"This is the weirdest interview I've ever done," says Max Cavalera by phone, as he wanders down the highway from a broken-down tour bus outside of Salt Lake City. "I'm walking around mountains," he says. "It's actually refreshing." Cavalera, the singer/guitarist who currently leads metal band Soulfly, was also co-founder of the renowned band Sepultura. Cavalera is talking to us just days after the announcement that Soulfly bassist Bobby Burns had suffered a mild stroke and would be unable to continue with the band's current tour. Burns will be replaced by underground legend and Nuclear Assault / Anthrax / S.O.D. / Brutal Truth alum Dan Lilker during the Houston performance. Among the topics of discussion is the recent reconciliation between Cavalera and his brother Igor after several years of estrangement, and the continued rift between both Cavalera brothers and their former bandmate, Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser.
Houston Press: The first thing on everyone's mind, of course, is your reconciliation in August with your brother Igor, who recently announced his official departure from Sepultura. At this point, with both you and Igor having tensions with Andreas Kisser, what is it going to take to bridge the gap with Kisser?
Max Cavalera: I hope not much. That kind of friendship doesn't just disappear. Not to me, at least. The time you have with somebody like that, man...I hope it'll come to the point where we can laugh, talk shit and fight again. And [Sepultura bassist] Paolo too. I love Paolo. We always fought when we were in the band! Me and Andreas once trashed a hotel room in Russia fistfighting. I don't hold grudges. I'm more about making friends than enemies.
HP: Okay, so say everyone becomes friends again. Say Igor rejoins Sepultura -- which, at this point, still seems possible -- and you guest on each other's records, etc. They still have a commitment to your replacement, Derrick Green. How would you feel if they decided to continue with him?
Cavalera: It's not up to me. I say let the fans decide. I've never met the guy, but if the fans think that that's Sepultura, then let them continue.
HP: You and Alex Newport had a side project for a while, Nailbomb, and in the Point Blank liner notes, it says "fuck Skin-head O'Connor" and in the Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide liner notes, it says "fuck Michael Jackson" Why?
Cavalera: Nailbomb was a hate project. Albums always say "thank you" to this and that. I hate Michael Jackson, and Alex said "I hate Sinead O'Connor." We wanted to say that instead. At that time I didn't know much about her. It was more like punk rock fun.
HP: So she never did anything to you and you never met her?
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HP: But wouldn't you feel like an asshole if you did meet her and thought she was cool?
HP: You use a lot of religious imagery, but oftentimes you'll switch to lines like "motherfucker you don't understand." How do things like the Hindu om symbol connect to hostility for you?
Cavalera: That's just me. I like the extremes. I try to find some kind of spirituality in the shit I do, but I try to find my own way. I don't have to become a sheep to be spiritual. I disagree with churches, where they cut off your balls. To me, the people I look up to who were spiritual had real struggles, people like Chico Mendes. Even Gandhi got beat up by cops and shit like that. The lyrics even surprise me sometimes. Many lyrics, I still don't know exactly what they mean. I mean, this is not math or school. You don't have to be a thousand percent precise. Soulfly performs Sunday, October 8, at the Meridian, 1503 Chartres. Call 713-225-1717 for more info.