MAX CAVALERA (SOULFLY): “We have the tightness of Rush but the Punk spirit of the Pistols”


Soulfly are hitting their stride on their European tour and will reach the UK like a well oiled machine in a few days time. Mick Burgess called up Max Cavalera to chat about the live shows and to get the low down on their new album that hits the stores in October.

You’re over in the UK in a couple of weeks. Are you looking forward to coming over here to play again?

We’re really excited to be coming back to the UK. The tour is going great at the moment and we’ve really enjoyed playing the festivals and we’re really looking forward to the UK part of the tour. This is one of the best Soulfly tours we’ve ever done. We’re really enjoying it and can’t wait to bring it to the UK.

What do you enjoy most about the UK when you’re on tour?

I’m fascinated by the history. It’s amazing, all those castles and historic buildings. I love all that stuff. I love your fish and chips too and Irn Bru, that’s Scottish right?

What about the setlist. How is that looking?

We’ll be playing one new song called Summoning from our new album that’s out in October. We’ll be playing a lot of really cool older stuff too. We’ll play a few songs we haven’t done for a while like Fire, No Hope=No Fear and Umbabarauma from the first album. We’ll be doing stuff from Primitive. We’ll be doing Mars from Prophecy that we haven’t done in a long time and a lot from Dark Ages. We’ll be doing songs that we always love to play like Rise Of The Fallen and Babylon. I think there’ll be a lot of music for everyone to enjoy.

How’s Summoning been going down seeing as though it’s from an album that’s not out yet?

The fans have been loving it. It’s a really cool song and starts with a blast beat and has this killer groove and it has this awesome breakdown ending and when it comes in the fans just love it.

On 9th August you’re up North in Newcastle. You’ve played here a few times over the years. Can you remember your first show?

I can’t remember the first time but it’s always a great place to play, it’s such a cool place and the fans are always so up for the show. The fans are so passionate and love Soulfly. We’re going to have a great time. Newcastle is a great place for us to play.

7 shows in 8 days is quite a hectic schedule. How do you pace yourself on tour?

You’ve just got to go for it. Sometimes we do 20-30 without a day off. One of our crew guys used to say “Stay in your manhole and give ’em Hell.” You’ve just got to man up and do it. Don’t complain, just enjoy. There’s a lot of worse jobs out there so we’re really lucky to do this for a living and we’re having fun.

You’re known for your love of football. What did you make of the recent World Cup?

I was really happy for England, they did so amazing. It was a shame in the end but they should be very proud. I’m not so happy with Brazil, we were a big let-down. There was so much expectation and nothing happened. I would have liked to have seen Croatia win as they haven’t won it before but I think France played very well and deserved to win it in the end. Brazil has a lot of catching up to do.

You have a new album due out in a couple of months. How do you feel ahead of its release?

I’m very excited, it’s a very cool record and done in a very unique way. I worked hard on bringing in some of the early Soulfly influences from the tribal groove element along with the fast Thrash Death Metal stuff that I love right now. There’s a Navajo chant that opens the record. There’s a song called Dead Behind the Eyes that features Randy from Lamb of God and Under Rapture has Ross from Immolation, that’s a great song, the ending is full on Death Metal. It’ll be great playing those on a proper Ritual World Tour next year.

What subjects are you touching on lyrically?

There’s a song about a murder that took place in Navajo territory called Blood on the Street. We’ve known many of the Navajos for a long time and we did a concert there to mark 150 years since their treaty with the US government. We got to meet the last of the Code Talkers from World War 2 as well which was an incredible experience. We got to record with them too and the album actually opens with a Navajo chant. We’re also writing about world leaders over the years who have taken power for their own evil ways. Those leaders who get into power, instead of helping people they do the opposite. Dead Behind The Eyes is influenced by the movie Hellraiser. We also have a cool song that’s based on a Motorhead jam about life on the road and touring the world.

Where did you record the record?

We recorded in three different places. The vocals were done in California and some parts were recorded at the producer’s house and some parts in my house in Phoenix. I’m really happy with the result.

You worked with producer Josh Wilbur who has previously worked with Gojira amongst others. What did he bring to the creative process?

He’s worked on some great albums and has won a Grammy with Megadeth. He’s a real pro. He came in as a Soulfly fan and he wanted to make an album that he wanted to hear as a fan not as a producer so I think there was a twist in the way we worked together. I was pulling more for fast songs and he was pulling more for the groove stuff. I think because we were both pulling for different things we got an album with everything on it. It has a great mix and I think that’s what makes Ritual so special.

You’ve produced a fair few Soulfly albums yourself in the past. Why did you decide to work with a producer rather than do it yourself?

It’s cool to have a different opinion every now and then and someone else can sometimes get something out of you that you don’t normally get. I’ve produced Prophecy and Dark Ages and they are great records but I also like working with other people like Andy Wallace, Terry Date and Scott Burns. It’s good to have an outside opinion and this time it was Josh and he came in with a really great state of mind and really wanted to make a great Soulfly record that he wanted to hear and I think it’s really worked well. I wanted the fast stuff like Dead Behind The Eyes and Josh wanted the groove and we have that with the new record that we haven’t really done since Primitive or Soulfly 1 so everybody wins.

It’s your first album with bassist Mike Leon. How did he fit into the creative process?

He’s been great and has fit in so well and his bass sounds amazing on this record. The band is really tight at the moment. Live we are super tight but with enough looseness that we can still jam out. We’ve got that Punk spirit but it’s tight at the same time but not like Rush, it still has the Sex Pistols vibe going on. We have the spirit of Punk, kind of loose, but we still have that tightness that Metal needs with the riffs and chuggings all done at the right time. It sounds killer. We are rolling like a machine right now and have been on the road a while so when we get to the UK we will be sounding great.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

After the UK shows are done and we don’t have anything planned for Soulfly for a while. Next year we’ll be back with a full on tour playing a lot more songs from our new album and that’ll be great.

Soulfly’s UK tour starts on 6th August at the Islington Academy in London. See for more details


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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