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Point Blank And Frank! An Exclusive Interview With MAX CAVALERA Of SOULFLY

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Corespondent
Wednesday, March 28, 2018 @ 8:31 AM

"That’s what metal is, man. Helping each other out."

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From his time as frontman of legendary Brazilian metallers SEPULTURA to the frontman of nu-breed metallers SOULFLY among several other bands, Max Cavalera has prided himself as being the team lead for underground metal awareness one tour at a time. In fact, his latest touring project involves the honoring of his brief side gig with Alex Newport as part of one-time industrial metal upstarts NAILBOMB, whose album Point Blank released 24 years ago, was honored with a live treatment to the masses. As an extreme metal fan myself, of course I jumped the fuck up at this opportunity to chat with Max on the eve of his Ottawa show with SOULFLY AS NAILBOMB. Have some peppermint tea on the house as I take a shot at discussing the legacy of Point Blank!

KNAC.COM: How is the tour going?

CAVALERA: Pretty good, yeah. We’re excited, all of the shows are packed, sold out, the fans are really enjoying it, it’s really fun playing NAILBOMB, y’know? It’s a really cool record from 20 or so years years ago. We kinda revitalized it, we kinda brought the album back to life, y’know, so to speak. But yeah, man, it’s a great package, y’know, you got LODY KONG, TODAY IS THE DAY, UNCURED...it’s like an underground metal package...

KNAC.COM: UNCURED were actually on the CHILDREN OF BODOM tour not too long ago. I went to see ‘em. They were alright but I was kinda mostly going to see CHILDREN OF BODOM myself but UNCURED were really a decent band and I’m looking forward to seeing ‘em again.

CAVALERA: Yeah, yeah...it’s a cool package and the shows are great. We played a lot of places we never played before, like Timmins and Thunder Bay, Brandon, y’know…it’s a really wild 17 shows in Canada.

KNAC.COM: It’s unprecedented.

CAVALERA: Yeah, it’s really cool. We’ve never done that much, that many shows in Canada, so it’s a first time.

KNAC.COM: I got a shock too because I mean, normally not that many bands actually do that many shows at all in that particular market even though they should. There is still the demand out there.

CAVALERA: The reason that we do it is because NAILBOMB doesn’t care how big the venue is. We go even if it’s like a hundred or two hundred. It’s still cool, y’know, we still love it because it’s an underground feeling, y’know, so a lot of those little cities like Thunder Bay and Timmins, there was a small place but it was packed and the fans really appreciated it. A lot of them, they couldn’t believe we were actually there. They were like “This is unreal. We don’t believe you’re actually here!”

KNAC.COM: *laughs* It’s definitely a good feeling.

CAVALERA: It’s kinda cool, it’s a little bit like pioneering, y’know, like, one of the first bands to actually do a whole Canadian tour like that, so, it feels good. I wanna do more, I wanna come back maybe with SOULFLY and do this whole thing all over again.

KNAC.COM: It might make it a lot easier for me for my review. Should I bill it as SOULFLY PLAYS NAILBOMB or just write it up as NAILBOMB?

CAVALERA: It’s SOULFLY PLAYS NAILBOMB but it’s not really SOUFLY because we’re not playing SOULFLY songs, y’know? We’re waiting for our album to drop. The album comes out in August, new SOULFLY, and then we’re gonna do a proper tour for that so hopefully we can come back to Canada for that.

KNAC.COM: Looking forward to that. Anyway, the other bands I wanted to focus on too….actually, you've got a lot of milestones this year that you’ll be focusing on, because also you’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of SOULFLY’s debut album, and not to mention CAVALERA CONSPIRACY’s debut album as well, which will be turning ten years old as well- that’s, of course, the project you’re doing with Igor right now. How has the legacy of both those bands and albums been able to stand up against an unpredictable musical climate over the course of the past two decades and then some?

CAVALERA: That’s a pretty good question. I love all of them. Of course, SOULFLY’s my main band, everybody knows that and I really try to pay really close attention to the SOULFLY records and stuff, but I also love CAVALERA CONSPIRACY because I get to play with my brother, y’know, so, we had a really good record last year, Psychosis...a lot of people like it, it was a lot of people’s favorite CAVALERA record that we’d ever done….so we’re probably gonna tour a little bit for that this year, still…just kinda gonna juggle bands….I still have KILLER BE KILLED that I need to do some stuff with….I just kinda go from one to the other. For me it’s fun and I think it really makes me a better musician because I have to really stretch my musical ideas across different bands and try to make them sound different from each other. And they do – SOULFLY is very different from CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, CAVALERA sounds very different from KILLER BE KILLED, and then we do these things like, y’know, Return To Roots, NAILBOMB...maybe we’re gonna do some more SEPULTURA albums in the future, maybe like Arise or Chaos or something. It’s fun…we go to the future but we also look back to the past.

KNAC.COM: Getting back to NAILBOMB, that was your first side project, is that correct?


KNAC.COM: Now, of course, you did that with Alex Newport of FUDGE TUNNEL , and you’d released that critically-acclaimed Point Blank album back in 1994 – another milestone because it already turned 24 years old. But, it had initially supposed to be one album and then you did a live album at the Dynamo Festival the next, then promptly disbanding afterwards, but was there ever any more live material that had been recorded at the time to consider recording a follow-up or was for all intents and purposes was Point Blankalways intended to be just one straight NAILBOMB album?

CAVALERA: It was only meant to be one and then we ended up doing a live one because it was a big opportunity, it was the big Dynamo Festival that they had, it was 120,000 people, and we thought it would be cool to do a special kind of show, the band was really special, we had like three drummers, we had Peligro from DEAD KENNEDYS, we had Dave from NEUROSIS, Maurice from FRONTLINE ASSEMBLY, it was a big project but we decided not to do anything with NAILBOMB, any new music. Alex didn’t want to do anything like that and I was cool with it, it satisfied my idea of having a side project but we never said anything about playing live, and then when SEPULTURA went on tour, we did a couple of NAILBOMB songs live during the FUDGE TUNNEL/FEAR FACTORY/SEPULTURA tour – which was an amazing reaction. I always remembered thinking, “Man, this NAILBOMB record is so good live, it would be really cool to expand and play the whole thing” and then this idea last year and now we’re here doing it. So, it’s great, but we’re not gonna release any new music under NAILBOMB now. Just play the live stuff.

KNAC.COM: I can understand, because with the Dynamo Festival performance, it’s like a moment caught in time, it’s gonna be difficult to really try and replicate.

CAVALERA: I guess it was more of Alex didn’t want it to turn into a band kinda thing and I didn’t want it either because I thought it’s a little bit special, kinda like a cult thing, so we decided to kill it, like we’re not gonna do anything with it as far as making new music, but I thought that nothing was said about touring with it, but I knew that Alex didn’t want to tour, so we have my son Igor doing his parts, doing the samplers. But Alex was really cool about it. He helped us get the sampler sounds and stuff for this tour, so, he’s okay with it.

KNAC.COM: That’s good. Was there any particular reason why Alex just didn’t feel like touring?

CAVALERA: He just wants to be a producer as far as I know. Just doesn’t want to play live.

KNAC.COM: Guess that kinda eliminates my next question as to whether you still communicate with Alex after all of these years, but evidently in this case since he’s become a lot more comfortable being a producer rather than a touring musician, that’s understandable. I believe he was in a band called BLOC PARTY at one point if I’m not mistaken or was he doing a side project with that band?

CAVALERA: I don’t know exactly too much what he does. I know he does a lot of successful recordings, y’know, he’s done a lot of really ground-breaking albums. I’m very happy for him because that was always what he wanted. Like, his hero was Steve Albini and he always wanted to be like Steve Albini, just produce bands and be a studio guy. Me, on the contrary, I’m a touring guy, I love touring, I love playing live, that’s why I decided to do things like NAILBOMB and Return To Roots, it’s pretty fun. Especially like this tour, I’m having a lot of fun playing the NAILBOMB material because it’s really unique, it’s a strange record, it’s real heavy, it’s got hardcore, it’s got metal, it’s got punk.

KNAC.COM: And industrial.

CAVALERA: Yeah, it’s like a big cool mix that goes great live. Like, NAILBOMB fans, I noticed, are rabid, y’know what I mean?

KNAC.COM: *laughing*

CAVALERA: Like, they are a wild bunch, and they’ll let it out every night, just go crazy.

KNAC.COM: Can’t wait to be the pit for that one.


KNAC.COM: Of course, I gotta go to work tomorrow and I can’t be completely sore and tell my supervisor “I’m sorry, I can’t come in tomorrow, I’m really sore and I’m all wrecked up.” *laughs*

CAVALERA: *laughs*

KNAC.COM: Guess I’ll let her know in advance. Anyway, another question I wanted to ask with NAILBOMB being so popular and with the current political climate – if you don’t mind answering questions about politics – being mostly steeped in what seems to be a whole lot of unparalleled and unbridled hatred and unnecessary hatred, would you think that the time is right for an album like Point Blank to make a resurgence again? What’s your opinion?

CAVALERA: I think Point Blank is more relevant now than it was than when it was created because it fits the times of now even better because, y’know, we wrote it in the Bush era and now we have the Trump era and it’s really hateful and really…..nasty, y’know. It’s nasty out in America right now, man. Very hateful, very angry….I think a record like that which pretty much shoots from all direction, it criticizes government, war, church, religion…it’s a big fuck you to everything that we hate.

KNAC.COM: Fair enough.

CAVALERA: We have songs like “24 Hour Bullshit” that was written for TV and now I think it’s still is about to be like CNN.

KNAC.COM: And it’s gotten even worse, it seems.

CAVALERA: But also like the Internet. You can throw the Internet into a pile, y’know? *laughs*

KNAC.COM: Oh, dear God, yes.

CAVALERA: So, everything. Yeah, Point Blank is really relevant. It seems like it was written for right now but it was done 24 years ago.

KNAC.COM: I only just rediscovered it again last night while I was compiling these interview questions and I was shocked by how much I wanted to play it again and again because usually I’m not like the biggest industrial fan but this album was definitely a ground breaker.

CAVALERA: Yeah, it was our own curiosity into that world. We knew a little bit about it. We’d listen to of course MINISTRY and NINE INCH NAILS and the more underground stuff, y’know, TREPONEM PAL, GODFLESH, YOUNG GODS on Alex’s part, a lot of BIG BLACK. Then you get really industrial with NEUBAUTEN and LAIBACH, and the weird crazy shit.

KNAC.COM: Now that’s going really underground! *laughs*

CAVALERA: Yeah…we listened to a lot of that while making the record but also a lot of punk and hardcore and metal, altogether; like, we had songs that sound like FEAR FACTORY like “24 Hour Bullshit”, there are songs that sounded like DISCHARGE like “Wasting Away”, there’s stuff that sounded kinda like FUDGE TUNNEL meets SEPULTURA, like “For Fuck’s Sake” or “Cockroaches”.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, those two definitely had a lot of the SEPULTURA/FUDGE TUNNEL vibe.

CAVALERA: Yeah, I love a lot of the FUDGE TUNNELl riffs from Hate Songs In A Minor like open riffs that are kinda BLACK SABBATH-y; we used some of those in “Sick Life” and “Cockroaches”. “Cockroaches” was a big Alex riff that I love, “Sick Life” was another big Alex riff that I really liked. So, y’know, it was cool with the blending of me and him, our styles put together which gave birth to that, and our own curiosity…it’s kinda like we wanted MINISTRY to be heavier and it wasn’t so we just made it our own heavier version of MINISTRY *laughs*. I think that’s the best definition for NAILBOMB. Or NINE INCH NAILS because it wasn’t heavy enough for us. It’s like “it’s heavy but we want it HEAVIER! More nasty! More brutal!” So we did it.

KNAC.COM: Kinda changing the subject here again, but in your opinion, who has been the most recent band that you’ve found to be musically pushing boundaries lately? Other than yourself, of course.

CAVALERA: There’s a lot of good metal, I mean…I’m a big fan of BOLZER from Switzerland. WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM are great, y’know, there’s this whole resurgence of bands that sound like ENTOMBED, from Swedish metal and stuff like GATECREEPER, power violence type stuff, I love that. I’m a big metal fan so I listen to a lot of that stuff. I like a lot of different styles like black metal, death metal. One record I really like this year was HARM'S WAY – just kinda like GODFLESH, industrial.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, I heard that band’s name being tossed around quite a lot.

CAVALERA: New GODFLESH is really good too. POST SELF, I got to work with Justin on the CAVALERA record….I mean, there’s a lot of good metal right now and this year it’s gonna be even better. There’s new SOULFLY comin’ out, new NILE, there’s a lot of cool releases this year. I’m excited and I think it’s gonna be a really good year for metal.

KNAC.COM: I know it is for me. I mean, I’ve been hitting up quite a lot of shows lately because there’s this one venue by my work, it’s called the Brass Monkey and I’ve been attending quite the few shows there. I mean, more of the lighter shows like URIAH HEEP and PAT TRAVERS, but I found that the metal community in general, I think, has started to awaken even more tenfold than before, and now Ottawa and a whole lot of other places – even the communities you mentioned as well like Timmins – have just started to become very receptive to a lot of new metal shows.

CAVALERA: I think it’s great. It just shows that metal is becoming bigger and more popular. I still feel more connected to the underground stuff. As much as I like the more popular stuff and there’s nothing wrong with SLAYER, and, y’know, LAMB OF GOD, those are great bands and I love what they are doing…I’m just kind of a fan of the more underground scene. That’s why we like to tour with IMMOLATION, FULL OF HELL, SUFFOCATION, those are kinda the cool bands we like to tour with and listen to all the time.

KNAC.COM: There was actually a story about SUFFOCATION when I’d seen them with BEHEMOTH like back in 2005 and in comparison they kinda played on a wintry day like this and it was freezing cold. But I felt really sorry for the bands because their label at the time couldn’t fund them enough to get them roadies so we actually ended up helping the members of SUFFOCATION and BEHEMOTH move all their stuff from the stage to the van. I felt so sorry for them!

CAVALERA: That’s what metal is, man. Helping each other out.

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