Soulfly’s Max Cavalera Talks ‘Enslaved,’ Lineup Changes, Upcoming Tour + More
The new Soulfly album is the first to feature former Static-X bassist Tony Campos, who replaced Bobby Burns after a seven year run. Ex-Borknager drummer David Kinkade also makes his Soulfly debut, taking over for longtime stickman Joe Nunez.
Loudwire had the chance to catch up with Soulfly frontman Max Cavalera, who talked highly about the band's new members, collaborating with his kids, guest musicians who contributed to ‘Enslaved’ and much more.
Soulfly are gearing up for the release of ‘Enslaved.’ Can you tell me a little bit about the theme of the album?
It’s really Soulfly’s most extreme record and I’m really excited about that being the eighth record. I do think they expected us to get that extreme but it was heavily influenced by death metal music and the topic. Most of the songs were about slavery. It’s a strong topic -- I think it’s a real hardcore topic -- not many bands touch it so it was kind of original. I was happy that I got the idea to use this topic on the record; that’s why it’s called ‘Enslaved.’
We have two new band members in the band, our new bass player Tony [Campos] and a new drummer David [Kinkade]. I work with those two new guys in the studio a lot and I think they brought a lot of new blood to Soulfly and help make the record more aggressive, more brutal.
So it was a really good work team in the studio and [with] Zeuss producing. It was the first time I worked with a producer since ‘Primitive,’ Soulfly’s second record. So that was really cool to have somebody to produce the record with me. I had some ideas to bounce back and forth and I’m very pleased with the final results of the record, I think it sounds really awesome and the message is good. It’s a powerful message so I think the fans will be pleased.
You mentioned that Soulfy has two new members, bassist Tony Campos and David Kinkade. What brought on the lineup change and how would you describe the new chemistry of the band?
We had a problem with our [last] bass player. I won’t go in details 'cause I already had some problems with that. I don’t want to talk s—t about him anymore, we just had problems with him so we took him out of the band. The drummer Joey told me he wasn’t going to play this kind of music forever. At some point he was going to quit and the time came. He wants to do something with video and cameras and stuff which was cool 'cause I thought the band needed a change because the last three records really sound alive. It was becoming a little bit, I don’t know if boring is the right word, but it was becoming the same sound, same people playing.
So I thought it was good that it happened and to find two other killer players that could bring new blood to the band; bring new fire to the music and they did. Tony and David helped me make this record really killer. I love playing with Tony. He’s a professional, he’s a exciting guy, he’s got great ideas. He sings in one of the songs called ‘Plato O Plomo’ in Spanish. He sings for Asesino a side project he has with Dino [Cazares] from Fear Factory and it’s got these great Spanish death metal vocals that he does, so we decided to sing together and he plays great.
David, I worked with him for three days. He came here to Phoenix and I wrote three songs with him and before we entered the studio, I just fell in love with his double bass and the extreme way he plays death metal. It’s supersized; he can hit every note and it sounds killer. The whole ground shakes when he plays the double bass and he was perfect for this kind of sound that I was looking for with this record. I wanted for Soulfly to go in this direction, so it was great to have these guys around for this record.
Guests on the album include Dez Fafara of DevilDriver and Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation. What led to these collaborations?
Yeah, every Soulfly record had a lot of collaborations in the beginning which is something I really like to do. The last record we did a song with Greg [Puciato] from Dillinger Escape Plan and Tommy [Victor] from Prong and this time I chose Travis and Dez. Travis, I wanted somebody that could sing really heavy with that kind of death metal vocals and he has that with Cattle Decapitation, I’m a big fan of them and they opened for Soulfly a couple years ago and they’re a great band. It turned out great, he did a great job.
The other song was Dez, he’s a friend of mine from the Sepultura days. We’ve toured together on Ozzfest with Coal Chamber and we’ve been friends forever. This time came around I was in the studio and I found out that DevilDriver was going to be playing Phoenix, so I decided to invite him to be on the record. It was funny because he told me he was listening to ‘Chaos A.D.’ that whole week on tour. It was an incredible coincidence when I called, it was one of those weird freaky things. He did a great job on ’Redemption of Man by God’ it’s kind of a crazy bible topic.
Most of the song is about the death angel in Egypt killing out all of the first borns. The whole idea of the song came from an accident that happened in the studio. The speaker; there was this religious guy’s radio station that came through the speakers and the producer was like “Oh my God I've got to record this man! This guy’s talking some crazy s—t.” This guy was going on and on about all these biblical insane things and part of his speech was part of this Egypt thing and we threw that on the end of the song and I said the lyrics has to be about this. It turned out to be a really cool song, I really enjoyed working with Dez.
Your sons Richie, Igor and Zylon also contributed to the new album, how was it recording with your kids?
It was great, the original idea was going to be a B-side for the album and the songs sound so good that I threw it on the record. I started the song with Zylon on drums, I worked with him at home first, writing then we went to the studio and little Igor my young son wrote two riffs. I was really proud of him because he’s writing riffs like me. We all sang on it me, Igor and Richie; the song is a call for justice kind of a cry for vengeance and for revenge. It was really powerful in the studio, all of them wrote their own lyrics.
The way it was recorded it was different, everything was live like we were playing a live show. Everybody was together playing their instruments so it has this raw kind of dirty sound. When I heard the song I said, “Man, this is going to be perfect to close the record, to close the album with this song,” so I told Zeuss about adding it and he really liked that idea, so we ended up not making the B-side and turning it into the last song on the record.
Soulfly are also hitting the road with Five Finger Death Punch. What can fans expect on this tour?
I think it’s going to be a great tour. We have new material to play, the new album is perfect to play live, very aggressive and energetic stuff, great for a circle pit, mosh pit kind of crowd. We have an invitation from Five Finger Death Punch. They’re real good guys and we’re fans of the band so it’s really cool that it came from them to do this tour. It comes at a perfect time right when the album comes out so we’re very excited. It’s going to be great playing America with them. We’re certainly going to have fun and play our music everywhere.
With a 15 year history, Soulfly continue to go strong in a tough industry. How do you think the band has persevered throughout all of these years?
I have a real die-hard commitment to music. I will carry it forever as long as I can possibly do it, I will do. It’s the only thing I know how to do and in my life I have different passages. I created Sepultura and I split from them, then I started Soulfly which was a new beginning and I had to prove myself all over again. But it was also a chance to create something new and different and I saw it as a blessing in disguise. I think it was the best thing that happened for me because it really led me to do a lot of things I couldn’t do with Sepultura. I think that the fans know how much I put into everything I do on the record and playing with other artists and going on tour. I try to deliver live every night.
The exchange of energy that we have with our fans is great. I love metal fans, they’re the best fans in the world. The energy you get from them, you don’t get from any other type of concert; that killer circle pit, moshpit, stage diving energy that just makes the concert so much more exciting than any other kind of music you see anywhere else in the world. I’m in love with that, it’s kind of like a drug. When you make a circle pit you can say, “I created that.” It’s a great feeling inside that you make people create this huge circle and they’re going around like crazy and it looks like they’re beating each other up but they’re not, they’re having fun. It’s great, just a great feeling so I think we have a great exchange of energy, me and the fans.
Soulfly's eighth studio album 'Enslaved' is now available. Check out the video for the album's hard-hitting first single, 'World Scum,' below:
Watch the Soulfly 'World Scum' Video