Latest Release: Killer Be Killed (Riot/Nuclear Blast)
With the impending self-titled release of new supergroup Killer Be Killed in early May – involving Soulfly’s Max Cavalera, Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato, Troy Sander from Mastodon and one time Mars Volta drummer, Dave Elitch – LOUD secured some time to speak to prolific Brazilian metal master Cavalera about his thoughts on the creation of the band, the use of three vocalists, and the album itself.
Max, congrats on Killer Be Killed. It’s melodic but it still has a very metal, thrash element. You must have had fun making this album?
It was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed making it. I was heavily involved in the guitar parts of the album recording all the rhythm guitars for the whole record and I was involved in the writing of the album and a lot of the riffs. To me, the most fun part though were the vocals. It was so cool to share vocals with Greg and Troy, two very different styles. Greg can do screaming to melodic voice and Troy does that kind of Motörhead voice, a melodic vocal that is almost chant like in some of the songs. Adding my voice, the combination of the three blew me away and the album is just very exciting, I think people are really going to like this one.
The use of the three vocalists combine seamlessly, with the songs structured in a way to highlight each vocalist’s strengths. Is that something that came naturally in the recording process?
We just divided everything. We wrote the music first and then we did vocals and decided to do it in a very cool way where each song was broken down separately and had its own treatment. There were some songs were I wanted to sing the chorus, like ‘Face Down’ and some other choruses like ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ and ‘Snakes Of Jehovah’, Greg did the vocals on that. ‘Save The Robots’ both Greg and Troy do the chorus. On ‘Snakes of Jehovah’ we gave the thrash parts for Troy to sing because he normally doesn’t sing in a fast way. Mastodon doesn’t have any thrash parts, so it was cool to hear Troy’s voice on a faster song.
Were you always looking to utilise the three vocalists from the beginning?
That idea was from the beginning, even when Greg and I formed Killer Be Killed. I knew that we wanted a third person, a third singer. I like the idea of the three voices, three metal guys. It would of worked even it was Lemmy (Motörhead), James Hetfield (Metallica) and I, you know, the idea works whoever you put on it. I think it’s cool though that I, Greg and Troy are from three completely different bands and that’s what really is exciting about this band. The background we come from is very different. In reality, it shouldn’t mix, but we forced them to mix and the result is this album.
Did you write the songs together as a group, or did each member come with an idea & you went from there?
We wrote some songs when it was just me and Greg but it was in phases as Dave and Troy joined the band. In the studio we all did everything together, even older songs like ‘Face Down’, we gave it a new treatment, with more people involved, adding new parts.
I know Greg approached you about this idea of the band after his collaboration on the Soulfly track, ‘Rise of the Fallen’, but how did Troy Sanders and Dave Elitch become involved?
Dave was a friend of Greg’s, having known each other for a long time. Dave was involved with Mars Volta for a while. I watched some videos of him playing and he just blew me away, such a great drummer. Dave is killer…he is awesome. Troy was also Greg’s friend from the Mastodon/Dillinger Escape Plan tour and I think it’s a killer idea for Troy to get involved with his vocals.
How did the whole recording process go? I imagine it was hard getting members together with their heavy schedules and how long did it take for this album to make from writing the material to laying down the tracks?
We took a month to record. We set up a meeting where we told everyone, September 2013, do not book anything, we’re going the studio and getting this fucking album done. We tried last June and at the last minute it fell through, so we got all managers involved and made sure, September, do not book shit, we want to record this. Next year, when we play live it will be the same, do not book anything for this month so we can tour.
Listening to the album I can imagine some songs might be harder to play than others, there’s a few change ups going on there in tuning from “D” to “A”, you might need two guitars on stage?
We’ll have to play with a seven string, we can make that happen. Tune the top string to ‘A’, we can make it happen. We just need to add more strings for Killed Be Killed. I love the prospect of this band playing live, it will be very energetic and very fun to make and play this shit live, it will be killer!
One of the tracks on the album I want to touch on is ‘Save the Robots’. When people listen to the first 30 seconds of that song, they’ll be thinking ‘What The fuck’, I mean it sounds cool and it just explodes from the initial robotic voice but it’s just so different and Elitch’s drumming on that track, in particular is just incredible.
That song was from Troy. He pulled me aside and said he had wrote a song and Mastodon were not using it. He played it for me and blew me away, it’s such a cool song. We let him do everything on that track. He came up with the whole robot idea, which is all Troy, from the robot voice to the bass line, the only thing we do, is sing some parts. I think it’s a great song, I loved that he got involved and brought in a song from outside and tried to make the Killer Be Killed album even more different and exciting. We already had some heavy songs and we needed new things to make it more different and go beyond what people expect. ‘Forbidden Fire’ is the other song I wrote with Troy. He wrote most the music and sings my lyrics and we did it all together with Greg singing some also. It’s a killer ending to the album, very moody, it’s almost old Soundgarden kind of tune, very dark. The lyrics are about kids in Iraq and Iran. They are not supposed to listen to heavy metal, they go to jail for that. ‘Forbidden Fire’ is named, as in heavy metal is forbidden for them, and the ‘fire’ is the metal. I love the guitar stuff, very ambient, it sounds like airplanes flying and dropping bombs, very ambient.
Was it a premeditated thing to try play different music to what you had played with Soulfly, for instance?
We all knew that we wanted something different but I knew it would happen with the musicians we had involved. We are all from different backgrounds, even the music we listen to individually is very different. Troy listens to prog-rock, Greg listens to stuff like Portishead and Dave listens to everything, a lot of alternative stuff like Mars Volta, At the Drive In. I think it’s good that Killer Be Killed resembles some of our bands at times. Some riffs for example, but not all the time. Eventually this thing has its own identity. Killer Be Killed can’t be put in a category. It’s not nu-metal, it’s not deathcore, it’s just a good fucking heavy record, a lot of melody but you can’t put a label on it, that’s the best part of it. Just have fun listening to this album.
Will we see Max Cavalera on our shores anytime soon?
It will happen, we got some friends, promoters that will try to bring us, hopefully soon, maybe early next year. We’re hoping Killer Be Killed may be able to come and do some Australian shows or Festivals or something. I keep my fingers crossed. I love playing Australia and next year, it will be a great year for us, hopefully coming Down Under.
Lastly, your ‘other’ band, Cavalera Conspiracy, were keen on recording a grindcore album, where’s that at?
Almost done. I have to sing this week in the studio to finish it. Its killer man, very different from Killer Be Killed. It’s in your face. It’s not entirely grindcore but it has a lot of that influence on it. Igor is playing fast for like 90 per cent of the record like he did on Arise and Beneath the Remains and that’s the Igor I wanted, the young Igor, with that cool thrash drum beat he does. It comes out around October, it’s my favourite Cavalera Conspiracy album. I love Inflikted but I think this one tops that, it will surprise a lot of people.