Intervju med Max Cavalera!
För några dagar sedan blev jag uppringd av Max Cavalera och kan nu bocka av ännu en rockhjälte på min intervjulista. Vi snackade självfallet om nya plattan med Cavalera Conspiracy, "Blunt force trauma", men även om bl a Sean Lennon, Soulfly, samarbetet med Greg Puciato, skrivkramp och hans mer lugna Pink Floyd-låtar.
Dock brydde jag mig inte om att fråga något om Sepultura då det känns lite uttjatat för tillfället.
Max: How ya doin´man?
I´m good! How are you?
Max: I´m doing alright, thank you!
Where are you calling from?
Max: I´m at home right now, Phoenix, Arizona.
Cool! You ever hook up with Rob Halford? He lives there too, right?
Max: Yeah, well I saw him on tour some time ago and also Alice Cooper lives here. I was going back from England one time and Alice Cooper was on the same plane as me and we chatted a little bit. It was pretty cool. But I don´t go out much when I´m here. I just kind of stay at home and chill out. When I´m not touring, this is the place to recharge the batteries.
I understand. Tell me about the new album and where did you get the title “Blunt force trauma” from? That´s something you hear every time you watch a cop show, “it´s blunt force trauma to the head”.
Max: Yeah! (laughs) It´s a medical term that I learned and I really liked it and thought it would be a really cool name for the record. It´s very strong and when I heard what it means when you get hit in the head with an object that causes blunt force trauma, I thought “That´s perfect! That´s the sound of the album!”. I just told Igor about the name and Igor was cool about it, you know. We do everything half and half in the band, so I consulted with him and when I said “I´m thinking about calling the album ‘Blunt force trauma’. What do you think?” and he said “Yeah, that´s kick ass!”. It´s a cool name, so we just went from that. I like it. I think it´s an unusual name, more of a medical term. I´ve never had an album named after a medical term, so first time. There´s still some new ideas, believe it or not! (laughs)
Great! How long did it take to put it together? When did you start working on it?
Max: It took me like a year with the riffs, writing the riffs, selecting the best ones, writing at home with a drum machine. It´s almost like complete songs. I´ve got the drum machine so I have all the parts. The songs have intros and choruses. It´s almost like complete songs and then I show them to the other guys. I spent a year collecting those songs and then I sent a copy of that to Igor, to Brazil. My favorite 12 tracks that will be the songs on the album and he gets familiarized with them and starts thinking of beats to put on top of them. Then we take that cd to the studio and just transform that cd into an album. Evey day we pick a song from that cd, like “Today it´s song number two!”. Then we work on them. But it was the fastest recording I´ve ever done for a long time, since the 80´s. I think we finished in six days. Everything recorded in six days. Drums and most of the guitars, which was amazing! You don´t hear about that in this day and age. Everybody spend months on their albums and we did everything in a week. It was super punk rock! Everything played live and we didn´t have to touch much up on the Pro Tools and we didn´t use much Pro Tools at all. Just for a couple of beats, but most of it was live music and I´m very happy with the results. I think Logan did a great job engineering and created the sound that we wanted. I also think the album is heavier and more aggressive than the first one, which is something I did on purpose. I wanted to create a second record that went further down on the heaviness, so I´m very happy with “Blunt force trauma”. I think we achieved what we wanted to.
Oh, definitely! What is it about Logan Mader in the way he works that works with Cavalera? Does he have some certain skills that you like?
Max: Yeah, we work really good with him. He´s an ex member… you know, he was in Soulfly for a year after he left Machine Head and he´s a guitar player, so you can talk to him like a musician, like one and one. Like I talk to Marc or Igor. He´s almost like a band member in the studio. A fifth band member and he´s done some fantastic records, man. His sound is on Gojira´s last record and Devildriver. He´s just really coming out, man, as one of the best engineers now and really easy to work with. There´s no stress working with Logan. He´s like “I´ll do my best to get you this drum sound that you want and if you want a heavier guitar sound, let´s try this!”. He helps me with the vocals and gets me to dig deep into my vocals and try to find some new stuff. I did some high pitched vocals on songs like “Warlord” and “Burn Waco”. High pitched that I haven´t really tried much on the other albums and it came out a lot more on “Blunt force trauma”. Working with him is a really good experience and he´s become like a fifth member in the studio.
Right! Looking ahead into the future, you´ll probably be working with Logan again, I guess?
Max: It probably looks like it although I like diversity and I don´t like to stick with the same thing for too long. It was the same with Scott Burns and we only did a couple of albums with him and then we moved on to Andy Wallace and then Ross Robinson with Sepultura and with Soulfly I recorded with Toby Wright and Terry Date and I´ve moved on to different guys through the years, because I like to kind of keep exploring new possibilities. There´s always something new you can learn and there´s always some new way to record. I also like to go overseas. I´m thinking about the next record I do, which is probably going to be Soulfly, I´ll probably like to do it somewhere over in Europe because I haven´t done a record in Europe since Sepultura´s “Chaos AD” and that was in England, in Wales. I really enjoyed that. I enjoyed the change of environment and all that really get´s through the album somehow. You do come up with a different record in a different place. It´s a weird way how it happens, but it does happen and it does transfer into the album in the sound and the vibes and you probably get something that you wouldn´t get if you weren´t in that place. I like that. That idea to record somewhere else and we´ll probably do that with the next Soulfly album.
Do you have any thoughts of a producer you´d like to work with for the next Soulfly album?
Max. No, there are some people that I´ve heard, that I like, but I haven´t gotten down to… when it comes closer to the album and I´ve got the songs done, when I´m finished writing the songs, that´s when I´m gonna think more seriously about which guy to get for the record.
I was kind of wondering about the logo for Cavalera Conspiracy? It´s very simple and works brilliantly. Who came up with that for the first album?
Max: That was Igor! He´s really good with design and stuff like that. He wanted something very minimal, but very powerful too. I think he was inspired by Black Flag, the four dots they had. He really liked that and he has that tattoo on his arm and he´s a big Black Flag fan and when he designed the “Cavalera”, I really liked it from the beginning. I thought it was awesome! It´s simple, catchy and it symbolizes the band and it´s got every element that we wanted. You can spray paint that on the wall and it looks cool! (laughs) We stick to it and I´m glad Igor did that. I´m happy that we work like that. We share everything. We share the artwork, music ideas, song titles. Everything goes back and forth and it´s a really cool 50/50 collaboration kind of band. I really enjoy that. Everything is run by both of us, right down to the middle so everything goes through us.
Before you came up with Cavalera Conspiracy, were there other names floating around for the band?
Max: Yeah, we were gonna be called Inflikted for a while. That was the first name that I had and I was really liking it, but then one day I came up with Cavalera Conspiracy and Igor just loved it from the beginning. It´s so powerful and it is our conspiracy, the metal brothers coming together again, back to the metal world and we do what we do, so I just decided to switch Inflikted to the name of the record and it became the title of the first album. I like it! It´s a little bit unusual to use your name and it´s kind of like Van Halen, when you have your family name for a band, but it works for us so it´s cool.
Most definitely! I just read that you´re working on something with Greg from Dillinger Escape Plan and that it´ll be a full length album. Could you tell me anything about that?
Max: It´s really in the beginning right now and we´ve actually just been talking on the phone. Greg loves Nailbomb and he´s trying to get me to do a Nailbomb kind of project. He´s saying we can do something very similar to Nailbomb where the both of us sing, like me and Alex and what we had and it will be what me and Greg have. We´re gonna share the vocals and I think the drummer from mars Volta might be the drummer and the bass player from Converge might be playing bass and we´re looking for a guitar player right now. But it´s gonna be like a project, not a band like Cavalera Conspiracy or Soulfly. It´s gonna be just a one off album, something heavy to put out there. Something that me and Greg like to do. I had a great experience with him working on “Rise of the fallen” and we became good friends and he started calling me about this “Nailbomb part 2” idea and I couldn´t say no. I just thought it would be great and I´m really looking forward to it. I´d like to do as much music as possible, so he came with a new project for me.
Is this something we´ll se released before the end of the year?
Max: Ehmmm, no! It´s not gonna come out until next year, because it´s gonna take some time to get all the people involved and all the writing, we have to write all the stuff and he´s actually coming here at the beginning of March and he´ll spend one week here in Phoenix with me and we´re gonna do the first writing of the stuff and we´re gonna take it from there, but it´s probably not gonna come out until next year.
Right! I´m kind of wondering about when you write songs? When you´re writing music, do you ever write stuff that is in no way connected to Soulfly or Cavalera? Do you write softer kind of music?
Max: I´ve tried to write some different stuff. I have some kind of Dead Can Dance, Pink Floyd kind of songs that I wrote. Really weird and I haven´t done anything with it. I couldn´t find a place for them. They didn´t fit Soulfly or Cavalera. They´re too strange! I don´t know what I´m gonna do with them. Maybe one day I´ll make a record with it, a really kind of strange, different kind of record. I write all the time and my main thing is to write heavy songs. I write those all the time, but here and there I grab the guitar and I have this idea for something a little bit more melodic or more weird and I start fucking around with it. Sometimes it´s actually pretty cool, the stuff that comes out of it.
Working on songs and lyrics, do you ever get writer´s block?
Max: Oh yeah! Sometimes I´ll be playing and it´s total garbage coming out of the guitar and “I gotta get out of here! I´m wasting my time!” and I have to go do something else like read a book or something. It´s just like everybody else. There are times where I really need more inspiration and I think “Soulfly 3” was probably where even the name of the album was not that great, you know. I just called the album “Soulfly 3” and that´s not a very original name and it´s not like it hasn´t been done before and I kind of felt that it was a low point in my career, as far as creativity was concerned. I was really kind of short of ideas and I ended up selling myself short a little bit with calling it just “Soulfly 3”. Most of the time I´ve been pretty lucky and I´ve been pretty active and have had pretty reasonable good ideas the last couple of years.
When do you see the new Soulfly album coming out? Is that next year as well?
Max: I´m just gonna let it roll naturally. Whenever we´re ready, we´ll be ready. I´m probably start writing at the end of this year in my house and whenever I´m done with the Cavalera Conspiracy tour, it´s probably gonna be somewhere around September/October and then I´ll probably start writing some new stuff for a Soulfly record, but I also have the thing with Greg and I´ve gotta balance both of them and I don´t know which one of those two is gonna come first. It´ll probably be the project. Soulfly is on a little break now, so it´s probably gonna be a little while until the next Soulfly record comes out, which I think it´s cool because I think it gives Soulfly some time to breathe. We´ve been putting albums out every year since ´98 and it´s been kind of nonstop. It might be cool to have a little break and reorganize ourselves for the next one, which is gonna be the eighth studio album. It´s quite amazing to have eight albums with a band, so I´m looking forward to make something special out of that one.
Ok. You´ve worked with a lot of different people on different records and there are just some names that are really interesting. How did you get to work with Sean Lennon?
Max: We were going to Australia for a big festival, the Big day out, and Sean sat across me on the plane and automatically we started talking. He knew about Sepultura and asked we what I was doing. I said I had a new band, Soulfly, and I gave him a cd and we became friends on that flight. We were next door to each other in the dressing rooms and we shared a bus in Australia, so we became kind of like buddies and everywhere we would go, Sean Lennon was there. After that I came back home and I had his phone number and thought “Yeah, I´m gonna give him a call! Maybe we´ll do something together.”. He might be one of the most different people I recorded with, but I think it´s really cool. He´s Sean Lennon! I thought his music was really kind of strange and weird and cool, you know. He came to Phoenix and we spent a week on “Son song”. I took him to the mountains, I have a house in the mountains, so we wrote a bit there and he came up with the main riff, which is a melodic riff and Sean had it and it´s the part that he sings and then I came up with the rest. He actually produced that song because the producer went home for the weekend, he was going through a divorce and he wasn´t there for the weekend that Sean was there. Sean actually took over the board, which I was really impressed by. He knew everything about the board. He knew how to operate all the buttons, so he pretty much produced the whole song. It was really cool to watch somebody doing that. I´ve never seen a musician that knew anything about the board. Normally only the engineer touches the board, but he knew everything. It was pretty amazing!
Have you stayed in touch?
Max: I did for a little bit from time to time. We saw him again in Japan after that and when I was in New York doing some press I bumped into him. It´s been a couple of years now, but a friend of mine has bumped into him and said that he said hi to me and that was just last year, so I hope I can see him again soon. He´s a really cool guy!
And then working with Mike Patton on “Lookaway”. How did that happen?
Max: He´s a good friend. When Faith No More went to Brazil, I was still living in Brazil at the time and they stayed with my brother. Mike actually went to my brother´s beach house and spent a whole week there, so we became kind of good friends. Enough to go and hang out together and go to places together. It became a really cool friendship with them apart from being big fans of their band and vice versa. When it came time to do “Roots” I told Igor I wanted to call Mike and do something with Patton and that it could be really amazing. The engineer knew Jonathan from Korn and I also brought him into the song, so it was me Jon and Mike which was awesome! Three crazy singers doing all kinds of weird noises and shit and it was really wild, man. Mike showed up with a suitcase and in it he had a bottle of wine and a reverb machine for his voice. He said “That´s the reverb I use on my voice all the time with Faith No More and I only use this reverb, so your guy has to work with me!”. I don´t know anybody that shows up with a bottle of wine and a reverb machine in a suitcase! “You´re whacked, man! You´re out of your mind!”. So he just got into the studio and opened his suitcase like a secret agent, like James Bond. “Alright, here´s a bottle of wine, gimme some glasses! Plug me in!”.
You and Mike should do something more together!
Max: Yeah, Mike´s really artistic and he´s done some crazy shit. All the collaborations he´s done. I love Mr Bungle. It´s amazing and the musicians are so good on it and of course all the Faith No More stuff. I always loved his voice. I like the schizophrenic vibe that he gives to the songs.
Yeah, that´s a good word for it. It is schizophrenic in a way.
Max: Yeah, it´s chaotic and watching Mike live is also great. I always love watching Faith No More live. He´s always up to something crazy and fucking with the audience. It´s always great to watch him live.
A final thing. I know you´re playing Metaltown in Gothenburg, but are there any chances of you coming back for more dates in Sweden or is that gonna be the one off show?
Max: There´s a possibility of us coming back later in the year and doing a headline club tour through all of Europe and that would include Sweden. We´re discussing that right now. We´re not totally booked yet. Right now we´re only officially on the festivals, but there´s a chance of us coming back, sure.
Excellent! Looking forward to it! Thank you so much Max!
Max: Thanks! Nice talking to you!