Interview mit Soulfly


1 If I wanted to do an interview with Max Cavalera? Off course!! I am a big fan of both Sepultura and Soulfly. Personally I think these two bands distinguished themselves from the flooding metal scene by always trying new stuff. Back in the days when it was not so common to use non-metal instruments Sepultura was already ahead of the game. From the small club around the corner to selling out a 10.000 capacity arena.

Soulfly started a new era for Mr. Cavalera. Having built his own musical trademarks he’s got a band together and created 4 albums up till now. His latest effort, the Prophecy shows the completion of a road Cavalera was heading since Roots. Finding the perfect balance between exotic songs including numerous guests and the sheer aggression of the early Sepultura/ Nailbomb days. Cavalera selling out? People who still think he sold out and went Nu-metal need to listen to songs like Porrada, Born Again Anarchist and Execution Style. These are straight up riff oriented hardcore/metal songs! And then there is Moses, one of the most daring songs he ever made and one of his best at the same time. With the tons of bands nowadays sounding the same and not bringing anything new Max stays stubborn and does his own thing.

I had the chance of sitting with Max for 30 minutes doing an interview for the new record. Main reason for the interview was the new record but I wanted to start off with the new band he got together.

With all due respect to the previous members I think the new band members create a whole new fresh sound to your music. Could you tell me how you found the new band members? People who are around longer all know Dave Ellefson from Megadeth but can you tell us something about Bobby Burns and Marc Rizzo?

Max: Marc I was already talking to on the last tour. When I heard he left Ill Nino I immediately thought of him. I always liked his live performance. Totally different from anybody I’ve seen. I also knew his music and he’s an awesome guitar player so I invited him to come play on the new record.

We were on tour in America and Bobby replaced Marcello on some shows when Marcello had to go home and he was the first guy I thought of to come play on the new record since he did a great job replacing Marcello.

I talked to Joe about coming back. He did Primitive and I asked him to come back to do Prophecy since I felt comfortable playing with him on drums. I didn’t feel like inviting different people. I was used to playing with him and he was interested doing the Prophecy record.

It’s interesting; people want to know about the replacements but when you think of it it’s not such a shock when you look at the development of Soulfly. There have always been different guests on every record. It was more exciting than anything. Dave Ellefson doing some songs, I like what he did with Megadeth. Marc was unbelievable in the studio. He puts stuff on this album that nobody heard him do anywhere else.

I think it all adds to the fresh sound of the album. New people bring in new vibes.
That’s what a lot of people told me. It made the whole album different. I love the previous albums. With new people it makes the whole concept different. With all respect to the other guys, they are all very good musicians but there’s something on Prophecy that’s a little different. Maybe because the way we did it. Nobody knew before what would happen, it was more unexpected.

Did you play a lot of shows with the new guys?
We did 3 shows. 1 in LA, 1 outside San Bernardino, 1 in the Navaho tribal park in Arizona. All Navaho’s there which was really cool. The best memory of those shows for me was that the second time around people were singing the chorus of Prophecy already. Marc said he never saw anything like this. It made us really proud and psyched to go into the studio. We went in the studio with a lot of attitude, energy and excitement because of knowing that the fans liked it.

What does the Prophecy stand for? Does it have a personal meaning for you?
It doesn’t have a personal meaning in one way. It’s a strong name. Roots was more of a concept album but the Prophecy can mean different things to different people. It’s open to your own interpretation.

The Album cover. What is the background on the lion?
The artwork was done by a French artist called Fabian who does a lot of artwork for dub records. When I suggested him to use the lion of Judah he started looking at lots of different ones. There are 1000’s of these around. I told him he should find one and I was going to trust him to find the right one. First minute I saw it I approved it. It just looks powerful that’s it.

Sometimes album covers can be a nightmare. You are working on a timeframe while making a record and you have to come up with something. Album titles and covers are the hardest things. I remember finishing up in the studio for Chaos A.D. and Roadrunner needed a title. First I called it Propaganda but looking back I don’t see the album being called Propaganda. Then Roadrunner called that they really needed a name. “If you don’t name it we will do it for you they said.” Then I thought; it’s a chaotic record; Chaos A.D., that’s it.

Did you change something in the writing process?
I think what changed was that I did some demo’s first with some friends for curiosity. Comparing it with the Prophecy version I think the guys I play with made the difference on how it turned out. Marc came up with the intro. Fucking amazing; it’s like a siren as if we are invading a continent. Almost techno like. That stuff came about the interaction with musicians. Compose something and make it sound 10 times bigger.

Are there plans to do the Flamenco guitar parts in the live set?
We are planning on doing the flamenco guitar live. I talked to Marc the other day and they are making a special double neck guitar for him. Two guitars would mean a nightmare for his roadie I told him (laughs) so when we come out on tour in March/April he will have that made for him. It would be cool to do it live like with the drum intermezzo. It adds to the show.

Tell us about your experience in Serbia. How did you end up there?
I did a show in Belgrade last year and got a cd from our opening act called Eyesburn. I really liked their stuff so I was thinking about working with them. Making a song that has been in the back of my mind for years mixing Dub, metal, and reggae and all the way make a whole song around it. This time around it’s just not a part but a whole song. I’m glad people like it so far. It really has its place on the record.

In that week I did more stuff with world music instruments. My favourite is at the end of the Helmet cover. Almost sounds apocalyptic. It was all because I was able to work with some really old Serbian instruments. I couldn’t play these dirty looking instruments but I worked with this older guy more involved in classical music, he was a professor in music.

Did he know you and your music?
He was the uncle of one of the Eyesburn guys. He knew about those instruments and he gave parts of the album an authentic world music sound. He knew some of my music but he was like wow, this is heavy stuff. He was open minded listening to all this heavy shit (laughs). He just puts the instruments on top of it. The percussion on previous albums is more Brazilian. Primitive was done by Larry McDonald who worked with Bob Marley and this time around it was different again.

This song at the end of the album, is that an authentic band?

It’s a gypsy group. It’s a war song. It fits into the record because there are a lot of war songs on it. I thought it was cool. You don’t necessarily need to listen up to there but I decided to put it at the end of the record because it sounded exotic and wanted to end the album really different. I don’t expect the hardcore fans to play it a lot so that’s why I put it at the end of the album.

The song Moses. What is the meaning behind this song?
I wrote this song with Nemanoa Kojotovic, the singer of Eyesburn. The meaning is pretty much with all these bombings and terrorism going on it would be cool to have a Prophet stand up who stops the madness between different groups like Muslims and Christians. It’s the calling for a prophet to come and chill people out and stop killing each other.

Another song I really like is Porrada with 3 different parts. The middle part really goes back to the old Sepultura days. What does it mean?
Porrada is not in the dictionary. It’s slang, it comes from poha, kind of like a riot and porrada is like the bigger version. The idea was to start the song as a bossa nova/Jazz section and then go into a complete ‘Policia’ vibe, type hardcore song and it ends with Brazilian samba. I always liked the tribal drums.

The samba part sounds really massive. Did you have a lot of people doing that?
Actually, the cool part is that only one guy created it. A percussionist from Brazil. I asked him if he could do some samba beats for me and he said yeah, it will take me a couple of hours haha. Me and marc watched the whole thing, it’s about 24 instruments in that part and he recorded one on top of the other. Last one was the ‘couica’ more like strings. I’m a fan of percussion and I was like a little kid looking at him record this stuff. So the song has 3 chapters. Next to ‘the song remains insane’ it’s one of the most hardcore songs for Soulfly.

What’s your personal feeling towards the album?
I’m really hyped to hear from the fans playing this stuff live. I’m also really happy with what Terry Date did with the sound of the record. Compared to other records he made it sound really big and clear at the same time. I was in Serbia when he was mixing the record. He’s so good I can actually be in Serbia and won’t have to worry about it. It sounded beyond expectations when I got home.

Do you have any touring plans already?
We are making the arrangements as we speak. Only thing confirmed now is that we are going to South Africa in March to do 3 shows, some festivals in Czech Republic and Poland and there are talks to do the festivals combined with the headline shows. I just want to play as much as possible with this album.

Are you also going to play non-metal festivals like you did with Sepultura on Werchter in 1994 and Pink pop 1996 for example?
I love to do both Metal and other festivals. We did a couple of those non metal festivals last year; it’s cool to play for different crowds. I prefer the headline shows because the fans can really see what you’re up to. The festivals are fun but the headline shows you can show them exactly where you are at with backdrops and songs.

Are you planning on playing Sepultura/Nailbomb songs too?
Yes, those two bands are a big part of my life and I will always play stuff from those eras. It will be less than before now with 4 albums of Soulfly material available. Nailbomb is always fun to play. It’s funny when we did the 2 shows in Eindhoven for the Dynamo festival in ‘95. Personally I think the club show was better but it was a massive project playing in front of 100.000 people. It was cool with all the guests, it was fun.

You played all over the world with both Soulfly and Sepultura. Is there a specific spot where would you like to play still?
We get a lot of letters from so many crazy places in the world. It’s not possible now but I would like to play in Iraq. 3 weeks ago MTV America went to Iraq to interview a bunch of people and one of them picked Soulfly as his favourite band out of everybody. Friends started calling me and I was amazed. First time we went to Indonesia it was massive too. They were insane, so hungry for the music. I still like to come back to Europe too. I never lost that hunger to go out on tour. It’s fun, mainly with a new album out.

You are known all the way into the Amazon. That’s pretty amazing for a guy playing metal music.

I remember this time in the rainforest since you mention that. There was this fan who wanted to take me on a journey deep into the Amazon. I thought it was cool but he was like, you got to tell your family because you won’t be back for a week. You are going to become a tree he said (laughs). It was very cool and I thanked him politely for the offer but I couldn’t explain this to my family haha.

The Xavantes experience with Roots was more of a musical journey; this was more a personal and spiritual journey hanging out with all the tribes. No instruments, just mainly the people. Maybe one day when I got more time.

How do you look back after 4 Soulfly albums?
My engine is to just keep on writing songs that me and fans can go apeshit on. Plus adding new influences to the music is a big part of Soulfly. It keeps myself and Soulfly moving ahead doing these two things. Sometimes I like one song better than the other. Soulfly maintains the traditional feeling. There are different fans that like different songs. Keep moving forward.

Well, time was way too short with a guy who’s in the music business for numerous years already. See you on tour