In the two days since drummer Igor Cavalera announced his departure from SEPULTURA, there has been a great deal of speculation regarding the reasons for his split with the group and his future plans. While some fans have theorized that Igor became disillusioned with playing heavy metal and wanted to explore different musical styles, many others have taken it for granted that Igor would eventually rejoin forces with his brother Max in either SOULFLY or a reunited version of SEPULTURA's classic lineup. In this exclusive interview with BLABBERMOUTH.NET — conducted Tuesday evening (June 13) — Igor refutes many of the rumors currently circulating the Internet and explains the circumstances that led to his decision to leave the band.
Q: When I spoke to you in January, you told me that you were not leaving the band — that you were merely taking a break from touring to spend time with your new wife and kid, and that you were fully intending on returning to SEPULTURA at some point. That is obviously no longer the case. What happened in the last five months to change your mind with regards to your position within the band and to cause you to finally make the announcement that you were leaving the group?
Igor: "The main thing, really, that changed… It was after the European tour that SEPULTURA did with Roy [Mayorga, ex-SOULFLY, currently in STONE SOUR] on drums… I had a meeting with Andreas [Kisser, SEPULTURA guitarist] before he left for that tour, and then we had another meeting when he came back. And before he left, at the only meeting that we had, we pretty much agreed on all those things that everybody knew — that I was willing to take a break. I wasn't thinking or even saying anything about leaving the band, even though there was a lot of rumors going around. But my intention was really to continue doing this and taking a break. And we even talked about how we wanted to [have] an injection of new energy in the band, and that was something that with this break we might have been able to [achieve] that — to think about and reflect on a lot of different things; that was the plan. When he came back from that tour, we had another meeting, and in that meeting he just showed me a completely different side of it where he didn't feel like my break would be good for the band and good for everything, and he wanted to really continue doing a lot of touring and a lot of shows — they were already booking a lot of shows that I didn't know about — and things like that, which pretty much [led] me to make this decision. And not only that, but also in Brazil, a lot of things were going around, like a [news story in the media] 'A new drummer for SEPULTURA has been hired' — this guy [Jean Dolabella] from Belo [Horizonte], who was already playing in the band, which wasn't a lie, but the way that portrayed it, it was like he was the new drummer, and the band didn't come forward to say anything about that — not even on our web site — and I felt really disrespected [by that]. Not even to put something [on our web site to refute the rumors], since it was already out on the Internet and things like that. Like the time when you posted that story on Blabbermouth [referring to the January 13, 2006 article on this site stating that Igor was quitting the band — Ed.], right after that I put up something on the web site, explaining to the fans — at least like a little letter — just saying, if they [should] rely on [any information being spread about the band], it [should come] from the band directly — not to [believe anything] unless it came from us. And I think that's a pretty good relationship between a fan and a band — if they can go to a band web site, if they hear something, and if they see something from the band, there can be a little relief, or not — as was the case [on Monday, when the official announcement about Igor leaving was made — Ed.]. So those were the main reasons that I just started thinking completely differently, where I just felt that in their opinion, the [idea] of them moving on and continuing to play didn't include me as part of this plan. So I just felt that the most honest thing to do was to explain to everybody [what was going on] instead of just sitting at home [while] people [were] thinking that I was still taking that break, [but] where my mind was in a completely different place."
Q: But it is understandable why the other guys would want to tour and keep the SEPULTURA name alive, especially after a new album has just been released. After all, you only get one chance to tour behind an album and it's hard to tour for a new CD a year down the road. Why did you have such a problem with the other guys using a different drummer for the entire touring cycle for this album and just regrouping with you next year or whenever you were ready to become a full-fledged member of the band again?
Igor: "Actually, that was my idea in the beginning of all this. But I just felt that were weren't really talking the same language anymore when they returned from Europe. Especially after this meeting, it was like… for me, the intention that they showed me was completely different. 'Cause I wasn't willing to tell them, 'You can't go out and tour,' and all that stuff. But at the same time, I just felt that over the years, things were going for us not so well — between us, our relationship — and for me, this was a chance for me to be free and do new things at the same time."
Q: You say that your relationship with the other guys deteriorated over the years, and in your statement announcing your departure from the band, you mentioned that you started feeling that you weren't on the same page as the rest of the group around the time of your last European tour with SEPULTURA, which was in December 2004. Did anything specific happen on that tour — any particular incident — that made you feel that way?
Igor: "No, it was more me than anything else. I was just not feeling well — like touring, and being out [away from home]. It was just a bunch of different feelings that I was feeling — it wasn't any one event or one special thing that triggered this whole thing. It was just myself; I just felt like a complete outsider in this whole thing — I just didn't wanna be there, I didn't wanna continue touring and all that stuff. I was just struggling with myself to keep doing this. I wasn't really happy. That was like, for me, the most… The thing that hit [me] the most was that I wasn't really feeling it anymore."
Q: Do you think that the things that were going on in your personal life — the breakup of your first marriage — contributed to you feeling this way, or do you think it was completely unrelated?
Igor: "I think it was unrelated to a certain extent because I could always deal with both things and have the joy of both, but at that time I wasn't having any fun being out and being on the road and playing — all that stuff. Even performing, for me, it was like… When performing got to the point that I wasn't really having… I don't know… like a feeling of fire inside, or something like that, that's when I really felt like I had to do something else."
Q: And you started feeling that around December 2004, right?
Igor: "Yeah, that's when it got really strong."
Q: You also mentioned in your statement on Monday that there were "artistic," or "musical," differences that contributed to the split. The way you are describing this situation, I'm not sure that "artistic" differences is how most people would see it. It almost seems like it was question of lack of motivation more than anything else.
Igor: "But it could be seen in that way. The way I was looking at it, it was different. When I put 'musical differences' [in the statement as a reason for the split] it was where I felt that I couldn't give anything more to the band. If I wanted to do something, I wanted to do something completely different from what I was doing with SEPULTURA. So I think it was even more from my part than the whole band itself."
Q: When I spoke to you yesterday, you mentioned to me that you felt that "Dante XXI" was the strongest album you have done with Derrick [Green, vocals]. So I think, with that in mind, people would probably be surprised that you would choose to leave when the band was at its strongest, musically speaking, at least as far as this lineup is concerned.
Igor: "It is definitely my favorite album out of all of them — the ones we did with Derrick. But at the same I feel very proud stopping the way I stopped, [having just released] such a great [album]. As far as promoting and going out and touring, I wasn't really feeling it, but being in the studio and writing the songs, I put 110 percent in it."
Q: You said earlier that you wanted the band to take a break. Do you really feel that a break would have helped? I mean, if all of you guys had agreed to go separate ways for a while and then regroup later on, do you think that would have made a difference or do you think that it pretty much would have meant the end of the band?
Igor: "I truly believe that it could have helped."
Q: But you also know that it could have meant the end of the band just as well, right?
Igor: "I don't know. I was looking more on the… not really on the business side of it, more on the artistic side of it, where if we took a break and if we did different things for a while that we could miss being in the studio, being on the road, and all that stuff. That's where I was coming from."
Q: One other thing that I have seen mentioned on various message boards, including the one on the official SEPULTURA web site, is that many people believe that you no longer have a passion for playing metal music — that you are more interested in getting involved in hip hop music and electronic sounds and DJing and all that stuff. Is there any truth to that? Do you still feel any kind of interest in playing hard-hitting metal, hardcore music or do you want to really do something completely different?
Igor: "I think it's both. I really wanna do stuff that's really heavy and really powerful, but I also wanna do different stuff, like I always wanted to do with SEPULTURA. I always put my influences [into the music] and they've always been very different — from metal all the way to all kinds of styles of music, and that always came across really good when we were writing songs. So I think it's both, you know. It doesn't necessarily mean that I wanna stop playing metal and just playing whatever I'm listening to at the moment. I think, for me, that's… I don't know if I could even that. When I play, I play in a certain style that even if I'm trying to play in a certain style, it's gone come out the way I play my drums. So I think, in my point of view, I'm always gonna have that fire inside to play heavier music, and I definitely don't wanna stop playing that kind of music, because the stuff that I do outside of SEPULTURA, it's a lot more fun than anything else — it's just having fun. Like the whole DJ thing — it's just having fun here and enjoying different… It's almost like discovering a new instrument by doing the turntable stuff and also trying out new electronic stuff with drums, just like I did with percussion at the time — really researching a lot of percussion, and Brazilian music, and things like that. But I wouldn't exchange everything I had just to be in that style or changing the whole thing."
Q: So if people were to say that you passion for playing heavy music has diminished in the last few years, that wouldn't be an accurate thing to say?
Igor: "No, I don't see it that way. I still have a lot of… When I play music, especially the old, fast stuff, I really enjoy that."
Q: The SEPULTURA webmaster posted a message on the band's site on Tuesday stating that SEPULTURA would continue following your departure, but it's not presently clear if that means they will just go on touring in support of "Dante XXI" or if they will try to carry on and record a new album with a different drummer. In your opinion, can SEPULTURA exist — and should SEPULTURA continue — without either of the Cavalera brothers in the lineup?
Igor: "Actually, I think it's… I don't have the right to say whether it should exist, or if it should go on, since I left the band. I think if it was like, if they threw me out of the band, or if it was like a fight, or if it was a different situation, I could have a different opinion, as far as continuing or not continuing. But as far as the way I see it [now], I think it's really up to them if they want to continue or if they wanna stop with SEPULTURA."
Q: Do you have an idea of whether they will continue? Has there been any discussions before you left as to whether they will go on?
Igor: "Before I left, there was definitely discussions about finishing the cycle for 'Dante' — the touring cycle — but nothing about continuing, as far as doing new things. But I don't know. That might change now that I am out of the band."
Q: But you will not try to stop them if they try to continue and record a new album under the name SEPULTURA with a different drummer?
Igor: "No, not at all."
Q: A lot of people are speculating, or thinking, that you decision to leave the band might have been influenced by your brother — that Max had something to do with your departure — so I want to ask you a couple of questions about that because a lot of people have a mistaken impression of where your relationship with Max currently stands. First of all, when was the last time you spoke to Max?
Igor: "He called me on my birthday last year [September 4, 2005]. But we didn't even talk about the band. It was way more personal stuff. There is definitely not the influence of Max on my decision to leave SEPULTURA."
Q: Did you ever tell him that you were thinking about leaving SEPULTURA?
Igor: "No, no, actually. No."
Q: In the 10 years since Max left the band, have you had ONE opportunity to sit down face to face with him and have a conversation with each other as brothers?
Q: The longest conversation you've had with Max in the last 10 years was how long, if you don't mind me asking?
Igor: "I don't even know… Every time we spoke, it was weird, because I wanted to make sure that it involve SEPULTURA, because I wanted to continue speaking to him more and more, and [I wanted to] leave the band — his band and my band — out of [the conversation]. So we would talk for a long time, but we would never mention SOULFLY or SEPULTURA in the conversation at all."
Q: One other thing that I have seen mentioned on various message boards is the possibility of you joining your brother's band, SOULFLY, now that you are no longer a member of SEPULTURA. If Max was to call you up and say, 'I'd like you to do a tour with my band,' or record an album with SOULFLY, would you consider it? Is that something that is a possibility for you?
Igor: "I don't know. It's hard. It's the same as when people ask me if Max was to call me and ask me if he could rejoin SEPULTURA, if I would accept, and I think the answer is pretty much the same. I can't really speculate about something that's not real. Once it's real, then you have time to think about it and really have a strong opinion about it. When it comes to something that's not real, I think it's a waste of time to try [and guess how I would feel about it]. It's not real."
Q: Do you think there's a possibility that you may ever play with SEPULTURA again? Do you consider this a closed chapter for you or is the door open for you to one day play with these guys again?
Igor: "I don't know. It's hard to say. The thing that I always left really open and I always spoke very clearly about to everybody was the way that I wish I could play with my brother again. Even when I was in SEPULTURA — that was something that I never hid from anyone. And I think it's still the same. I think one day I will be able to play with him again. I don't know what format — if it's SEPULTURA, if it's a new thing — but the desire is there, and it's always been there, and I never made that a secret to no one."
Q: Looking back now, do you have any regrets about the way the whole split with Max happened, or do you think that you guys did absolutely the right thing in the way that you handled the situation?
Igor: "I don't know if we did the right thing, but I know for sure that we definitely learned from the things that we did — not only with him, but everything we've done in our whole career. It's hard to say if it was right or if it was wrong, but one thing is for sure — we learned a lot from that whole experience; it changed a lot of things in our heads."
Q: Do you have any regrets about anything that you did during SEPULTURA's career — things that you wish you could have done differently?
Igor: "No, not at all."
Q: So what are your plans for the immediate future? I know you're spending time with your family.
Igor: "That's still my plan. The bomb exploded, but my plan's still the same. I wanna definitely take this time to spend with my newborn, Antonio, and my family, and that's the main thing for me that I think about. And once other things start showing up, I will just take my time and really look into it in a way that… I am in no rush right now to jump into a different project, to do new things or to put any expectations on our fans to hear something new. So if it happens, it's gonna happen at the right time — I'm not rushing it at all."
Q: Do you still consider the other guys in SEPULTURA to be your friends?
Igor: "Yeah, yeah. Especially Derrick."
Q: Do they feel the same way about you, you think?
Igor: "I think so."
Q: But if there were any kind of tension between you and any of the other guys, it would probably be between you and Andreas, correct?
Igor: "I think it's a little stronger [between us]."
Q: One thing I wanted to ask you. I noticed that you've started spelling your first name with two Gs in all the press announcements and on the band's web site.
Igor: "Yeah, that's something weird that I started signing it — my name with two Gs. And then on the last SEPULTURA album, I wrote it with two Gs. There's no special meaning to it. I just started signing my autograph with two Gs and then I liked the way it looked. So I'm not studying Kabbalah or anything like that. [Laughs] I think it looks cool and when I started writing it, I thought it looked better than it did the other way, so that's how I write my name right now."