The Gospel According To Max Cavalera

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WE DIDN’T HAVE MONEY GROWING UP, BUT WE HAD MUSIC.

“When we were young, we were very poor; in fact, our first instruments had to be either stolen from other bands or borrowed. [My brother] Igor didn’t even have a drumkit until [1989’s] Beneath The Remains. We were flat broke, but there was a lot of passion involved and so we tape-traded. I used to tape-trade with Chuck [Schuldiner] from Death, Trey [Azagthoth] from Morbid Angel, the guys from Dark Angel and Possessed, and Mille [Petrozza] from Kreator. Now you have the internet, it’s a whole other demon. You go online and there are a million bands – it’s almost too much information.”

Morbid Angel: Max’s tape-trading buddies

Morbid Angel: Max’s tape-trading buddies

IGOR AND I WERE ALWAYS CLOSE.

“Our mother forced us to hang out a lot when we were young, which drove me crazy, because I had a girlfriend and I had to take him on our dates. He’d be sitting right there next to us, and it was like, ‘Really?’, but my mother was really insistent on that. Then we had the band and the band did good, but after I quit Sepultura there was this 10-year period when we didn’t talk to each other. That was very hard on my mother and hard on us, too. So when we got back together with Cavalera Conspiracy, it was a big relief, and now it’s really good – we have a good friendship and brotherhood and I love making music with him.”

BRAZIL COULD BE A DANGEROUS PLACE FOR METALHEADS.

“We had a couple of close encounters with skinheads. One time Igor got chased by 10 of them – he managed to escape, otherwise he would have got his ass kicked. Sepultura once played a free show at a soccer stadium in São Paulo and one of our fans got killed by a skinhead with an axe – like, walking around with a fucking axe, that was the mentality. I remember we played a show with [legendary Brazilian crossover band] Ratos de Porão – it was a venue for 1,000 people and only 60 showed up, because everyone was so scared. And the promoter, he had a gun, and he’s holding it backstage saying, ‘Any skinheads come, they’re going to get a surprise from me.’ We felt protected by this guy but it was pretty heavy.”

Sepultura back in the day: Andreas Kisser, Max Cavalera, Paulo Pinto Jr, Igor Cavalera

Sepultura back in the day: Andreas Kisser, Max Cavalera, Paulo Pinto Jr, Igor Cavalera
(Image: © Getty)

WHEN SEPULTURA BECAME BIG, I STRUGGLED TO DEAL WITH FAME.

“When Roots came out [in 1996], we got really big, especially in Brazil. I got annoyed because 70% of the people weren’t fans; it was just a craze. It was cool to like Sepultura. I’d go to a mall and get mobbed by 40 people, and half of them would be teenage girls who weren’t metal fans. I didn’t enjoy that period. I drank a lot, did a lot of drugs, just to escape. So when I started over with Soulfly, it felt more comfortable, playing small clubs. I felt, ‘This is where I belong.’ I prefer my life now, being able to do things on my own terms, play the music I like. I’m not a massive name, but I have my roots and a good name in music, and that’s more important than being super-famous.”

SEEING SEPULTURA CONTINUE TODAY IS VERY HARD.

“I know that the name goes down and down and down, and that’s sad. To hear that people don’t like it, that is strange and hurtful. I think Sepultura were such a special band in the 90s; we opened up the doors for South American metal, the Ministry guys liked us, hardcore people liked us, Lemmy from Motörhead liked us, so to see what it’s turned into now, where people don’t talk about it and it’s almost like a joke, it kind of sucks.”

I DON’T THINK A SEPULTURA REUNION WILL EVER HAPPEN

“I think the other guys are too hard-headed to make it happen. And on the other hand, maybe it’s not a bad thing that it’s not happening. You have a lot of reunions and a lot of them are not so good – we are not the same band as we were in the 90s, and people might think it was much cooler back then than it is today. So I kind of made peace with the idea of not having a reunion, as much as some people want it to happen. My brother keeps in touch with Andreas [Kisser, guitarist] and Paulo [Jr., bassist]. I spoke with Andreas at a festival a few years ago, but that’s about it. Cavalera Conspiracy is probably the closest people are going to get to a Sepultura reunion.”

I STILL LOVE MUSIC AS MUCH AS EVER.

“I like a lot of the violent stuff like Nails, All Pigs Must Die, Converge, The Order of Apollyon, Deathspell Omega, Hour Of Penance, Nervecell, Demonic Resurrection, Melechesh… stuff like that. I listen to a lot of underground stuff and really like to keep up with what’s going on. Especially with the internet, I think that’s much easier. But of course I still love the old classics, like Celtic Frost, Bolt Thrower and Carcass.”

THE LAST SOULFLY ALBUM WAS INSPIRED BY MY MOTHER.

“My mother told me that this year was the year of the archangel Saint Michael in Candomblé – she’s a priestess in that religion, so she knows a lot about the subject. So I thought I’d make an album for him, and we have him on the cover with the Soulfly weapon. I was thinking about one day doing an album about all the saints of Candomblé – I think there’s 20, and one is the saint of fires, so it’s very cool, very metal. I’m not Christian or religious at all, I have no feeling to convert people to religion, but I believe there are higher forces, higher powers. I love a lot of Babylonian stuff. I don’t know why, but it fascinates me for some reason. Perhaps I was a Babylonian in another life!”

IT’S COOL TO SEE EARLY SEPULTURA GETTING RECOGNITION.

“We were listening to a lot of Hellhammer, Venom, Kreator and Destruction… and Bathory were a big influence. Brazilian bands like Vulcano and Sarcófago, our arch enemies, did really good black metal. On [our 1986 debut] Morbid Visions, we were going super-fast; Igor is going completely out of control, it’s all about the energy, it’s not technical at all, crazy fuckin’ riffs, out of tune, and all that together made a good recipe, I guess, for black metal. Phil Anselmo actually told me this is absolutely his favourite Sepultura album, and I told him, ‘Well, it’s out of tune.’ And he said, ‘I don’t care – that’s probably why I like it so much.’”

I’M NOT MAD ABOUT TECHNOLOGY.

“I don’t have a computer or cell phone. I have an iPod, that’s about it. I see a lot of other musicians going online and sometimes I think I should do that – I guess I’d get more exposure. But I have Gloria and she does a lot of that already, so there’s no need for me to do that as well. I’m glad I don’t have a cell phone – sometimes Gloria’s is ringing in the middle of the night and I’m like, ‘Shut up! Who calls at 4am?!’ But sometimes it’s for me!”

SOULFLY’S 10TH ALBUM, ARCHANGEL, IS OUT NOW VIA NUCLEAR BLAST. SOULFLY HIT THE UK NEXT MONTH.

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