Since Max Cavalera’s departure from SEPULTURA in 1996, the metal world has wished for none other than a SEPULTURA reunion. While that dream still remains, the recent reunion between brothers Iggor and Max has proven to be more special and meaningful. Their new project CAVALERA CONSPIRACY marks the first time the Cavalera brothers have recorded together in more than a decade. The result? A blistering infliction of thrash, punk, and metal that seethes with excitement and enthusiasm. Just before the album’s release, frontman Max took some time to express his delight to APESHIT about the reunion with his brother and the subsequent spontaneous musical output.
APESHIT: The album isn’t even out yet but the praise from the media and all the coverage has been building up a huge buzz. How excited are you to get the album finally released next week?
Max: I’m excited man. I just talk to fans in record stores. Unfortunately, I don’t have too much access to the internet. I don’t have [a computer] myself so I’m primitive. I’m old school. [laughs] But I feel the buzz man. It’s great. The fans come to me at shows that heard the record. They really like it so I’m excited. The hard part part is waiting for the album to come out. That’s the part I always hate because you’re working on something for too long, like two years, and then finally it’s done and then you have to wait two or three months until it’s released and it’s all finished. But it’s okay. We just wait, and we just go tour. We’re definitely excited man because they fuckin’ really like the record. I’m stoked to be playing with Iggor again, of course. You know, he’s my brother. It’s [been a] long time. I really think the record was honestly done from the heart. This is what we wanted to play. It’s all in the record. We didn’t try to do anything else except to make an album [about] what we represent right now.
APESHIT: Can you tell us about the very first time when you and Iggor rehearsed again together and what that was like?
Max: We did a sound check in Phoenix for the Dana show (D-Low Memorial). That was pretty powerful man. We played “Roots [Bloody Roots]” and “Attitude.” During sound check the whole place was just kind of watching us like a show. [laughs] It was really ridiculous like, “What the fuck is going on?” I don’t even normally do sound check. I don’t believe in sound checks. My roadies always know that we come to venues and forget about Max even coming to the sound check. [laughs] Sound check is really just for practice. If it sounds good at sound check, then it’s gonna sound like shit when you do the show. And the other way around when you have a shitty sound check and then the show sounds great. It never really works. I had a conversation with my sound man. He tried to convince me with all those technical things, and I said, “Shut up man. It’s all bullshit.” [laughs] “When the show comes everything sounds different every night, so don’t give me that shit.” I don’t believe in that crap. But it’s fuckin’ awesome to be back with him on a stage looking at him. I saw him doing a big smile behind the drum kit. But when he starts pounding those drums, it’s powerful. [He] makes that shit sound like thunder. I made a joke. I said, “fuckin’ Iggor should keeping the drums like that, she’ll confess to you.” [laughs] We kind of joke in Portuguese like that back and forth. It was definitely powerful and exciting and emotional and fun because that’s the main thing. You should also enjoy it with people you like playing music with. That’s very important.
APESHIT: At what point did you guys decide to form a band and play music together again?
Max: I came to that conclusion when we were at the stage playing “Roots.” It hit me. I have to do something. This is amazing. And then at the backstage after the show later, I stopped by to Iggor. I got carried away all the time, and I lied. “Hey Iggor! Let’s make an album together. I’ve got like 15 songs ready man.” And of course I had like nothing. [laughs] He just gave me this look like, “You’re in fuckin’ trouble man.” [laughs] So the next morning, it was me and my guitar –- “You better work motherfucker!” [laughs] It was cool. I wrote a bunch of new stuff. I actually sent Iggor a CD to Brazil. I have actually never done this before. I really like this idea. Iggor was like, “Why don’t you send a CD with the songs?” By then I had like 10 songs, it was, “Make your brother some CDs. Let him drive on that shit too.” So I did that it and it was so cool. I think that prepared Iggor a lot for the studio. When he came to the studio, he knew all the songs. So it was kind of cool. It felt like the old days of SEPULTURA, where we actually knew a lot of the stuff since we practiced before. So it wasn’t completely out of the blue in the studio at all. So there were songs that Iggor would [be like], “Hey, play that one, the crazy fast one!” It’d be like “Sanctuary” or something like “The Doom of All Fires,” [which] a little bit reminds me of S.O.D. We had nicknames for the songs like “S.O.D.,” “MORBID ANGEL,” “KING DIAMOND,” “MERCYFUL FATE,” whatever. [laughs] “NAPALM DEATH.” Every song had a nickname.
APESHIT: I know you recorded the album last summer and then recorded the SOULFLY album last September, right?
Max: Right…part of it. Not the whole thing.
APESHIT: So as far as writing the riffs, you wrote them at separate times, right?
Max: Yeah. They were done at separate times and also the way I work is a little bit unorthodox and unusual because I just write all the time regardless of having to write or not. If I’m in the middle of a record, then I write a little more. But regardless of that, I write. Like this morning, I already wrote something. The more you play, the more you grab your instrument and play, you’re getting different things all the time. If you only write things when you’re just doing an album, I think, to me, it’s maybe the problem of some bands that only do it when they have to. And it becomes a little bit forced because they have to do it at that moment. You’re not inspired. Inspiration is not automatic. I have to explain that to a lot of people, including Gloria [Max’s wife]. “Shit a bunch of songs!” It doesn’t work like that. To me this concept of writing all the time is really important because you write something, you put it away, and then come back to it a year later. You might have a really cool song that you didn’t even notice. You record it, it’s there. So I do that a lot. So the SOULFLY stuff is like some stuff I wrote new and some stuff I was picking up things from two to three years ago that I wrote on the road in the U.S. or in Europe. I grabbed a bunch of tracks from a four track. “Yeah, this one works.” I bring them to the studio and show the other guys and we kind of pick the best riffs. That’s how everything actually starts.
APESHIT: What the vibe and the energy like when you guys were jamming in the studio and putting the songs together? Was it really exciting?
Max: Yeah, it was kind of crazy because it was fast. Iggor was there for 10 days, and he already booked a flight [home]. “If I have to stay more, of course I’ll stay more [since] this project means more than anything else to me.” But he actually finished all the drums, and he was actually on his way to the airport. He drummed something, got out of the drum kit and then put a jacket on. [Laughs] It was kind of bizarre! Talking about working and leaving! [laughs] “So I’ll see you later man.” So I gave him a big hug, and I knew he was super happy to have finished this album. But he didn’t tell me until a week later that he took the album home and he called me and said, “Max, fucking love this record man!” To hear that from him, was the one thing that I needed to really be in peace with myself because of everything that has happened between us. For him to say, “Okay, I fucking love the album” because I tried to hard to make a good album because I’m playing with him again. It was really nerve wracking too. Lots of responsibility. Everybody was like, “The whole world is watching.” The last time I recorded with him was Roots.
I really think the album speaks for itself. It’s more violent, more thrash, more crazy. So yeah man, I’m really into this shit right now.
APESHIT: After spending over a decade apart from Iggor, how has his playing evolved after all these years and the way he records, has anything changed with him?
Max: A little bit. I think Iggor’s a little faster to record. Not really recording, but finding drum sounds. He used to be really kind of took a long to find the sounds. This time we actually got the drum sound really quick. We went right to recording.
Everything else is the same, me and him. I still play four strings, and he still hits with the drum stick upside down on the right hand. [laughs] Those two things are the same no matter what. Those are really our trademarks that we have.
So in terms of playing and recording, there’s not a lot of change. I could easily go back in time and compare this to record Arise or Chaos A.D., and the way we play and record is very similar. The way we act in the studio is very similar.
APESHIT: How did you guys decide to ask Joe Duplantier from GOJIRA to join the band?
Max: The idea was actually born out of…I hired [guitarist] Marc [Rizzo] because I think he can definitely do a killer job on the guitars. And then I said that it would be cool to have somebody from somewhere else, or somebody that I don’t know that none of us have ever met, just to bring some kind of craziness to the project…some kind of dangerous element. Maybe bring in someone that we can get in trouble with. [Laughs] Let’s shake the fuckin’ boat. Let’s rock the boat a little bit. So that was kind of my idea. Gloria actually suggested GOJIRA, and I think it was a great idea. I listened to their CD, and I thought that the CD was great, the music is killer. It had a lot to do with what I was thinking of doing. So when I was supposed to call GOJIRA, the funny thing was that I was supposed to get their bass player. So I called them asking for their bass player [but] Joe is a huge SEPULTURA fan. “I’ll tell you what. My bass player is going to stay here and I’m coming!” [laughs] Oh shit, it’s like I created a war within the band! He was totally cool. He was like, “I’m a bigger fan than my bass player so I’m the man for this, the man for the job.” And he was because Joe came with all these cool ideas like “Ultra Violent,” and he sings some with me. So he was the cool missing link of the project.
The kind of dangerous, weird idea worked. Maybe it wouldn’t, but we didn’t know it. I’m more willing to take the risk and do it than to be too safe. I think that’s the problem with rock and music today. Everybody’s too safe. Nobody’s willing to take risks anymore. Me and Iggor are still in the old ways, “Let’s strike some danger. Who cares. Let’s just be adventurous.” That’s always the best to me.
APESHIT: For me, the best part of the record is the last part of “Sanctuary” where Iggor’s drums start building up the intensity until it all explodes when the whole band comes in. Are you gonna go totally crazy when you play this live?
Max: It’s made with that intention. [laughs] It’s funny you mention that because that is one of my favorite parts of that record. That whole build up, when that started, that’s when I wrote the lyrics, “Everybody die tonight.” Everybody saw me in the studio and was like, “Wow, Max is really fired up. To hear the shit he’s singing is pretty fuckin crazy.” People were like, “Does he always get like that when he’s extremely happy, do a good song, he writes, ‘Everybody die tonight?’” [laughs] So I guess we do. That’s our own way to express our excitement.
But definitely, that build up is killer. Iggor does something, that actually goes off the tempo. In music, there’s bars, like four bars. I think Iggor does six and a half. [laughs] You can never record that shit with a click track so that’s what’s cool. This is live. This is real live recording that you cannot computerize this shit. This shit is live, the way it’s supposed to be.
APESHIT: The video for the song is pretty crazy too. Who came up with the concept for the video?
Max: Because Iggor and the director [came up with it], I really had no idea. I’m sharing [responsibilities] with Iggor about the project which I think is cool, to do it in a way that we did in SEPULTURA. We share things so I’m not too involved in artwork. I’m not too involved with videos. I’m more involved in writing songs and recording. So Iggor found these guys in France to do this video, and then told me about the concept, which I think sounds cool, sounds crazy enough, it fits the song. My only bummer is that I asked the producer if I could get killed too because all the other guys are getting killed. “Can I get killed too? Crucify me upside down over fire, something like that.” They were not into that. [Laughs] The band survives. “The monster, he’s cool with you guys for now. He’s fucking with all the French photographers.” [laughs] Like, Okay cool.
I’ll tell you what I like about the video a lot, the meaning of it. Not the plot or the concept of it but the actual meaning of what people expect in a super high tech video that’s very produced, expensive. We gave them the complete opposite. The most punk, fucked up, low tech video. It’s almost like a B-movie. I like that about this thing. It carries that Max and Iggor punk thing that we had in SEPULTURA. That part I really like. Even our label, when they saw the video they were like, “Hey, this video looks fucked up.” [Laughs] I think they were waiting for a NICKELBACK type of thing. That did not happen. I was happy with that.
APESHIT: I was wondering if you guys intentionally made Rex [PANTERA] play on “Ultra Violent” in order to corrupt him or devirginize him to playing on his first death metal song?
Max: It was actually an accident because a lot of songs already had bass. “Ultra Violent” didn’t. So it was actually an accident. I didn’t pick out that song. It was between that and “Must Kill” but when Rex heard the beginning riff, I could just see that this is the one. I could see his face. [laughs] He was just shaking his head up and down going, “Hell yeah!” When someone’s vibing the song like that, you better give him the song. Don’t give him some other song because that will just ruin the whole vibe. So we just gave Rex that one. “Do this one man.” It was funny cause I booked eight hours of studio for him, and I never record with Rex. So if you need eight hours or more, shit, we’ll be ready. And he fucking killed the song in 30 minutes. [laughs] “Fuck man, we got seven hours left!” We just chatted, talk about old tour stories and drunk stories. It was more fun than I thought. He came, did it for half an hour, and just hang out for the rest of the day so it was great.
APESHIT: What do you think of Iggor’s DJ project, MIXHELL?
Max: I don’t know really to be honest. I haven’t heard it. Iggor has always been like that. I always let him do his thing, kind of like in the SEPULTURA days, the death metal days back in Morbid Visions. I’ll be listening to fucking HELLHAMMER and SLAYER. And he listened to all that stuff too, but putting a BEASTIE BOYS song in the practice room, like the first BEASTIE BOYS album. We’d be like, “What the fuck is this?” [laughs] And Iggor is just like that, different sides, like a skater. I always say, “Iggor, you were Californian in your other life. You love the whole thing. The whole skate, surf, punk thing, BEASTIE BOYS, the whole California punk scene. You’re into all that.” It’s cool. I respect that, and I think it’s cool if he is not afraid to experiment. But when it comes to making metal with me, I don’t let any of that shit out. I told him straight up on the phone, “You better not bring any DJ shit. It’s not coming in here.” [laughs] I told him that I’m being very racist to myself, there’s no reggae on this album. “So I’m not just picking on you. I’m picking on everybody to make a fuckin’ metal album. He just laughed and was like, “Don’t worry man. Let’s play metal. You know I want to do that with you.” “I know, I know, just joking.”
APESHIT: Iggor has professed his love for French house DJ duo, JUSTICE. Has he made you listen to JUSTICE yet?
Max: I don’t know that either because I don’t have internet. He’s supposed to show me. I didn’t see it. The only thing I know is that I wanted to see the guy that did the director of our video, the CONSPIRACY video, won an MTV video award in Europe for JUSTICE. It’s the one Kanye West thought he was going to win because it was like a million dollars and JUSTICE won. Kanye West got into a fight with JUSTICE and was trying to take the award. [laughs] I love that whole thing! It’s punk rock! These guys won and Kanye West got all pissed off.
I’m living in the desert with the person that I hang out with most, my kid Igor. He’s the biggest NAPALM DEATH, CANNIBAL CORPSE fan on the planet so 90% of my time, I’m jamming to metal. I listen to stuff on the side like dub. I’m still very much a metalhead and that’s the way I am. Iggor does the other stuff. If he ever showed me, yeah I’d be willing to check it out. I’m always open but I haven’t seen anything yet, no.
APESHIT: Are you guys really looking forward to playing in Brazil?
Max: Yeah. To me, it would be interesting. Actually, it’s more of a chance to redeem [myself] so I don’t get lynched to death when I get back there. [laughs] I haven’t been there for eight years. It’s like the longest exile. Not on purpose, but it just ended up being like that. But I look forward to it. This album is getting killer reviews, and fans are going apeshit down in Brazil. It’s always been crazy there that you’ve probably already heard of. In general, I’m excited for the whole world. I’m just excited to play with Iggor and Marc and everybody. We’ve been talking about doing something I’ve never done before, playing the whole album…like dropping an 11 song bomb into the crowd. To me, it would be the ultimate different thing to do. I’ve never done that before. I know that IRON MAIDEN has done that before and SLAYER. I will not have a better chance than this. So yeah, I’m excited for any tour that’s coming up.
APESHIT: Looking towards the future, is CAVALERA CONSPIRACY going to be another full-time band for you?
Max: We talked about that. It’s kinda cool the way we are approached the whole CONSPIRACY thing. It’s one thing at a time without overdoing it and without letting it ruin it. We want to do everything to let us enjoy it, have killer shows, and have a great band for Iggor and me to represent to the fans, but without turning into something unfortunately that would ruin us or the music. It’s really been done in a strange, new format so we just do things one at a time. We don’t plan ahead. The longest thing that we’ve planned ahead is the European tour. After that, we don’t know. We’re just gonna sit down and talk and see what we’re going to do. I definitely love to do more stuff to tour more and definitely do another record with more guests. For the CONSPIRACY, it would be very cool to become some kind of metal/punk community thing, where you just invite a bunch of friends to sing some songs, play some different instruments. I thought that that would be really cool because it’s not supposed to be regular band. It’s a band but it’s different, even more different than NAILBOMB. So yeah, hopefully we can do that, but we don’t have anything definitely planned.