Steven Rosen of Ultimate-Guitar.com recently conducted an interview with Max Cavalera (SOULFLY, CAVALERA CONSPIRACY). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: You talk about finding SEPULTURA’s identity, which really started to happen on the “Arise” album and then continued through “Chaos A.D.” and “Roots”, your last album with the band. By the time you get to “Roots” you’re experimenting with different kinds of rhythms and percussion instruments and really stretching the boundaries.
Max: It started on “Chaos A.D.” and that was the first album that we had some Brazilian rhythms playing on songs like the opening of “Refuse/Resist”. It had Igor doing this little drum thing that sounded really Brazilian that was really typical of samba and that type stuff. He was fuckin’ around with it and it sounded really cool and then we did the song “Kaiowas”, which was about a tribe that committed mass suicide and that started my interest in the Brazilian tribes issue. To the point where when it came to do “Roots”, I had the idea to actually go into a tribe and record it with them them. It was a huge project at that time and I remember going, “How are you going to do it? It’s going to be expensive and really time-consuming” and it was really rough to pull it off but we did. We found the right people; I phoned the lady who took care of indigenous tribes in Brazil and she picked this certain tribe for us, which was the best one, she thought, out of all the tribes she knew they’d be the best ones to deal with this kind of situation with recording. We went out with a generator and a recording machine and took it into the jungle and we were there for three days and it was an amazing experience.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: When you look back on “Roots” as being your final statement with SEPULTURA, how does it hold up for you?
Max: I’m very proud of it. In fact so much cool influence came out from that record, that the first SOULFLY album [“Soulfly”] was very under the influence of “Roots” and that’s why I think it came out so good. It turned out to have such cool sounds on it that were still very much under the influence of “Roots”. What I think “Roots” did and this thing with the tribe was it created this sense that you can have metal albums and you can have something different on them and it works. It showed the world something new that was not the same thing that people had been hearing over the years; it was completely new and completely exciting. I’m really proud of it. I didn’t know it was gonna be my last record with them but I’m very proud of it.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: You’ve also talked about the new CAVALERA CONSPIRACY record, “Blunt Force Trauma”, as an “In your face album that has not really been done in a long time. Rock has become very predictable and not dangerous.” What do you mean?
Max: I think what we’re trying to bring with CAVALERA is the spirit of the ’80s time of death metal and thrash metal, which I think was one of the most exciting periods in music. I think that’s when metal came with something new and after BLACK SABBATH and IRON MAIDEN, when thrash metal came in on the scene there was nothing like it, man, it was a total revolution. It just opened everybody’s eyes and kicked everybody’s ass with the fast shit, political lyrics, and the bands were influenced by hardcore and were wearing hardcore t-shirts like us and METALLICA and SLAYER wearing DISCHARGE shirts and DEAD KENNEDYS and BAD BRAINS. And you could hear on the lyrics, too, it was also like some social/political things going on and that has never happened in metal. Metal was always more dungeons and dragons, you know? That was like fuckin’ killer. And then the thing with the audience and the mosh pit and the circle pits and the stage diving. Going to a thrash show was a dangerous place to be; you entered the mosh pit at your own risk kind of thing. “If you go there, you’re on your own buddy. You better watch your back.”
Ultimate-Guitar.com: So CAVALERA CONSPIRACY was your chance to bring back the energy and the danger of the ’80s thrash bands.
Max: To me that whole period stayed with me for a long time and when I got back with Igor, I told him, “We should bring back that time, that period. That was when me and you were together and we were doing stuff like “Arise” and “Beneath the Remains” and “Chaos A.D.” I think it was what people wanted to hear from the brothers; that kind of aggressive metal. That’s what CAVALERA brings so it’s not pre-fabricated at all; it’s completely real music played by musicians and it’s live music. In fact the album was actually recorded in six days, which is like a record time; it was super fast. It reminded me of the albums that we did in the ’80s that were done in that kind of time in like six, seven days you’d have a whole album done. It was like, “Wow; unbelievable.” We didn’t have any more time and the only time you had to do it was that time or you’re out of the studio and you could not finish the record. So you had to do it in that time so it was like against all odds you had to do.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: The tracks for “Blunt Force Trauma” were recorded virtually live in the studio?
Max: We recorded the new CAVALERA with the same state of mind so in six days we finish everything and it was a great feeling knowing that we did a record like that again. That punk feeling and that raw element and kind of raw music live. Really, really live and in your face and really aggressive so that’s what I was referring to when I was comparing CAVALERA to a lot of plastic music today that you hear. It’s like all computerized and all digitalized and I think we’re a lot different from that stuff.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: What was the actual process of recording the album?
Max: We did the drums first but everybody was playing live together. To get the feeling from the drums, it’s really live. We were in the same room with Igor with headphones so we could hear everything so it was pretty much like live playing in the room and jumping around and being like it was on the stage. And trying to get the same energy that if you were live. In fact Igor had to duct tape his headphones to his head because it would have fall off from banging his head while he was playing the drums. That’s one of my greatest memories of him is watching him duct tape that to his head. It was fuckin’ great.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: A lot of the songs on “Blunt Force Trauma” are well under three minutes long. Where did that idea come from and was it difficult to pull that off as a songwriter?
Max: It’s not as easy as you think; it sounds easy but once you’re actually gonna do it it becomes difficult and it was really hard to pull it off. The idea was at first the whole album was gonna be short songs; that’s when we entered the studio with this idea, “Let’s make this like a ‘Reign In Blood Part Two’.” That was our one idea and then as we went along and when we had half of the album all fast, we realized we needed something else and that’s when the groove-y stuff came in like “Killing Inside” and “Genghis Khan” and “I Speak Hate” were brought into the table. Then when you mix both of them together, I think then you get an album that’s good and strong. Because if it was the whole album of just fast short songs, it would have been good but it would have been kind of, “What else? It’s missing something.” So we needed the groove songs and I think it was a good idea halfway through the project to go find those groove songs and introduce them to the record. But it started as fast songs like “Torture”, “Target” and “Thrasher”.
Read the entire interview from Ultimate-Guitar.com.