Exotic, Biblical, Apocalyptic Sounds

Soulfly

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us! How are things in the world of Soulfly at the moment?

Great! The tour is awesome. We are having a lot of fun, we’re playing a lot of cool stuff. Some of the headline shows are really long, like an hour and a half. We’re playing everything from every record, so for the fans it’s really good.

That’s a lot of records to play!

Yeah, a lot of songs, but good you know?

Is it harder to pick your setlist these days, which songs to play?

Yes, there is some stuff I wanted to do, but we couldn’t get it right for this tour, so we have to wait, but overall I’m very happy with the setlist. We were able to mix the new stuff and the old together in a really cool way, that we play some new stuff and old stuff and new stuff, you know, back and forth. I think that’s kind of more fun than, sometimes a band goes out and they just play new stuff, and then some old stuff.

Yeah, that way it’s not a unit.

We mix it all together, it’s more fun like that.

That’s the best way to do it!

Yeah, I think so.

How has the reception been of the new material so far?

I think really good! They really like to sing along with stuff like “We Sold Our Souls To Metal” or “Archangel”, “Sodomites”, so it was the right record to make I believe.

I believe so as well. You stated in an interview that you have not been as excited about a Soulfly record in 10 years, as you are about your latest release. Why is that?

I don’t know, there’s something about the making and the influences I was listening to for ARCHANGEL, it was a lot of extreme stuff, and very exciting stuff. So, when I entered the studio, I was very, very excited. Then we had a very good producer, Matt Hyde, and we had all these ideas for this biblical stuff and that made it some kind of very different kind of record for Soulfly that’s not quite been done before. When it was all done, when it was all finished with the album cover, it was just super exciting.

A good time to be in Soulfly! Archangel is your tenth studio record so far. How do you look back at your development over the last ten albums? Have there been any big changes?

There have been changes, but they are gradually and naturally, which I think is cool. We started more tribal, and then halfway we got more thrashy and then towards the end we became more extreme, which I think is cool! *laughs* It’s an interesting development for ten albums.

Yeah. I think you really started where Sepultura’s “Roots” left off, you really progressed from that style I think.

Yeah, and then little by little we moved away from that and became something else. So I’m very proud of records like “Prophecy”, “Dark Ages”, “Enslaved”, “Archangel”, because they all had something in it that was very special. I like the fact that as the band got older, it got heavier. More extreme too.

Usually it’s the other way around.

Exactly, so I look at that as something of how I like to continue with Soulfly in the future.

So the next album will be just full speed ahead?

Yeah, even more extreme!

I like that. There has always been a spiritual theme to Soulfly’s work, even though you have a quite critical view of organized religions at time. What is spirituality to you?

I think it’s kind of like a feeling than anything else, you know? Although I grew up with religion all the time, Catholic in Brazil, my mother’s spiritual religion, my wife is Orthodox, so I’ve had my share, I’ve seen a lot of religion and there’s a lot of bad that religion does. You know, wars and stuff like that, but I think spirituality is not quite religion. They are different things. like to feel more connected to nature.

Spirituality is about finding connection, that’s what I think.

So you know, I’m more tuned into that.

There has been a long standing relation between religion and violence. In the song “Sodomites” you even quote some aggressive bible passages, but there are religion based wars in the world still. How do you look at this as a spiritual man?

A lot of the Archangel stuff was based on the Old Testament and stories from that time. “Sodomites” is the story of Sodom, and I found these quotes and for me it was really a revelation that some of these quotes were in the Old Testament. Like the beginning of the song, which pretty much is God saying “I’m going to destroy all this”, you know? *laughs* Watch out!

He’s a vengeful one, for sure.

It fits metal really good.

It fits really good! You would almost say that the Devil in metal is shaped after the Old Testament God.

Right, yeah, you could say that. And I think that, as far as the sound I was into creating, atmospheric sounds, there are a lot of cool intro’s and outro’s on the album. That was done with Matt Hyde.

There are also some really strange sounds on there for you, I think. There are even some Jazzy little elements in there at points.

Yes, like horns and stuff like that. It was really cool doing that. It was almost like the tribal elements from the past were replaced by these kind of like exotic, biblical, apocalyptic sounds.

Apocalyptic sounds. I like that! What was the main reason to base the album on stories behind Archangels and the bible? Was it perhaps to show that the ugliness and violence has always been there?

Within metal I find it’s always been kinda easy to show the people the real world, you know. The real violence of the world. And I kind of made a statement, which I think it’s true, it’s like all the Beatles had a gift to write love songs, and I have a gift to write angry songs, you know? It just works. And it’s kind of cool, because they don’t come out forced, which I think is really the beauty of it. If they came out forced, it would have ruined it. They wouldn’t be good then. So I’m glad it works out like that. There is some really cool mystic stuff that I’m into. Especially Babylonian stuff. I want to get more into that in the future. I did a little bit on Archangel, like “Ishtar Rising” and “Shamash”, but I really like the whole Babylonian period. I need to study more, but once I fully understand, some cool stuff can come out of it.

One quote that I had in mind when I was listening to the album, was from Nailbomb. “Hate is reality, don’t you know God hates?”

Yeah, exactly.

Are there any parts on the album Archangel that really hit a personal note for you?

Well, I like some of the experimental stuff that I did with my voice, especially choir type stuff that we did on “Sodomites”, and we did a little bit on “Bethlehem’s Blood”, “Archangel” itself, and that was cool. I didn’t know my voice could do that, and I did it with the producer. It’s fun discovering you can do something new with your voice after 30 years, you can do something else that you didn’t know was possible.

Like a kid with a new toy!

Exactly! We didn’t overdo it, we used it a little bit you know, but for me it was a big thing on the album.

Have you already tried those new things out live?

Yeah, yeah. Especially on this tour I noticed that there’s aggressive Max voice, but there’s also melodic. I can do stuff with the crowd, chanting with the crowd is more melodic, and I’ve been doing that. I think that’s real cool. I think that shows more diversity in the voice itself. It’s not just always just brutal and heavy, but you can have a little bit of melody with it too, you know?

You have a bigger toolbox now and you can do more things.

It’s not King Diamond you know? *laughs*

Thank God! *laughs*

It’s not Rob Halford! *laughs* But it’s a bit melodic, some stuff comes out of it.

It has also been twenty years since I first read the letter you published after you left Sepultura. That was a moment that really hit me back then. I was a big fan, and a lot has happened since those days. How do you look back at that particular time in your career?

That was a dark time for me you know? It was full of tragedy. The death of Dana. I couldn’t really understand what was going on. There was a lot of turmoil, and I couldn’t really cope with the success of the album. That was a big shock for me. Especially in Brazil. I went to Brazil and I couldn’t even go out to the bar, you know? I come from the underground, and I like my freedom! *laughs* I like to go out and don’t be bugged! If a fan asks for an autograph, that’s fine you know? That’s normal, but in Brazil it wasn’t like that. I could not go to a bar. All that really fucked with my head at the time of the “Roots” release. I think what happened, happened, and I like to think that good things came out of it, like Soulfly, Killer Be Killed, Cavalera Conspiracy… And now to be able to play Roots after twenty years is a blessing, you know?

Cavalera Conspiracy was a very nice surprise for me, when I saw you two play together again! How did that project came to be? How did it start?

We started talking again, to be brothers again, and got the feeling let’s play again. We are here and we love each other, we love to play together, so let’s create! I still love the first Cavalera Conspiracy record, it’s a very powerful album. We had Joe from Gojira helping, he was a great guy to have on the band. I like a lot of stuff that came out of the record, like “Sanctuary”, “Inflikted”, you know, some powerful stuff that, looking back on it now, it is quite powerful and it gave birth to something different. And it’s been fun doing Cavalera. We’ve been able to continue having fun, especially with the album “Pandemonium”, which was like a total anti mainstream record. My hope for the album was that people would return the album complaining about the bad sound, you know? *laughs* That’s what I wanted the record to be like. It wasn’t quite like that, it didn’t get to that point but there was a real underground kind of feeling to the record that I really liked.

What would you say is the most important ingredient in a Soulfly song?

A catchy chorus, a big chant chorus like “Eye For An Eye”, “Prophecy”, “Primitive”, they all have these big crowd chants, you know?

“We Sold Our Souls To Metal” is another one

Exactly. And then, a strong riff. That’s always important. With Soulfly some of my favorite riffs are the “Rise Of The Fallen” riff, some of the stuff on the first album, “Fire” has some really cool riffs. “Dark Ages” had a lot of really cool stuff. We are playing some of that. “Arise Again”, “Frontlines”, stuff like that.

Plenty to choose from!

So I think those are really special ingredients, and then, if you want to expend a little bit, Marc Rizzo is a very special part of the ingredients with his great solo’s you know? It makes for a big thing in the band to have him.

Soulfly has always had but one constant factor, and that’s Mr. Max Cavalera, being you. How do you reflect on the lineup changes over the years?

I think it’s fine, it’s how it was meant to be. I’m now having a great time playing with my son, which I think is a once in a lifetime opportunity, only a few fathers get to do that with their own sons. It’s unique and I’m very blessed that I’m able to do that. He is a good kid, and a good drummer! That makes it really cool for me to do stuff like that with him. And we have the privileged opportunity at home. I can go jam with him anytime that I want and work on some music, we have that advantage, you know? Marc has been with us since 2004, so he has pretty much been adopted, he’s like a family member. He’s pretty much a Cavalera. Then we’ve had a few pretty great bass players, like Tony Campos and now Mike. Mike is amazing. He was in Havoc, so he brought a lot of that Thrash fire into Soulfly, so he has a great vibe. He was the best addition for the Soulfly live set, to have heavy Mike in the band. So I think the lineup right now, Me and Mike, Rizzo and Zyon, it’s pretty powerful and I’d like to try and make a record with this lineup, see what it would sound like. Hopefully next year we can do that.

I’m looking forward to that! Absolutely. You are a driven soul, you have multiple musical projects going on, you released an autobiography a few years ago, and your list of guest appearances knows no end. How do you balance all that with a family life?

Just all together, it’s intertwined, you know?

It’s all the family business? *laughs*

It is! *laughs* And I just jump from project to project, without even thinking about it. I just go from one to the other, it’s like a switch in your brain. It’s Cavalera time! Switch! *laughs* Killer Be Killed time! Switch again, you know? It is fun for me. I like to stay busy, kind of. I think that’s the best part for me. It is a job, but for me, I’m still having fun as when I was a kid, you know? As long as you don’t lose that spirit, that purity, I think you’re okay. I think that when you lose that, then you’re in trouble. Like when you come on tour and you hate touring, and you don’t want to play your songs, then it’s time to quit. Then you should not do it anymore. I hope it doesn’t come to that. *laughs*

I hope so as well! You said in an interview once that you used to draw your Sepultura logo in your school books, in your writings, in the corners of the paper. Do you still do that with the Soulfly stuff?

Yeah! I paint all the time. I painted a drum skin today for Zyon to sell to some bands. I like to do stuff like that. I’m really involved with artworks and such. I really like to contribute in that as well. I painted a new shirt I’m wearing on this tour with a bunch of pagan symbols on the sides!

Alright, I’ll check that out then!

Yeah, it’s cool! It’s fun doing stuff like that, you know? You’ve got to keep motivated, you know? Motivation is a big part of everything.

Where will our readers be able to see you play in the coming months? We are a very international magazine, so our readers are all over the globe.

Well, we are going to be busy, all the way to the days before Christmas. I think my last show is December 22nd In Sao Paulo, so I’m pretty much busy from now until then. I have one week off now at the end of this tour, we have four more shows on the Soulfly tour. Then we jump into the Roots thing and we do that until December. Next year we are going to work on the new Soulfly!

We will probably meet each other again during the Roots tour, we have an interview set up through Napalm Records for the show in Tilburg, we will be there.

Great, awesome!

That leaves us with one last question, and that is, do you have any last words for our readers?

I want to thank you. I love coming to Holland. Some of my favorite memories are from Holland. The Dynamo era, you know.. Nailbomb, and then of course the early Soulfly Pinkpop stuff with Deftones, that’s always been amazing. We always have a great time here, so we love coming here. And I love Shoarma. *laughs* And Kroket.

*laughs* We have plenty of that.

I know Kroket is very Dutch, and Shoarma not quite *laughs*

No, exactly *laughs* Thank you very much for this interview, and we will see you later in the year. Metal On Loud!

Randy Gerritse & Ton Dekkers