Latest release: Killer be Killed (Nuclear Blast/Riot!)
“I think the most exciting part was when we started singing on the record. For the first two weeks, we only had music – no vocals. All the stuff was instrumental, so we were always wondering, What the hell’s gonna happen when we sing? It was almost killing us!”
Max Cavalera and his cohorts in Killer be Killed weren’t the only people curious about what this combination of talents was going to sound like when news first broke of this ‘supergroup’. Conceived from the germ of an idea at a benefit for Chi Cheng of the Deftones, Killer be Killed has finally evolved into a fully-fledged live band with the announcement last month that they would be appearing at Soundwave next year, in one of those freakish moments of timing that the festival seems able to pull off. It will be their first time on stage together and the first time Cavalera has been at the festival.
“Our first shows ever are gonna be at Soundwave, and we are thrilled,” he says. “The record came out months ago but we haven’t played live. This is going to be the first time, and everyone is very, very excited. I think it’s going to be crazy. It’s a great festival and I think it will be the perfect setting for our first shows. Just being in Australia will make them super special and super cool.”
With the workload they all have, to date the band still hasn’t found the time to rehearse. The last time they were in a room together was to shoot the video for ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ in late 2013. Cavalera explains that they are due to get assemble this month to practise and work out how they’ll pull it off live, though in other interviews co-vocalist and guitarist Greg Puciato has revealed that Ben Koller from Converge will be filling in for drummer Dave Elitch, whose new band Antemasque, featuring Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala from The Mars Volta, will also be at Soundwave. Cavalera admits to being a little apprehensive.
“I’m excited, but I’m nervous at the same time because some of the stuff we only thought about when we were recording,” he offers. “We never thought about playing it live. Some of the songs have two tunings in the same song, but I think we can do it. Like ‘Face Down’, the song is in D but the end of the song drops to A. I only have to add one more string, tune that to A and everything else to D and it should be all right. There’s a way we can do it – adding another string to the guitar, adding an A string maybe. I’m not going to worry about it. It will just take a little tinkering and we’re thinking about how to do it. Overall, I’m just excited to start practising.”
Soundwave’s new two-day format means that many of the acts will have longer playing times than in past seasons. With only forty minutes of music on their album, Cavalera reveals that they might be adding a few classics to the set to fill the extra playing time.
“I think we’re going to play some more songs too, because the record’s only forty minutes and I think we got an hour so I think we need a couple cover songs,” he says. “I gotta couple ideas, some Bad Brains, some ‘Ace of Spades’… maybe a bit of Mastodon, Dillinger Escape Plan, Soulfly built into one. It will be a really cool show.”
With Killer be Killed charting strongly around the world (it peaked at #47 in Australia) and now popping up on music writers’ year-end lists, Max Cavalera is enormously proud of the group and what they have achieved. From working with Puciato on raw demos to refining songs and recording with Sanders and Elitch to the eve of their first live performances, the journey has taken almost four years.
“One of my favourite records I’ve made is Killer be Killed. It was just fun, you know? I was very free to do what I wanted, and it was very exciting to create something quite different from my original stuff that I normally do. Having the guys singing and melodic stuff, that was also cool and different. I dig it, I dig the record and I’m excited that it came as a lot of people’s favourite record of the year, and I think that goes to show how cool people think the record [is]. It was worth it, all the work that we put in. Because I think it was three years, three years of working with Greg to finally playing live, it’s a long way.”
It may not be the last we hear from Killer be Killed either. As for the chances of seeing of another album sometime in the future, Cavalera not only doesn’t rule it out, he leaves it open as a very real possibility.
“I think the second record might be even cooler to make because we know each other better and we can trust what each person brings to the table more. So the second one will be very cool to make, but it will be a couple of years from now. I don’t think it will be next year. Next year I’m only putting out one record – the Soulfly record. But after that, for sure! Who knows? Anything is open.”
Killer be Killed will be appearing at Soundwave:
21/2: RAS Melbourne Showgrounds, Melbourne VIC
22/2: Bonython Park, Adelaide SA
28/2: RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane QLD
1/3: Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney NSW