For Max Cavalera – former frontman of Brazilian metallers Sepultura, and now of tribal metal mainstays Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and supergroup Killer Be Killed – heavy music isn’t just a personal calling, it’s a family business. For instance, Max’s wife Gloria has been his long-term manager.
The next generation are also flying the metal flag, including son Zyon, who plays drums in Soulfly. Now, Max joins forces with another of his children, Igor Amadeus Cavalera (vocals/guitars/bass) and drummer Zach Coleman, to launch riff-loaded thrash/death metal project Go Ahead And Die. Father and son indulge their mutual passion for extreme metal on the self-titled debut album, due on Friday, 11th June.
“This record is for lovers of extreme music,” US-based Max tells BLUNT. “This record is made specifically for this type of crowd. We just like underground extreme music and we’re going to play that for the people that like that.”
This project was seemingly born out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Did making this album help keep you sane last year?
I think I would have eventually made the record with Igor, even without the pandemic. I always wanted to make a record with my son. It was one of those bucket list things I had in my mind. I have a couple of those records that I still want to make, and this was one of them. But it just happened that COVID hit, we were locked in, and it was perfect to make this record.
I’ve heard you describe this record as being filled with “caveman riffs”. What constitutes a quality “caveman riff”?
“Caveman riff” refers to the lack of technical shit (Laughs). It’s the complete opposite of Van Halen or Rush. It’s like the basic approach of the early extreme metal beginnings; stuff like what the guys in Venom and Hellhammer would listen to when they made those records, which was like Discharge and Motörhead. That’s the birth of the caveman, and I love it.
I love that we call it caveman metal, or grunt metal, whatever. It’s got to be raw, and just really primitive-sounding. You don’t care for technique, you don’t really care for solos that much. It’s really about the primal instincts and raw power. I love that approach to metal, because it takes me back to my beginnings, my roots of the early Sepultura stuff, which was totally caveman as well.
It’s a proudly retro-sounding album.
I wanted the record to sound like it was made in ’87. That’s why we didn’t use click tracks, and we didn’t really use Pro Tools that much.
A lot of bands rely on Pro Tools for everything, but we put that aside, and only used it when we really needed it. Everything else, when we recorded it, it was like when the bands did it in 1987, 1988. It’s like, count to four and go, you’re live. Then you’ve got to capture that live performance. The vision we had for the album was sonically to sound like something that came out of ’87, caveman metal, raw as fuck, with the political commentary of right now.
But I wouldn’t call it a political record – I would call it more like protest. A lot of the songs have a protest vibe which is more like [Sepultura’s] Refuse/Resist style of lyrics. Then some of it has kinda the big ‘fuck you’ to everything, like Nailbomb. But we’re not endorsing any political agenda. None of that shit, man. It’s about human rights at the end of the day; it’s about being treated the way you treat others and all the things that we see that are wrong in the world. Like kids in cages, pedophiles, COVID, police brutality and homelessness. All those issues ended up being on the record.
The Cavalera family is involved in various aspects of the music business, including as artists and management. How would you have responded if one of your children said they wanted to be a doctor or lawyer instead of a musician?
That would be fine, man. We never put any pressure, I never told them they had to be musicians. It was always open, whatever they wanted to do. But I always told them, ‘Whatever you’re going to do, just make sure you do what you love. That way you won’t be a miserable fuck, going to work in a place that you hate, hating your boss, and then your life becomes miserable. Whatever you choose, just try to make sure you choose what satisfies your soul, your heart’.
And they ended up choosing music, choosing metal, which is not easy either. I told them there’s going to be a lot of sacrifice involved, there’s a lot of not-very-glamorous stuff like 3am lobby calls to the airport. You’ve got to pay your dues. But it’s also fun – you get to see the world and you get to experience a lot of things many other people don’t get to experience. There are pros and cons, but I wouldn’t trade for anything. I love this life. I love that I chose this left hand path of life.
Sepultura’s landmark Roots album turned 25 earlier this year. What does that record mean to you in 2021?
It’s good that it’s still appreciated to this day. I think Roots was controversial, a lot of people loved it and a lot of people hated it. One of those divisive records. I like that about it, that it was not going to please everybody. It’s going to piss off some people.
I think Roots is a courageous record with some really cool stuff in it. The tribal stuff, and going to record with the Xavante, it’s stuff that’s influenced even the new bands like Gojira. [Their track] ‘Amazonia’, that’s totally influenced by Roots. It’s cool to see bands being influenced by that, people showing respect to the record.
I think the record’s aged very well. It’s one of those records that just sounds great when you put it on right now. It’s not where I am musically; I’m more into stuff like Go Ahead And Die at the moment. But I am proud of it.
Go Ahead And Die’s self-titled debut album is out Friday, 11th June via Nuclear Blast.