INTERVIEW: Cavalera Conspiracy

After a decade apart, Sepultura founding brothers Max and Igor Cavalera have reunited in The Cavalera Conspiracy, reviving the intricate thrash and crushing rhythms of Arise-era Sepultura with a modern brutality and ten years of growth on their debut album, Inflikted (Roadrunner).  

Peter: This band seemed to come out of nowhere. When did it start? 

Cavalera: I’ve been on this project now for the last two years, since I started talking to Igor again. I’ve been submerged with this thing from morning to night, 24 hours. I’m just very happy with it, man, I’m very proud of it. I like the attitude, the music, the visuals – It doesn’t look like all the shit that’s out there, y’know? I’m excited as hell to go on tour, and we’re really thrilled about the record. 

Peter: Did you get back into contact with the idea of playing together again, or was it about reestablishing the brotherhood first?  

Cavalera: My first approach with him was just to get back together as brothers, family, y’know, but once that was done my thing was, ‘Now that we’re brothers again, now that we’re family again, guess what: We need to play again.’ So that was the next move, and it was cool. We have a really cool chemistry together. It was perfect, really. It’s wild. It’s kind of surreal sometimes. Because it was so long ago and so much has happened in these 10 years, I’m glad we’ve restored our brother relationship. We grew up together in music. The first 20 years of my life playing music was with Igor, then there was a 10 year space where I continued making music but it was not the same. 
 
Peter: How have you changed musically in the time apart?  
 
Cavalera: Not a lot. I still play just 4 strings. I still don’t know the name of all the strings, and I still don’t tune my guitars. Igor noticed that right away: ‘Your shit’s still out of tune man! I can’t believe 10 years have gone by and your guitars are dirty still, you don’t clean them, they’re out of tune.’ And I say, ‘Well …(Woody Allen-style cough) I’m the same.’ And Igor’s pretty much the same. I noticed how much he’s matured as a drummer though. I always knew the double bass Igor, the crazy fills, but this was something else, kind of a Bill Ward, Bonham feel to it, where he can keep the shit as simple as possible but with a lot of power. It’s completely relentless, you can feel that drum beating you, punishing you.
 

Peter: The drums are mixed very in-your-face. Was that to say ‘Here’s Igor back’ or was it just the way it turned out?  

Cavalera: I was more in charge of the direction of songs, sonic ideas, themes and this and that. But Logan (Mader) as an engineer really knew the drums would be a huge thing on this project, and I think in his own way Logan made sure to record the drums the right way and mix it the right way, so when you listen to it the drums really jump out at you. It’s also a lot to do with the way Igor plays. He has this presence. I’ve toured with a lot of people, and the only other person with that kind of presence was Bill Ward when I did the Sabbath tour. One thing about Igor that a lot of people don’t know is that most of the time, the right stick is upside down, so he’s using the end of the stick, and that started in the Sepultura days. He said he wasn’t punishing the drums enough. It’s a very metal thing to do. The first day in the studio I was like, ‘Yeah, the upside down stick, crank it!’ 
 
Peter: So I guess that’s the secret to getting your sound is a guitar with 4 strings that’s out of tune, and an upside down drum stick. 
 
Cavalera: I was waiting for him to draw people he didn’t like on the toms, because he used to do that too. Bands that be ****ing with us on tour. Ministry was an example, they had a real asshole tour manager, he hated everybody, a miserable guy, and always talking shit about everyone. So Igor drew him on every drum skin, in many different ways – had him naked in one, had him dressed like a girl, and eventually he saw the drum kit and wanted to kill all of us. We didn’t give a shit, that’s the way we roll.  

Peter: Are you still playing your ESP signatures? 
 
Cavalera: Yep, the 4 string, out of tune. On the Conspiracy I’ve been using the AX shape signature model. It reminds me of my old BC Rich I used back in the Sepultura days, and we’re in the process of maybe making a new model, a 4 string model. I don’t know why I never thought of that before, actually made a 4 string guitar. It’s a big riff guitar. I love ESP, I love the guitars.