Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, Brazil’s Sepultura pushed the limits of metal. Initially, playing extremely aggressive thrash that helped influence death and black metal, to being the first band from their country to break out with their third album, Beneath The Remains, to being a pioneer of groove metal on Chaos A.D. Classic era Sepultura remains a household name in metal crowds who all pray for the return of the classic line-up. At the moment former vocalist Max Cavalera and former drummer Igor Cavalera are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their classic album Roots on their “Return to Roots” tour.
I was recently lucky enough to be able to speak to Max on the phone. He talked about how well the tour is going and how he feels he doesn’t need to return to Sepultura.
How is this tour doing and how is Igor feeling since his injury?
Igor is doing great. His ankle is feeling much better, we wrapped a big bandage on it. He played perfect, we played yesterday. There was some kind of magic in the air man, really electric. Everybody was singing every song is what I liked the most about it. I expected them to only know the famous songs like “Roots Bloody Roots” and “Attitude”, but they were singing everything which blew me away. We are just excited to be on the road. It’s a great tour and we are playing the whole album.
Are you playing any Sepultura tracks that aren’t from the album? How about stuff from your other projects.
I talked to Igor and he said we should add some b-sides and our cover of “Procreation of the Wicked” by Celtic Frost. That’s about it as the album on it’s own is about an hour and ten minutes long. Pretty long record.
Are their any other reasons you guys decided to tour for this album besides it being the 20th anniversary?
I think it is just a special album for us. It’s a really powerful record. It was adventurous and very different from what was going on in metal at the time. Since it was the 20th anniversary, Igor had the idea to celebrate it with a tour. We talked to promoters about it and they loved it. We created cool new t-shirts to go with it with new images. Some shirts are old like the ones with “The Roots Bloody Roots” on. I see this tour as a celebration of old and new.
Yeah I noticed you guys have changed your sound several times over the years. Hell, even Beneath The Remains was different from what you started as.
For me music is a never ending search, you always look for new things and different ideas. For me it is always exciting to make a new record. I am very proud of what I do in all my projects including Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and Killer Be Killed. The Roots tour is really cool cause it’s like a look back in your career. It is a little reflection of what we did in the past, in order to go into the future. My body of work is massive, I have close to thirty records. I loved looking back at Roots and learning every song again and playing them. And like I said there was magic in those shows that connected everyone together and that proves to me that the love for that album, 20 years later is stronger than ever.
Speaking of going to the past, any plans to do tours for any of your other older albums like Beneath the Remains or Chaos A.D?
Well we have to wait for the dates first, but of course I would love to celebrate those. Next year will be very focused on Soulfly. I plan on doing a lot with that band. It will be that band’s 20th anniversary and I plan on doing something special. I might also work some more with Killer Be Killed, that would be nice. After that we will see. I think this project is a huge success. We wanted to see if it would work and it did and people love it. Everyone is having such a great time together. Lets just see what the future holds. I’m just excited for metal. I love metal and the new bands that come out and i’m just excited for the future of metal.
Any metal bands out there you really like?
I love Harms Way and Full of Hell. I love Abbath’s solo record and have always been a fan of Immortal. I’ve always been a fan of everything. I still love classics like Sabbath and Celtic Frost. I love my kids bands Incite and Lody Kong. I am very proud of them helping keep music in the family alive.
With all these once impossible reunions such as Misfits finally happening, do you think we will ever see a reunion of the classic Sepultura line up?
I feel we don’t need one and this tour is proof. This band is better than Sepultura ever was. Mark is a better guitarist and Nate is a better bass player. They play everything spot on. I feel this is the real reunion, because there was bad blood between us at the time and I don’t want to revive that.
I’m guessing a Nailbomb reunion is even more impossible.
I wish I could bring it back man. I love Nailbomb. I wish I could get Alex to play guitar and I will sing and we could go on tour with Nailbomb. That Point Blank was insane and even today it sounds fresh. It has not dated a minute. Sadly that project is out of the cards. We must move on to do other things, that is why I have Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and Killer Be Killed.
I noticed that when Sepultura first started, rock and metal music were pretty rare in Brazil, but now when you fast forward to today, those genres are now extremely popular there, more popular than in most other countries. How do you feel about this?
Brazil was never really famous for heavy metal, but the people here love metal. We found this out on the very first Rock in Rio. Each night was for a different kind of music. One of the nights was for heavy metal, which ended up being the biggest night by far. It had so many people and the staff was wondering what was going on and how the metal night could be the biggest night. That is when we found out that Brazilians really love metal. I then found out all of South America loves metal, cause when we played in other South American countries we saw how huge it got and I am considered like an ambassador of South American metal music. We were the first metal band from that area to break out of the area’s scene. I am very proud of the achievements and how Brazil is now a common place for metal acts to play. All the bands come here, from underground black metal bands to big names like Ozzy. We used to have one concert every year and now we get so many it is incredible. I am very happy for that.
It most likely has to do with the fact that you guys and others like Sarcofago were so ahead of your time in terms of extremity and originality. I’ve read about huge acts like Mayhem mention being influenced by old school Brazilian metal.
We were all very angry and hungry for metal. We didn’t see many concerts like the American’s and Europeans did, so I feel we had a bit of extra hunger. I think the whole death metal thing was cool cause we were in contact with many of the artists including Chuck from Death as well as guys from Morbid Angel. In our earliest phase we even wore face paint like the black metal guys would later do today. We did even before Immortal and Behemoth. We already had corpse paint. It has all been an amazing journey of metal and discovery. I wouldn’t change anything if I could. It has been an amazing career.