Mad Max

Metal dad Max Cavalera rocks the thrash scene and his Phoenix neighborhood

Cavalera says he makes a point of seeking out indigenous musicians in all the various countries Soulfly plays, and he finds the average Third World percussionist is often just as eager to branch out in his direction.

"A lot of these musicians are older guys who don't know what to make of metal at first," he says. "But once they can see that I'm not scary, that I'm not freaked out, they actually get so motivated. They're like, Wow, I never played with a metal band before! This is so cool.' The didgeridoo guy from Australia was like, This is so awesome to jam with you guys!' It was probably the first time he got to say awesome'!"

For Gloria, who, as Max's manager, always manages to work his album releases and tours around the family schedule ("My oldest daughter is getting married in March, so I know that in March, we're gonna be home!"), her husband's passion for world travel has worked into a series of unbeatable educational experiences for the kids.

Danny Otto
"A lot of guys in this kind of music hide  their family," Cavalera says. "With me,  it's just the opposite."
Danny Otto
"A lot of guys in this kind of music hide their family," Cavalera says. "With me, it's just the opposite."

"We fly the kids out all the time," she says. "And the schools are really cool about it. But I don't waste their absences. When we went to Australia and Japan, we did all the museums, we went to the opera house, took in the zoos -- everything possible. They've been to Poland, when the Communists had just freed it and the police were beating up the kids at the show, and they've gone back now, when visiting Warsaw is just like going to New York City. They've seen that change. I mean, my kids have been to more countries than the president. They know everything about changing money, about different weights, different foods, different languages.

"But that's because we try to make it an educational experience," she adds. "Instead of just toting them along in the rock 'n' roll band atmosphere."


It's shortly before band class at Larkspur Elementary, and Ms. Hanley, the music teacher, leads her little musicians through a reminder drill about the upcoming band concert.

"What day is the concert?" she asks. "May 23rd!" shout back the students. "What time does it start?" "Seven p.m.!" There's excitement and also a little nervousness on some of the young faces. A few of them have high expectations for their performance. Two of their schoolmates, after all -- little Igor and Zyon -- have already appeared on a top-selling heavy metal CD.

Up the way at Shadow Mountain, assistant principal Huffman has heard the musical talents of Igor and Zyon's oldest brother Ritchie. "He does more screaming than singing," Huffman confides. Still, Richard Cavalera is probably the only senior who's sung at Ozzfest.

"He sang Bleed' onstage with Fred Durst when he was just 13," Gloria remembers with a laugh. "He even got a Mohawk the day before the show. I was so proud!"

Papa Cavalera admits his penchant for involving his kids in his music is not a trait shared by many in his particular brand of rock.

"A lot of guys in this kind of music hide their family," he says. "They don't think that's cool. With me, it's just the opposite. I think that's very cool. A lot of the ideas that I come up with come from interacting with them. And they help me come up with ideas that I wouldn't have thought of if I was just working as a musician isolated from my kids."

It's an all-in-the-family approach that has influenced not only Cavalera's music but also the community he lives in. By staying true to their wild roots while giving the neighborhood PTA moms a run for their money in the family commitment area, the Cavaleras have created an offbeat parenting model that others in the old-moneyed Shadow Mountain sprawl have come to accept, if not emulate themselves.

"We've got a more diverse mix of family types here than we used to," admits Huffman. "There's still a lot of attorneys, but I'm starting to see a more interesting mix. The Cavaleras are a little further out there than most, but people are finding they're not that different in the basic ways."

Laurie Ciesla, the secretary at Larkspur Elementary, agrees -- no matter how much Gloria and Max stand out at the DARE graduation ceremonies.

"They're good people," she says, smiling.

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