Max Cavalera's career has been defined by his belief in never giving up. As co founder (with his brother Igor) of the groundbreaking Brazilian hard rock band Sepultura, Max defied convention by writing and performing the kind of brutally heavy music that was popular around the world but regarded with distaste by the Brazilian music community. Despite incredible odds, a lack of support at home, no contacts, and shaky communication skills, Sepultura emerged from Brazil to become one of the most internationally renowned heavy rock bands of the last decade. And with albums like Chaos A.D. and Roots, the band pioneered a marriage of heavy rock and world music that established Sepultura as one of the most innovative metal bands ever.
But change is the only constant in the universe, and sure enough, differing opinions on music, business, and career goals led to a parting of the ways between Max and the rest of Sepultura. Coming on the heels of the devastating death of his beloved friend and stepson, Dana Wells, the split admittedly traumatized Max even further. However, the end of one era has given birth to another, as Max assembled Soulfly and found the new musicians and energy he was craving.
"Putting together this new band really helped me to deal with these things," confesses Max. "Without Soulfly, it would have been ten times harder. To me, music has always been the thing through which I release all my stress and emotions. Everybody who's ever seen me live or heard anything I've written knows that. So continuing with my work really helped me through these fucked up, hard times.
"The thing about these guys is that they have the attitude that I wanted in a band," says Max, "which is to make music, play with fire, and not worry about foolish things. These guys have that. It feels great to go in the rehearsal room and get goosebumps about being in a group again."
The first man to enlist when Max began his search in January '?6 was Roy, formhrly drujmer with New York avant core band Thorn, plus a noted remixer and producer in his own right. Next was Marcello, who Max knew very well already: he was a Sepultura roadie for years. The final piece in the puzzle was Jackson, who played guitar in Max's favorite Brazilian band, Chico Science. Sadly, Chico Science had died, leaving the band's future in doubt. But the tragedy did provide Jackson with the opportunity to join Max and complete the lineup of Soulfly. "He has his own style, his own character, and a lot of new ideas," says Max. "It kind of reminds me of the feeling I had when Andreas joined Sepultura that he took Sepultura to the next level. That's how I feel about Jackson. Blended with what I was doing, it was the perfect combination."
That combination is fully in effect on SOULFLY, Soulfly's debut album. Fans of the monstrously heavy sound that Max established in Sepultura won't be disappointed, as the album displays all the aggression and power that is Max's trademark. But while songs like "Eye For An Eye" (the only song, according to Max, that directly addresses the breakup with Sepultura) are straightforward engines of brutality, the record also continues Max's determination to expand his musical vocabulary.
"There's a song called 'Bumba' (a Portuguese word that means 'big noise') that's co-produced by Mario C., who's worked with the Beastie Boys, and it's the first time I've explored the idea of mixing my music with sampling. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time. I think this album will be even more different in style than Roots, which gives you an idea of how experimental it is. Of course, people are gonna hear a resemblance to Sepultura, because it's my voice and I haven't changed my vocal style, and there's riffs and tribal things in there that continue the types of things I've done in Sepultura, but the album also goes beyond anything I've done before."
In addition to Mario C., Soulfly features Burton C.Bell, Dino Cazares and Christian Olde Wolbers from Fear Factory, Fred Durst and DJ Lethal from Limp Bizkit, Chino from Deftones, Benji from Dub War, Eric Bobo from Cypress Hill, and Jorge DuPeixe and Gilmar Bolla also from Chico Science. Overseeing the entire project is producer Ross Robinson, who collaborated with Sepultura on Roots and made a name for himself producing bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit.
Besides assembling Soulfly and recording the album, Max has kept busy in other arenas as well. In September, he gave an ardent address as one of three keynote speakers (with Moby and Marilyn Manson) at New York's CMJ New Music Marathon. Max's speech touched on his career, beliefs, and commitment to heavy music in spite of music industry indifference and trendiness. Similar spoken word appearances followed at the Crossing Border Festival in Holland, where Max also jammed with Gil Scott Heron's band, and in Brussels, Belgium. He's also guested on the new album by his good friends, the Deftones. And in a weird twist of fate, Max has been asked to sing the jingle for a Sprite soda commercial, to air early next year in Brazil. "What I'm gonna do, they're probably not gonna accept. And if they do accept it, that's great, 'cause I'm gonna do something really off the wall and outrageous. For me, it's a way of going against the corporation, rather than with it."
With all this activity, Max nevertheless remains focused on the one thing that has always meant the most to him: making music with passion and integrity. And with the arrival of SOULFLY, he's created possibly the most emotionally charged and personal album of his career.
"I believe this album has been forged in tragedy," concludes Max. "It's kind of weird, but true. There was a price for this record, and unfortunately, it was a very high price: losing a really close friend and splitting with people I played with for fifteen years. If Dana hadn't died and I had continued with Sepultura, this might be a completely different record. So I think everyone will listen and realize why this album is so intense and so personal.".