Max Cavalera is one of metal’s most prolific guitarists and riffmeisters. His work with Sepultura would have been enough to earn him a sizeable chunk of metal’s history book, but then there’s also Nailbomb, Soulfly and The Cavalera Conspiracy. Now he has metal supergroup Killer Be Killed.
This latest outfit started as a side project between Max and Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato, and was soon expanded to include The Mars Volta drummer Dave Elitch and Mastodon bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders. Vocals are shared between Cavalera, Puciato and Sanders and the material veers from the melodic to the allout thrashy. The band’s self titled debut album attained its highest chart position in the world on Australia’s ARIA chart and the band makes its live debut during Soundwave. We spoke to Max about it.
It’s so great to hear Killer Be Killed is coming to Australia for Soundwave.
I know man, it just finally got announced and when we heard that we were ecstatic. I’m proud that Australia is going to be the first place we ever play live. The first ever shows for Killer Be Killed in our whole career. I couldn’t ask for a better place to start the Killer Be Killed live tour. I’m sure we’ll go to other places after that, but the fact that we get to start in Australia is exciting. I always love playing in Australia. Ever since the Sepultura days. My best memory is Big Day Out in 1999 with Soulfly. We were hugely embraced by the crowd, and for me it was confirmation that Soulfly was really going to happen. I didn’t know how people were going to see this new band after Sepultura. So the coolest thing ever was the crowds at that Big Day Out for me. I have great memories from the Australian fans and I think this Killer Be Killed tour will be like that.
It must be hard to get all four of you in a room together.
It is difficult. I’m actually surprised that it finally happened. Everybody’s on tour all the time. I heard Troy was on tour with Mastodon somewhere in the world. Greg’s not on tour and I’m not on tour. I’m at home writing the new Soulfly, but we’re going to make it work. We’ve got to practice in a couple of weeks and make sure the whole record sounds great live.
How did you divide up the guitar work on the album? Greg is playing guitar too in the videos.
I actually did all the rhythm guitars. Greg didn’t want to do it. He helped me write it, and he wrote a couple of very cool riffs, but when it came time to record it he didn’t feel comfortable and he told me ‘can you just do it?’ So I recorded all the rhythm guitars. I spent a lot of time on this record, more than any record I’ve ever done. I’m very, very proud of the guitar work.
Your other stuff is usually very focused and consistent across the album, but you’re playing a lot of different styles through the length of the album. It’s cool to hear you dip into these things we don’t hear you play very often.
It’s fun for me. I do have a side that’s more melodic that doesn’t come out in Soulfly or Cavalera Conspiracy, and I got to let it out on Killer Be Killed. I knew the guys could add great vocal parts on top of it so I wrote melodic riffs for them to sing over. Like “Wings of Feather and Wax,” the chorus is extremely melodic, almost like a U2 chorus, y’know? It was actually fun writing like that. I didn’t have to be heavy all the time.
What guitars did you use on the record?
I used the ESPs I have laying around. The Viper with the Brazilian flag, a camoflage one, the new AX that I’m using, which is like an Explorer. I plugged straight into Peavey amplifiers and got a really, really good distortion. Juan Montoya from Torch, who did all the weird noises and guitar solos, he came with a bunch of pedals. I don’t even know the names. Some of the pedals are homemade and look like Frankenstein laboratory sort of shit. He did a great job. I love all the noises that he put on the record. All the ambient noises. Especially on songs like ‘Forbidden Fire’ where you really get to hear eerie guitar sounds and ambient kind of things. It’s really cool. I was a fan of Torch. I always thought Torch was a great band.
And you just released the new Cavalera Conspiracy album, which is very grindcore.
It was wild going from Killer Be Killed to Cavalera. It was therapeutic for me. I could satisfy all my melodic wishes with Killer Be Killed and then go back to brutality, back to grindcore, back to my comfortable zone, which is heaviness, brutal shit. The Cavalera record was really cool to make. I got Igor to play fast on most of the record and I take pride on that feat! I pushed him, I forced him to do it. I’m excited that he did it and didn’t complain and didn’t mind being pushed like that. I think the record, Pandemonium, came out really good, man. It’s really different to the first two records. It’s very, very different from everything else. So in one year to have Killer Be Killed and Pandemonium. I’ve had my plate full, that’s for sure!
So what’s the new Soulfly record going to be like?
I don’t know. I just started writing. The first riffs came out between yesterday and today. I’ve just got to let it happen and see where it’s going to take me. Normally that’s the best way, to just begin writing and not worry about what the record’s going to be like. Just let it happen naturally and eventually it will follow. At the end of the day it’s very influenced by what I listen to. Lately I’ve been listening to Aborted, Our Penance, King Parrot and Psycroptic. So I think the record will be really heavy. I might even bring some of the tribal stuff back, because I haven’t done that in a long time.
Killer Be Killed will play Soundwave Festival in 2015. For more information visit www.soundwavefestival.com.