To say Max and Iggor Cavalera are two of the most important figures of metal music, would be one hell of an understatement. As one of Brazil’s most influential and successful musicians ever, and one of the most acclaimed and respected in the entire metal scene, they have pushed boundaries and taken several risks just to give the world a powerful dosage of several unique, significant and heavy albums. One of which, being their most iconic – Sepultura’s “Roots”, where they will be reuniting with Australian crowd to perform one of metal’s most quintessential records in its entirety. Speaking to the legend himself, Max Cavalera, we had a chat about their highlights of their current touring cycle for the album, the nostalgic hit they’ve experienced with performing “Roots”, the influence its had on newer material that they’ve been working on, and more predominantly, their upcoming Australian tour in support of the record.
“The “Roots” tour has been going great, all over the world” he begins. “We just came back from Iceland, last week, and we just played a lot of festivals in Europe. We also did an American tour with Full of Hell and Immolation, and it’s been just great, sold out everywhere, really packed and a lot of people at the shows. It’s so fun to play a record that’s twenty years old. Normally, you make a new record and you go play the new record, but, this is something different. We’re playing an old album that we never got a chance to play the whole thing before, entirely, like this. Me and Iggor are loving it, and we can’t wait to come to Australia to show the fans the whole “Roots” experience, which is quite mind-blowing.”
Joining them on the Australian leg are Welsh ragga metallers Skindred, who Max has associated with in the past with previous Soulfly material. During the topic, he also gives a bit of insight as to what is to be expected during the show, other than just performing “Roots” from start to finish.
“It’s gonna be fun having them supporting us. They’re good friends of ours, and Benji has been involved in the beginning of Soulfly on the first album. I think it’s great and it’s going to be fantastic for the fans. We’re playing the whole album, and then we’re going to play a couple of different Sepultura songs, and then we do a couple of covers that we love like Black Metal and Ace of Spades. It’s a full night of metal, and anyone who loves metal has gotta be there!”
With the Return to Roots tour going on since last year, Max brings up some of the highlights that he and the band got to experience during the shows they performed. One of which, included a special guest performance from another legendary musician who appeared on the “Roots” album in ’96.
“Some of the highlights, I think, have been on the US tour with Full of Hell and Immolation was great. Especially, the San Francisco show when Mike Patton showed up and we played Lookaway with Mike on vocals, and that was amazing. And then the LA show, the next day, was sold out at The Observatory with two-thousand people going apeshit. One of the festivals we played was Download, which was incredible. We were on early in the day, but everybody was there and it was a fantastic reaction. Like I said before, we played a festival in Iceland and the fans said it was the best show they ever had there. We love that we’re able to bring “Roots” to so many different parts of the world, and now we’re coming to Australia. It’s fantastic!”
Twenty-one years ago, the whole world were introduced to “Roots” by Sepultura. With many musicians holding many material of theirs dearly to their hearts, there would be some special and sentimental value to those that incarnated what it was that they created. With Max, he explains why he treats “Roots” as one of the most important pieces of his career, and why it’s such a stand-out and a work of genius to him.
“It was kind of a fearless record” he says. “We made the record in kind of a weird time. Because, grunge had just exploded and that’s all that the demographics would talk about. We didn’t really care much for that, we just wanted to play metal. But, we also thought that we should push metal to different directions in different ways of playing metal. That’s why we decided to down-tune everything and make the songs simpler. “Roots” had a whole concept behind going to the tribe in Brazil, and that’s something that’s never been done in metal, before. Like, spending time with the tribe and getting painted and make the whole visual of the record. So, I think it was a very different record, but it’s VERY heavy and I think it’s the element of “Roots”, with stuff like Cut-Throat, Dictatorshit and Endangered Species, which are all very heavy and powerful, and then you have the sounds of people singing in Ratamahatta. So, it was a very good and strong record and I’m very happy to play after twenty years. There are some people that were even born when “Roots” came out and they’re coming to the shows and they’re completely blown away by it. Even playing the whole record from the beginning, I’ve never done that before. So, for me, it’s quite a trip and it’s very rewarding, and it makes me appreciate “Roots” even more now, than before. I think it’s a really strong record.”
Looking back on his lifetime with music, Max has given a lot of love to time, as all the years that have gone by have made “Roots” just as important now, as it was when it was first released. Max also states that the people who have had the record attached to their lives since they first heard it have given “Roots” more power and pizazz, as it’s been a “soundtrack of their lives”.
“What’s great about music is that, with the years, it gets better and better. I think a record like “Roots” now, is better than what it was when it came out. Because, time has a way of making the album better. A lot of those songs are really important for a lot of people and some of those songs are the people’s soundtrack of their lives and we get to play them live. You can feel the excitement when you play them, because those people are really feeling those songs. Of course, there’s also the other projects that are still doing it, like Cavalera Conspiracy has a new album coming out, Soulfly is going to have another album coming out next year, and next year is also the twenty years of the first Soulfly record that came out in ’98. So, it’s great that we’ve grown with the time, but we’re still busy and doing stuff for the future.”
With many of the topics and concept that revolve around the tracks in “Roots” have focused on Brazil’s culture and history, Max believes that a lot of the songs still relate to what the world has been going through in recent times. He gives a number of tracks and reasons why, as well as talking about how those perceptions made “Roots” what it is, today.
“A lot of the stuff from “Roots” still applies to today” he says. “Like, Attitude is about life in general, Straighthate is about having the angry side of you, and especially now with idiots like Trump being president of America and other idiots around the world following him, and it’s so fucked up. I think Dictatorshit is a perfect song for that kind of stupidity. And of course, there’s the concepts of “Roots” with the culture, mixing metal and culture I don’t think had ever been done before. And that was the beautiful thing, with “Roots”, because we were able to mix metal and culture in such an exciting way. Showing the beauty of the Brazilian culture mixed with metal, and it was done in such an honest, powerful way that was really incredible.”
Asking Max about whether or not the nostalgic vibe is present when performing the album in its entirety, he brings up about what he and Iggor had been going through at the time of when “Roots” had been released. Nowadays, they both feel very content with playing the record live in front of thousands of people, as time has given them time to evolve as musicians and people.
“I think Iggor once said that we didn’t really enjoy “Roots” when it came out, because it was during a real turmoil time in our lives. There were a lot of things not going right within the band and within ourselves, and the success of “Roots” also kind of threw us off. So now, we get to really enjoy that, more. Playing “Roots” now, is much more relaxing, peaceful and enjoyable than what it was twenty years ago. So, I think it’s kinda like we learned with time, to appreciate the things that we have, and “Roots” is like that. But, there is definitely a nostalgic feeling that take us back to the nineties, when the album came out.”
Max then switches things up on what has been going on with himself in the studio as of late. It seems that not only will we be seeing a new Cavalera Conspiracy album soon, but also a new Soulfly LP by some time next year. In the meantime, the Cavalera brothers are going at it at full force with touring, including another European visit and performing Nailbomb’s only record in America.
“I have my son Zyon in Soulfly now, and I’m so excited that we’re working on the next Soulfly record hopefully, by the end of this year. Because, there’s a lot of touring to be done after Australia. We go back to Europe with Overkill, and then I’m doing Nailbomb in America, with Soulfly playing Nailbomb. So, there’s a lot of things going on, but we also have a new Cavalera record that gets mastered tomorrow. That thing is totally done and it’s a BEAST, it’s a beast of an album. It’s going to surprise a lot of people. It’s the best Cavalera record of all the three, by far. I put it next to stuff like we did with our “Arise” days, like it’s really connected with “Arise”.
Concluding the interview, I asked Max if the newer material that he, Iggor and his bandmates had been crafting were influenced by the touring that they have been doing with “Roots”. On his end, it turns out that the energy from all of the gigs they were performing had really set a whole new tone to what the brothers were getting up to in the studio.
“Musically, the Cavalera is album doesn’t have much to do with “Roots”, it’s just more thrash. More like a mix of old and new stuff we listen to like Full of Hell, Bölzer and a lot of the new bands we listen to. I think the excitement of the tour, the crowds, the places, the adrenaline of playing the songs and the meaning of the songs for those people gave us a lot of energy, going into the studio. So, I think when we stepped in the studio to make the new Cavalera album, we were fully charged from the tour and I think that resonated with the record, because of that. That’s great thing to have, when the album was fuelled by the tour.”
Max & Iggor Cavalera
‘Return To Roots’ Australian Tour
Presented by Destroy All Lines, Chugg Entertainment, Hysteria Mag & HEAVY Mag
Thursday, 21st September
Easton Hill Hotel, Brisbane
Tickets: Destroy All Lines
Friday, 22nd September
Big Top, Sydney
Tickets: Destroy All Lines
Saturday, 23rd September
Forum Theatre, Melbourne
Tickets: Destroy All Lines
Sunday, 24th September
Tickets: Destroy All Lines
Tuesday, 26th September
Astor Theatre, Perth
Tickets: Destroy All Lines