Max Cavalera of Sepultura & Cavalera Conspiracy

We sit down with the metal veteran to explore what lies ahead for his various projects.

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Max Cavalera of Sepultura & Cavalera Conspiracy


For anybody steeped in the world of metal, the name Max Cavalera holds a lot of weight. Cavalera and his brother Igor founded legendary band Sepultutra in 1984, releasing a string of classic albums. A falling out between Max and the band in 1996 left the two brothers on less than friendly terms for over a decade.


In 2007 Igor and Max came together once again to create Cavalera Conspiracy and in 2008 the band released Inflikted. Energized by the reunion and the reaction from fans, the Cavalera brothers continued touring and writing together. On March 29th 2011 they will release their second album Blunt Force Trauma.  Max was kind enough to sit down and chat with us for a while about Cavalera Conspiracy and keeping music all in the family. 


CRAVEONLINE: So what’s the new Cavalera Conspiracy album like?


MAX CAVALERA: I think we took things one-step further on the new record. It’s heavier, more aggressive, better production, better songwriting, and a stronger record. I think what’s cool about this album is that it sounds like a band now; it doesn’t sound like a project. That’s really cool for me because I want people to think that. I want to do tours with both Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy. 


CRAVEONLINE: Was that perception important to you?


MAX CAVALERA: It’s what me and Igor wanted and this album will affirm that. The reaction so far has been great. We went to Spain and played the same place I filmed Sepultura’s “Under Siege” video in Barcelona. We played the whole record beginning to end and then we played some favorite songs and the crowd reaction was great. We also shot a video for “Killing Side”, the first single off the record. Things are moving up. We have a US tour coming up and then a European tour.


CRAVEONLINE: What’s the new video about? Is there a plot or is it live?


MAX CAVALERA: It’s mostly live in Barcelona, showing the fans going crazy and circle pits and all of that. It’s also us walking around in the gothic part of Barcelona where they did all the inquisition stuff and burned all the witches. There were some really great places to shoot. At one point we found a place called The Gates Of Hell, you really can’t go wrong shooting in a place called The Gates Of Hell. There was a wall of a church filled with bullet holes from 1939. A bunch of anarchists were protesting and the army went and opened fire and killed hundreds of people. The church decided not to remove the bullets so the whole wall is still bullet holes. 


CRAVEONLINE: Do you think Cavalera Conspiracy has finally stepped out of the shadow of Sepultura, and left the reunion tour idea behind?


MAX CAVALERA: I hope so. I think so. It feels really great to play with Igor, and what we’re doing gets a great reaction from the fans. I think the more people get into Cavalera, the less they’ll be asking about reunion shows. That’s kind of fading away. This was all about being with Igor again and us playing together and being brothers again. That has happened and we’re stoked about that. We’re focused on the band and keeping busy. 


CRAVEONLINE: Is Soulfly still around?


MAX CAVALERA: Soulfy is just on a break. I’m gonna do stuff with Cavalera all this year.


CRAVEONLINE: With the newness of you and Igor coming together gone was it harder to write songs for Blunt Force Trauma.


MAX CAVALERA:  It felt different. It felt more like we were together as a band because we’d been touring for a long time, so we knew each other musically. We went into the studio as tight group of people that really knew what we wanted. We just took the challenge to take everything one step further from the last record. I think we’ve achieved that. The album has the stuff that everybody loved from before but it goes one step further.  


CRAVE ONLINE: I’ve actually known your bassist Johnny for a long time, from back in my New York City days.


MAX CAVALERA: Yeah we were really lucky to find Johnny. He’s a great guy, really got along well with everybody and he’s a great musician. He can really play that bass. He contributed to the new record a lot; in fact the song “Target” is one of Johnny’s riffs that we used. That was really cool. 


CRAVEONLINE: Is it hard for you to work with collaboration?


MAX CAVALERA: Nah it’s great man, the more the better. I always tell those guys to bring whatever they have to the table, show me watcha got. Mark (guitars) does a lot of that to. I give him complete freedom to do whatever he wants.  I mean I like to write a lot of the stuff and I write a lot at home and then go into the studio to make the best thing for the album. How we get there doesn’t matter as long as it’s strong and powerful. 


CRAVEONLINE: What is it that you and Igor bring out of each other when you’re writing music?


MAX CAVALERA: I think the connection of years and years of playing together. We created Sepultura together; we were in bands at thirteen and fourteen years old. We learned how to play together and grew as musicians and some kind of groove was born. Some special Max and Igor groove that people seem to really like. It’s also how we play fast, which is it’s own tempo. It’s a different speed from most other bands; we have a tempo together that’s totally unique. We also don’t count live when we play. We just look at each other and know to start the song.


CRAVEONLINE: That must drive the other guys nuts.


MAX CAVALERA: Yeah it’s a little crazy. When Mark first joined the band he was like “Wait a second you guys don’t count to start the song?” I told him nope, to just pay attention and watch me and Igor.  He thought that was trippy. We just don’t count a song with the drumsticks. We just go. We did it with Sepultura and now we’re doing it in Cavalera.


CRAVEONLINE: Why call the album Blunt Force Trauma?


MAX CAVALERA: The name was actually my wife’s idea. She mentioned the name and when I asked what it means she told me it was a medical term for like a car crash or if somebody gets hit in the head. When they have the autopsy the medical report says killed by blunt force trauma. I liked the name and when I heard what it meant I loved it because it sounds like our records, the sound of being hit in the head.  It’s like surviving a car crash. I’ve been coming up with names for records for all these years and sometimes I still get lucky. 


CRAVEONLINE: How do you approach writing music differently when writing for Cavalera Conspiracy vs Soulfly?


MAX CAVALERA: Actually I don’t. I write all the time. I go into this place called the “Max Cave”, it’s a little house in my front yard. It’s a trailer and it has all my music inside and I go in there and write riffs constantly. Then I decide what goes into what. Until then I’m just writing riffs, it’s a hobby of mine. Out of the blue I’ll come up with something and just record it. Then I transform that into a song for the record.


CRAVEONLINE: You’ve done a lot of work with your family. How important is that for you?


MAX CAVALERA: I think it’s great. I think a lot of musicians; when they have kids, hide it from the public. I decided to do the opposite. When my first son Zyon was born I had a whole photo shoot done by Roadrunner Records with me holding him and my knuckles tattooed with his name. I brought him on the stage and introduced him to the crowd when I was with Sepultura. My other kids to, Richie has been around since the Nailbomb days, on the stage singing with me. He has his own band now called Incite.  


Zyon and Igor a band called Mold Breaker, which is really cool. They’re taking it very seriously and practicing every night. I love the fact that we’re a music family. It’s a family affair. When we go on the road they sell shirts, everybody helps, it’s really cool. It keeps the family involved with the music. 


Blunt Force Trauma hits stores March 29th, 2011

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