Soulfly’s Max Cavalera: “We’ll Play Anywhere… Metal Is Bigger Than Fear”
Despite making music that sounds like a human skull being crushed, Soulfly frontman Max Cavalera is a font of good vibes. His recent stop in New York City proved to be an awesome show fostering nothing but heavy metal positivity, and when he sat down with his son Richie to talk about touring as relatives, he was enthusiastic about his love of metal and family. But while Max loves playing big U.S. cities, he has a special place in his heart for those fans brave enough to be metalheads in countries where the music is still considered dangerous and blasphemous.
“We had a friend who came to our show in Turkey, and they’re from Iran,” said Max. “And we’re hanging out, and he says, ‘You wanna see something really fucked up?’ He grabs his phone and shows us a picture of his back, and it’s all bloody and fucked up. He got caned by the cops because he was wearing a metal shirt. Just from wearing… a fucking… T‑SHIRT. It’s something we put on and don’t even think about here. When you wear that Slayer shirt, do you think the cops are going to come out and grab you? You’re going to get brutalized? That thought doesn’t even cross your mind, right? But that’s what they live with. And I really respect that — that love of metal, that insane courage it takes to be a metalhead.
“So I had to do something,” he continues, “and a friend of his, this girl, plays an Iranian instrument. I put her on the album, on the song Dead Behind The Eyes.”
Max doesn’t only admire those fans who stay true to metal in hostile environments, he also considers it his obligation to tour in places where danger is ever-present. In his mind, terrorism and fear-mongering are nothing in the face of heavy metal.
“We’re crazy, we’ll play anywhere,” says Max with a smile. “I’ve been to North Africa, Israel… There was one time, right after 9/11, everyone was cancelling their tours to Europe. We said, ‘Fuck that, we’re going’. That’s how terrorists win. Fear cannot be bigger than music. Metal is bigger than fear. I remember we played one of the first metal shows in Paris after the [Bataclan] attacks. And you could feel it – the anger came out in a big way, right on the first song. It was like an atomic bomb set off. And I think metal is good for shit like that.”
That said, Max still has love for playing the first-world, where metal may not be illegal, but remains entrenched in the underground.
“It’s a bit different, but in the U.S., I really like the passion of the fans,” he says. “Here, pop is bigger. Hip-hop is bigger. But the underline of America is very metal. Metal has always been loved here, all the way back since the rock times, with Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, shit like that. I love touring America, and I always have. ”
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