Incite's Richie Cavalera on Built To Destroy and the Truth Behind Arizona Metal

Arizona's very own Incite
Arizona's very own Incite Adrenaline PR
From themes of humans destroying the planet to an eye-opening music video shot on poverty-riddled Skid Row, Incite’s new album, Built to Destroy, joins a steadily growing catalog of beloved albums as the band’s fifth full-length. Released on January 25 via Minus Head Records, it’s about taking back power in one’s own life, society, or, in the band's case, the heavy metal landscape.

Led by band founder and frontman Richie Cavalera, Incite has forged its visceral and raw style into modern metal over the past 15 years, from its inception in the Arizona scene to being in constant rotation on SiriusXM’s Liquid Metal.

Produced by Steve Evetts (The Dillinger Escape Plan, Suicide Silence) and mastered by Zeuss (Rob Zombie, Hatebreed), Built to Destroy marries the band’s reverence for past influences — hitters like Pantera, Sepultura, and Machine Head — with an elevated matured snapshot of Incite’s current sound, clearly showing the potential of this band’s stadium-worthy energy.

Cavalera’s instantly recognizable thrashy screams and guttural snarls creates a powerful dynamic with the prominent fluid basswork of EL. Lead guitarist “Dru Tang” Rome, a Phoenix guitar virtuoso in his own right (and trained violinist) was the principal songwriter on this album. The peppering of his shining guitar solos is accentuated by Lennon Lopez’s machine-gun drums. The combination of the quartet’s fresh take on how to approach their instrumentation is what makes Built To Destroy’s tracks stand out in unique ways, from pit-pummeling, pulse-quickening jams to sludgy, grinding heavy tracks ideal for kicking back.

Incite will finish off a multistate tour with Soulfly, Kataklysm, Chaoseum, Alukah and Skinflint at the start of March in Tucson and Windrock, Arizona. But no worries Phoenix fans: Cavalera assures that Incite will be playing in Phoenix this June.

Phoenix New Times sat down with Cavalera to chat about their first time writing on the road, why Arizona metal's defining feature is “pissed off,” and how hard work overshadows coming from a famous musical family.

This interview has been edited for length and content.

Phoenix New Times
: What are you most proud of on Built to Destroy?

Richie Cavalera: Literally the entire thing. There’s always been a gradual growth with each album, but with this one it feels we got everything right: The guitar soloing and leads, the drum sounds, the vocals, everything. I attribute that to having more time writing and in the studio, and in between releases. It’s fun to feel that, five albums in and with this being this lineup’s third record together, we’re starting to gel and click.

What was the band looking to achieve with this album, sonically and lyrically?
We feel like the last six years and years prior to that has built us for this moment, and this time, everything seems to be falling into place like you dream of in this business. For us, it’s about making a record that’s heavier. We wanted to get a lot heavier, more like, you can play every song from this record live. A lot of it was written on tour so the feel is different. Most of the other records were studio songs and sometimes didn’t translate so well live.

So it sounds like you now prefer writing while touring versus in the studio?
At home, you sit down and overthink things and try to make them stand out and crazier. With the live vibe and being on tour it made us simplify things down, as far as riffs and how sections were laid out. I like the way we did this record; the whole process was a new experience. And it was Dru’s first album really writing — a lot of the pressure was on him.

If this album is a snapshot of where the band is right now, 15 years into your career, what does it look like?
I think every album and step has been that way, a snapshot. Maybe what the band went through while writing and while making the songs. So it was built to destroy. Making that many records and for things to still fit into place easily and testing ourselves as well, I think a lot of this album will have people relating to it as a grown-up. I’m getting older so my topics and world outlook are more mature. The snapshot is us wanting to take over metal. We’ve had the training and the tours.

There’s stand-outs on the record, like the title track and “Backbone.” There’s really solid work on the bass arrangement and the guitar solo.
We love to hear that! We fought the label so hard to have that song (“Backbone”) be the single. We had never done this, but we went in and wrote it as that structure and form because the success of the 2016 album Oppression. It had a single called “Stagnant” that did really well. We wanted to emulate that structure and feel. We’re happy to hear people digging it. We’ll be playing it live!

How was it working with Kirk Windstein (Crowbar) and Chris Barnes (Six Feet Under) as guests on the album?

They were amazing! To have a guest on our album that has been a friend or someone we toured with has always been important to us, instead of some guy who's just famous. Crowbar has taken us out on two killer tours and we bonded. He’s a legend and seeing him be a normal guy and partying was like, wow! An eye opener. To have a song that we made with him and vocals to rip with us was awesome and it’s one of my favorite songs on the album — about the humans destroying the planet — and I think Kirk has that good, epic voice to put that more in peoples’ minds. With Chris, it’s interesting how that came about. We toured with them, and he’s old school and secluded and we both had something in common, that we loved smoking weed and talking conspiracies, and so we hit it off. A lot of people get rubbed the wrong way by him...but on
“Poison by Power,” he was killer. It makes me sound like a five year old kid! I love how heavy his voice is.

What’s your dream collaboration?
I’ve always wanted to work with Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle). In the realm of heavy — or anything really — vocally he’s just the best maybe that there’s been since Freddie Mercury. His range is so insane, from heavy crazy to jazz smooth, and it just works.

What do you love about Arizona music?
I love how pissed off it all is. Bands like Gatecreeper and Lago and Incite and Sicmonic, and everyone has been doing it for so long...that’s the vibe AZ has. There wasn’t anything to do when we were younger. It was just about getting into trouble and fucked up and that’s what quintessentially defines Arizona, just pissed off music. It’s probably just from the heat.

Built to Destroy is available to stream and purchase on Bandcamp.
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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise