FEBRUARY 17th, 2014

Max Cavalera and Soulfly made their way through the Pacific Northwest in Early February while on tour promoting the band’s ninth studio effort titled ‘Savages.’ Metal Titans caught up with Cavalera on February 2nd in Portland for a conversation. Being that it was Super Bowl Sunday of course there was some conversation about the ‘big game.’ “I like the Seahawks in this one. I don’t think they can be stopped. They’re a young team and they play with a lot of energy,” said Cavalera. We swapped some stories about our teams and how their 2013 seasons were less than stellar before launching into the interview. “My team is the Detroit Lions they had a heartbreaking season,” says Cavalera miserably over the background noise of the pre-game show as it blares from the flat screen in the back of the tour bus.

By Ruben Mosqueda

MetalTitans: Talk to me about the new record ‘Savages.’ There seems to be a bit of a theme related to cannibalism? How accurate is that?

Cavalera: There’s some of that on ‘Savages.’ This idea came about when I was talking to my wife about how we’ve have advance with technology. We’re able to send people into space and have all these advancements yet they’re decapitating people in Mexico and they’re gassing people in Syria—we’re savages. We’re going into the future yet we’re still so backwards. So that’s where the idea came to title the record ‘Savages.’

MetalTitans: I’ve always liked the way that you have been able to depict the brutality of mankind in song. You’ve some that with Sepultura and you’ve been doing that for a while now with Soulfly.

Cavalera: Thank you. When I sit down to write the lyrics I listen to what the music is telling me. If the riff is really heavy and really aggressive then it’s telling me to sing really heavy and really aggressive. I made caparison the other day; The Beatles had gift of writing love songs. I have the gift of writing hate song or angry songs. (laughs) It just comes out of me. I think if you listen to our music there are some positive messages there too. We take something that’s negative and we try to turn it into something that is positive. The works is really fucked up. There’s a lot of evil out there and a lot of wrong being done we just sing about that.

The cannibal theme was a curiosity of mine that I have had. I was fascinated by Dorangel Vargas (‘El Comegente’ or ‘People Eater’) who is this Venezuelan serial killer. It’s an amazing story it would make a great movie. I’m surprised no one has made that into a film. Tony (Campos) and I did “El Comegente” as “Plato O Plomo” part two. I loved researching Pablo Escobar which inspired “Plata O Plomo” on the last album ‘Enslaved.’ We added some black humor in both the songs that gave it a little bit of a Dead Kennedy’s feel to it. I liked the results and I think we’ll continue to do this on future Soulfly records.

MetalTitans: You brought Terry Date on board to produce ‘Savages.’ Why inspired the change? Was Zeuss not available to produce this record?

Cavalera: Terry’s been on my wish list for a longtime. I like how he works. As you know he’s mixed three of my records. We had been in contact he said he was ready to work and I was ready too. We got together and went to work on ‘Savages.’ We’re friends we have a really good relationship. In fact he was out at show yesterday (Seattle, WA). He’s a sweet guy man. He’s a legend to me. I mean he did all those Pantera records he worked with Soundgarden and Deftones.

MetalTitans: Your wife Gloria manages you. How do you keep a balance or set boundaries to keep the professional relationship working so it doesn’t affect the personal relationship negatively?

Cavalera: We have a good working relationship and we have a great marriage. I think for us this works really well because we like the same things; we love to travel, we love to see the world, we love our family and we love music. We respect each other’s boundaries; I don’t tell her how to manage and she in turn doesn’t tell me how to write songs. She says something if she hears something that sounds weird in a song but no very often. She allows me to create. I’m blessed that I’m not on label that wants me to be something that I’m not. I mean if they wanted me to write a ‘pop’ song?! (laughs) I can’t write a pop song to save my life! (laughs) I don’t know how to do it. I don’t care to know how to do it. I mean there are people that can do that and they are great at it. I give them credit but it’s just not for me. I like this shit. I like the heavy shit—it’s what I write. It’s my blood and veins. Gloria and I we trust each other, we respect each other and we really work well together man. I like what she does with her Facebook page and she has helped me a lot with my book. It’s amazing and cool.

I was mess. I was involved with alcohol and with drugs and she put up with a lot. I have to give her a lot of credit for sticking by me through all of that. I was very difficult to be around and work with for a very longtime. Like most artists I too had trouble with that stuff but we overcome. I’ve been clean now for about 8 years. It’s been great. I don’t mind being around being around people who are drinking or using drugs—it doesn’t bother me.

MetalTitans: You’ve been a resident of Phoenix for close to 25 years at this point. Have you become a U.S. citizen at this point?

Cavalera: Yes. I became a U.S. Citizen about 10 years ago. I have both passports when I go to Brazil I use my Brazilian passport when I travel anywhere else I use my U.S. passport. It was cool man I wanted to do it and I wanted to be totally legal. I took the test and had to study up on U.S. history, presidents and shit like that. I’m proud of that.

MetalTitans: You brought up your autobiography what’s the status of that?

Cavalera: I worked with Joel McIver and we tried to remember every little detail. There’s a lot in the book about my childhood, how I got into music, losing my dad when I was 9 years old. Can you believe that my dad died in my arms when I was 9 years old? That affected me throughout my entire like even to this day. There’s the beginning of Sepultura and how we have this us against the world attitude that was very punk rock.

That’s the thing that the New York hardcore scene really respected Sepultura. If you asked bands like Agnostic Front or the Cro-Mags they liked and respected us. In fact I was just talking to Igor (Cavalera) the other day and he was telling how one of the guys in Black Flag posted that one their favorite albums was ‘Roots.’ I love Black Flag what a great iconic band that was. Igor and I we were the punk rock guys in the band. Andreas (Kisser) and Paulo (Jr.) weren’t so much into punk. I loved the ‘fuck you’ attitude of punk and it’s simplicity.

I still have to read my book! (laughs) I haven’t read it yet. I liked what I have read. I think right now we’re looking at an April release. It’s called ‘My Blood Roots.’ There’s some funny stuff in there like when I puked on Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) or getting a drink thrown at me by Lemmy (Kilmister) which I refer to as my baptism! (laughs)  I think you’ll really enjoy the book.