MAX CAVALERA: ‘I Love Being In A Different City Every Night’

Jenna Williams (a.k.a. “The Scream Queen”) of recently conducted an interview with Max Cavalera of SOULFLY and CAVALERA CONSPIRACY. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. [CAVALERA CONSPIRACY‘s] “Blunt Force Trauma” was released earlier this year. Since this is your second album with CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, how would you say that you connected with this album than you did with “Inflikted”?

Max: It’s more brutal, more aggressive. I think the fans wanted something heavier after the first record and we decided to give it to them, you know? So, it’s like the old saying, “Give them what they want.” So, we did just that. We went a step further in the heaviness; songs are shorter. Stuff like “Torture” and “Thrasher” are like barely two minutes, it’s like “Reign In Blood” [SLAYER], you know? I made a comment, I said that the new album sounded a lot like modern thrash on crack (laughs), because modern thrash is really fast, and if it were on crack, it would be even faster and heavier. But yeah, it’s going good, we’re playing stuff off of the new record. It’s amazing, the reaction of the fans; they love the new stuff. “Killing Inside”, everybody sings. “Warlord”, we start with that. “Thrasher”. “Ghengis Khan”, we play that right in the middle of the set. Then later we play “I Speak Hate” together with “Roots” [SEPULTURA]; it’s great, a great reaction. When you were recording, or just recording in general, whether it had been for this album or for any of your other bands; I know you’re very isolated when doing so. You know how you have that connection and energy on stage. How do you try to incorporate that energy into your albums, or did you even try?

Max: It’s tricky, but there’s ways to do it. A lot of times, [we] just get everybody pumped up, the whole band, and we write a kick-ass song, everybody feels really killer. And then you, normally, when you just make it, you imagine how this part’s going to be when we play live. And it’s, “Hell yeah! We’re going to fuck shit up. We’re going to turn it up when we play this live!” So, I think that’s what it takes it to do it, it’s the imagination in the studio; surrounded by good guys in the band. It gets everybody excited and then you start writing all of these parts that you’d imagine them how they’d be live. And you’d be like, “This part’s going to be sick live! That part is going to be pure live!” You know? Just do that. But in the studio atmosphere, it’s a little… yeah, like you said, kind of cold, because there’s only four walls, and you don’t have a crowd there. So you have to imagine how it’s going to be when it eventually hits the fans and when they get it, when we play it in front of them, how killer it will be. So, you have to be creative, use the imagination kind of thing. When you’re writing, whether it be lyrics, melodies, or anything, how does that all start to materialize inside of your mind?

Max: Well, I write all of the riffs before I enter the studio, so I just sit down with my guitar and four-track machine and drum machine, and write the majority of the stuff and then I put that on the CD and I send that to Igor [Cavalera, drummer] and Marc [Rizzo, guitarist] and they all get the CD with fifteen songs — almost complete songs. And then we take that CD to the studio and we make that CD into kind of the guide of what we use every day. We pick a song off of that CD and make it into a real song. So, that’s kind of the process that I use. It seems to work really good, and then I can spend time on writing the riffs; it takes me a couple of months just to write the riffs to pick the right riffs for the album. It is very important to have a good riff, you know? As you were talking about earlier, with your passion, how would you say that it has evolved over the years that you have been doing this, in general?

Max: Umm… I don’t think it’s changed that much. I’m very connected to music, I love music. I get up with it, I go to bed with it, I wear headphones, listen to music when I’m super tired and finally give up and go to sleep. And then on tour, of course, you play the songs every night, and touring — I love touring. Touring is one of my favorite parts of being in a band. I love being in a different city every night, a different crowd to play, experience a different crowd reaction every night. Every night’s different from each other, you know? The venue’s different, the people are different, the atmosphere is different. It’s cool, I like that. Every time you play one of those shows where everything “clicks” — everything goes well, the sound is perfect, the crowd is amazing — how does that feel when you step foot on that stage?

Max: It’s very satisfying to me. Sometimes in some parts of the show, I just love what’s happening at that moment. It’s just as if it’s as good as it’s going to get, it’s like it cannot get any better. The sound is great, the band is rocking out, the crowd’s going crazy… No, it doesn’t get any better. (laughs) It’s a great feeling. But of course, there are some shitty nights when not everything is good. You have shitty sound, sometimes not many people show up, but you still got to do the same show. I have the philosophy of, no matter how many people are there, you should always play the same show; if it’s a less or big crowd, you should always… always even when there’s less people, you should even do a better show because those people are there, they’re the hardcore fans. They came in small numbers, but they came.

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