Latest release: Blunt Force Trauma (Roadrunner/Warner)

Max Cavalera makes it abundantly clear that he’s looking forward to coming to Australia with his new band, Cavalera Conspiracy. After a disappointing no-show a while back when they were announced – then dropped – as support to Judas Priest, the group will be taking the stage at the Big Day Out in a few weeks and playing some club dates of their own.

“I’m very excited. It’s (the) first time I will play with Iggor there since 94,” Cavalera says, affably. “It’s a huge amount of excitement and it’s (the) first time in Australia for Cavalera. The band is a couple years old now and finally we get to come down to Australia and show our music. We’re gonna prepare a really special setlist for the Big Day Out shows and for our own headline shows. It’s gonna be great.”

The Brazilian metal pioneer has appeared at the BDO before, with his other post-Sepultura band Soulfly in 1999. Cavalera has brought that band out on tour on the back of every album since, but still has fond memories of those first festival appearances.

“It was some of the first shows we did, when we were still getting ready and we’d just formed and was just in the process of being a new group,” he says. “It felt really great and it was one of the first festivals where we were accepted as a band, so to think now we come back with Cavalera is amazing. And to have Iggor there with me too now is going to, I think, be even more special.”

Since Max and his drummer brother Iggor reconciled a decade after Max’ bitter split from their former band Sepultura, it appears that their family bond is stronger than ever. In our interview earlier in the year, Iggor talked about the excitement he felt at being in a band with Max once again, and the ease with which they re-connected musically. For Max, the Cavalera Conspiracy is all about recreating the vibe they had when doing those early Sepultura albums together.

“With Cavalera we try to create, sonicwise, maybe the best time of me and Iggor together, which was the thrash times with Sepultura with stuff like Beneath the Remains and Arise and ‘Third World Posse’ and Chaos AD,” he explains. “I think that era of the sound of me and Iggor together was the most energetic  and the most aggressive and was like the fire of the brothers. So I wanted to maybe recreate that. But not imitate, but just as a reference, use that kind of sound. So we started… the first record was created with that in mind. Had a lot of thrash sounding stuff, a lot of hardcore stuff. Then we started the new album Blunt Force Trauma, and we even went deeper and heavier, even more hardcore and even did a song with Roger from Agnostic Front.”

Both men have explored various musical avenues with their other bands – tribal rhythms, world music, industrial noise, even colloborations with the likes of Jonathon Davis from Korn and Fred Durst (that Cavalera now apparently regrets) – but Max is adamant that Cavalera Conspiracy is all about metal.

“Soulfly’s always been a little bit more open to different kinds of music and different influence(s) […], you know the world music type of stuff, stuff like that,” he says. “Cavalera’s more metal. It’s really more strictly metal. I don’t let the influences come into the Cavalera world. They’re not really welcome. It’s kinda precious. I’m not prejudice(d) against other type(s) of music (but) I wanted Cavalera to stay separate. I did it on purpose. I stand by it and I think it’s something I’m proud of. When me and Iggor are together, and we’re playing, we just wanna play metal. We don’t wanna fuck around with other kinds of music. We just wanna do what we do best – in your face, aggressive, always that attitude which people (are) expecting.”

Now that the brothers are reunited, people will also expect to hear some of those songs they first made together as they rose from the South American metal underground. Max isn’t about to disappoint.

“It’s gonna be kinda hard to do a setlist, but I think we’re gonna come up with something cool that people will like and will get out of the show happy and say, ‘Look, I finally heard this song and heard that song. It was worth it to wait twenty years!’ You know?” he says with a laugh. “There’s always classics that people can expect from our shows. We play a lotta Cavalera stuff from both records, but we still play a lot of Sepultura favourites. Stuff like ‘Arise’ and ‘Inner Self’ and ‘Troops of Doom’ and ‘Roots’ and ‘Refuse and Resist’ (sic).”

Cavalera Conspiracy is also playing a series of shows at smaller venues alongside their Big Day Out dates. The club gigs will allow the band and the fans to be closer and interact on a much more familiar level and Max is eager to get amongst it.

“(It’s) an intimate kinda show and you always get to really talk to your crowd and joke with (them),” he says. “Those small shows are always fun. I always look forward to them. I think it’s a good contrast. When we do the Big Day Out it’s huge show and the next day you’re in a small place… that kinda contrast I think is really cool for the band too. So we’re gonna try to have fun on both.”

Now two albums into a career, Cavalera Conspiracy looks like being around for some time. While Soulfly remains his main concern – with another album due in March – Max Cavalera has plans for another Conspiracy album, but it may be some time off. He’s prepared to just let it happen, but he does hope that when the moment arrives, the band’s next release will have something a little extra.

“When it’s time to do the third record, we’ll get together and we’ll try to prepare a very special record. Most of the time (a band’s) third record is a really special time in the career of a band and in the case of Cavalera it should be no different. So we gonna treat (the third album) as a very special record and give special treatment to it and put a lot of time on it and write it the right way and record it and get everything done for it the right way.”

Further speculation about the next Cavalera album is then put aside. Max has a job to do right now and a full year of work ahead of him as it is and he’s keen to get cracking and get back down here.

“I’m looking forward to doing this tour for the album, which is the last tour for this album,” he says. “Our last show will be at the Big Day Out, and then Soulfly’s gotta new record coming out in March so I’ll be touring with Soulfly for the rest of the year and then later on I’ll pick up with Cavalera and do another record.

“I’m very happy to be part of the Big Day Out festival. It’s a great festival  and it’s great to be part of it again. I was lucky to do it with Soulfly in 98* [sic] and I’m lucky to be doing it again so I‘m very, very excited about it.”

*Editor’s note:  It was actually 1999. The Big Day Out was not held in 1998.

Cavalera Conspiracy is appearing at the Big Day Out in January and playing club shows with Lynchmada and Contrive
22/1: Big Day Out, Gold Coast Parklands, Gold Coast QLD
24/1: Panthers, Newcastle NSW
26/1: Big Day Out, Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney NSW
27/1: ANU Bar, Canberra ACT
28/1: Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW
29/1: Big Day Out, Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
1/2: Billboard the Venue, Melbourne VIC
3/2: Big Day Out, Adelaide Showground, Adelaide SA
4/2: Big Day Out, Victoria Park, Perth WA
6/2: HiFi Bar, Brisbane QLD