Features, Print February 18, 2022

You Can’t Bullshit Metal Fans: Soulfly’s Max Cavalera

by Dan England

Yes, you will hear “Jumpdafuckup” when Soulfly plays at the Moxi Theater in downtown Greeley, but that’s the only resemblance between the 2000 band that recorded the hit metal album Primitive and the current one on tour 20 years later. 

Bandleader Max Cavalera finds himself going back to his roots more and more as the years tick away. 

“Little by little, my own tastes came through for Soulfly,” Calverra said in an interview for BandWagon. “As I get older, you’d think I’d get more mellow. I should be listening to Pink Floyd or something. But I like the heavier and heavier stuff. When you get older, you play what you like. You play what you feel.”

Soulfly, led by metal legend Max Cavalera hit the Moxi Theater on Saturday, February 26. Tickets available here.

Cavalera’s roots are about as heavy as a two-ton truck. He fronted Sepultura, one of the more brutal and influential thrash bands of the 80’s and 90’s (think Slayer, not Metallica) with his brother, Igor, before straying into industrial metal and some hardcore punk. He continued that sound by starting Soulfly during the so-called nu metal era (though Cavalera prefers to think of it as groove metal with tribal influences). The band took off using that sound later championed by bands such as Limp Bizkit, but Cavalera quickly grew discontented. 

“It was exciting, but that style went commercial and pop, and that wasn’t for me,” Cavalera said. “I’m an old-school metalhead. I’m still pushing the boundaries. That’s always been interesting to me, the different things you can do in metal, but I have no interest in popularity, and that’s a testament of where I stand today in metal. I’ve achieved all my dreams. I’ve met my idols and played big shows, so now I don’t have visions of grandeur. I’d really rather make a record for the right fan. That’s the hardcore Max fan.” 

Lately that’s meant hardcore thrash and death metal, just like his time in Sepultura. He’s proud and thankful for getting the chance to play all styles of metal as well as the music from Soulfly’s early successes. He doesn’t shy away from it now, although he may have at one point. For many years he didn’t play “Jumpdafuckup” live.

“It’s fun and it feels right, and it’s cool to hear those songs,” Cavalera said. “The fans, they kinda want to hear it. It doesn’t matter that it came from that era. The song itself stands on its own.”

He plans to release Soulfly’s 12th record before this summer, and he will play two new songs off the record at the live show. He calls the forthcoming record “a really cool free spirit” because of the way the songs don’t follow basic rules. A couple, he said, don’t have a chorus, and the producer demanded they record all the songs live.

“You don’t rely on Pro Tools,” he said. “You just play your ass off. That’s how records were done in the 80’s. I wanted that element.” 

Click here to flip through the full February issue of BandWagon Magazine

He plans to revisit those 80’s by touring with his brother Igor after Soulfly’s tour wraps up. He and Igor will likely play Sepultura’s classic material such as “Arise” and “Beneath The Remains.” He also will continue at some point to play with Cavalera Conspiracy, another band he started with Igor, and Killer Be Killed. For him, it’s all metal, and when he writes songs for all those bands, they all have one goal.

“Riffs are my church,” he said. “That’s my paradise. I will spend hours riffing on the guitar and just chugging on the guitar. I call it Chug Life. When you finally find a killer riff, man, it’s like you’ve won the lottery.

“You can’t bullshit metal fans. They see right through you if you aren’t approaching it with passion. You have to come from the heart, from a pure place. I still write with that intention. I never let the young Max in me spoil. I never lost that fire.”

Catch Soulfly live at The Moxi Theater in Downtown Greeley on Saturday, February 26 with support from Draghoria. Tickets and more information at BandWagonPresents.com