"We don’t take our brotherhood for granted now": Max and Iggor Cavalera on mending fences, Sepultura and the legacy of global metal

Max and Iggor Cavalera
(Image credit: Press/Cavalera)

It's been almost 40 years since brothers Max and Iggor Cavalera founded Sepultura, and their influence can be found in everyone from Gojira to The Hu. The pair have long since left the band, but recent tours playing classic Seps material – and all-new re-recordings of Bestial Devastation and Morbid Visions – are a timely reminder that the metal landscape wouldn’t be the same without their contribution. 

But how will they fare against a grilling from Hammer readers? 

Metal Hammer line break

I’m so happy you guys made up. How did that happen?
Aliss E, email 

Iggor: “After a few years without speaking to each other, we just decided that life was too short. My first intention wasn’t to make music, it was just to be together with him as family. But Max is a workaholic and he never stops thinking about music.” 

Max: “I think we both learned from it. We don’t take our brotherhood for granted now and it’s stronger than it was. Everything we do together now, we try to minimise the stress and go for the pure enjoyment of the moment.” 

Why did you used to fight so much?
Andre Beemsterboer, Facebook 

Max: “It’s a mix of Italian and Brazilian blood – that’s a bad mix! Ha ha ha! But fighting is essential to growth. You can’t just say yes to everything. If you’re brothers and you don’t fight, there’s something wrong with your family!” 

Hammer: What’s the worst fight you guys ever had? 

Iggor: “It was probably when we were kids. The first time he broke his tooth was because I tripped him playing football. I remember playing on a construction site and him throwing cement in my face. I was blind for five days and had to go to hospital.” 

When you hear bands like The Hu incorporating Mongolian folk instruments, or Gojira incorporating native instruments from the Amazon, does that stir a sense of fatherly pride in expanding and globalising metal?
Jo Fleisher, Twitter 

Iggor: “Yeah, I think that was the idea. With Roots it was about going deep into our Brazilian roots and that resonated everywhere, including Norwegian black metal, where people went back to their own roots and started incorporating pagan themes. One of the biggest things with Roots was to kick that door open and when I see the bands you just mentioned, it makes me super-proud.” 

Of all the bands you’ve toured with, who were the biggest liability?
Foo Manchu, Facebook 

Iggor: “Pantera. We toured with them at the peak of their tours when they had a lot of money to experiment with things and were drinking a lot of alcohol. It really felt like anything could happen.”

Max: “I’d go with The Dillinger Escape Plan, because they were chaos on the stage every night. It was very exciting to watch, because you knew crazy shit was going to go down. They’d throw amplifiers in the crowd or Greg Puciato would be jumping from the balconies.” 

Do you still practise Candomblé?
Sof Lynch, email 

Iggor: “It’s more of my mom’s thing. She’s very spiritual with the mixing up of Brazilian and African culture so she practises more. Me and Max don’t really practise but we respect it. I always ask my mom for advice on things and she puts some energy into it.” 

Max: “I’m fascinated by the whole movement. To really feel it you have to be in Brazil and the places where those rituals happen. It’s a real powerful connection with the spiritual world.” 

Will we ever see/hear Nailbomb again?
Jordy Molnár, Facebook 

Max: “I don’t know if I can convince Alex [Newport, Nailbomb co-founder] to make a full record, but we did play live with his blessing. I’m a ‘never say never’ kind of guy, so if we could do it, that would be really cool.”

[Sepultura songs] Desperate Cry and Inner Self were in [2006 comedy film] Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby. Did you meet Will Ferrell?
Jeff Beers, Facebook 

Iggor: “I wish! I’m a big fan but we didn’t really have any involvement with the movie or anything like that.” 

Hammer: Who’s the biggest celebrity fan you’ve met? 

Max: “I did the screams [for The Rock’s Scorpion King character] on The Mummy Returns, so we met the cast. I also met Javier Bardem. He’d just won the Oscar for Best Actor [in 2008] and was hanging around backstage when Cavalera Conspiracy were out with Rage Against The Machine in Spain. He said he was a big fan of my work.” 

Are you going to do another Cavalera Conspiracy album?
Idir, Twitter 

Max: “Eventually. One of the ideas was to do an EP. One of my favourite EPs ever was [Slayer’s] Haunting The Chapel and we’d like to do our own version with three songs and just make it as brutal and exciting as it can be.” 

There’s hints of admiration for early black metal in 80s Sepultura. Are there any recent black metal bands you guys enjoy?
Francisco Moura, Facebook 

Iggor: “There’s a lot of young bands taking black metal but mixing some really cool stuff with it, like Periodeater and Blackbraid. There’s a whole wave of Native American bands mixing those rhythms with black metal, which again is something we can mirror a bit to Roots.” 

Max: “Even here in America there’s Wolves In The Throne Room. Our good friends Dark Funeral have been putting out great stuff since forever.” 

What are your personal favourite Sepultura albums and why?
Mike Lumnah, Facebook 

Max:Chaos A.D., because we were up against it on that record. There was an explosion of grunge and nobody wanted anything to do with metal. We made a record that was very metal and also a transition from the death or thrash of the earlier records and a different way to be heavy. My first son was born and his heartbeat opens the record. It was a magical and very inspiring time.” 

Max, what did you do with your dread when you cut it off?
Polly Kray, email 

Max: “I gave it to [my wife] Gloria, the family archivist. We have tapes and guitars that she’s kept for me so the dread is… somewhere, I think. I’m glad to be rid of it, it feels great not to have that thing on my head anymore!” 

Of all the songs you wrote together, which is your favourite to play live?
Jeremy Alcock, Facebook 

Max: “I really enjoyed playing Stronger Than Hate on the Beneath Arise tour. It had everything that I like about the death and thrash era that was very inspirational on those records.” 

Iggor: “It’s cool, because on these tours we’re revisiting a lot of songs that we never played before. I can’t wait to play Warriors Of Death from Bestial Devastation live and see the reaction.” 

You both love football – apart from the obvious Pelé, who are your favourite players past and present?
Paul Melvin, Facebook 

Iggor: “Pelé was a bit of a Jimi Hendrix, he was so different to other players. But I’ve seen a lot of cool players like Ronaldinho [Gaúcho] who was another freak, if I can put it like that.” 

Max: “We got to meet Pelé and it was mind-blowing. We told him the name of the band, which means ‘Grave’, and he said something like, ‘That’s a terrible name!’ But just the fact that he acknowledged us was amazing.” 

Will you ever return to Sepultura?
Mike Villa Real, Facebook 

Iggor: “We’ve got a little tired of talking about this. I have my full desire to play with Max and if it happens for the right reasons, it happens. If it doesn’t, I’m also cool with it.” 

Max: “We’re so happy with the way we are doing things now that I don’t see the need. It might even be for the best that we keep the original as a sacred thing. But I don’t have a crystal ball, so I don’t know what will happen in the future.” 

Looking back on your careers, what would you do differently?
Vivacious Nonage, Twitter 

Iggor: “Nothing. Changing the past could end up working against you – you’d never learn from your mistakes.” 

Max: “I agree, I don’t regret anything. For one thing I’m very lucky to be alive after all the things I’ve done. It’s a whole learning process that’s led me to where I stand today, and I’m in a really great frame of mind these days.”

Cavalera's reissues of Bestial Devastation and Morbid Visions are out now via Nuclear Blast. The Morbid Visions US tour starts in Albuquerque on August 29. For the full list of dates visit the band's official website.

Paul Travers has spent the best part of three decades writing about punk rock, heavy metal, and every associated sub-genre for the UK's biggest rock magazines, including Kerrang! and Metal Hammer