MAX CAVALERA Says He ‘Hates’ Writing Lyrics: It Is ‘Like Torture’

In a new interview with Czech Republic’s Project Backstage, former SEPULTURA and current SOULFLY frontman Max Cavalera spoke about his tendency to occasionally address societal and political issues in his music. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Well, I’m gonna start by saying I hate writing lyrics. I never liked it. It’s like homework. I like riffs. I’m a guitar player. When I’m with my guitar, I can go for hours, and it’s great, just jamming. But making lyrics is like torture, a little bit, but good stuff comes out of it. And I became, through the years, a little bit more political and more aware of the world and so I started making more political records, maybe like [SEPULTURA‘s] ‘Chaos A.D.’, ‘Roots’, the SOULFLY stuff, talking about slavery, talking about superstitious stuff, prophecies and things like that. Yeah, I don’t like to do it. I do it like in a torturous way, but I like the result, because when you hear the crowd singing, it’s there and you got the message across. But it’s not my favorite thing to do. My favorite thing is riffs.”

He continued: “If you pay attention to the lyrics… A lot of people, they just wanna rock out, and that’s okay too. But I come from… My background, I grew up listening to a lot of punk stuff, and a lot of punk stuff had a lot to say; they’re very politically charged. And I think because of that, some of my stuff became kind of like that. But it’s also simple. I don’t try to be something I’m not. I write in a very simple way that anybody — it’s direct, it’s very direct, so anybody can understand. There’s not really a lot of metaphors and stuff like that; it’s right to the point. But hopefully some people get the message and be inspired by it, by the message that is on records like ‘Totem’ and ‘Ritual’.”

Max previously talked about his lyrics in a November 2020 interview with the “Scars And Guitars” podcast. At the time, he said: “I still enjoy political messages, and some of them are quite strong. If you look at an album like [SEPULTURA‘s] ‘Chaos A.D.’, even though it was done [30 years] ago, it seems like a lot of those songs fit the world right now perfectly — like a glove — even more than when it was written. Or [Max‘s 1990s side project] NAILBOMB. NAILBOMB [is] the perfect example. We were doing a tour [where we performed the songs from] NAILBOMB two years ago, and it was fantastic, and kind of creepy, how those songs that were 20 years old, they fit the times now better than they did when we wrote them in the first place.

“I probably would do more of that kind of stuff, ’cause I do enjoy having a voice,” he continued. “There is the right things and the wrong things out things, and there’s a lot of wrong messages being portrayed. The problem, I think, is that you have the Internet and everybody has a platform, and you have all this brainwashing, especially here [in the U.S.].”

Max, who was born and raised in Brazil before relocating to Phoenix, Arizona in the early 1990s, touched upon the rise of right-wing populism around the globe, saying that Donald Trump used the weight of the most powerful office on Earth to give the movement legitimacy.

“What Trump did here was really just taking the mask off and just exposing all the ugliness that was underneath America,” Max said. “But now the masks are off. And it’s fucking crazy.”

SOULFLY‘s twelfth album, “Totem”, came out in August 2022 via Nuclear Blast. The follow-up to 2018’s “Ritual” was recorded at Platinum Underground in Mesa, Arizona by John Aquilino and Arthur Rizk with assistance from John Powers. Produced by Max Cavalera alongside Arthur Rizk (KREATOR, MUNICIPAL WASTE, CODE ORANGE),the LP boasts guest appearances from John Powers (ETERNAL CHAMPION),Chris Ulsh (POWER TRIP),and John Tardy (OBITUARY). Rizk was also responsible for playing lead guitar on the record. The artwork for the album was created by James Bousema.

SOULFLY‘s current lead guitarist is Mike DeLeon, who joined the band in early 2023. Prior to hooking up with SOULFLY, DeLeon had been a member of PANTERA singer Philip Anselmo‘s solo band PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS, which he joined in 2015 as the replacement for Marzi Montazeri. More recently, Mike filled in for Zakk Wylde at the first rehearsal for the fall 2022 PANTERA shows.

In August 2021, SOULFLY parted ways with longtime guitarist Marc Rizzo due to personal differences. FEAR FACTORY‘s Dino Cazares played guitar for SOULFLY on the band’s 2021 and 2022 run of shows.


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