Interviews

That One Time Soulfly's Max Cavalera Pissed on a Star-Struck Fan, and Other Tales

Max Cavalera is a tough guy to pin down. Once he gets going, there really is no stopping the dreadlocked metal innovator from Brazil, no matter what the subject or the task at hand. This is both great about Cavalera and a challenge. He is driven, and his worldwide success with projects like Sepultura, Nailbomb, Soulfly, and many others is nothing short of legendary, and he accomplished it all without the two highest strings on his guitar.

During our 90-minute discussion, we covered many topics, but the most pressing of them all is his new memoir, My Bloody Roots (with co-writer Joe McIver), which is being released in the U.S. this week after being released earlier this year internationally. Max Cavalera has never been a stranger to crazy behavior or controversy, so it's no surprise to anyone his book comes with its own fair share of criticism.

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What it does promise, more than anything, is a straight-from-the-gut representation of Cavalera's side of the story. Regardless of what his former Sepultura bandmates or any other possible detractor might say, after almost 30 years in the music business, Cavalera has stories. Good ones. We talked about the book, the pride he has in the accomplishments of his sons, and his current projects.

So why the book? Why now?

It felt like it was a good time. I'm reaching about 30 years of my career. 30 years of music. It's a story that I think is really cool. Coming from Brazil . . . and you know, achieving what you wanted, your dream. There is a lot really funny shit in it.

Pissing off Lemmy [Kilmeister of Motörhead]. Throwing wine on Lemmy's head. Lemmy chewing Gloria's [Cavalera, Max's wife and manager] ass, saying he wants to kick my ass. Puking on Eddie Vedder on a Ministry tour. Those are fucking amazing stories and you can't fabricate this shit. The time made it.

So it was a long process. I worked with a guy, Joe McIver, who is an English writer. He wrote a Randy Rhoads book, a Motörhead book, a Deep Purple book, and a Metallica unofficial biography, which they really loved. We did about 1,000 interviews trying to remember everything. It wasn't chronological. One day, we'd talk about my childhood or the split from Sepultura or the death of [Max Cavalera's stepson] Dana. That was a really hard time to talk to about. It tough to talk about that stuff. That was hard . . . Dark, really dark.

How did you get through those moments? You know, thinking, should I say this?

I pissed off a lot of people. I called [brother Igor Cavalera's ex-wife] a whore. Paulo Jr. [Sepultura bassist] didn't play on a lot of records. It was the truth. A lot of people didn't know that. I didn't want to hold nothing back. I was truthful. Even my shit with drugs and alcohol. I abused the shit out of it. I don't know how I survived it. I was taking, like, 25 Vicodin a day and drinking two bottles of wine on top of it. People need to know this shit.

I've been clean, like, eight years now.

Early days of Sepultura . . . me hopping around like a Tasmanian devil on stage and that was usually after, like, six shots of vodka and some painkillers, but I wasn't fucked up. It was fuel for the show.

I am human, you know, and vulnerable like anybody else. I fight demons like everybody else. It was hard to let things go. I like drinking. I like getting fucked up. I would never have puked on Eddie Vedder, but I did because I was fucked up. Same with Lemmy. I would never have thrown wine on his head, but I was fucked up. I would never have done it now -- not in this state of mind -- but I wouldn't have it any other way.

I wanted Sepultura to play "Orgasmatron," but Lemmy wouldn't let us, so I got pissed off and the last night of [that] tour we all went on stage during Motorhead's last song naked [laughs] with socks on our cocks and ruined their night. Lemmy got super-pissed and yelled at Gloria. He told her that we were never going to make it in rock 'n' roll and that we were unprofessional and all that shit. We've laughed about it since then, and I think we gained their respect, in a way.