Cavalera Conspiracy: Metal to the (grind)core
When it comes to underground metal, no one makes for a better spokesman than Max Cavalera. Formerly of Sepultura, Cavalera fronts Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy, a band he formed with his brother Igor, also a Sepultura alum. Cavalera Conspiracy released the studio album Pandemonium late last year from Napalm Records. Blabbermouth boasts, “It’s a heavy album that features fierce, guttural vocals and blistering guitar riffs.” Max Cavalera recently phoned us from his Phoenix home. Since temperatures there were already in the 90s, he is ready to escape. “I like to be on tour for most of the summer,” he says. “We gotta get out of here, go on the road and come back when the hell is a little less hellish.”
You and your brother had a bitter breakup. What was the key to getting the two of you to reconcile?
Well, the ten-year silence was really almost like a necessary evil. It might sound weird saying it like that. It might be the best thing that happened to us. It made us appreciate our brotherhood and the friendship we had. Even in music, we now understand that we want to really enjoy the music and have fun with it and not let the politics of music ruin it. It’s fun to be in Cavalera Conspiracy I’m having fun with Igor. We’re doing what we love and playing what we like. I’m proud of the record. I’m excited to be on tour with COC and Death Angel. It’s an awesome package . . . like the old days. I think it’s going to draw a big, great crowd. We get to play stuff from our whole life. We’ll play Cavalera Conspiracy stuff but we’ll also play classic Sepultura stuff that people love to hear.
When you first formed Cavalera Conspiracy in 2008, what were your expectations for the group? Were you trying to depart from your other bands?
Pretty much metal. The idea behind Cavalera is the brothers playing metal. We don’t let that come into the Conspiracy world. We don’t welcome other types of music. Soulfly embraces other types of music and throws other things in the pot. Cavalera does not. It’s metal only. It’s metal and grindcore. I love that. I think we focus on the Arise phase of Sepultura. That’s the era we try to recreate with Cavalera. It was the fastest era and most aggressive. We want to revamp that era. It’s been fun. I think [our debut album] Inflikted was an exciting record that we made. The musicians were great. Joe Duplantier from Gojira was a great guy to have. Mark Rizzo did a great job. Igor is a tremendous drummer. He’s a beast on the drums. It’s fun for be part of such a cool group of musicians. Pandemonium is the heaviest album we’ve ever done. I’m excited to play songs from it. It’ll be a big show.
Sepultura and Soulfly were known for incorporating Brazilian rhythms. What made you move away from that?
You can’t just keep doing it. It’s becomes a little bit been “done before” thing. When I formed Cavalera, I wanted to get back to the fun of it. It’s the brothers playing metal. It’s pure enjoyment. It can be as simple as hell—like the first song on the new record. That’s one of the most simple songs I’ve ever written but it’s one of my favorite songs. I get such a joy of playing that song. I love the tribal stuff. Roots was a great record for Sepultura. I might do something like that again someday. For Cavalera, it was better to get back to basics.
I think of Sepultura as a band that really had your fingerprints on it. What’s it been like to see it go on without you?
I don’t really concern myself much with it. I have my life and my projects. I’m pretty busy most of the time. I’m finishing the tenth Soulfly record right now. [My other band] Killer Be Killed just played Australia. It was insane. I don’t have time to worry about Sepultura. They continue and I continue. It’s life. What can we do? Most people know that me and Igor formed the band and it was our thing. There’s no original members in Sepultura. Whatever. I’m happy with what I’m doing. I got my projects that I’m excited and moving forward.
Pandemonium is an extremely heavy album. Talk about your approach as you went into the studio.
I was listening to a lot of grindcore at the time. I was listing to Nasum and Rotten Sound and All Pigs Must Die. That was what I listened to all day long. I just listened to bands like Brutal Truth all day long. I was in a grindcore state of mind. Eventually, it’s not. The songs are a little longer. There’s definitely a spirit of grindcore. My vocals are really brutal and really low. Igor is playing great. He’s playing fast the whole record. I love that. It’s going to be great playing it live. It’s great for the mosh pit and for people who want to get wild.
Most people get mellower as they age. Not you.
I’m an extreme person. I never liked beer. I liked vodka. I don’t like weed. I like cocaine. It’s always the hardest, most extreme thing with me. I just like the extreme thing. I get crazier and heavier as I get older. I love the fact that as I grow old I get in touch with the new bands and I wear their shirts. It’s great to be connected to the underground metal world like that. A lot of musicians lose that contact. They don’t know anything about metal. I never want to be like that. For me, it’s important to be in contact and know about those bands. I search for new bands all the time. I support them and maybe work with them. I was invited to sing on the last Melechesh album and the last Acacia Strain album. It was fun doing that. I’m proud to be a metal head. I have never grown up from that.
Is there a good metal scene?
There’s a lot of the new bands. They blow me away with how good they are. It’s crazy. It keeps me on my toes. I got to step up on my part and do my part because those fuckin’ bastards are coming up. Those motherfuckers are young too. You listen to Italian death metal like Hour of Penance and Murder Made God. They’re awesome bands. There’s a whole new level of brutality. Even bands like Behemoth who have been doing it for a long time. I respect them. They’re still doing good stuff. They’re one of my favorite bands. Their albums are fantastic, especially the last one, The Satanist. It’s cool to see bands like that. Metal is in a good place today.
Have you started thinking about new songs yet?
No, but we talked to Igor about who we want to produce. We want to go back to a producer again. I produced Pandemonium myself. It was fun but I want to have Kurt [Ballou] from Converge produce the next Cavalera record. He does great production. All his albums sound sick. The Code Orange Kids record sounds fantastic. If he put his hands on a Cavalera album, it could be exciting. I talked to Igor and he liked the idea. Right now, I’m working with Matt Hyde. He mixed the last Behemoth album. He did [Slayer’s] God Hates Us All. He did No Doubt and Porno for Pyros. He’s a famous guy. He’s experienced different types of music. He’s the perfect guy for this next Soulfly record. He understands where we’re coming from. He understands the artistic side of me. I think it will surprise people. I did some chanting with my vocals. I’ve never done that before. It’s crazy, almost morbid chants. They go great with the songs. After 30 years of recording and you discover that you can do something like that, it’s mind-blowing to me. I had that with me the whole time and could have been doing it 20 years ago but I’m glad it’s coming out now.