Prior to SOULFLY's performance in Petaluma, California on February 25, front man Max Cavalera spoke with Gene Gaona of Hellbound. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the group's recently completed U.S. tour:
Max: "Maybe because [new album] 'Ritual' just came out, but it's a lot of people at the shows. It's really fun. It's really cool to see all the SOULFLY tribe coming, masses, and represent."
On performing music from the band's latest album, "Ritual":
Max: "It's a good combination. We're actually doing stuff [live] that people are not expecting. We're opening the show with '[The] Summoning', which is not the first song [on the album], so it's kind of cool. Nobody's expecting that. Then we go into 'Under Rapture'. Later on, we play 'Ritual' and 'Dead Behind The Eyes' mixed with a lot of 'Dark Ages' stuff, a lot of 'Prophecy' stuff. I like a lot of that era of SOULFLY. I'm very pleased with 'Ritual'. I think 'Ritual' is a really fun record to listen [to]. You're supposed to play what you like, so 'Ritual' has all that — all my influences from death metal to thrash metal to punk to hardcore, some black metal and even some MOTÖRHEAD. It covers everything. I'm extremely happy with the record."
On the group's current lineup:
Max: "We're tight, so you can feel it. Even how we structure the shows, there's a lot of very organic jams between songs we do — tribal stuff... Right now, it's killer. Zyon's [Cavalera] killing on drums. Every night, the kid's out of control. Sometimes I've got to tell him, 'Ease up a little bit, man. We're old — we can't keep up with you!' I'm really enjoying it. After doing this for 37 years, if you still can manage to make an exciting record and go on tour and feel excited again to be on tour, it's a blessing. I don't know why these things happen they way they happen, but right now, I think we are experiencing a very positive SOULFLY reincarnation, which is really cool."
On mixing up the band's set list versus playing songs consistently:
Max: "What I was trying to do with this tour is a little bit of both. The core of the set stays the same, because I wanted to play them so much that they just get really good — amazingly tight and killer — but at the same time, you want to change them from not exactly the same every night, so we do change. In a couple of nights, we change... but the majority of the set stays the same because we're trying to build on something. I think right now, the show is really cool. It goes through a lot of emotions... it ends really killer with the first two songs I ever wrote for SOULFLY, 'No' and 'Eye For An Eye'. We play them together, so it's really kind of like the end of the show is the real beginning of SOULFLY. It goes back to the roots... Especially now that it's 20 years from the first record, it's kind of cool to end the show with this — back to the real beginning of SOULFLY."
On his 2019 plans:
Max: "I hope I tour most of the year. That's what I want to do. I'm going with Igor [Cavalera; former SEPULTURA drummer and Max's brother] to Australia for 'Beneath The Remains' and 'Arise'. That's going to be insane. It's an insane fuckin' show — those two records together, it's so good. We have festivals... Then I think later on, we're going to do another run with this kind of package. Hopefully we do another run with some other really cool bands. I think that 'Ritual' is an album that can definitely be a big tour. You can tour a lot of places — South America, Europe, back to the U.S. I even see we can do the U.S. two or three times. It'd be kind of cool to really go everywhere, even the small towns that nobody goes [to]. I love to do that."
On whether he still gets "nervous" before performing:
Max: "It's part of the fun. If you don't get nerves, I think that means that you don't care anymore — [that] for you, it's like drinking coffee or taking a shower. It's not like that. Every show, right before the show... I put my battle vest on, it's war time. When I hear that tribal drums — we have a real cool tribal intro — I get all [excited]. I get possessed. I can't wait to get out there, but [there's] always a little bit of butterflies. You always get a little bit nervous, which is cool. I've been trying real hard on this tour to communicate to the crowd how much this means to me, and to them, hopefully. I don't want to go on real long rants, because I don't like that — I've never liked bands that spend a long time talking, lecturing or whatever. I don't want to do that, but I want to let them know that this music, this metal thing, saved my life in the same way the fans saved my life. It's a gratitude thing. I want to thank them for that. Almost every night, I say a little bit — something like that... I hope the message comes across. I'm really excited to be alive in 2019, and being this passionate for metal, it's a blessing."
"Ritual" was released in October via Nuclear Blast. The follow-up to 2015's "Archangel" was produced, recorded and mixed by Josh Wilbur (KILLER BE KILLED, LAMB OF GOD, GOJIRA). The cover artwork was painted by artist Eliran Kantor (TESTAMENT, ICED EARTH, SODOM). Additional booklet art was handled by Marcelo Vasco (SLAYER, HATEBREED, KREATOR), who also handled the package design. The album features multiple guests, including Randy Blythe (LAMB OF GOD) and Ross Dolan (IMMOLATION).