Big Al's Metal Shop

On the second full day of spring, under blue skies and surrounded by singing birds, I have come to realize that I love my job. For, you see, today is the day that I get to interview one of my heroes, Max Cavalera of Sepultura. A decade ago, after Brazil had won its first World Cup of our generation, an album by the name of Roots came out. With this disc, any teenage Brasileiro could finally begin to understand his parents.

Sepultura had a stellar discography before ?96 ? [ITAL]Chaos A.D.[/ITAL] has songs like ?Territory? and ?Refuse/Resist?
that are metal anthems that live on today. But with [ITAL]Roots[/ITAL] they smacked it out of the park by delving into their cultural lineage and recording with the Xavantes Indians from the Amazon.

Carlinhos Brown drummed alongside the mighty Igor Cavalera as Brazilian culture melted with the fury of the Metal scene to bring back Sepultura?s primal essence. And by creating this visceral soundscape they, in effect, paved the way for others to combine their cultural roots with their musical vision.

Sadly, after [ITAL]Roots[/ITAL], the charismatic Max Cavalera (vocalist) left to follow his own vision, Soulfly. Releasing their self-titled debut in ?98, Soulfly continued with the intermixing of Brazilian-tinged emotion and metallic anger. With Jackson Bandeira (Chico Science) on guitar, the songs came out raw with the emotion from Cavalera?s departure from a successful band, on the heels of the murder of Max?s best friend and stepson, Dana Wells.

It is this emotion, and the tragedy of lost loved ones, that has carried Soulfly through three more albums: [ITAL]Primitive[ITAL], [ITAL]3[/ITAL], and last year?s [ITAL]Prophecy[/ITAL]. Tours around the globe have come and gone, and as a visual document of their seven years of existence, Max and Co. have released [ITAL]The Song Remains Insane[/ITAL], available now on DVD from Roadrunner Records.

With this history in mind, I sat down for a short chat with the throat heard round the world, Max Cavalera. With a new album already being recorded ?since December, and being mixed by Terry Date [of Pantera] this April,? and on the heels of a jaunt across America with Morbid Angel, I asked him: Why release a DVD now?

Cavalera responded, ?Basically, after seven years of being a band, we finally feel like it?s time. When kids come to shows now, they scream ?Soulfly? and not ?Sepultura? anymore. Our first album has gone gold in the U.S., and this is a first for me.?

With the last album, the emergence of Marc Rizzo (ex-Ill Ni?o) was a pleasant surprise, especially his playing style. ?Marc is definitely one of the most intense people, one of the most talented I have ever played with. In Soulfly, people expect me to keep changing the line-up. Maybe this time we should keep it the same, just for a change.? [Cavalera laughs]. ?Live, he?s amazing ... and this album, with all the things that have gone on in my life lately, it?s just coming out ... darker. With the death of Dime [Dime Bag Darrell], and my step-grandson Moses the day after ... it just makes it harder. Moses did the whole U.S. tour with us. That scene with Moses on the DVD, I just look at it now.... I sometimes think he?s gone to a better place ... that he?s left this world that?s going downhill.?

With Sepultura, the question of whether there will be a reunion (begged for by fans) is usually a touchy one. In response to this question, Max said, ?I don?t know. I could tell you yes, I could tell you no. Every day I wake up is the day I think about. I just don?t know ... with all the things that have gone on in the past in my life, I don?t think I know anything for sure, that this is the way it has to be.?

Despite all the heavy, sad things that have happened in Max?s life, he is still the consummate Brazilian, with a warm laugh. When asked about whether he feels like a cultural ambassador to the U.S., he offers that ?[I would] love to carry the [ITAL]bandeira[/ITAL] [flag], play the [ITAL]berimbau[/ITAL] [musical instrument used in Capoeira] on stage. Still, I have a love/hate relationship with Brazil. There are a lot of things that I love about my country, and that I hate. Things that I went through there. But, you know, one of the things that I find funny is the thing about my accent.... You know the [ITAL]Napalm Death[/ITAL] cover album that just came out? Well, they cover ?Troops of Doom? (Sepultura), and Barney the Englishman is trying to do the ?Un! Dos! Tres! Quatro!?? Max laughs and continues, ?Same thing with Dave Grohl when I did the Probot thing with him ? he says that ?here?s Max with this accent, you know, this Brazilian accent that just fucks shit up!??

What can I say ? the man is a badass. Look for Soulfly here in Pittsburgh some time after the new album comes out. Until next week, thanks, CMU, and thanks, Max.