Interview: Max Cavalera talks sobriety, Nailbomb, playing with his son

Posted by on October 17, 2017

Max Cavalera is metal 24-7. dread-headed and always sporting a band t-shirt, he produces albums annually with either Soulfly or the Cavalera Conspiracy. And let’s not forget his work in Sepultura, which has well withstood the test of time. Though always pushing forward, last year Max and his brother Igor decided to get nostalgic performing their Roots album for it’s 20th anniversary in it’s entirety. This year Max has decided to perform another of his past albums in its entirety live, and not as obvious a choice as RootsPoint Blank, by his side group Nailbomb (featuring Alex Newport formerly of Fudge Tunnel now a famed English producer), is a more underground gem. It’s cover, a close-up photo of a Viet Cong woman with a U.S. military machine gun to her head, was a jarring thing to see at a Sam Goody Record store in 1994, and the music was just as jarring a blend of hardcore punk, metal, and industrial. It fully established Max’s attitude, his attraction to experimentation and tendencies toward dense grooves. Though Alex Newport is not involved, Soufly has started performing Point Blank for the first time in it’s entirety live throughout the U.S.. I (El Prezidente) recently spoke with Max just before the tour kicked off about performing the album, throwing a mic stand at his sound guy, having his son in the band on the road and more. Listen to the entire chat below.

How’s it going?

Good man. We’re concentrating on Nailbomb right now, It’s gonna be great. We’re practicing and it’s fantastic, I think it’s gonna be so cool to play some of the songs we never played before like “24 Hour Bullshit,” “For Fuck’s Sake,” the practices are sounding insane cool so it’s gonna be a great show. The album was made to play live, there’s so much energy on that record.


I was going to  ask you that, it’s cool to make these shows special and tackle a full album but sometimes every track isn’t built for the live setting or the sequencing might have to change a little. Will you mix up the sequence of the record?

Well we’re planning to play the whole record as it is, and then we’re gonna add some stuff like the 2 tracks from “Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide” which was “Zero Tolerance” and “While You Sleep, I Destroy Your World” which was a Charles Manson song, and then probably “Police Truck” the Dead Kennedys cover, probably do a new one of that, and then some other stuff I don’t know yet. I was thinking about doing a cover song with all the bands that are on the bill, we’ve got Cannabis Corpse, and Noisem, and Lody Kong. So we’ll do a really cool punk song or metal song together with everybody at the end. It’d be cool to end the show with that. But the Point Blank record is gonna be insane cool, it is a really interesting record I think, it’s got so much energy song to song. It was done at the right time even playing in the order of the record. It makes sense, the songs flow. You have the fast beginning and real low slow songs like “Sum of Your Achievements” and then you have the crazy stuff like “World of Shit” and “Religious Cancer.” “For Fuck’s Sake” is kinda like a Nine Inch Nails meets thrash metal. It’s great, it’s a kick ass record, I’m so excited to play this stuff live.


And will there be time for any classic Soulfly songs?

I think some of the shows we’re gonna need to play more songs, I think we’re go throw in some of the Soulfly favorites like “Blood, Fire, War, Hate” and “Primitive,” “Eye for an Eye,” just stuff that people really love, with some of the cover songs we’re working on. It’s gonna be a full night of metal, I think everybody’s gonna be happy with it.


You told me in a previous interview you don’t listen to your old records, is this a chance for you to get nostalgic with your own catalog and how hard was it to relearn everything if you haven’t heard it in so long?

Yeah. I had to go back on this one and relearn, I was surprised some songs were actually in E standard, it’s the tuning of early stuff like Beneath the Remains and Morbid Visions and Schizophrenia and some of the other stuff was in D like the Chaos A.D. tuning. But the riffs are really great like the “24 Hour Bullshit” riff is like us and Dino (Cazares) did that one together from Fear Factory, it came out so heavy. We tried to reproduce everything all the sounds you hear on the album. I went to the master tapes and got the sounds out of the master tapes so they can be played together when we play live, so it’ll be really close to the record.


I’m excited to check you guys out at the Gramercy Theatre show in NYC Sunday Oct. 22nd, I missed you the last few times you came to New York.

Yeah, I think the package is cool having Cannibas Corpse, Noisem, and Lody Kong it’s kind of more of an underground metal package which I think is great. The Roots tour was really big, a lot of big festivals. Nailbomb is different, it’s more underground it’s more for the real fans, it’s gonna have a different feeling to it I think. The practices are sounding great. The hardest part is waiting for the tour to start, we’re very excited this thing is gonna be so much fun.


So I went to see Danzig this past weekend, it was an awesome show, with Corrosion of Conformity it was a great bill. But Danzig gets on stage and his mic is feeding back horribly, you can’t even hear him. I see him mid way through the second song look at the sound guy, and I can see him mouth the words, “I’m gonna fuck you up!” I’m wondering what’s the worst technical difficulty you ever had at a show and did you ever get really pissed off and come close to blows with a sound guy or a stage hand?

Oh yeah! I made our monitor guy toothless once.


Oh really!?

I threw a whole mic stand at his head and it hit his tooth and broke his front tooth. (laughs) But we’re really good friends, we got drunk at night we squared it off you know. He’s like “it’s battle wounds,” next day we were friends again. It’s just cause everything sounded horrible it was a bad night. And he actually took the blame, he said it was his fault, he didn’t really patch the stuff right. It was half me, I mean I shouldn’t really have to throw the mic stand, I was in the wrong, but stuff should have worked better so he was in the wrong. But we’re good friends. He doesn’t tour with us anymore, he retired and only does local shows now, but he’s still a good friend of ours, and that was in the Sepultura days by the way.


I wanted to talk about t-shirts, since you’re notorious for rocking other bands t-shirts. I’m a jeans and t-shirt guy, I don’t really wear much else and you seem like a camo pants and t-shirt guy. Out of all the band t-shirts you’ve had over the years, what are your top 3?

It changes from time to time, I had one in the Sepultura days it was a Godflesh one, it was one of my favorite ones and my brother actually just bought me the same one again and gave it to me last month which was a great birthday present. He found the same one that I wear because I lost that one on tour. I also used to have a Napalm Death long sleeve that I really love also got lost on tour. And a Discharge, which I actually found last week I went to a record store here in Phoenix and the guy that works there knows me, he goes, “Max I put two Discharge away for you”. The guy came in here, he was a punk rocker selling all this stuff and he sold two of his Discharge stuff to the store, so he put it away and I got it. It’s so cool I’ve got two new Discharge shirts to wear. I like wearing a lot of the new bands’ stuff like Gatecreeper, Genocide Pact, Nails. The newer bands from the underground that are happening right now. That’s kinda like my favorite but I’m metal 24 hours a day. I’m not like one of these guys that goes on tour and their metal, and they come home and are totally different like Jekyll and Hyde. For me it doesn’t change much from touring to home. I’m always wearing my metal shirts at home and my camouflage pants.


Will you keep a shirt around way too long, like it’s got holes in it, and is all faded?

I have a couple favorite shirts that are like real soft cause you wear them so much, they become like really soft and get holes in it. So I got a Motorhead shirt that’s like that. I have a Lions shirt I wear a lot cause I’m a Detroit Lions fan. Sorry for everybody out there that hates the Lions, but I’m a big fan.


Now how does that happen cause you’ve been in Arizona a while, you’re not a Cardinals fan?

Yeah man you know, the Cardinals are my second team, I like them, yesterday was kinda rough, and the Lions won so, but it was kinda tough cause they’re my second team. But I had to pick a different team. That’s just me, I couldn’t be just Cardinals. It was about six years ago I started liking the Lions and became a big fan and I heard their center is really big into metal, Travis Swanson. So I’m gonna try to get in touch with him send him some stuff and hopefully I’ll get to meet some of them it’d be really cool.


Yeah, that’d be great to hear some Soulfly at the stadium you know how they play Pantera and Metallica, I think your songs were built for that.

Yeah I could hear them playing “Roots” that would be kinda cool (laughs).


Or “Jump Da Fuck Up”

Yeah, that would be great to get them excited to play, right?


So your son Zyon has been in the band for a while and we were just talking about get crazy, getting into a fight with the sound guy, getting drunk. Do you still party on the road? And can you party with your son? Do you ever have to pull rank on him, like “dude, cool it! you’ve had enough!”

No, not that much they’re really good, they’re way better than I was at that age. I kinda judge by that…


Do you ever feel like he got robbed of that experience because his dad’s always around?

I don’t know why they’re more mellow than I was. I was always really wild, I tried everything, I was crazy you know. They just like weed man, which is cool I think and it’s almost legal everywhere which is cool, it’s something you can do and it doesn’t really effect you. I think it’s better than drinking because drinking is much more dangerous and violent. I’m kinda straight-edge, you know, going on probably like 10 years. I stopped everything. I’m kind of a radical, if I do something I do everything or I don’t do nothing, so when it came time to quit I just quit everything all at once, no drugs, no alcohol, no nothing. But without preaching, I don’t like the straight-edge preaching mentality. Every person is allowed, and we have plenty of guys that party, Rizzo drinks a lot! (Marc Rizzo, Soulfly guitarist). Some of the other crew like weed and stuff like that. I’m around that and I’m fine, I got no problem with that it’s just not for me, I get high with music. Metal is what gets me high. I’m good with that.


What was your rock bottom? Throwing up on Eddie Vedder?

No, I continued after that (laughs) That was just part of it. I partied for a long time after that, cause that was around 95 I think. So I carried on for another 10 years after that and threw up on a lot of other people, he was probably the most famous!


Hear the full interview below:

Tags: , ,

Categorised in: Interviews, Touring