Cavalera Conspiracy’s Max Cavalera is ‘Proud to be a Metal Head'

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Most people mellow with age. Not singer Max Cavalera. The former guitarist in Sepultura, Cavalera fronts Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy, a band he formed with his brother Igor, also a Sepultura alum. His music has only gotten heavier as he’s gotten older. Cavalera Conspiracy’s new album, the aptly titled Pandemonium, features blistering guitar riffs and parched vocals. It’s heavy stuff, even by heavy metal standards.

“I’m an extreme person,” Cavalera says via phone from his Phoenix home. “I never liked beer. I liked vodka. I don’t like weed. I like cocaine. It’s always the hardest, most extreme thing with me. I just like the extreme thing. I get crazier and heavier as I get older.”

Unlike some of his older peers who are content to champion the same old school metal acts from year to year, Cavalera tries to promote up-and-coming metal acts and says that contributes to his arrested development — not that he wants to “grow up.”

“I love the fact that as I grow old I get in touch with the new bands and I wear their shirts,” he says. “It’s great to be connected to the underground metal world like that. A lot of musicians lose that contact. They don’t know anything about metal. I never want to be like that. For me, it’s important to be in contact and know about those bands. I search for new bands all the time. I support them and maybe work with them. I was invited to sing on the last Melechesh album and the last Acacia Strain album. It was fun doing that. I’m proud to be a metal head. I have never grown up from that. I have the spirit of a 15-year-old even though I’m a 44-year-old man. There’s no rule that says you have to grow up and stop listening to that metal music. That’s bullshit.”

Way back in the 1980s, the Brazilian-born Cavalera started Sepultura when he and his brother Igor were still teenagers. That band left an incredible legacy (and the group still exists but without the Cavaleras). Cavalera explored his heritage with Sepultura and then with Soulfly, but Cavalera Conspiracy lacks anything resembling a Latin sound. Cavalera says that's intentional. 

“You can’t just keep doing it,” Cavalera says when asked about why he stopped exploring Brazilian rhythms. “It’s becomes a little bit been ‘done before’ thing. When I formed Cavalera Conspiracy, I wanted to get back to the fun of it. It’s the brothers playing metal. It’s pure enjoyment. It can be as simple as hell—like the first song on the new record. That’s one of the most simple songs I’ve ever written but it’s one of my favorite songs. I get such a joy of playing that song. I love the tribal stuff. Roots was a great record for Sepultura. I might do something like that again someday. For Cavalera, it was better to get back to basics.”

Getting “back to basics” also involved reuniting with his brother. The two had a bitter falling out and didn’t speak to one another for years.  

“Well, the ten-year silence was really almost like a necessary evil,” says Cavalera. “It might sound weird saying it like that. It might be the best thing that happened to us. It made us appreciate our brotherhood and the friendship we had. Even in music, we now understand that we want to really enjoy the music and have fun with it and not let the politics of music ruin it. The idea behind Cavalera is the brothers playing metal. We don’t let anything else come into the Cavalera Conspiracy world. We don’t welcome other types of music. Soulfly embraces other types of music and throws other things in the pot. Cavalera does not. It’s metal only. It’s metal and grindcore. I love that. I think we focus on the Arise phase of Sepultura. That’s the era we try to recreate with Cavalera.”

Cavalera is particularly excited about the upcoming tour, and not just because it’s a chance for him to escape the Phoenix heat (when we spoke to him last month, temperatures had already soared into the nineties).

“I’m excited to be on tour with COC and Death Angel," he says. "It’s an awesome package, like the old days. I think it’s going to draw a big, great crowd. We get to play stuff from our whole life. We’ll play Cavalera Conspiracy stuff but we’ll also play classic Sepultura stuff that people love to hear.”

Cavalera Conspiracy, Death Angel, Corrosion of Conformity, Lody Dong, 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, Agora Theatre, 5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221. Tickets: $25,

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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