For those of you unfamiliar with the Cavalera brothers, I might suggest you take a listen to the following bands: Sepultura, Nailbomb, Soulfly, and finally, Cavalera Conspiracy. The brothers, originally from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, have been a formidable force in the heavy metal scene for more than twenty years.
Iggor and Max Cavalera formed the band Sepultura in 1984. With Max on guitar and vocals and Iggor playing drums, Sepultura released 6 albums until tension and band differences forced Max to leave Sepultura in 1996. Sepultura carried on with a new vocalist and Max formed Soulfly, another heavy metal, tribal favorite. To the delight of fans and after 10 years apart, the Cavalera brothers reunited and began writing music together for the Cavalera Conspiracy album, Inflikted.
I have been a fan of Sepultura and the Cavaleras since I was fourteen. I was thrilled to interview both Max and Iggor and I recommend that fans of any of their bands attend a Cavalera Conspiracy concert where they play Sepultura and Nailbomb songs in addition to songs from Inflikted.
UR:Inflikted came out about the end of March. You guys have been touring Europe and now you're touring the US. How has the crowd's response been?
Max: Killer. They've been as excited for the new Inflikted stuff as much as the Sepultura and Nailbomb stuff. Far more excited than we thought.
Iggor: We've even talked before, Max and I, on how surprising it is that most of the kids are getting into the songs from Inflikted. It almost sounds like they've known the songs forever. And it's the same response we are getting from songs like "Territory" or "Troops of Doom". So for me and Max to see that, that was very surprising because usually it takes a little longer for new songs to become something that kids sing to and relate to but on this tour. Not only in Europe but also in America. The crowds have been great and it's really amazing because the last few years there's been all this talk that metal or hardcore are not doing so well. We're proving that wrong in a way. There are a lot of kids that are coming to shows and enjoying themselves.
UR: Do you think the response has been so good because you're both already established in the metal scene?
Max: I don't know because we've seen a good variety every night. Like every night there is a mosh pit, more so in America than in Europe. Then you get really fanatic fans in the front- the ones that know the lyrics better than me- I sometimes have to look at them to remember the lyrics. Then you get curiosity in the back and the balcony. They are also very different in age, the really young, middle, and older people.
Iggor: Yeah, it's crazy. As Max was saying, in the front you get those fanatical people, that no matter what, once they see the show and it begins, they want to be right there, in front of Max and me. And just a few meters back there is the crazy mosh pit. I wouldn't dare to go there! In a couple cities I thought I was very glad not to be out there.
UR: So how has it been touring together again? Does it feel like the old Sepultura days or are things maybe better? Have you been having more fun?
Iggor: For me, it doesn't feel like the old days, it feels like you say, better than the old days. I think we've grown up more as people and as musicians. We've been through it all, through everything, the good and bad. So I know for me that when I step on stage, I'm just so happy to be on stage playing. Before I never paid attention to that, all I cared about was if it was crowded- a lot of people were there. Today I'm paying attention to every little detail including how satisfying it is to be playing.
Max: I think I've only been mad twice on this tour. They were both recently. In Canada I wanted to stage dive really bad and couldn't feel a way out to do it. I felt like a loser at the end of the show because I should have just dived in even if I got hurt. And then the last show we did, my amp was fucking up the whole time. I've been talking to my roadie about that and even though I like my roadie, I'll get mad at him because he smokes a lot of pot. In general I get mad a lot more often so it's been a very good tour. The shows have all been different and the other bands are killer. We're going to be doing more touring though through The States because a lot of people have been complaining that we didn't come play by them.
Iggor: The response has been so good that we could do another tour here but we're also going to tour other places like South America, especially Brazil. I live there, if we didn't play there I would get beat up at some point! That's one of the places in the whole world that people embrace me and Max more than anywhere else. They're going to be so happy to see us together because they've had to follow us separately, like Max in Soulfly and me with whatever I was doing. So this combo is going to be crazy. I can't wait.
UR: So Max, you just mentioned another tour with Cavalera Conspiracy. Are you going to tour with Soulfly for Conqueror?
Max: Yes. Eventually, I don't know when.
Iggor: I think I might come out for a couple shows on that tour. Jump on the drums and do some stuff. I just saw this kid with a tattoo of the Conqueror logo on his neck; I've got to say that design is amazing.
UR: Well Conqueror came out today.
Max: Did it come out today? (Laughs) I'm the worst with remembering that stuff. The other day I mentioned the wrong album. In Calgary I called it cavalry. Luckily people give me a break when I say the wrong thing. In Scandinavia they're ok, very forgiving. But if you're in Macedonia or like the Basque country in Spain, they'll kill for that.
UR: So being in the music business so long, how have you seen it change? Especially in recent years with mP3s and everything is digital.
Iggor: It's funny because there are two sides. I'll use this quote that Max says, "Most music today is so shitty that it might as well be free". So just download it. And then I think that today is a good time for searching for new music. When we were younger we used to search in Fanzines and trading letters where today you can do all that on the Internet. In the 80s a lot of people were paying attention to MTV and what's played on the radio and I don't think that's the right way to find music. The right way is when you look for yourself. I've got to say it's a good time for that.
Max: Sepultura really never was played on the radio or TV in the world, not here, not in Brazil. But the fans found us by whatever means necessary. And you go to the show and become part of that tribe or army of fans.
UR: Do you think there is less money in the industry now?
Iggor: Well I think that is a monster that the record labels created. For us it's hard so it can't be about the money. For me, I like to make my music and I need that music to be out there somehow. If the labels are struggling with sales, that's something they need to figure out. It's not really about the musicians because as musicians we just want to do what we've been doing forever, which is touring and recording.
Max: Money is bad everywhere. This whole war has messed things up. Except for the people making a lot of money from the war, everyone else got fucked- like us, and you, and the fans. Now fans don't have the money to go see four or five concerts like they used to because of the economy and the recession. It really sucks. A friend of mine was going bankrupt before the war because he makes parts for helicopters. And now he's a triple millionaire. I don't want to say that all tours are flopping but it could be better. It's just that no one has money right now.
UR: A lot of your themes and lyrics are about politics, social injustice, and things like that. You were just talking about the war and the economy. Have you been following the election coverage?
Max: Well you have to because you're part of it. I don't follow fanatically because I never felt that I was a political band like Rage Against the Machine but if you ignore it, that's ignorance. Everyone needs to know what's what and who's doing what when it effects you and your life. I was in New York recently and I had a good talk with Jello Biafra (of the Dead Kennedys) and we went into politics. It was interesting because I think he's one of the smartest guys in the world for politics and what he was saying is that both sides kind of suck and it sucks that is the choice that people have to make. I don't think this is just an American thing, it's a world thing. Everyone is having problems.
UR: Do your lyrics then come from things happening in the whole world or in your own life?
Max: Both. But I like to write what some people have called apocalyptic lyrics. I like to write shit like that, something that really came from nothing but has that kind of political or apocalyptic feel, like in Sanctuary. I still don't know what some of those lines are about but it feels fucking cool to say them every night. The fans love it, I think it's because it's so aggressive.
Iggor: The night I met Jamie from Hatebreed, he sang me those lyrics. So I know it's sticking in people's heads.
UR: Speaking of Sanctuary, what is that thing in the video? Did you hire a huge friend?
Max: That's all Iggor's fault.
Iggor: Yeah... That is my son's pet.
Max: And he has a pool full of sharks! No, I'm kidding. I love that video, it's one of my favorites we have done. I was freaked out when I saw it for the first time. My first reaction was, what the fuck? I thought it was going to look like a real video and it look like someone filmed it with a video camera. But then I started to really like it and when the sound changes I was like this is so cool! And not many people know this, but it's the only video in the history of Roadrunner that the owner loved. Of every Roadrunner band, he wanted to watch our video five times.
Iggor: That means it's either really good or really bad.
Max: Either you like it or you don't but you can't ignore it. That's the good part and will work for anything you do. I was bummed out because we didn't get to get killed in the video. I wanted to be killed; the whole band should be killed. I wanted to be crucified upside down.
UR: Do you guys still ever get nervous before playing a show?
Max: I still do, yes.
Iggor: It's a different kind of nervous. A lot of people talk about being nervous as something not good, but for me it gets me charged up.
Max: I hate the build up. When the roadies are saying how great you'll do and how good it's going to be. I have to tell them to shut up because we haven't done anything yet! And then if you don't deliver, you feel like a failing soul. That's another reason I get mad at the roadies.
Iggor: Then after the show we can celebrate. I used to spend a lot of time in the dressing room before the show and now I just go from the bus to the stage. I've never had a bus this nice before so it feels good to stay here.
UR: I love Cavalera Conspiracy and your other bands like Soulfly. I think there are a lot of fans, myself included that want to know if we'll ever see you both back in Sepultura.
Iggor: I don't know if the original guys would want to do it.
Max: I would like to do something with Jairo (Guedz). He's such a great guy. I saw him about two years ago in Europe and he was making me laugh. He's like a comedian.
Iggor: Yes, Jairo could be huge as a comedian, even more than as a guitar player. I love what he did in the past with us but he's just naturally funny.