Max & Iggor Cavalera

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I had the honor of meeting Max & Iggor Cavalera during their Return To Roots/Headbangers Ball tour at the venue Trix in Antwerp. Their albums had a huge influence on me, the subgenres and many bands I like, so when I was asked to interview them I never hesitated. During the year they’ve been touring with their Return To Roots set to celebrate Roots’s 20th anniversary. When the festival season ended they started recording their new Cavalera Conspiracy album, called Psychosis, with the mighty producer, Arthur Rizk. And right now they’re part of the Headbangers Ball tour lineup. As you can see these two brothers can’t be pushed down, not even after more than 30 years!

Hi guys, how are you doing and how has the Headbangers Ball tour been so far?
Iggor: We’re good, surviving the snow and storms (laughs). One place in Germany it was snowing really heavy and now here as well. I mean, the shows are good and the bands are cool. It also has been some really good crowd, so it’s been a good way to finish the Return To Roots tour.

Did you ever watch Headbangers Ball on MTV? I’ve seen they interviewed you a couple of times.
Max: A little bit, because they played some of our stuff, which was cool. We got interviewed by Vanessa Warwick several times. She actually went to Spain and did a special on us. She was a big fan.

Iggor: We also got interviewed for the American Headbanger’s Ball. Nirvana was there the same day.

Max: So yeah, it was a cool show. I wish they did continue it.

Iggor: Before the internet it was a really cool way to watch it on TV. People were expecting bands to premiere their videos there. So, in that moment I think it was the coolest way to watch videos. Nowadays I don’t think it’s that relevant anymore, because people just put whatever they want online. But still, I wish they still had a TV show.

How is it like to play these songs live for so many years, which are obviously considered classics?
Max: It’s great. It’s like wine. The older it gets the better it becomes. My favorite part of the show is when we’re playing Spit and Straighthate. Also when Iggor is doing Itsári by himself and the Indians, which I think is very powerful and a really cool moment during the show. I also love the drum jam during Ambush. It was a great record, you know. 20 years ago I think we made a very presenting record for the fans, because the sound is great and we have a good band behind us. We also started playing a new song on this tour, Excruciating, together with an Ace Of Spades cover. It became kind of our encore song. It also is kind of an ending, because I don’t know when we’re going to play these songs again, except from some special occasions maybe. We have more stuff, you know. The new Cavalera Conspiracy just came out and we’re very excited. We love the record and I think we can do some great things with it.

How would you describe the new Cavalera Conspiracy album for the fans?
Iggor: Yeah, it’s very difficult to put in words. In my opinion it really reflects what Max and me are thinking right now in music, in lyrics and in the whole vibe of the record. It’s a reflection of where we are at this moment and right now I think we’re super sharp as musicians and family. I think this album is like a 100 percent what we are right now and that’s what I love about it. It has elements from the past, the future and it’s very exciting. Right now we did so much of Return To Roots that it’s even more exciting to me to play Excruciating, the last track of our new album, every night. We have a lot of energy because it’s so fresh. I really can’t wait to tour with the album next year.

Max: To me, it’s my favorite Cavalera record. I think all of them are great. I love the first one, Inflikted, but I think Psychosis is better. It’s more mature and it’s what we really wanted. It’s heavy, but it’s full of different parts and well made. That’s what I talked about with Iggor before, we made this record with the idea of: “Let’s create something we really put time in”. And we did that, we had the time and the luxury of being in a studio where we could work on the songs.

How did you experience working with Arthur Rizk?
Iggor: I think he also was a very important part of this record, because Arthur was someone that helped Max and me really dig into certain things. He’s probably one of the first producers that would go through everything that Max did as a demo and listen carefully to everything to then discuss with us what we would think of doing. And it got to the point where we had to stop, because there was so much good stuff and we were like: “Oh man, we already have the record here”. But if it was up to us and Arthur, we could have probably had 5 or 6 more songs from the demo’s that Max made. I think there was a good chemistry between the three of us, because he also understands my crazy experimental things and Max‘s love for the raw stuff. So, I think in that sense it was  a great thing of having him aboard.

Max: I knew he was good when he brought the rototoms back to Iggor‘s drums, because he used them on Schizophrenia. So he knows it’s a Schizophrenia thing, which is really cool.

Iggor: Yeah, he bought that in one of those punk shops, because you can only find the vintage stuff in places like that. When he showed up in the studio with it, I was like: “Okay, this guy really knows where we’re going with this”. So that was really cool to bring back some of those memories. Last time I had those in my drums it was definitely mid-80’s. I’ve known him for many years, because he played in so many bands. I met him through Andrew from Strife and we became friends right away, probably because of our interest in crazy music. It’s really cool to find people like that.

You both had a huge influence on younger bands like Nails, Full Of Hell and Gatecreeper. How does that feel?
Max: It’s great because I’m fan of those bands. I think what they’re doing now is just carrying the torch of what we started. When you see Full Of Hell live it’s so exciting, because it’s that spirit we had they’re taking over and bringing forward. It’s very respecting of them, because they give full credit to our background, you know. And I think that’s the way it should be. It’s really cool, because we like them and they also like us, so we fill up each other. We also started to tour more with them, which is great.

Iggor: I also just saw Nails in London. Same thing, the energy on stage was so amazing and they have something really cool. Me and Max always paid attention to the relation between punk and metal and I could definitely see that in Nails when they perform live. Their bass player is super punk rock and then there’s Todd, who’s a metal guy. It’s a cool thing and again very respectful. He knew everything about the new Cavalera when I showed up and that’s so cool to me. Like Max said, it’s such a wonderful thing, seeing the younger kids doing something special. I remember the first time I saw them, when we were on tour together, and I was like “this drummer is insane”. It made me think about how Max and I used to approach the stage in the beginning, full energy and on it.

My next question is what are you currently listening to? Max, I’ve seen you wearing a Necrot shirt on pictures.
Max: Yeah, I like them a lot! They released a great record, old school death metal. I listen a lot to it. This year many records came out like the new Origin. Also the new Cannabis Corpse, I just toured with them in the States. So yeah, I’m still very  much in love with the heavier and extreme kind of stuff.

Iggor: The new Integrity is awesome too. Actually, Dwid is coming to the show tonight. He’s a very good friend. Max asked him to do this Motörhead cover. I really like their latest albums, they’re super good and Domenic, their guitar player, did a very great job. There’s a lot of great music, that’s one thing that’s for sure. I remember, maybe 3 or 4 years ago, I wasn’t that excited about heavy music and I was going really deep into a lot of experimental music. Now, somehow, I’m excited again. There’s a lot of crazy good heavy stuff and that makes me feel really good.

Max: I thought the Gatecreeper record was really good too. I recognized a lot of influences from bands like Dismember, Grave, a lot of the Swedish stuff you know. Same with Firespawn. Firespawn is killer. I love those guys. We’re all good friends.

What is it like to be in bands with family members? Would you say it’s harder or easier? (Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy, Soulfly)
Max: It’s awesome, you know. I work with my son in Soulfly and with Iggor in Cavalera Conspiracy.

Iggor: I think it’s the best thing. I also have a project with my wife. One point in my life I felt like it wasn’t worth it working with people that you don’t really get along with. For me it’s a huge difference, because now I can only do this with people that I love. When I was a teenager I didn’t really care that much though. I have my work with Max and my wife. Sometimes the kids are around, I just couldn’t ask for better things in life.

Max: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun, especially when we can have Iggor‘s family and mine together during our Cavalera tour next year, because that’s like what success is. It’s not about golden records, awards and shit like that. That’s just material bullshit to me. Having people you love around you while being able to do what you love and playing every night for the fans is the best thing in the world. That’s an other thing I really love, all the support and respect we receive from them. Last night was awesome. We probably could’ve played the whole record again and they would like it. It’s so cool when you feel appreciated like that. It makes everything worth fighting for. I’m talking about bad weather, airports, shit food, missing birthdays from family etc. The energy during shows makes it all right.

Is there still something you’d like to say to your fans?
Max: I just want to thank them for their great support. I’m really excited for Psychosis. The reviews have been great. I think people love it and understand the record. It was a great tour and I would like to thank everyone that came to our Roots shows. We’ll see everyone next year! It’s going to be a great metal year.

Iggor: We will be working, that’s for sure (laughs)! One way or another we will be around. I can’t wait to tour with the new record.

Awesome, thank you!

Go check out their new album Psychosis, released by Napalm Records.