Chris Loomis

INTERVIEW: Max Cavalera of Killer Be Killed

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SoCalMusicToday.com’s Chris Loomis spoke with metal legend Max Cavalera founding member of Sepultura and current singer for Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy about his new project Killer Be Killed and the bands self-titled album due out on Nuclear Blast Records on May 13 in the USA. Some call it a supergroup, Killer Be Killed also includes Greg Puciato (Dillenger Escape Plan) guitars/vocals, Troy Sanders (Mastodon) bass/vocals and drummer Dave Elitch (The Mars Volta). Max tells us about how Killer Be Killed came to be, his passion to collaborate with other musicians and his love for the band Suicide Silence.

Max Cavalera from Soulfly at SIT strings - NAMM 2013

File Photo: Max Cavalera of Killer Be Killed / Soulfly / Cavalera Conspiracy at NAMM 2013 in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by Chris Loomis)

We all know that you and Greg Puciato collaborated on the song ‘Rise of the Fallen’ from the Soulfly album Omen back in 2010. How did your relationship with Greg evolve into becoming members of Killer Be Killed?

Yeah right after that collaboration we kept the friendship going and we kept in touch. Greg would call me from time to time and one of the times he called he had this idea of creating a project and he sold me on the idea of doing something like I did with Nailbomb so I said let’s give it a try and see what happens.

I wanted it to be a bit different than Nailbomb though. It started as just me and Greg –  we wrote all the demos all the raw demos. The first week we played together we did like 15 songs in a raw demo format. Nobody has ever heard those demos so maybe we will release them next year for the fans as a special edition of the album.

I felt this project was going to be really cool as I love Greg’s energy. I love his passion for the music. He knew drummer Dave Elitch and once we got involved with Dave things really started rolling in the right direction. We wrote some more songs with Dave and then we got Troy in the band who was the missing piece. When we got Troy involved it became an amazing supergroup and we never stopped. We wrote a bit more then we went in the studio and made the record.

I am so glad the record came out the way it did. I think it’s a fantastic record . . . it’s very, very cool and very different from most things I have done in the past.

How did Troy Sanders and Dave Elitch come onboard as members of Killer Be Killed?

Greg was friends with Dave and he really wanted him in the band. Greg sent me some videos to watch of The Mars Volta and I really liked it. I thought Dave was a beast on drums and that is what we needed. Troy also came from talking to Greg – he suggested Troy. Greg knew Troy from touring with Mastodon. It was perfect as we needed someone who could play bass and sing . . . we could have easily done it with Tom Araya but it was cool we got Troy.

It is pretty unique to have three members of a band that can handle lead vocals. Was having three singers a goal for the band or did it just happen?

Yes – that was my idea – it comes from the band Transplants – it’s a project I really like. It is members of Rancid and some other guys and they had three singers and I thought it would be cool to do a metal version of that. Having three metal singers who are really different from each other – that is what I think is really cool and different about Killer Be Killed. All three of us are metal singers but come from such different backgrounds and different sounding bands.

It really clicks when you hear a song like ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’. Troy starts the song with his cool Mastodon voice and Greg does the chorus and I do the thrash part in the middle – it’s like the perfect combination.

How did the band decide who sings on what songs and what parts of the song?

We layed down all the music first – that was my job. I wrote about 70% of all the riffs for the material and I recorded all the rhythm guitars so I was very involved in the creation of the actual music. I knew all of us had different vocal styles and just kind of tackled it song by song. I think the first song was ‘Face Down’ and I asked to sing the chorus as I already knew it and the guys said no problem it’s yours. Then Greg asked to sing the chorus on ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ so it was very democratic. If somebody liked a part they just raised their hand and said I like that part – can I do that part? We always seemed to agree on who takes what parts – it went on like this for the whole record.

I wrote the thrash/fast part on ‘Snakes of Jehovah’ and we all thought Troy would be the best to sing it as he is the least likely one to sing thrash. It was my curiosity to hear Troy’s voice on a thrash part – I was actually really interested in hearing Troy sing thrash because he does not do that with Mastodon. It was just things like this that we did in the studio that ultimately made the record very special.

How did you come up with the name Killer Be Killed as the name of the band?

We had the name Kill for a while then we found out there was another band named Kill. We were really set on something that had the word Kill in it. So Troy had suggested Kill or be Killed and I was making a joke about that and said Killer Be Killed and from the moment I said that everyone loved it. It was one of those names that once you said it everyone goes that’s it, that’s the name of the band. I am glad we kept it cause it’s kind of like a Jeffery Dahmer kind of name – a serial killer name –  you know.

Max, you seem to enjoy collaborating with other well-known established musicians. What drives that desire to collaborate with others?

Personally I think it’s kind of boring and very safe to not get out there and collaborate with anybody. I am all about working with other people and different musicians – famous or not famous – I don’t care. I did a song with a band from Scotland called Man Must Die. They are very underground and it was awesome working with them – it was a lot of fun. Also I am singing on the new The Acacia Strain album – I like doing stuff like that.

Then I have this chance to work with Greg and Troy – from a bit more famous bands. I loved working with Dave Grohl on his Probot project. I just love playing with different musicians – I think it’s just fun to share my thoughts and music with other people. I get very excited about making music especially in the studio – if you are in the studio with me the excitement is contagious.

Are there any confirmed touring plans for Killer Be Killed?

No – nothing confirmed. Next year is more realistic for a tour as we are all busy with our own bands through the end of the year. I think next year we should all take a break from our own bands and dedicate a month or two to Killer Be Killed. Maybe like a two week tour of the US playing the big cities then a short run in Europe for some festivals and then maybe Australia then call it a day. We’ll see what happens at the beginning of next year.

Back on April 23 you played ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ with Suicide Silence at the 2014 Golden God’s Awards in Los Angeles. How did that come about and do you have any advice for their new vocalist Eddie Hermida who has replaced the late Mitch Lucker?

I think Suicide Silence is on the right path.  Eddie is a killer front-man – they just made a new record which I can’t wait to hear. I had a lot of fun with that – I am connected to Suicide Silence through the guys in the band. This is the second time I have done ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ live with them – the first time at the benefit show for Mitch out in Pomona. That time it came out so good we decided to do it again at the Golden Gods. Again it was really fun – I love those guys, I love the band – Suicide Silence is one of my favorite bands for sure.

I like the new bands, I like the new generation – I like The Acacia Strain, I like Noisem, Man Must Die, Psycroptic. I think Suicide Silence is doing the right thing. They now have another killer front-man – they just need to keep going. They will keep the memory of Mitch alive through the old songs and they will build new memories for the future with Eddie – that’s the way to do it.

So the best advice I can give them is to keep going.

Thanks Max, it was great speaking with you and all the best with Killer Be Killed.

Thank You and thanks for the support.

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