NOT EVEN Mother Nature can keep a metal god down. Max Cavalera is many things to many people. An inspiration and an influencer.
A rebel and a warrior. A trend-setter and risk taker. He is a Brazilian singer, guitarist and songwriter who plays in metal acts Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, Killer Be Killed and former frontman and co-founder of influential metal band, Sepultura.
Today, Cavalera is my modest, friendly and appreciative interviewee.
“We’re ready to bring the Nailbomb to Canada,” says Cavalera from a snowy winter tour stop during the 17-date trek.
While Cavalera is a veteran of the road, this marks his very first detailed, coast to coast Canadian adventure.
“We decided to do a Canadian tour which is the coolest because we’ve never played that many shows in Canada. It’s super exciting. It’s cold but we don’t care. The Nailbomb metal will keep us warm,” he said.
To clarify, this tour sees Cavalera’s band Soulfly performing as his industrial sludge/groove side project Nailbomb, and playing their 1994 sole studio release Point Blank in full live from beginning to end.
What is it about a record from 24 years ago that allows its artist to tour it now in 2018? Cavalera explained why Point Blank is a cult phenomenon that stands the test of time.
“It wasn’t created with that in mind. We just wanted to make something cool. We were pissed off,” he said. “The record is really relevant today. It was written in the Bush-era but fits the current Trump-era even more perfectly for the climate of the world right now than it did 24 years ago.”
Though early on in the tour, several shows have already sold out in advance and there have been venue changes due to a high demand of ticket sales.
“It’s a great feeling to play to a packed house. It’s a really good record to play live, one of my favourite things I’ve done throughout my whole career,” said Cavalera.
Among the cities Soulfly will play, Thunder Bay is a definite personal highlight for him. It was refreshing to hear him sing our praises for such a supportive and active local music scene.
“It sounds so metal. Any place that’s called Thunder Bay, it’s got to be good,” he said. “I want to see some metal heads in Thunder Bay — they better show up. And it’s a Saturday show, I love Saturday shows. Who doesn’t like to listen to metal, get crazy and let it all out? It’s a perfect weekend show.”
Cavalera is genuine and insightful. As an artist who’s been playing music for well over 30 years, he’s still humbled by the fans who share his passion for metal. He said he still gets nervous and gets goosebumps before a show.
“I get excited to play places we’ve never been, like Thunder Bay. The fans are not spoiled, they’re hungry because they don’t get to see a lot of stuff,” said Cavalera. “We’re promoting and playing an album that was important to me in my career. At the end of the night I like to see people leaving sweaty and happy with big smiles and leaving with a feeling of enjoyment.”
He added, “I sometimes spend 10 hours writing riffs, I’m a riff maniac. Every good song starts with a good riff, I’ve always believed that. It’s an art form that I really love and enjoy.”
Cavalera didn’t find metal music — the expressive genre found him.
“Coming from Brazil we were very pissed off. It was a different Brazil than people saw on post cards. It was full of crime and drugs. For us metal was the best music to embrace our environment especially thrash metal and death metal. It’s perfect that we choose that kind of music and stayed with it, it’s for life. You never grow out of your roots. I wouldn’t change anything. The road is our teacher and life is our school. You make mistakes and you recover from them,” he said.
The iconic metal pioneer shares some parting words of wisdom as our chat comes to an end.
“Jam a lot,” Cavalera advises.
“The more you practice, the better you’ll become. Once you have a dream, fight for it.”
He said in Sepultura in Brazil — no one liked it —the whole country didn’t like it.
“But we made it through. Believe in yourself and have the passion to do what you love and the rest falls into place. Love what you do, and keep on fighting. Metal is my life. I’m glad I get to do that for a living, it’s a dream come true.”
One of the opening acts, Lody Kong, is an American sludge metal band hailing from Arizona, featuring Cavalera’s sons Zyon and Igor Jr. Cavalera urges fans to get to the show early to check out all the opening bands, including local act Arch Anger.
Soulfly hits Thunder Bay at Crocks tonight with Today is the Day, Lody Kong, Uncured and Arch Anger. Tickets are available at the door.
Angie Valente is a freelance journalist based in Thunder Bay.