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MAX CAVALERA: ‘ROOTS’ AUSTRALIAN TOUR INTERVIEW

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Released in 1996, Roots was the sixth studio album by legendary Brazilian heavy metal act Sepultura. It was the band’s last studio album to feature founding member and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Max Cavalera before he left to create his solo project Soulfly. More than twenty years on, Max and Iggor Cavalera reunite and return to Australia to play the Roots album in its entirety. AM’s Reza Nasseri spoke to Max about the album and the tour.

RN: Hi Max thanks for taking the time to talk with me this morning. Could you please explain how the idea of the roots tour came about?
MAX:
It was actually my wife, Gloria’s idea. Igor (aka Iggor) joined us on-stage one night and the place just went nuts, it erupted. From what she witnessed, she said that Igor and I should start playing together again, because it’s what the fans really want. So we thought more about and decided to turn it into the full package. We had a ‘try-out’ show at a Canadian festival, it came out great, the crowd loved it and we just went on from there playing headline shows which have been sold out to packed crowds.

It’s a really cool concept when you think of it. You get to see the whole album performed from start to finish, with all the percussion and a full representation of the Roots album in detail. Then we play some other Sepultura material and throw in some cover songs that we grew up with, so it’s a full metal experience for the fans.

What have the tour highlights been so far?
The L.A. Show at the Observatory was sold out with 2000 people going crazy. The Download show was amazing, we had an early slot but still everybody was there and we had a great reaction. We just played Iceland for the first time last week and they said it was the best show they ever had there. They were totally blown away, and it was a beautiful, beautiful country, with beautiful mountains and a great crowd and great festival. It’s really been fantastic everywhere and I can’t wait to be in Australia showing them the Roots experience, it’s gonna be great.

What’s the best thing about being in Australia?
Well I really love the fans of course, they are great fans and it’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful country you know, the culture is really great, I really love how it goes from the ocean to the desert to Uluru. The Aboriginal culture is awesome, and I like “Harish Pie” too (meaning Irish Pie/ Shepards Pie) haha. You can’t forget “Harish Pie” that’s on my list of things to eat when I get to Australia.

 Can you tell me about your guitar rig? Are you still using Peavey gear?
Yeah, we’re still using the Peavey 3120, they even made us some camouflage ones, I love camo! A lot of people don’t know I’m actually one of their oldest endorsees, and I’ve been with them a long time. It’s a great amp that works really good, with a great sound and distortion and I really can’t complain. They were custom made for us and we used them in the studio too for the new Cavalera (Conspiracy) album, and they sounded great there too.

What about for guitars?
Well I just launched my new Max Cavalera Reaper model with ESP guitars. Right now I have 3 of them, a black one and two camouflage ones, and we’re working on a digital camo which will hopefully be done before we go to Australia. I love ESP, it’s a great guitar company. I also use two pedals, a Boss Flanger and Automatic Wah in a couple of parts of a song just to give it a little effect. The distortion is coming from the Peavey’s, and we also use a pitch shifter, the Digitech Drop Tune so we can play in “A” or “B” or “C”, or whatever we want.

Did you have to go back into the vault and fish out some old gear to try and recreate those sounds from Roots?
No, we use all out current equipment and I think that adds a fresh edge to the sound. Even our song arrangements are a little bit different and are tempos have been altered as part of our evolution as musicians. We tend to speed things up a bit live and make them heavier too.

When I try to do metal vocals they usually (always) SUCK, and are generally very painful to produce. What vocal tips, can you give us if we want to scream like Max?
Well you know I never really wanted to be a singer, I was a guitar player first. Actually I wanted to be a drummer but my brother was much better than me, so I ended up switching to guitar. Then we had a fight with our vocalist, and out of the blue my brother just said well you should just sing, then from out of nowhere I discovered I had this voice inside of me, so it’s a bit of a mystery to me how my vocals come about (laughs), I still don’t really quite know. As long as they work I don’t really care. I never took vocal lessons or anything like that. There’s nothing special, except for this glycerine spray that I use before we go on, then a couple of screams in the dressing room, and then it’s ON. It’s really about the passion, the metal passion that kicks in, then I get possessed and scream like that.

 Finally, can you talk to us about the up and coming Cavalera Conspiracy album?
Oh man, the album is a BEAST man, it’s crazy. We had so much fun making this record. It was recorded here in Arizona in a bunker. It was a studio in the desert that was underground. This guy built a super hi-tech studio underground.

Are you sure you’re not talking about Area 51?
(Laughs) Yeah, it was similar to that. Ice T recorded his last record there and I did one song for Body Count, so I discovered this studio through them, and we used this producer Arthur (Rizk), who is a great up and coming producer, very underground (no pun intended) and like an encyclopaedia on our music, he knew everything we had ever done. So we really dug deep and awakened a beast, and things that were sleeping, he woke up. The vocal patterns are very different to my newer material, I went back to singing more in the style of Morbid Visions and Schizophrenia. There’s a lot of thrash stuff, but with amazing breakdowns. There are 9 songs on the record with a guest vocal from Justin from Godflesh who went back to the “Streetcleaner” style of vocals just for us. That song has industrial elements and drum machines and a lot of noise. I also wrote a song for Marc Rizzo called “Crom”, which is about Conan, because Marc is a huge Conan fan, but the more serious issues are about this age of terrorism we are living in right now, like with what’s happening in Paris and England and Syria.

‘Roots’ tour ticket link

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