Back to the Primitive! Exclusive interview with Max Cavalera of Soulfly!
Agoraphobic News: How many many times you've been here in Serbia?
Max:I've lost count. We love coming here. I am really interested in the history of this part of the world, you know. I really like the Balkans, it's a fascinating place and we played in Sofia yesterday... We went to play in Sofia yesterday. It's a beautiful city so we went to do some sightseeing, and we saw one of the oldest churches from the 4th century. Today we have some connections here. Our grandson is buried here in Belgrade cemetery. His name was Moses. So, early on we went to the cemetery. You know, I was so tired so I went to the hotel to rest all day. Cause it's the second show on this tour. We had a really good show last night in Sofia, so I hope it's gonna be good here, too.
Agoraphobic News: Many fans don't know that Carved inside and Frontlines were recorded here in Serbia. How did that happen??
Max: Well, at that point we were spending a lot of time here in Serbia, because my wife's daughter, Christina was living here, and she married a Serbian guy and I was good friends with Eyesburn. We found a company that could do 2 videos instead of one and the location was great - Serbian medieval fortress of Golubac. We even set Danube on fire. The mayor was a fan, so he didn't care. I wish we recorded in daylight, because you can't clearly see the castle in the video. It was night time. Carved Inside video was really dark. That's the only thing that I can complain on. We'll play it at the show.
Agoraphobic News: Do you play World Scum ?
Max: Yeah. We play it mixed with Refuse resist.
Agoraphobic News: And what about Inner self??
Max: No..I only play 2 Sepultura songs, Roots and Refuse/Resist. I don't know, I play some more Sepultura songs with Igor in Cavalera Conspiracy. Soulfly’s got its own career. There are so many songs. It's kind of hard to pick.
Agoraphobic News: So how hard it seems to make a setlist ?
Max: Pretty much. I listened to the Savages and I realised that it's a good fucking record and I was like, wow, this is so fucking cool and I didn't give that album too much credit when it came out. Stuff like Fallen, Ayatollah...crazy song with Clutch guy...
Agoraphobic News: What about K.C.S. ? It has Mitch Harris on the back vocals. How did that happen?
Max: Mitch was in town on tour with Napalm Death and Cannibal Corpse. And he came to the studio to hang out with us. We've been friends for a long time. So I just gave him the microphone and told him to scream!
Agoraphobic News: Are you still in contact with Hornsman Coyote of Eyesburn?
Max: Well.. he will come tonight. I follow his music. I got the greatest hits CD that just came out...and Reality Check too. I wear their shirt all the time. I still have my red Eyesburn T shirt.
Agoraphobic News: But how did you get in touch with them back in the day???
Max:They left a demo CD in the bus. I listened to it and it was cool. The more I listened to it, the more I liked it. We'll probably work together some day.
Agoraphobic News: The coolest thing about Soulfly and Sepultura is that both bands promote Brazilian culture. I mean, you can see capueira dance in Roots or Berimbau, that crazy instrument in Attitude video. How did Brazilian people respond to your music ?
Max: Good you know... We have a good following in Brazil. Finally, Soulfly is accepted in the country. In the beginning it was not so easy because of many hardcore Sepultura fans. Now, Soulfly is big there. I wanna do a full length tribal record. I haven't done that yet. I'm gonna do it with real drums...maybe I'll go to Brazil or Africa
Agoraphobic News: What really caught my eye are songs like Zumbi, Quilombo and Kaiowas cause they deal with the suffering of the Brazilian tribes. How did the Brazilian audience react to that stuff ?
Max: Yeah. They are like forgotten heroes of some sorts. Most of the people in Brazil are familiar with the tribes, but they never had a chance to be with the tribe.
Agoraphobic News: What about Sepultura's song Manifest? It's about the massacre of Brazilian prisoners.
Max: That's a "funny" story. The guy who inspired that song was a photographer and he went to the prison and took a photo of the massacred people. And then he gave me these pictures as a ,,present". It was horrible. 20 guys naked with opened chests . There is even one picture of the actual massacre in the CHAOS AD booklet. He gave me an idea to do a song, which is kinda industrial-Ministry kind of song. My vocals are like a news broadcast. It was really unjust of the police to kill around 100 inmates.
Agoraphobic News: How did the Brazilian media respond to that song ?
Max: I don't know. They are too busy covering Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. It's so hard in Brazil. Today it's kinda better. We go down there to do some big shows now. Even some TV shows.There are some new guys doing talkshows like David Letterman. This year with Cavalera I did 2 of them with Igor and it was super cool. But the general media of Brazil still pop oriented.
Agoraphobic News: Is "Back to the Primitive" the only hope for world's salvation ? We live in an industrial society. People are getting away from the nature...
Max: I don't know where Back to the Primitive came from. It had a cool rythm. Fuck all your politics!!! I think we gotta enjoy the nature. Instead of destroying it, enjoy it. Yesterday in Sofia , a guy said that there is a big park near the venue we played and it should be destroyed because someone wants to turn it into a shopping mall. And of course, people protested and they won.
Agoraphobic News: That kind of stuff happened to South American jungles.
Max: Well, South America is greedy. It's not farm land. It's not good for farming. Once you cut the trees, nothing can grow in that land so it's stupid. But corporations don't care. American corporations pay a lot of money and they destroy all the trees. It's part Brazilian fault for selling it, for being greedy. I thing someone should control stuff like that . But everything is out of control...piracy is out of control..nobody buys CDs anymore.
Agoraphobic News: How do you struggle with piracy ?
Max: We just survive, but it's difficult. We do a lot of touring, cause that is our main source of income. It's not like in the old days when people used to buy CDs. Sepultura used to sell a lot of records. Even the first Soulfly album went to gold in America.
Agoraphobic News: Is it true that Soulfly music is dedicated to God?
Max: Yeah, but....religion's own enemy is religion itself. They do more harm than good. I like Orthodox Christianity. I think it is closer to God. When you go to church here in Serbia, you can see that people are truly praying. Catholicism is not much like that, it's very different. The metal world is so anti-god and i thought that it is kinda punk to defy metal blasphemy, to be against everything.
Agoraphobic News: So you like some black metal???
Max: Yeah, i listen to it!!!.
Agoraphobic News: Do you like Deathspell Omega?
Max: Yeah. Like stuff like Belphegor. Satanic stuff is kinda funny. You can't take it serious. Everything that goes to extreme like that is too much. I kinda like Behemoth's lyrics because they are done in a really inteligent way. Nergal is very inteligent. He knows about religion, even though he is a satanist.
Agoraphobic News: I saw some Soulfly live footage from Sydney on youtube (back in 1999) And the crowd was just crazy! Nowaday's thecrowd is dead. What makes people so static?
Max: Cellphones.. I always encourage moshpits at our shows
Agoraphobic News: Can you tell me something about Dark Ages album? It's one of the trashiest Soulfly releases. What was the formula for that one?
Max: Well, it just happens. I really don't plan the records. They just naturally go some way. That's why Enslaved is very heavy and brutal, even almost death metal. Dark Ages was hard because of Dimebag. That's why it was called Dark Ages. We felt like we were going through Dark Ages.
Agoraphobic News: Did you know Dimebag?
Max: Yeah. When we toured a couple of times I was not one of his best friends, but when we toured, we used to hang out a lot. He never forgot my birthday. He always sent me birthday presents. He was always nice. That thing was horrible.
Agoraphobic News: And what about Corrosion Creeps. It's dedicated to Chuck Schuldiner. Did you know him ?
Max: Not personally. But we used to exchange letters and album CDs when I was living in Brazil. I sent him a copy of Bestial Devastation back in 85'. So my name came out on Death's Scream Bloody Gore. So it was a first time Max Cavalera name was on some record. For me, it was really emotional to see that .
Agoraphobic News: What's the thrill with Soulfly's latest album, Archangel ??? Is it going to be groovy?
Max: There is some groove, but there will also be some fast stuff...The first video we released - We sold our souls for metal - that's a trash song. That record is kinda biblical lyrics-wise. Even the music is really exotic. The riffs are more different and elaborated. Me and Marc did some really cool stuff. People are going to like it. I feel excited for Archangel as much as I was excited for The Prophecy album
Agoraphobic News: Can you recall some funny story for the end ?
Max: In China, people are holding hands while doing a circle pit. That was like a circle pit of love. That was pretty crazy. That was pretty metal.