Max Cavalera talks roots, riffs and football

Cavalera Conspiracy, Soulfly and ex-Sepultura riff-monster Max Cavalera discusses grubby football shirts and pimping up his dad's guitar...

I got my first real six-string...

"I wanted to be a drummer but my brother Iggor was better at it, so I took up guitar instead. My dad had a guitar but it was acoustic, so I smashed a mirror and glued broken glass to it to make it look more metal. It looked ridiculous!

"My first electric was a Brazilian make that I can't even remember. I nicknamed it 'O Podre', which means 'The Rotten' because whenever I slid my fingers along the fretboard pieces of wood would get stuck in my fingers. It was my first guitar but it really was a piece of shit!"

"When I discovered that I could write my own riffs, a light clicked inside my head. Riffs are an art form"

Roots bloody roots...

"My biggest breakthrough was discovering that I could write my own riffs. I had a couple of classical lessons as a kid, but the teacher tried teaching me bossa nova and I didn't want to play that shit! So I learned guitar on my own by playing along with Black Sabbath and Kiss.

"Then, when I discovered that I could write my own riffs, a light clicked inside my head. Riffs are an art form. I'm especially proud of Soulfly's Jumpdafuckup and Eye For An Eye, which you can play on only one string. I love simplicity."

Turn on, tune in, drop out...

"When Sepultura did Beneath The Remains in 1989, one of [producer] Scott Burns' assistants introduced me to different tunings. Since then, I love experimenting. The new Cavalera Conspiracy record is in A, which is really low.

"In [Max's new supergroup] Killer Be Killed, we even have songs in two tunings - half a song is in D and its end is in A. I haven't figured out how we're going to do that live yet!"

I want you to show me the way...

"Tony Iommi, no question! He's the best riff-maker of all time and Symptom Of The Universe [from Black Sabbath's Sabotage] is the greatest ever riff. It's so aggressive and brutal, man. Imagine hearing that in 1975!

"Sepultura covered it on [the Sabbath tribute album] Nativity In Black. I was nervous because it's the perfect song, but I think we did a cool job. We added some thrash elements."

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes ...

"I think Bloodshed from the last Soulfly album, Savages, should have had a crazy, fast ending instead of going slow. Roots Bloody Roots originally had a fast thrash ending, which we perform live with Cavalera Conspiracy, and that's how we should have done it on the record. It would have been even more powerful. It would have been killer, man!"

"I've got over 5,000 European soccer shirts stored in a trailer in front of my house"

Dream on...

"My dream was the Gibson SG because it's what Tony Iommi played. Now my dream guitar is my ESP Viper Brazilian Flag, which is similar to the SG. But my white BC Rich Warlock with the Discharge sticker, which I played in Sepultura, has become very iconic. I want to be buried with it when I die - which hopefully won't be for a long time yet!"

Listen up...

"Cover other bands. Knowing how other people wrote music is a great tool, which can be applied into your own musical mindset. I've covered lots of bands - Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Discharge, New Model Army, Celtic Frost and Bob Marley. My brother and I are discussing doing a Cavalera Conspiracy covers EP of songs that we liked as kids."

Football crazy...

"I've got over 5,000 European soccer shirts stored in a trailer in front of my house. My brother got me the jersey that Brazilian goalkeeper Marcos wore when Brazil won the World Cup final in 2002. It's still covered in mud. I'll treasure that forever."

Cavalera Conspiracy's Pandemonium is out now via Napalm Records

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