It’s not every day you get to sit down and have a conversation with a metal legend, so when I was informed that I had the chance to interview Iggor Cavalera after reviewing the latest Cavalera Conspiracy album, Pandemonium, (You can read it here: http://www.avenoctum.com/2014/10/cavalera-conspiracy-pandemonium-napalm/) I didn’t even give it a second thought! After a fair bit of time spent scratching my head, I finally came up with some questions to ask one of the pioneers of the Brazilian and South American thrash scene. Getting the chance to pick Iggor’s brain on subjects like Cavalera Conspiracy, Sepultura, Nailbomb, life in the UK and music was fantastic and here’s how it went down (after the exchange of pleasantries of course).
AN: First up, you’ve delivered one of the most brutal sounding albums of the year so far. It has a real 90’s Sepultura vibe to it too. How did the recording process and song writing go? Was it relatively simple or complicated?
Iggor: I have to say, that it was simple in a sense that me and Max, we work in a very simple way as far as like, how we put together the ideas and then, when we go in the studio, how to make those ideas into something we really enjoy. It is a bit simple, but at the same time, it is a bit stressful. We have to deliver and we never really rehearse. We go straight into the studio with just a few demo’s and things like that. At the end, I think it’s more fun this way than in any of the other projects, like what I have done with Sepultura and stuff like that. We really push each other and in the end, we come out with the record that we want.
AN: I read in one of the interviews which Max had given regarding the album and the idea of calling it “DickFuck That groove”, how do you think the label would have reacted if that was its final title?
Iggor: I think it was more like a nickname. We usually have nicknames for certain things before they become songs with full on lyrics in that sense, rather than having an idea and maybe the label intervening with that idea. Maybe it is something more like having a working title like thing until we come together with the whole concept. But we knew from the start that it wasn’t going to be the final thing, it was more like a nickname.
AN: Do you think that it would have sold well if that was the final title?
Iggor: Yeah, yeah. I mean that’s the thing. If that was the case, the label and everyone else would have to deal with ‘it’ (the name).
AN: Sticking with the album, what did you think of the artwork? Having looked a lot closer at it, there certainly is a hell of a lot going on in it, the tank, the skull, the burning flags, factory towers… Is it like a concept piece which represents the album as a whole?
Iggor: It’s cool, because when me and Max were in the studio, we started talking about how we wanted this artwork to be. One thing which we really wanted to do was have something with a lot of detail since the first two records, they were very minimal with the artwork. So with this album, we decided to change things up a bit. This is how we ended up choosing Stephan Doitschnoff which was the artist. He is a really good friend of ours, and he understood what we are about and where we wanted to go with it. The artwork is all about capturing a lot of the details and all of the details in it are connected to everything in the record.
Also Stephan, he had the music, he had some of the lyrics so he worked on this piece of art which was completely inspired by the record. It was not just a drawing that we picked up and we wanted to use just for the album cover.
AN: That’s a really good way of doing it.
Iggor: Yeah, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t… But it’s really cool when you have that kind of a connection with an artist who can deliver something which really represents the album. We really liked how it came out.
AN: So with the artwork being a concept of the album, would you say the album itself is a kind of concept album? Or was the aggressive sounding theme to it just a result of how it all turned out?
Iggor: It does have kind of a concept. It’s not like a huge concept, but I think that it is very chaotic. It reflects the world today that we live in, and that is how me and Max wanted to portray the album, musically and visually. It does have a connection, but it is not like a closed concept, where the album is just about one subject.
AN: With the songs on the album, the first one I heard was “Bonzai Kamikaze” and I was sold on it straight away. What was the thinking behind that song’s title and theme – the Kamikaze pilots? Is it just an idea which came to you or was it just something you wanted to write about?
Iggor: Well, it’s crazy because it was one of the first songs we recorded for the record (Kamikaze), and it was really, also in the sense that it’s kind of like, I don’t know.. A fast song with a lot of aggression, and from those first few songs, we decided to go in that direction. That dictated where we wanted to go with the whole album, which was kind of cool. At the same time, for me too I was really pleased on how we first showed Banzai Kamikaze to the fans before anything else. That was really nice.
AN: Another song which really stood out for me was the track “The Crucible” and the theme about it with the Witches of Salem. Was there any historical interest in this subject from anyone involved, or was it inspired by any of the films about it, like Rob Zombie’s one?
Iggor: It’s crazy. Max has like a lot of different inspirations. Sometimes they can be from movies or books, and sometimes they can be from things we see every day, The Crucible is no different. It’s a combination of many different things that at the end, Max wanted to portray in his lyrics. I think you would be the best one to describe it correctly though.
I think that the cool thing about it also is how the lyrics speak, so that different people can have different ways of interpreting what he is singing so it’s nice to have that too.
AN: How was working with Marc (Rizzo, Soulfly) and Nate (Newton, Converge) who came in to do the album with you? Did they have any input on the song writing process, or was it mostly all done before hand?
Iggor: Me and Max had most of the stuff wrote already. Marc came up with more of the leads. Nate, he couldn’t come to the studio as him and his wife had just had a baby, so we decided to send him the music, so he could put down his bass in a different studio and send it to us. Both of them had an input, but most of the stuff was already done between me and Max.
AN: Was there anyone in particular that you would have liked to work with on the album? Or were Nate and Marc your first choice?
Iggor: Marc is already kind of like a partner that me and Max have been working with for quite a few years, and Nate, he was like a guest. Me and Max, we always like to bring different people to the project, and in doing that, sometimes we do it in the sense that we try to get people from some of our favourite bands and those who we really admire. We’re really into Converge – they’re good writers and I like the stuff which Nate plays, and he does some vocals too. It’s cool to have a chance to have someone else come and bring their influences in.
AN: Moving on from Cavalera Conspiracy, let’s talk about yourself and Sepultura. What inspired you to play Thrash metal?
Iggor: I don’t know, it’s hard to say really. We started to play this style of music such a long time ago, like the very early 80’s. It is how we got into a more aggressive side of music, and that includes Thrash, Metal and Hardcore. All these things which we felt had a lot of energy. I think that was the main thing, it was a way that we felt that we could really push ourselves to a really energetic sounding thing. With other styles of music we didn’t have much of a connection to at the time, you know. What set our music apart was that it was dirtier somehow. Growing up, we felt that this was the best way to play our music.
AN: What was the metal scene like in Brazil like when you formed Sepultura?
Iggor: There wasn’t really a scene. It was just like us doing our thing, and then later on, you could see that there was a scene getting formed. In the beginning it was just us doing what we wanted and you could see, little by little, people getting into it, especially people who were not into popular music or traditional metal (Iron Maiden and that), it was a bit more extreme. It was very lonely in the beginning because we didn’t have anything in common with other bands.
AN: So basically, when you started out with Sepultura, you were one of the most unique bands at the time in the region and then people started to follow in your footsteps?
Iggor: Yeah. We were doing something very different at that time that nobody was doing in Brazil. Later on of course, more and more people started to get into it and they wanted to be a part of this somehow. Then, we decided to start doing more and more things with different bands when we saw that there was more and more kids involved and friends of ours who were influenced by what we were doing.
AN: So, if you didn’t have your career in music, what would you have seen yourself doing? Would you have tried to get involved in it somehow, maybe not as a performing artist… Or were you always set on being a musician.
Iggor: It was very early when I got into doing what we did with Sepultura, but I would say that I would have tried to be involved with arts somehow. I like to draw and do paintings. I did that when I was growing up. One of those things would probably be something different than playing music, but definitely something creative or doing things with arts most probably.
AN: Have you ever designed any artwork for bands at all? Either for any of your own projects or another band?
Iggor: Yeah! I did a few things back in the day, especially in the metal scene – band logos. Mainly underground stuff, you know, metal and hardcore bands. It’s fun you know. I do it mostly for fun; I don’t take it too serious.
AN: So, referring to an earlier comment I made. I felt there was a real 90’s Sepultura vibe to the album. What is it like playing that style of music again, the style from Arise, Beneath the Remains and Chaos A.D again? Does it make you miss playing the older styled music?
Iggor: I don’t know. It’s weird because I don’t really see it in that way that much. The album is fast and aggressive and maybe has some of those albums influences… But I don’t really see Pandemonium as similar to Arise or Remains. We do things different now, in a sense that we play it different to the recording. I feel it is influenced by those times, but it is not a version of it. It is more like how we play that material now.
AN: One thing I have noticed which has been popping up in a lot of interviews with yourself and Max is the talk of a Sepultura ‘classic line up’ reunion. Is this idea of a reunion, something you are actively pursuing, or is it more of a ‘if the chance came up, you’d discuss it and cross that bridge when you come to it’ type deal?
Iggor: Yeah, it is like that. This is something where I am not like ‘Everyday I think about it’ or ‘Negotiate’. There is none of that stuff. It is a lot more like we know a lot of fans want to see that. I hope one day that it will happen, but it needs to happen for the right reasons. It needs to be the right timing and everything. At one point, it will happen and I hope it will be fun for everyone.
AN: When that happens, I will be there for it, definitely!
Iggor: Yeah! I think it will be fun
AN: Sticking with this theme of reunions/reformations, I know this may be a question for suited for Max, but has there been any talk about Nailbomb at all? Any talk of something happening with them coming back, or was that just a complete one-off which you helped with?
Iggor: I think Max pretty much is done with Nailbomb. It was a project which he wanted to have a finish to it. We do play Nailbomb tracks sometimes, and it is a lot of fun to do it but, I don’t see a Nailbomb show or even some kind of a Nailbomb tour happening any time soon.
AN: Is there anything on the cards for 2015 then with Cavalera Conspiracy then? Any festivals or Tours?
Iggor: Yeah. The plan is to promote the record as much as possible around the world. We have been talking about the summer festivals, especially in Europe, so in the coming year, there is going to be a lot of work and we will make it happen as much as we can.
AN: What about the other musical projects you are involved in? Anything lined up next year at all?
Iggor: Yes. There is a lot of stuff planned for Mixhell, my other project. We have a lot of singles and different things planned. I try to bounce from one thing to the other, do some Cavalera stuff, and then some Mixhell. Max has his other things too – he does the same with Soulfly and his other stuff, so I think it is going to be quite a busy year for all of us.
AN: It’s now the end of 2014, and it is that time of year when the people like us: Reviewers, Interviewers and the like, are scratching our heads, trying to come up with our top 10 of the year lists. Have you listened to any new releases at all this year or maybe have your own list or album of the year you would like to share?
Iggor: I really enjoyed the new album from Full of Hell &Merzbow that was quite amazing. It was the last record I heard that I really enjoyed. I don’t really do the whole ‘list thing’, because it is weird to me. I don’t really count the whole year like that because we keep doing stuff, and it is more of a time thing.
AN: So it is like you have no time to sit back and think about things?
Iggor: Yeah, I can only remember the last record I listen to, so it would be hard for me to form like a list of the ‘best records’ of the year.
AN: Believe me, it is! I am still scratching my head trying to come up with my list. What about gigs? Have you been to many this year as a fan instead of performing? Have any stood out for you at all?
Iggor: I was at Entombed A.D here in London, it was quite amazing and I really enjoyed it. I like their music and I think they are great people. That was the last gig I went to and it was really enjoyable.
AN: Musical Influences, who were the big influences on your playing style?
Iggor: I think that the main one would be Bill Ward from Black Sabbath, he is my favourite drummer and has been since way back in the days, and still today, I think that he is quite amazing.
AN: Favourite band – Either current or all time?
Iggor: It’s hard for me to say man. I don’t really have like one band who I single out as my favourite. I have a bunch of bands I really like, but I wouldn’t say I am obsessed or focused on one band or one style of music. I like to be quite diverse with my tastes.
AN: So if you had to pick a band on the spot, the first one who springs to mind who you listen to a fair bit, who would it be?
Iggor: I don’t know to be honest, I just try to enjoy as much music as possible but at the same time I try not to just focus on one style or record. I prefer to listen to different stuff all the time so I can’t just pick one.
AN: Do you play any other instruments at all other than drums and percussion?
Iggor: Drums and Percussion is my main thing. All the other stuff, I can play with it, but I don’t consider myself good enough to play them, it’s more for fun. My main focus is mainly drums and percussion.
AN: If you weren’t a drummer, was there anything you would have liked to play in a band, or was it always drums?
Iggor: Yeah, to me the other stuff is really boring. Drums is the best one! Guitar and Bass, all that other stuff is really boring for me!
AN: I’ve tried playing drums before, it’s too much for me – trying to co-ordinate my hands and feet to play a rhythm!
Iggor: It can be quite confusing sometimes!
AN: How do you find living over in England?
Iggor: I really like it. London is a really cool city. It’s amazing, I get to see a lot of different people, different shows and things like that. It’s a good place to work and a very good life here, there are a lot of people here with a lot of energy. I am a big fan of London.
AN: I have to ask, do you follow any sports at all over here, or do you keep up with the Brazilian stuff more?
Iggor: I get involved, I like the Premier league. I still try to follow some of the Brazilian football online, but day to day, I try to keep up with what is going on in England. The premier league is cool to watch, it’s almost like a little world cup with all the different players from all over the world here.
AN: Who do you follow then?
Iggor: I’m a big fan of Arsenal. I also live very close to the stadium so i get to go see some of the games from time to time.
AN: I’m an Everton fan
Iggor: Not a good year for you. Slow start to this season you are having! (laughs)
AN: Is there anywhere else you would have liked to live at all if you didn’t live here?
Iggor: I liked living in Brazil, I like it here. I think it all depends on the time. I like to experience new things and move around, so if the time was right, maybe in the future, things will change. Right now though, living in the UK is perfect for me.
AN: Is there anything you’d like to say for the site?
Iggor: I think research is important. People should read about things and go after what they like, not get too caught up in having what other people say dictate what you say, see or hear.
AN: Well, thanks for giving us your time Iggor, it has been a pleasure!
Iggor: You too, thank you man.
(At this point, we wrapped up the interview, saying goodbyes and wishing each other luck for the rest of the year and for an enjoyable 2015.)
(Interview by Fraggle)