INTERVIEW: Cavalera Conspiracy’s Max Cavalera

Max Cavalera may have left Sepultura well over a decade ago but he certainly hasn’t rested on his metallic laurels. Soulfly has kept him in the brutality game with album after album of metal fury, sometimes tempered with the tribal elements of the Seps classic Roots and sometimes more straightforward thrash. A few years ago Max re-teamed with brother Iggor in Cavalera Conspiracy, a thrashy new outfit which picks up right were Sepultura left off their thrashier elements around the Chaos AD era. New album Blunt Force Trauma is out now and Max couldn’t be happier about album #2.

Last time we spoke you said you’d actually recorded this album last year, before the latest Soulfly CD was released. Is the album exactly as it was when you finished it or did you take the opportunity to go in and tweak it?

No, we didn’t change much. It took a little while for the artwork to get done. I was doing the artwork with Iggor. We wanted it to look punkish, like European 80s punk – like GBH and Discharge – so we needed to find a special way to do this artwork. But we figured it out and it turned out really cool. We really love the way it got done. We also worked on a special edition. It comes with a DVD that was filmed live in France. It’s got a lot of great songs. It’s a full Cavalera concert. It’s a really cool show and it’s really cool for the fans. They get something extra, the full DVD along with the album, some more artwork, some more photos from the studio. But as far as the sound, the album is exactly the way it was finished. I didn’t touch anything. I love the way it turned out. I love the work that Logan [Mader, producer] did. It’s heavy, it’s crisp, it’s big-sounding, it’s aggressive, it’s brutal. It’s more brutal than Inflikted, and I wanted to get that result. Right now I’m just very excited to have people hear the record.

When you were writing it, were you like ‘That’s a Conspiracy song, that’s a Soulfly song…’?

When I write, I write all together. I just write riffs al the time, not really thinking which one it’s going to go into. It’s later on when I listen to the songs that I make that decision, whether it goes for Soulfly or if it goes for Cavalera. But when I’m writing I just write them all together. When I get in writing mode, it’s like a factory. Riffs come out one after the other and I don’t even stop to think about where it’s going to go. I just put it on a CD and put it aside then listen later. It’s working so far. It’s a good technique that’s been working for me for a couple of years. Since Sepultura days we did things like that. I started writing like that on Arise. That’s when I started getting my drum machine and my guitar and starting to write albums full of songs by myself. I really love doing it. It’s a therapeutic kind of thing. I lose myself with a guitar and a drum machine. They feel like a real song because of a drum machine. They have beginnings, middles, choruses, vocal parts. Some of them are really quite finished songs when you listen to the demos. I have some demos of Refuse/Resist that are like that… Arise, Dead Embryonic Cells… songs I wrote at home first then took to the studio to show the guys. It’s a technique that’s worked for me for years, and if it’s working it doesn’t need to be changed.

Will those demos ever be released?

No. I want to, but they’re really shitty-sounding. [Laughs] I don’t have the professional studio stuff, so they’re really punk sounding, man. They’re really raw. The guitar sounds are not so good and ,y programming on the drum machine is not so good – you can tell that I’m not a drummer, haha. So I’ve never released anything. But maybe one of these days! It’d be kinda cool, just to let people hear. I think one time I did release one song, Infliked, the first song from Cavalera Conspiracy. It was called ‘Max Trax’ and a bunch of people got it. It was free. That was before the album was done. So there was one time I let people hear that kind of stuff, but most of them just sit in my garage, just waiting to be discovered.


Do you have special guests on this album?

Yeah! We have one song called Lynch Mob with Roger from Agnostic Front. Me and Iggor are big fans of Agnostic Front, and we’ve been big fans for a long time. It was really awesome to get him down there to the studio to record. To me they are one of the pioneer New York hardcore bands. Before Sick Of It All, Cro Mags, Biohazard, Madball, there was Agnostic Front, from the beginning of the 80s, and they’ve always been amazing. And they still do stuff and he still sings with them. It was really cool to get him down in the studio and work side by side with him, do the lyrics together, develop the song together and watch Lynch Mob become a full song right in front of our eyes.

I hear you’re working on something with Greg Puciato from Dillinger Escape Plan, who was on the last album?

I really like collaborating with him. He loves Nailbomb and he’s been bugging me about doing something like Nailbomb ever since I met him, since we did the Omen recording of Rise Of The Fallen. It turned out really cool and I really like that song. Greg’s a great singer and he’s got a lot of great ideas. So Greg has been calling me from time to time. It will probably be a lot more like a project than Cavalera Conspiracy, which is a real band which goes on tour. It would be just one off, maybe just one album like Nailbomb was. Something off the wall. We’re just getting ideas put together to see what’s going to happen with that.

I saw at NAMM that you have a new ESP signature model. It’s quite a different shape for you.

Yeah! I’ve been trying a couple of different things with ESP. I love all of their guitars, and I’ve been using the Viper for so long. I still use it and I still love it. It’s one of my favourite guitars. I tried the Axe, and now I’m trying the EX model, which is also really cool. I just kinda keep switching from year to year, trying different guitars they have. Some people are not using a lot of those guitars, so I look at the catalog and I say “Are a lot of people using this?” and they’ll say no, and I’ll use that for a while. My goal is to design my own guitar. I have some sketched I’ve done that are really pretty cool. I’m getting pretty close to getting something that really looks awesome, they way I like it, and I hope that I can make that with ESP and have my own model designed by me that is going to be completely unique and different from everything else.

Blunt Force Trauma is out now through Roadrunner. Thanks to Roadrunner Records Australia.


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