Biography

Soulfly Bio


Max Cavalera is the walking embodiment of creative energy, of all of the diverse layers of urgency that are possible from that select few whose artistic output defines genres. Mystic shaman, protest singer, revolutionary hero, everyday metalhead, furious consumer of heavy music of all shades, husband, father, leader, songwriter… Cavalera reigns as the adoptive tribal chief of a generation of fans, stretching from the roughest slums of South America to the coldest confines of Russia. Anywhere that people are disenfranchised, the songs of SOULFLY serve as their anthems.

Armed with Cavalera’s four-stringed guitars, unmistakable growl and instantly recognizable riffage, the muddy tones and constant rhythmic bounce of SOULFLY has retained its gritty edge while pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in metal. »Savages« represents a career-defining moment, solidifying the lineup with longtime lead guitarist Marc Rizzo (who has been in SOULFLY almost as long as Max was in SEPULTURA), bassist Tony Campos (Static X, Ministry, Prong) and Max’s 21 year-old Zyon, who splits his time between drumming in LODY KONG and now SOULFLY.

“All of the things that make SOULFLY killer are combined in Savages,” Max declares.

»Savages« melds the most brutal, the heaviest and overall the most vibrant components that made up each record in SOULFLY’s diverse catalog. By Max’s own account, »Savages« is possessed of the tribal groove of the first two SOULFLY albums, particularly in songs like ‘Bloodshed’, ‘Ayatollah of Rock ‘N’ Rolla’ and ‘Master of Savagery’. But there’s also the thrash metal that was found on DARK AGES and OMEN; whereas the CAVALERA CONSPIRACY records contain short, punky bursts, the new SOULFLY record gets into the epic length territory of early METALLICA. The death metal vibe of SOULFLY’s »Enslaved« emerges in songs like ‘Fallen’ and ‘Cannibal Holocaust’.

“I really like the name »Savages«. I like single words that sound powerful, like ‘Primitive’, ‘Roots’, ‘Arise’,” Max explains. “It’s about the human condition right now. We have the Internet and we’re working on missions to Mars, but we are still decapitating each other and blowing up marathons. We’re still savages. Even with technology and how far we’ve come in the world, our spirit is still that of a savage.”

A trailblazing pioneer and musician with millions of albums sold who nevertheless retains boundless street cred due to his grimy, raw and undeniable authenticity; Max Cavalera is one of the most prolific artists the realm of heavy music has ever known. There’s CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, which reunited Max with his brother and former bandmate, Igor Cavalera. There was the brutal attack of NAILBOMB, Max’s collaboration with Alex Newport from FUDGE TUNNEL, which included members of DEAD KENNEDYS, FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, BIOHAZARD and NEUROSIS on-stage. There’s his forthcoming band with members of THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, MASTODON and THE MARS VOLTA. Of course, there’s Max’s unassailable work as SEPULTURA’s founder, leading the Brazilian band from their badass lo-fi beginnings, through their era of sophisticated thrash classics, up through the cultural landmark that is ‘Roots’.

SOULFLY began almost instantaneously after his departure from the band he founded. The eponymously titled debut »Soulfly« sold over 500,000 copies in the United States alone, further expanding upon the tribal foundation of ‘Roots’ with percussive instrumentation, forays into esoteric sounds and multiple guest performers. Across the seven albums and never-ending tours that followed, Max worked with a who’s-who of the heavy music scene as band mates, guest musicians and touring members, including guys from SLIPKNOT, SLAYER, MEGADETH, DEFTONES, RADIOHEAD, STONE SOUR, CYPRESS HILL, MACHINE HEAD, DEVILDRIVER, FEAR FACTORY, MORBID ANGEL, THROWDOWN, S.O.D., SKINDRED, BORKNAGAR, WILL HAVEN and CATTLE DECAPITATION, among others.

In addition to Max’s own self-production, a number of important producers have lent their skills to SOULFLY, including »Roots« producer Ross Robinson (KORN, AT THE DRIVE-IN), Toby Wright (Ozzy Osbourne, SLAYER), Andy Sneap (MEGADETH, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE), ex-SOULFLY guitarist Logan Mader (FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, GORJIA) and Zeuss (HATEBREED, SUICIDE SILENCE) and Terry Date (PANTERA, DEFTONES).

Cavalera asked Date, who had mixed for SOULFLY in the past, to produce the new album. Once studio time with the legendary producer was on the calendar, Max kicked into high gear with the material. Max and Zyon worked on the songs that would comprise »Savages« at home. “Zyon came up to me and said, ‘Give me a shot. I’ll play on the record for you. I won’t let you down,” explains the elder Cavalera. “I went into a room with him to jam and it felt great. So I said, ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do it!”

Generally on a SOULFLY album, the drummers would learn the songs in the studio, based on demo recordings from Max. This time, Max had the luxury of working out the songs at home with Zyon. “We jammed every single day for a month. He knew 90% of the material already when we got into the studio. It reminded me of recording the old Sepultura stuff, like Arise and Chaos A.D., Igor knew exactly what he was going to do before we went into the studio. This was very similar.”

Cavalera says he must’ve written at least 1,000 riffs specifically for »Savages«. “The killer riff is what hooks the whole song together,” he says. “For me the writing process is about finding the most killer riffs possible. It’s a battle; sometimes I struggle with the guitar for hours. You have to throw it down on the floor and take a break. Come back a few hours later. ‘Let’s try this again, motherfucker!’ Grab it again and go to battle, go to war with the guitar until you get the right riffs.”

Max points to BLACK SABBATH’s ‘Symptom of the Universe’ as one of the penultimate riffs of all time, citing SABBATH’s Tony Iommi and METALLICA frontman James Hetfield as among the riff-masters he most admires. “I think of riff making as an art-form. I take it really seriously. I think it deserves more attention. It has such value.”

Speaking of riffs, Rizzo came into the band a decade ago and his love of thrash metal, death metal and collaborative spirit has energized Max ever since. “When Marc entered Soulfly, it was a drastic change. He’s the guitar player I’ve been looking for my whole life. Andreas [Kisser] and I really clicked when we worked together. I never had that again after that. We had other guys that were cool, but it was never 100% there. When Marc came in, I found it! We’ve developed a great bond since.” Rizzo particularly shines on the opening track on Savages, ‘Bloodshed.’ “There’s stuff all over the song – clean guitars, feedback – he just makes the song better.”

Campos has a lengthy resume in the world of metal and Max says they bonded over their shared Latino heritage, among other things. “I had this idea about this guy Vargas, a Venezuelan cannibal, they call him ‘El Comegente.’ He’s the Hannibal Lecter of the Andes. We both read about it. Tony sings some of it in Spanish and I sing in Portuguese. He’s a great bass player too, fucking amazing. Killer bass tones, distortion, all balls-out metal. He keeps this shit real heavy, great tone. It’s great recording with guys who know what they’re doing. I don’t have to ask if they know.”

Max acknowledges the inherent risk in putting a 21 year-old behind the kit for such an important record, but it was a risk he absolutely wanted to take. “To have my son drumming on the album, that’s killer. I like risks. I like to start shit up and see what happens. Even if I fail, at least I knew I tried. Rather than knowing I didn’t try at all. To me, that’s the bigger failure. It took a little bit of courage to put my son on it. I came to the studio and told Terry there was a young drummer who doesn’t play to a click. Terry knew what to do and Zyon did great. The drums sound amazing.”

Like all things Max Cavalera, does SOULFLY’s »Savages is a family affair. Not only does it mark Zyon’s recorded debut with the band, but one of Max’s other kids throws down some vocals in the opening track, ‘Bloodshed’. “My son Igor has a killer punk rock voice that reminds me of the old CORROSION OF CONFORMITY days,” Max says. “The chorus has this old punk style riff, almost like a MISFITS type riff. His voice is killer.”

Like every SOULFLY album, »Savages« contains an impressive guest list comprised of veterans and up-and-comers. CLUTCH’s Neil Fallon turns up on ‘Ayatollah of Rock ‘N’ Rolla’, the title of which was inspired by Mel Gibson’s classic Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior movie. Jamie Hanks from I DECLARE WAR brought his high and low deathcore vocals to ‘Fallen’, a death metal oriented song Max says is in the vein of CANNIBAL CORPSE.

Mitch Harris from NAPALM DEATH contributed vocals to ‘K.C.S.’ Harris has been around the Cavaleras long enough that there are videos of him changing Zyon’s diapers when SOULFLY’s new drummer was just one month old. “Mitch came to the studio just to hang out during a day off from tour,” Max explains. “I’m like, ‘You ready to sing some shit on this record?’ I put him on the spot. He’s like, ‘Right now?’ I said, ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do it!’ There was one point where we were recording together where he did a scream and I saw his eyeball popping out of his face like a cartoon. I was like, ‘Dude that was the most metal thing I’ve seen in a long time.’”

Even as Max continues to consume new music from band like NINE INCH NAILS, MAN MUST DIE, TRIGGER THE BLOODSHED and I DECLARE WAR, even as he revisits seminal material from METALLICA, SLAYER, C.O.C. and the like, and indulges his penchant for world music, and gets his hands in his other projects and collaborations, it all adds up to a singular, distinct, straightforward and riff-heavy machine known as SOULFLY.

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3/16/2015 at 3:47 AM
max podes ligar-me ou eu ligo se me deres o teu numero….. urgente,pois quero que toques com o zakk wylde no meu fest,no mesmo dia. andamos nisto a seis meses cara. 919991908 meu celular-falta o indicativo do pais 0351 portugal
3/16/2015 at 3:47 AM
max podes ligar-me ou eu ligo se me deres o teu numero….. urgente,pois quero que toques com o zakk wylde no meu fest,no mesmo dia. andamos nisto a seis meses cara. 919991908 meu celular-falta o indicativo do pais 0351 portugal
3/16/2015 at 3:47 AM
max podes ligar-me ou eu ligo se me deres o teu numero….. urgente,pois quero que toques com o zakk wylde no meu fest,no mesmo dia. andamos nisto a seis meses cara. 919991908 meu celular-falta o indicativo do pais 0351 portugal
5/4/2015 at 10:17 PM
I am a diehard fan of all of your work. I have listened to every album you have ever done from beginning to the numerous times. It is awesome that you are still putting out awesome music. Soulflytrbe forever fuck yeah
7/17/2015 at 3:43 PM
just done 3 cavalera conspiracy gigs in Europe. now 4 u.k soulfly dates to do. cant wait!!!!! faithful 4 life
9/9/2015 at 7:37 AM
good morning / afternoon . my name is ivan berrio , I’m illustrator and visual artist from Colombia . I plan to make a documentary video of the execution of one of my works , which basically consists of a portrait of a rather large format in which There will be 6 or 7 people with friendly faces but with their faces covered as if to start a protest, and I would like the background music was one of his songs called riot starter . It is very inspiring and is perfect for this. I clarify beforehand that I have no commercial pretense with this video and it rather is an extension of the work you intend to generate the same spirit as his music. shake the minds and awaken those who can change the world . I wonder if I have your permission to use the track. thank you
6/1/2016 at 1:25 AM
I like very much the Arcangel album, but a have a question for you Max that intrigues me. Why you only talks about Adonai Lil clan, you don’t mention anything about Adonai Ki clan. Thanks.
12/12/2016 at 5:36 AM
Hi Max, I recently started following Gloria Cavalera on Facebook after I started accidentally following Jo Schiftan who’s a friend of a friend. After I started following Gloria I started dreaming about you at the time when I got into Shamanic practice again (I got into it a few years ago and got back into it recently). I was a Seputlura fan ages ago and then I realised the name of your other band Soulfly is a Shamanic concept. So I got reconnected to your music and Roots was your first message as my Shaman. Thank you, show me more!
12/12/2016 at 5:50 AM
The book I’m reading told me to call upon a poet so I thought I would get Shakespeare as I live where he used to work. But I got Max freaking Cavalera. I guess it makes sense as I’m a Latina metalhead. Anyway, cheers. Thanks for the music.

 

My Bloody Roots: Max Cavalera Autobiography

Hey Everyone, Max’s Autobiography is now available in multiple languages! Check back here at Soulfly.com to find out where the book is being sold in your language! With the help of the truely awesome Joel McIver, Max is telling his story of the past, present, and his future. It’s all here in “My Bloody Roots” for the reading. Grab a copy here.

An Exerpt from the Autobiography

Losing my dad had a lot to do with me drinking so much. It was to fill a void. When I drank I felt different: I liked the high that you got from the booze. Music sounded better when you were drunk, and food tasted better. It’s true: when you hear a record when you’re wasted, that shit sounds so fucking badass. You listen to Slayer real loud when you’re drunk: it sounds great, man. And when you listen to your own music drunk, it sounds great too: you’re like ‘I can’t believe that’s us’. I used to listen to Arise at full volume in the back of the bus and think ‘Listen to that vocal. This is fucking great!’

Booze was always there, both when I was a kid and as an adult. I especially loved vodka. Later, when I got married I switched from vodka to wine, which felt like a good choice of beverage. It helped me chill out at night, but first I drank a bottle and then I switched to two bottles. That became my rider, so after every Sepultura show I’d be wasted on two bottles of that shit. Despite this, a lot of the people who toured with me never actually got to see me getting really fucked up – apart from a couple of rare occasions.

I was definitely pretty wild back then. I got in a car wreck once. I had a white Fiat, which I saved money to buy for a couple of years. I went out one night in this car and I watched A Clockwork Orange on TV in a bar in Belo, while getting loaded on booze. I was thinking ‘This is the best fucking movie ever. I want to be one of those fucking guys!’ because I loved the violence.

I hung a huge poster in my room from that film alongside my Slayer, Morbid Angel and Death posters. The violence of it made a huge impact on me. It’s a metal movie, essentially. I was surprised when Sepultura later recorded an album based on A Clockwork Orange, because the other guys didn’t like it at the time. I would watch it, but they showed no interest in it. Very strange.

So I watched this movie and at three o’clock in the morning, it was time to go home. It was raining, and my conscience was telling me, ‘Get somebody to drive you home’. But the evil side of my conscience told me, ‘Fuck that! Drive home, motherfucker’. I went with the bad one – the wrong one – and right away I was driving along, zigzagging along the road. I was really, really drunk, man: wasted. A turn came, and the car just did a fucking 360 on the road and hit a wall. I looked out of the car and there was a huge church, right there, staring at me. It was three in the morning, I was standing there by myself, and the whole front of my car was completely destroyed.

I was looking at the church and I was mad at it. I was thinking to myself, ‘Why did I have to hit a church? Why the fuck are you in my way, church?’ I was blaming the church for my wreck. It was hilarious, now I come to think of it. I got out of the car and I was flipping off the church, shouting ‘Fuck you, motherfucker!’ I wasn’t injured apart from a bloody nose, but the car was trashed. No cops came, which was lucky. I managed to restart the car and drive it home, in a terrible condition.

Next morning I had to lie to my mom, which was bad because she’d helped me buy it. I told her, ‘I parked my car, mom, and went into a bar, and when I came out someone had wrecked it’. She knew I was lying. I was all hungover, and she said ‘Did you drive home last night?’ and I said ‘Yes!’ and she said ‘Well, how are you feeling right now? How’s your head?’ and I’m like ‘It’s OK, I’m just a little tired…’ but I finally told her that I’d got in a wreck. She said she knew that already, because no-one could hit a parked car and cause that much destruction, and that I’d better not do it again because she didn’t want me to kill myself.

I thought everybody lived like this. In the group of people that Iggor and I hung out with, that’s what we did. I had issues with all the shit that was going on in our lives. We had no money and there was all this depression around the house. That stuff made me want to drink. I thought Iggor was weird because he rarely drank: he was pretty much straight edge, although he didn’t walk around saying he was straight edge like all these bands do. But that’s what he was, which was strange to me.

When Iggor did drink, though, he was like the Tasmanian Devil from the old cartoons: he was trouble. He went fucking nuts, getting into fights and saying crazy shit. He was a scary drunk and I told him, ‘You’re better off not drinking, man, because you’re not like me: you’re fucking scary when you’re drunk’. I was a happy drunk: I made jokes and I liked to play pranks on people. But he was no fun to be around when he was drinking, so he didn’t drink very often: I never knew how he had the willpower. He was very strong. He only cared about his drumming.

I was having fun with drinking, I never saw it as a problem. Some of the most fun shit I ever did was while I was drunk. I had a drinking partner, this guy called Maurinho: he was my best friend. I’d heard people say that he could beat up 10 people and that he was a total fucking psycho. I was 16 when I met him, right at the beginning of the band.

This guy loved everything about Sepultura and encouraged me all the time, saying ‘You’re gonna make it. I know you’re gonna be a huge star one day, man. I fucking know it. Just keep doing what you’re doing’. We used to go out and get fucked up all the time. We’d get into huge fights, too. He was a little guy, but he knew karate and tai kwon do and other martial arts, and he could fuck people up. He’d destroy huge guys: it was fun to be part of that.

I was a good fighter too, when I got drunk: I was fucking nuts. There was one time when we were in a bar and this guy was fucking with me. He kept calling me ‘poser’ and getting on my nerves, saying ‘You’re a poser, man… you’re a fucking poser… your music is fake’. I’m like, ‘Motherfucker, you’d better stop or you’ll get what’s coming to you’. But he kept fucking with me, and finally I said, ‘OK, that shit ends now. Let’s go out to the front of the club. We’re gonna throw down, right now’. I started beating the crap out of him and I grabbed a rock that was on the ground and destroyed his head with it. It opened right up, with blood gushing everywhere. My shoes were totally covered in his blood when I got home. I remember looking at my shoes and thinking, ‘Shit. How is that guy still alive?’ But he asked for it. I was just minding my own business and having a good time with my friends. My friend Maurinho had seen it happen and he told me afterwards, ‘You took care of that one’. He didn’t even need to step in.

This happened a couple of times. I think it was something to do with the hardcore mentality about violence that came to me after I saw A Clockwork Orange. Some nights we’d go out and we’d say ‘I hope we get into a fight tonight’. It was almost like a skinhead mentality. It’s fucked up: maybe I was taking out my depression in these fights. There’s a theory that boys who grow up without a father end up being more aggressive, because they don’t have a dad around to show them what the limits should be. That theory totally works for me.

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