MAX CAVALERA On SEPULTURA's 'Roots': 'It's Incredible How Much Impact This Record Had After Twenty Years'
December 30, 2016
Max Cavalera (SOULFLY, SEPULTURA, CAVALERA CONSPIRACY) was interviewed on the December 9-11 edition of Full Metal Jackie's nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the Podbean widget below. A few excerpts follow.
Full Metal Jackie: Lots going on in your world, as usual. You are currently on the "Return To Roots" tour [with your brother Igor] in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the legendary SEPULTURA classic "Roots". You are performing the album each night in its entirety?
Max: "Yeah, it's pretty awesome. I've never done anything like that before, so the idea came out… I can't take credit for the idea; actually, it was Gloria's [Cavalera, Max's wife and manager] idea, and it was a great idea that she came up with while we were in Europe. And we thought more about it and we decided to do it. And it just became something on its own entirely, a monster on its own. it just really grew, and people are really loving it. It's incredible how much impact this record had after twenty years. Everybody is singing all the lyrics, and they are singing songs that we never performed live, like 'Lookaway' and 'Itsári'. It's a full experience, because we play every note of the record in entirety, and it's pretty awesome, it's pretty powerful, with a couple extra things that we do in the end. So it's a full-on experience, and we are just rolling, and America is loving it, and we are going to Europe next and then South America, so this thing rolls all the way to almost Christmas."
Full Metal Jackie: Max, why is the "Roots" album still so important to you?
Max: "I think it was a one-of-a-kind record. It was really unusual. A lot of things were unusual on this record. We were really showing the world a new way of making metal. I think it was cool, even the mixing with the tribe elements. The heaviness of 'Roots' — 'Roots' is a very heavy album; stuff like 'Spit' and 'Cut-Throat', 'Endangered Species', 'Straighthate'. So it's a very exciting album. It also has a lot of dynamics, you know, with stuff like 'Lookaway', which is a little bit slower, and 'Itsári', which is the tribal song we did with the tribe. And then you have the classics — 'Roots Bloody Roots', that everybody sings along [to]; it's a huge song — and 'Attitude' and 'Ratamahatta'. So it's a full-on package; it's great. I think this album really has stood the test of time. This record, especially 'Roots', it is one of my favorite ones I've done with SEPULTURA, and it probably will be one of my favorite albums I ever was involved with. And it's so great to play it, especially now twenty years later. It's even more special now than even when we did the [original 'Roots'] tour. It feels there's something different about it. I think the album has aged with time, and there's a special flavor by performing the songs now than it even had twenty years ago."
Full Metal Jackie: "Roots" took metal in a new direction. How much pressure did you feel when making it?
Max: "Not much. We always kind of just did our thing, and it was really kind of fun in the fact that I think the whole process of creating those records… We never really kind of went back and tried to repeat the same album. We just thought, 'Okay, that's done. Let's move on. Let's see what can we do next.' And that was the case between 'Beneath The Remains' [and] 'Arise', and 'Arise' [and] 'Chaos A.D.''Chaos A.D.' was a huge record for us. We learned a lot with Andy Wallace producing, and it was really a breaking-point record, I think, for us. And I think when it was time to do 'Roots', I was really involved in bringing the Brazilian elements and the tribal stuff into the metal. I think that, for me, was exciting, because it was new, it had never been done before and it was really thrilling and I was really into the whole thing. The idea to go to the tribe was mine, and I was, like, 'We have to do this, because nobody has done this before.' I think that record really took the world by surprise. It showed a new way of making metal that was not possible before, that you can actually mix with different elements from culture and metal, and it mixed really good together, and I am so proud of that. I think looking now at all the bands that are kind of doing the same stuff, like MELECHESH, and I think even the stuff from Norway, with the Viking stuff, like ENSLAVED and IMMORTAL and ABBATH, I think it's kind of similar to 'Roots', to what 'Roots' was trying to say or was trying to do with the culture and bring the elements from your own culture into the metal. I think everybody, when they listened to 'Roots', was, like, 'Oh, okay. So this is possible. We can do this now.' So I think it was a pioneer record because of that. It showed the world that nothing is impossible, and metal can be different — it doesn't need to be the same thing over and over. We can go to different territories and explore and it's okay to do that. It opened a lot of doors for us and for other bands, and I think a lot of good stuff came out of that, which I think is great, including the first SOULFLY [album], which I think was heavily influenced by 'Roots'."
Full Metal Jackie: Max, would you ever have done a "Return To Roots" tour if you and your brother didn't start playing together again?
Max: "Probably not, because that wouldn't be right. I think what makes this tour special is actually me and Igor playing together. It's kind of like the backbone of what was SEPULTURA — the rhythm section was me and Igor. We created a lot of the songs, we worked a lot together, and there was magic between the two of us, and that's why we are doing it — because both of us are here. People want to hear his drumming — his drumming is exceptional, better than ever; he's playing great now. And peope wanna hear the songs with the original vocals and my rhythm guitar. I think there's something special about doing that right now with him that I wouldn't… If it was just me doing it with other people, it wouldn't be right. So, I think this band is actually really great, because we have Marc Rizzo on guitar and he's an amazing, amazing guitar player that can play [the songs] note by note, even better. He just surprises me every night. And Johny Chow is a fantastic bass player — very, very credible and very on top of everything. So it is a killer band. We are going out every night and just showing the people how powerful and special and magical this record was. Every night we hear stuff from people that they are just blown away by the whole record experience. And I think that's so cool to hear that now, especially since we're playing stuff that we never played before. To me, that's the most interesting thing about the 'Roots' tour — the songs that we never played before."
Full Metal Jackie: Max, you come from Brazil. What was the hardest thing to get used to about American culture when you started living here?
Max: "I think the pace of things being so fast — especially places like New York and and L.A. I remember [my] first time in New York, I just looked at those skyscrapers and people everywhere and then bustling around. I was, like, 'This is crazy.' Brazil, where we come from, is much more mellow and much more slower; there's nothing like that. Probably that was the first thing that I noticed — life was faster in some of these places. But then we started going inside America and we saw a different side of America — like Texas and Montana, Nebraska — a whole other side of it, which is really cool. And I fell in love with the Southwest. Phoenix is my home now for twenty-five years or so, and I really love the whole desert vibe. The whole Southwest, I think, is a very magical place. Especially when you go to the Four Corners and Sedona and the Grand Canyon, there's some really, really mystic magic there that I love. I just feel empowered by it. So that's what I love. In Arizona, I love being there when I'm not touring; it's a great place to be and a great place to chill out and make songs and write songs. I made that my home after Brazil, and it's been great. I really, really love the whole Southwest vibe."
Full Metal Jackie: Next year is twenty years of SOULFLY. You're planning on making another record?
Max: "I hope so, very much. That's one of the things that it's in big planning right now. I've gotta finish this tour with the 'Roots' thing, which goes all the way to Christmas. But I think January, I start writing heavily, heavily into the new SOULFLY, which I think is gonna be really great, because I'm very, very influenced right now by a lot of things — from black metal like ABBATH and BATUSHKA and MGLA to stuff like ENSLAVED and GOJIRA and ABBATH, to underground stuff like FULL OF HELL and NAILS. It's gonna be a hell of a record, I think. It's [gonna be] influenced by all of that. Hopefully we get to work with [producer] Matt Hyde again; he did the last record. I've just gotta think of a topic, something that's very special for the [twentieth anniversary]. I think we're gonna release it on Nuclear Blast, hopefully before the end of the year, next year., and then go on a big tour for that. That'll be great. And then sometime later, I'd love to do a little bit with KILLER BE KILLED, which is another project that I really love, which is the stuff with Greg [Puciato] from THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and Troy [Sanders] from MASTODON. We did one record, and it was very well received, and I think we can do a better one than that. I think we can really — if we work hard on it — we can make a kick-ass second KILLER BE KILLED album. So those things are kind of my plans for next year — heavily writing. And I think we're doing a little bit of the 'Roots' touring even a little bit — places like New York that we didn't go on this run. We're gonna try to do it, I think, in March. So I think there's gonna be a little more touring with 'Roots' to close it up, finally, with the whole thing. And then it's back to SOULFLY twentieth year, a big campaign on the whole twentieth year of the band, and make a record out of it, have a kick-ass record to celebrate the twenty years of this band that I'm very proud of. So, yeah, it's gonna be a busy year. We're looking forward to that."