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Soulfly - Max Cavalera on Max Cavalera
Returning to the metal

“Man, it’s been a very busy year, but great, you know? I was very excited playing with Igor again. Then recording ‘Conquer’, and now touring with it, which is like.. I don’t know, something happened with this album. The first note of ‘Blood Fire War Hate’, and the crowd goes fucking nuts. It’s been like a bombshell. It’s killer.”
“The last few years, especially the last four or five, we got closer to the metal. Because of my own input into going heavier with Soulfly. It was the opposite of what everybody was thinking I was going to do. It made a lot of people embrace me more. People seem to find it cool that as I get older, I get crazier.”
“Actually, I think my son Igor has a lot to do with that. He listens to a lot of extreme stuff, and I kind of got to rediscover extreme music through him. That’s really a cool way to look at it, I never really though of it that way until now. Oh man. He loves Carcass, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse. Sick of it All, Cro-Mags, Discharge. He likes old things. Maybe, yeah, he had a lot to do with it. ‘Cause at the time of ‘Dark Ages’ I was hanging out with him a lot, rediscovering metal together.”

Max and Marc: the bond

“And of course, the band. Marc Rizzo wants to play fast all the time. Sometimes I have to say to him: let’s have a groove man (laughs). Joe wants to go fast, everybody really.
What’s cool about it, is that there’s a million of heavy records, you know. But have a heavy record that has meat and potatoes, that you can really get into. To me that was the hardest thing to do. You can pick up a guitar, and a million heavy riffs will come out. But choosing the right ones, and making the right decisions is hard.”
“Definitely me and Marc really click. We worked together on Cavalera Conspiracy too. We click musically. We like the same hardcore bands, we like the same thrash bands. Same goes for world music. That’s very rare. I never really had anyone in Soulfly like that before. Nothing against the other guys, like Mikey was more of a Californian punk kind of guitar player. Lucio was more of a Brazillian jazz guy. But Marc and me.. that’s even more than Max and Andreas in Sepultura, man. We’re almost the same person.”
Energy over anger: It's a positive thing

“The big difference is that I don’t have the same relationship with my instrument that Marc has. I don’t play the guitar all day long. But when I do, it’s really hardcore. When I’m writing riffs it’s serious. I actually challenge my guitar, calling it names, throwing it around.”
“A good example was when I was doing ‘Primitive.’ I had to come up with a riff for ‘Jumpdafuckup.’ Which is one of my favourite riffs, but also my worst nightmare because it just wouldn’t come out. I kept trying and trying, and at one point I remember just throwing the guitar against the wall. The producer was like ‘what the fuck is going on here’, you know? And I’m screaming in Portuguese, calling my guitar names, picked up the guitar and said: “either the riff is gonna come out, or I’m gonna destroy this guitar.’ And then the riff came.”
“Those riffs, man. I’m a riff guy. If the riff’s not good enough, it’s just not going to cut."
“I wouldn’t call my music angry. It’s energy. And this energy is a killer, awesome force. People who aren’t from the metal world don’t understand. ‘Look at those crazy motherfuckers, having convulsions..’ To me, when I watch an old Bad Brains, an old Metallica, old Sepultura: it’s just pure energy. More than anger. Energy is more powerful than that. Everybody can get angry, man."
“Ah, now there’s an art form. Tapping into that energy is the hardest thing. Because it’s truth. If you don’t do it right the fans will look right through that. You can’t fuck with the fans. Can’t bullshit them. If you do; you are finished. I’ve always said that: to lie to your fans it to lie to yourself.”

"Watch Soulfly live: it’s a positive thing. Full off everything that you have on a thrash or death show. Circle pit. Wall of death. Mosh pit. But! There’s this energy. That’s just fucking cool to me. Heavy, pissed off, yet positive. Other people don’t understand. For me it’s perfect; in harmony with my mind.”
Gratitude for distortion

“I love these extremes. It’s crazy, you can’t find it anywhere else. It’s in this music. And it’s these times too. When you think about it, we live in a time of amplification and distortion. You couldn’t really do that in Mozart’s days. I even think - and I know I sound like a total geek - I’m very lucky that we’re born in a time where the last forty to sixty years rock ‘n’ roll and distortion exists. I think that’s the greatest thing in the world for a guitar player. What else could I ask for? It’s the one thing that makes a guitar sound ten times more evil than it already is (laughs).”
“I guess being a Brazilian helps as well. Brazil has a crazy energy, watch ‘City of God’ and you’ll get the picture. Combine all that with the music: thrash, hardcore, death… Throw all these in the mix and you get Max: I’m right in the middle of all that shit, and loving it. And I just throw some more things on it, you know, world music and so on, just to spice it up a little bit.”

Family & Ritual
“I’ve got certain rituals. I don’t like dressing rooms. I barely see them. It’s a distraction seeing all the people. I go there after the show’s, not before. Ninety percent of the time I go from the bus straight to the stage. From the second I stand up it’s like going to a boxing fight. It’s crazy how it works, but I figured myself out throughout the years, and I know this works for me. When I go to the dressing room I have a shitty show, and I know afterwards I should’ve stayed on the bus. It’s a matter of finding yourself.
“When I split with Igor, I didn’t have that kind of ritual, so when we started touring with Cavalera Conspiracy I had to explain it. He thought it was great, and now he’s started doing it (laughs). “
“Igor does a lot of stuff besides Cavalera Conspiracy. For instance he did this cool thing with a concert where the tickets were paid with non perishable food, for poor people and things like that. Things like that are killer, I told him: “you’re a better person than me, I’m always touring and shit.” It’s so cool. You have to go to the ghetto to do that. But he’s always busy, he’s a busy guy.”
“When we were kids there was maybe one concert per year. Queen came in 1981 I think. That was the first show I saw. Then Kiss came next year, but I wasn’t allowed to go because my mother said they were knights of Satan’s service.* And then Rock in Rio of course. But once again Igor and I weren’t allowed to go because we were too little. We had our revenge though, because we played the second one (laughs). We were like: “fuck the family, let’s play!”
“My uncle was this fucked up Italian motherfucker that hated rock ‘n’ roll. For him Ozzy was the devil. He’d torture us by turning the Tv on when Ozzy was on live, and making me and Igor watching it, we were drooling of course, but just for one minute and change it to the news or something. Just to torture us. It made us want it even more. We ought to thank people like that, if it wasn’t for bastards like that I wouldn’t be here (laughs).”
* The band name KISS is often thought to be an abbreviation of  ‘Knights In Satan’s Service” This is, however, a myth.