It is always cool when you get to interview someone who is every bit as excited as you are about Heavy Metal. I had the chance to sit down with SOULFLY’S Max Cavalera recently, and as usual his enthusiasm was contagious. We talked about the new album Ritual, which I think is their best yet, as well as some other stuff outside of music. Join us, won’t you?
Amps: Max, let me just say this…Ritual is FUCKING AMAZING and it is my favorite SOULFLY album!!
Max: Right on, man! I appreciate that! It means a lot to me.
Amps: I knew it was gonna be good, just not THIS good!
Max: We had a lot of fun with this one but we also worked real hard on it. I was really pumped to be commemorating 20 years of SOULFLY, so that was extra motivation. Plus I was in a really good place after the last CAVALERA CONSPIRACY record, Psychosis. We were on the road and I kept writing. And I think working with (producer) Josh Wilbur kind of brought some of the old elements back, more kind of tribal groove elements, especially on “Bite the Bullet.” But the record has a lot of fast stuff, thrash stuff, death metal, it’s all in the bag, you know?
Amps: Are you peeking at my questions? Because I was just gonna ask about that song and working with Josh Wilbur!!
Max: (Laughs) no, I’m not. I just wanted to let you know how I felt right out of the gate. I’m really excited about this record, and it was really cool to make.
Amps: Josh has a great ear. I think he really got the best out of the band this time around. “Bite the Bullet” is without a doubt my favorite track, by the way. “Ritual” is a phenomenal opener, too!
Max: Right on, man! “Bite the Bullet” was fun. Josh was fighting for another groove song, and I kind of struggled with it a little bit. I wasn’t happy with the riffs I was coming up with at first. But once I found that special one, and Marc (Rizzo, lead guitar) put all that tapping on top of it at the beginning, I loved it. This is one of my favorite records for Rizzo’s playing. The stuff he did on this one is super-cool and awesome. Her’s such a great guitar player!
Amps: Tell me about the last track “Soulfly XI.” So different, but a really cool way to end the record.
Max: We almost left that out, man. It was one of those decisions where I talked to Josh about it. I wanted to leave it out because I wanted the record to just be heavy, but he talked me into it. He said that it would be a cool calming effect after all the other raging songs. You go tribal, heavy, fast, then you end things on this nice vibe. He sold me on that, so it was cool. The opening riff is something I’ve had for 20 years or so. And then the saxophone is played by the guy from THE PRETTY RECKLESS, who’s a friend of Josh’s. it’s jazzy and trippy and a cool way to end the record. Ending albums is really not my forté, I just want to keep going, but it wound up being really cool.
Amps: Your track on this new METAL ALLEGIANCE album, “Voodoo of the Godsend” is killer, by the way.
Max: I was really thrilled to do it. Dave Ellefson called me, we’ve been friends for years, and I think they really tapped into what I like. When I first heard the track I knew it was right up my alley and I said, “I’m gonna have fun with this one!” It’s very tribal. I got inspiration from the movie The Serpent and the Rainbow, too. I did some chants, which is something I’ve been exploring with my voice.
Amps: This is album number three with your son Zyon, and now you’re going on tour with your stepson Richie (Cavalera) and his band INCITE. KATAKLYSM, too. That’s gonna be one helluva show.
Max: Yeah, man. I love KATAKLYSM, and that will be a really cool tour. Richie’s new album (Built to Destroy, January 25 on Minus HEAD Records) with INCITE is amazing, and Zyon has been drumming his ass off, you know? He’s on top of his game on the drums, especially on Ritual. He’s really grown as a drummer. We try to keep the family involved as much as possible.
Amps: Mike Leon on bass…I’m a big fan of his since HAVOK. The work he’s doing in your band is outstanding.
Max: Incredible player, and he’s such a great guy. He’s very connected. He knows a lot of bands that I like, so that’s cool, right? We like the same kind of stuff, and he keeps the thrash alive in SOULFLY. Plus, he goes nuts, he goes off onstage!
Amps: What are you listening to right now?
Max: Oh shit, the new OUTER HEAVEN is insane. It’s fucking incredible. The new KRISIUN I’ve been playing nonstop, and the new PIG DESTROYER is really good as well. I also like SKELETAL REMAINS and the latest NECROT album, Blood Offerings. And of course I’m always listening to NAILS. Their stuff never gets old.
Amps: What are you doing to relax and unwind away from music?
Max: I watch a lot of movies, and I’m a big football fan, as many people know. Detroit Lions all the way! They’re doing alright. They’ve lost some stupid games, but also won some big ones, like beating the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers, which was fucking great! I love to watch football with my grandkids, they’re all fanatics. I like hiking here in Arizona where we live. We’ll go climb a mountain and look at the whole city down below.
Amps: You didn’t just beat the Patriots, you slapped them around the stadium!
Max: Yeah, that was a good one. But we lost some stupid games, like to Dallas, and the Jets. I’ve been pretty impressed with the 49ers this year. I don’t think the Packers are gonna have a good year. Their defense sucks, even though they have a good offense. Still Aaron Rodgers is banged up, and it shows. By the way I was very happy for your Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl. That was great, and they deserved it. It was so cool to see a city that never won it before celebrate like that.
Amps: Max, I fell to my knees and cried when it was all over.
Max: I’m sure, man. That was a really big deal!
Amps: One football fan to another, do you agree that this “roughing the passer” bullshit has gotten waaaaay out of hand?
Max: Oh, it’s ridiculous! Let them play. Fuck, man. It’s a tough game and you’re supposed to get roughed up. You can’t even touch these quarterbacks anymore. Play the game!
Amps: What would you like to say to all the fans of SOULFLY, CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, KILLER BE KILLED, and any of your other projects out there in the world?
Max: It’s kind of cool, this time in metal right now. I think we have to appreciate what we have and shouldn’t take it for granted. I want to thank everyone out there for all the support so I can keep doing what I love. I live and breathe metal as everyone knows, and I want to thank all the fans for keeping the faith in me all these years. This Ritual album is really from the heart, by a fan, for the fans. Again, thank you for your support.
It is always such a blast to speak with Max Cavalera. Honestly I could have chatted music, movies, football, and other stuff all day long, he’s just so engaging. If you haven’t already picked up Ritual then go forth and do so. And when the U.S. tour rolls around in early 2019, I advise you to be there. I’m going to the Reading show February 9 at Reverb in Reading, PA. If you’re there come say hey! You can find the rest of the dates HERE.