Interview: Max Cavalera – Killer Be Killed

Interview: Max Cavalera – Killer Be Killed

This interview was originally written for Desert Highways on 05/12/2014.

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Killer Be Killed is the self-titled debut album from the super-group lead by Max Cavalera. You know, the guy … ex-Sepultura, ex-Nailbomb, Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy? The Band also featuring Greg Puciata (Dillinger Escape Plan), Troy Sanders (Mastodon) and David Elitch (The Mars Volta). Killer Be Killed played Soundwave in 2015 for their first ever live performance. But before they did, Dead Set Dave got on the phone with Max to talk about the album, the band and his various other projects.

Dave: You know, you’ve worked with a lot of amazing artists over the years, how did this album come to be? The combination of all these different artists… making something that’s really quite different to anything you’ve done in the past?

Max: Well, that was the idea. We all have established bands and people love them, but we thought how cool it would be to do something on the side that is a little bit different to our own bands but captured all these musicians together, and that was the idea for Killer Be Killed, how we started. Me and Greg stated this project together and we added Dave on the drums, then we got Troy. That was my idea, to have somebody who could sing, so we had three vocals. I thought it would be very original to have a metal album with three voices on every song and I think that really works on the Killer Be Killed album. The three vocals, sharing the whole record, doing the different parts, everybody doing something different on every song. I really thought the album came out really good, I think expectations are really high for a ‘super-group’, but I think we deliver. And the record was really well accepted. It was a lot of people’s favourite album of the year. I’m just glad it was finished and we found time to do this live [the Soundwave festival] that we get to play live for the first time, and I’m very excited.

Dave: And I think that there’s going to be a lot of people in Australia who are very excited about it as well. How did the influences, the topics that you were writing about as a band work? Did you find that you all had similar beliefs or was there a dominating presence that lead that style of songwriting?

Max: Nah, we just throw it all together in a big mix, and that’s how we made the record. And it was actually done in a very democratic way, everybody being all together. And when you have that, you can feel that everybody gave their best to the record – gave their best for this album. I learned a lot from watching Troy recording vocals, and Greg, and just watching them write.

Dave: Cool, so you’re coming to Soundwave next year. You had Savages (Soulfly) come out last year, Pandemonium (Cavalera Conspiracy) and Killer Be Killed come out this year. How do you find time to do it all?

Max: I just jump from one to the other man, I don’t even think about it… it’s kinda like jumping blind and hope for the best (laughs). When we made Killer Be Killed, I wasn’t looking forward to something else, the idea was pretty cool, it was working with some of my favourite musicians, and after that I thought about doing an album with my brother, Cavalera Conspiracy and made the most brutal *garbled* Pandemonium. I just keep rolling like that. Now I’m working on the next Soulfly album that’s going to come out next year. I’m at home actually writing the album right now and it’s going good. We’ve gotta a lot of riffs for the record, I think it’s going to be another solid record and… we just keep rolling. I like to stay moving, I prefer doing that than doing nothing. I don’t like to take time. I haven’t taken a vacation in 15 years!

Dave: That’s really awesome. Back to Savages, one thing that stands out is that it’s slightly pessimistic stance on human nature. Are you pessimistic about human beings as a species? Do you think we’re inherently good and we can actually stop with war and violence?

Max: Well I think we are, you know, take a look at the world. The atrocities that are going on in the world and all the injustice. Decapitations in Mexico… Iraq and Afghanistan and that war. You know all the wrongs of the world. That’s what made Savages, to make a point that we are still savages. With all the technology we have not really evolved, inside we’re all still savages and that was the point of the record. But I am optimistic about that, I like to think that better days are gonna come, betters things are gonna come to the world. It’s one of the things I like about metal, there’s a lot of positivity in metal, even if there’s negativity, even if you’re singing about something bad, you can get something good out of it. And I think that’s really cool, that’s what matters… you point out something bad in order to get a positive reaction. Something positive comes out of the reaction, you’re turning something bad into something good. And that’s what affects me to matter the most.

Dave: And I think that’s really good, that you’re using your music to get a message out to people. I know it’s true of you, that in your early days you were influenced by bands like Dead Kennedy’s and the politics. It’s influenced your music becoming more politically charged and that’s something that you convey to your fans, to make them less apathetic

Max: And I think that’s really good. The music has travelled to many different parts of the world. On Killer Be Killed, we have a song called Forbidden Fire that’s about the Middle East kids that are not allowed to listen to metal and I thought that there was a very powerful message in that song. Especially the quote “war destroys, music saves” and when I wrote that line, I really liked it and Troy sings that with a lot of conviction. He believes in that. It’s great when you get to do stuff like that, a powerful message in an ugly world.

Dave: Absolutely. And that’s one of the great things about the album, as you said earlier, the three voices. It helps makes the songs really dynamic, which is something I haven’t really heard in metal albums, especially lately. You can have something really passionate and melodic, but then something can come in, angry and intense.

Max: That was the idea, the clash. I think that the beauty of this album is the clash of beauty and rawness. You have some songs that started like “Wings of a Feather and Wax” that’s really simple, it’s almost radio friendly, then you have a part after that that just rips, it’s like thrash metal. All in the same song. And the chorus almost reminds me of U2, you know some old U2 or The Cure. It’s mixing all those worlds together. And that’s the concept, that’s the first thing that really excited me about Killer Be Killed. It’s was the voices. I thought to myself I’d love to hear an album with three of my favourite vocalists singing on it. And I think that for a fan, it’s really exciting to hear that. For a Mastodon fan, for a Soulfly fan and you get to hear your favourite guy singing in a different band… I think it’s exciting you know?

Dave: I 100% agree, and I think that’s going to really hold true at Soundwave. For some people, it’ll be like seeing four bands at once. You’re friends with the guys in Fear Factory, and you’re all going over there to Soundwave. Are there any other bands that you’re excited to see or hang with?

Max: Yeah, Fear Factory, Faith No More, Slipknot. I’m real good friends with all those guys so it’s gonna be real cool to see them. I think that Judas Priest is also on the lineup?

Dave: Yeah man!

Max: Yeah their old records man, I loved Judas Priest as a kid and I played with Priest a couple of times and Rob’s always been very nice to us. But yeah, out of everyone I think Faith No More is the one I’m looking forward to most.

Dave: Yeah, and apparently they’re working on a new album, so that’s pretty exciting

Max: Yeah and that’s always good. I love Patton and the guys. We’ve got a friendship that goes back twenty years. Patton was in my book, and he said some quotes in my book. We’ve got a good friendship that goes back a long time. It’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be kinda like a university class reunion.

Dave: Very cool, and that’s got to make it more exciting for you. You’re travelling a long way to play in Australia. So it’s going to be fun, hopefully?

Max: Yeah we’re looking forward to it, the first time Killer Be Killed have played live. That’s another thing that’s very exciting. I don’t even know what it’s going to be like. I gotta figure out with the guys how to learn those songs… we have to relearn the record again to play it. But it’s gonna be fine, once we get in a groove and get some practice going it’s going to be smooth and we’re going to have a great time. We’re gonna surprise a lot of people on just how cool our set is gonna be. I think it’s going to be really, really powerful live.

Check out “Wings of Feather and Wax” off Killer Be Killed

Interview: Max Cavalera – Killer Be Killed
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