My son worked with him. Richie. He's in a band called Incite. Matt did an album for him called "Up in Hell". It came out really good. I was surprised how killer the record came out. So I asked Richie, "How was it to work with Matt? You guys have a good time? Did he push you?" Richie said, "Yeah. I think you should work with him. I think he'll make you a very good Soulfly album." So we just gave it a try. We just told the label we want to work with Matt and they knew he did Slayer "God Hates Us All" and he had mixed the Behemoth symphonies. He's done some other Monster Magnet and 311 and No Doubt. He's done a lot of stuff so it was really killer working with him. He's just really professional, really knows his stuff. He got really excited about the biblical stuff on the album. Got really excited about the whole idea behind Archangel so it was like the perfect guy. We had a really good team on this album. Between him producing and the album cover that Eliran (Kantor) did too. I think ... I love the album cover. I think it's one of my best album covers I ever had. It was a really good team for Archangel. I don't know I might even try to maybe repeat the team some other time when I do another record. Have the same people involved on another record. Be really cool just to do it again.
Matthew Haumschild: I only really have one other question for you. in the autobiography, you mentioned that when you and Iggor were kids, more like young adults really, you guys had worked in a shoe factory and that half the staff were sniffing glue to get high. Does that shoe factory still exist?
Max Cavalera: No. It was my aunt's and she closed down.
Matthew Haumschild: Okay. I was kind of wondering if that thing was still open. Like, "Hey why not have a Cavalera shoe factory going?”
Max Cavalera: Yeah no, no, no. It closed down. It was a aunt's business. I hated that place. It was horrible. It was fun getting high and sniffing glue but the actual work was really hard work and I didn't like that at all. I'm so glad I was done with that place.
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