SOULFLY's MAX CAVALERA: 'First And Foremost, I'm A Metalhead, Then I'm A Musician'

February 17, 2019

A&P-Reacts conducted an interview with SOULFLY frontman Max Cavalera prior to the band's February 12 show at Mod Club Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the live response to the songs from SOULFLY's latest studio album, "Ritual":

Max: "It's been really good. We're doing something that we haven't done before — we are opening up with 'The Summoning'. We're not even opening with 'Ritual'. We are opening with 'The Summoning', going into 'Under Rapture', then we play some other stuff. Then, in the middle of the set, we play 'Ritual', and 'Dead Behind The Eyes'. It's cool. It's not what you expect. If you're a fan you think, 'They're going to open with 'Ritual'.' It's cool. For the beginning, it's already a surprise kind of a show, but it works really well."

On whether the eclectic nature of "Ritual" was on purpose:

Max: "It's just how the songs came about, but also really kind of like my own wish of playing the music that I listen to. It's always been like that. In SEPULTURA, it was like that; in NAILBOMB. It's a reflection of what you listen to at home, combined with other people that are involved with the project, like [producer] Josh Wilbur was very important on 'Ritual'. He came in as a producer/fan and he wanted to hear this — he was making the record like 'I want this to be my favorite SOULFLY record as a SOULFLY fan.' It was fun because he was pulling for more tribal-groove songs and I was pulling more for death metal, black metal, thrash, hardcore, the stuff I listen to on a daily basis. I think that's what 'Ritual' really is. It really is a commemoration of the styles that I like that, that I think in metal are really important and really exciting, like death metal, thrash metal, black metal and even feedback, which was a tip of the hat to MOTÖRHEAD for starting this whole thing because I think they're the pioneers of the whole thrash movement."

On whether he writes songs with SOULFLY or CAVALERA CONSPIRACY in mind, or, he has a "treasure chest" of songs to pull from for each band:

Max: "I do have a treasure chest and a lot of it is cool. Sometimes I'll go back and listen to it, but I like to write for the album itself. I get entirely in the mode of the record. It was the case of [CAVALERA CONSPIRACY's] 'Psychosis', which is one of my favorite records that I've done. It was really fun to create it. We had a really good producer in Arthur Rizk. I think Igor's [Cavalera] playing was amazing on the record. 'Psychosis' to me, was an album that could have been released after 'Arise' and it would have been okay — the fans would have loved it. So, I like to write for a specific record. 'Ritual' was really interesting because we came off the NAILBOMB tour right into the studio, so we were still hungover from the tour. I think the amplifiers were still echoing in my head when I got into the studio and that is really good, I think for the record. Somehow, it doesn't really sound like NAILBOMB, but there is maybe the energy and spontaneity of the NAILBOMB idea is in 'Ritual' somehow, somewhere. Maybe even some of the electronic stuff that we did because there's a little bit of that in 'The Summoning' and 'Dead Behind The Eyes', there's a little bit of industrial sounding stuff. It was really cool and I love that. It wasn't planned, it just happened that way. We went from touring right into the studio, but it was great for the record, I think."

On what still motivates him after over three decades in metal and dozens of studio albums:

Max: "I think first and foremost, I'm a metalhead, then I'm a musician. I never grew out of the metalhead phase. In my mind, I'm still 15-years-old in my basement in Santa Tereza [a neighborhood in Belo Horizonte, Brazil] listening to heavy records. [Laughs] I don't want to grow out of it. It's a conscious decision not to grow up. Some people maybe think that's crazy or whatever and I just don't care. I love it. I love that there's that pure instinct inside of me that's still like that. The other side is what I see on the road whenever we go on tour. The fans, the stories they tell me are so great. The other day, a guy gave me his medal from Iraq. He was in Iraq three times and was listening to SOULFLY all the time during all the missions and he gave me his medal he won in Iraq. It was cool. It's crazy to think music travels to such places. When we're making them in my house, it's very quiet, there's nobody there. In the studio, it's the same — there's no fans. Once you release it into the world, it goes to all these wild places, even like war. It's amazing. That might be the biggest motivation. I'm not really interested and I'm not really…how can I say this? My drive is not into like the Grammys and gold records, although it might be cool and I have a bunch of those at home, but it's not why I do this. I really do it for when I talk to metalheads and music has changed his life, made a difference in his life. That's so deep and powerful that it really makes me very happy and I'm not good at anything else. [Laughs] I keep making music. I don't plan to slow down anytime soon. I'm really enjoying it. To me, people talk about the golden years, the great years, and to me, in my head, although a lot of the past is really great, I'm still living the dream right now, which is live for music. That was my dream when I was in Brazil as a kid. If I can just do that — live off music, that would be amazing and I'm doing it. I'm living my dream, beyond playing with my son [Zyon] in SOULFLY, that's another dream come true. I'm very blessed in that area and I want to keep doing it. That's enough motivation for me."

"Ritual" was released last October via Nuclear Blast Entertainment.

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