2020, Features, Interviews — November 17, 2020 at 7:47 am

Max Cavalera of Killer Be Killed


“I think people more than ever now they need music, and more than ever they’re home with not much to do and you need your fix of metal, your fix of music and I’m glad this album is coming out…”

From Release: The whirlwind of heavy, fast, melodic, thrashy, and often meditative bombast, with sparks of hardcore punk, summoned by KILLER BE KILLED is the formidable and inevitable result of the sum of its parts, whose combined discography warped and shaped the culture. Three men possessed of some of the most recognizable voices in heavy music split frontman duty. Boundary pushers and innovators, born and bred in different cities and tempered by their respective projects, each one is an equal participant in the fresh ceremony of inspired ritual, together with one of the most beloved drummers in heavy music. KILLER BE KILLED’s debut album was a force of nature that demolished preconceived notions of “supergroup” upon its arrival in 2014. RELUCTANT HERO, the band’s surprise follow-up, conceived in secrecy some six years later, doubles down on that mission statement while splashing the sonic canvas with new colors and visions.

At home in Arizona, we gave our old mate Max Cavalera a call to talk about the new Killer Be Killed album ‘Reluctant Hero’, how it differs from his other bands, playing live, what 2020 has taught him, and more…

Always a pleasure to catch up, Max and it’s been a couple of years since we last chatted, but let’s catch up. How has 2020 been treating you?
Um… yeah man, trying to make the best of shitty situation kinda like how everybody is trying to deal with this the best way you can, trying to stay safe but there’s no shows for all of us musicians and that sucks and we’re going through a hard time, but we keep trying to do different things. Super happy about the Killer Be Killed album coming out, I’m happy the label didn’t want to change the release to next year like some other bands did, and I’m keeping myself busy I do the ‘Max Trax!’ on facebook live here at home and practicing the new Soulfly with my son Zyon, writing riffs for that already, and anxious for the Killer Be Killed release. That’s the best we can do, man.

Now we’ve spoken a number of times but this is the first time about Killer Be Killed, you guys are about to release your new album, the second for the band so can you in two words give us your review of ‘Reluctant Hero’?
In two words? *pauses* Brutally melodic *laughs* it’s got a lot of melody but it’s brutal, you know.

This album kinda came out of nowhere, and six years between albums, why was now the right time for new music from Killer Be Killed?
Just how the way we work, we all have established bands and we’re always busy with them and we knew that it was gonna happen we just didn’t know when. We never said I hope there will be a second record it was more like when is there going to be a second record and we work very slow which is okay, there was no hurry, we’re not really on any pressure from the label to release at any certain time, so it was like we just took the time and did it like that. The hardest thing about that is knowing when to walk away from it, like knowing when to say alright we have enough, this is good, I walk away from it. In fact I think I walked away from it so much I did not listen to the record for two months and I just finally heard the record last week for the first time *laughs* and so I was pretty surprised it’s quite god *laughs* even for me it was a big surprise how excited I got from listening to it. So it’s a point of knowing when to knowing all your parts are there, all your riffs are there, all your vocals are there and be like yeah this is good. You can keep changing records forever, you’re always going to find something you want to do differently but there always comes a time when you have to say this is it, done, this is a done deal and walk away from it and I think we did the right thing and I’m extremely proud of the record and I think people are gonna like it.

In saying you wrote a lot and walked away, is there still more tracks for the future or do you write specifically for new records?
Yeah I mean there was a couple of leftover things we didn’t use, Greg actually used on his solo record there’s a song called ‘Roach’ that it was a Killer Be Killed song and we didn’t use it so he snagged that and put it on his solo record which is fine by us, it’s alright. Then a couple of riffs here or there that we didn’t use but overall we used everything that was meant for the record that made the record good so when we start the process for the next one which I hope doesn’t take six years again we probably start fresh with new ideas you know.

Was this album made during the pandemic or was it made before and just worked on during this time?
No everything was done before the pandemic. So the record was actually finished, the music was finished last year, the vocals were done in January of this year, and it was mixed around February. Then the world went to shit *laughs* it was done before we didn’t know about the pandemic or nothing, it was kind of crazy. That’s what I say like some labels convinced artists to not put out records this year because of the pandemic and I’m extremely happy that Nuclear Blast did not do that with us and we are releasing the record right now because I think people more than ever now they need music, and more than ever they’re home with not much to do and you need your fix of metal, your fix of music and I’m glad this album is coming out next week.

I love that you went back to Josh Wilbur to work on this record as producer, what was he able to bring to the band this time around after working on your debut also?
He just knows it so well, man. He was there on the first one and he knew exactly what this band was all about so it was not like bringing in a guy we didn’t know and trying to figure out. So he was a bit like Killer Be Killed secret weapon producer because he knew exactly how to get stuff out of me, Troy, Greg and Ben without hurting our feelings which is very difficult, being a producer is a very delicate situation where you I think you’ve gotta tell artist or steer the artist away from an idea and something push them forward with that idea, but artists have egos and they don’t like to be told no you’re idea ain’t no good. Josh doesn’t have that problem, the first record he made a couple of things and changes and this one I remember when we did ‘Dream Gone Bad’ I don’t think he liked the riff very much *laughs* and he thought it was a Greg riff and it was mine *laughs* “This is one of Greg’s right?” *laughs* and it was like no this is one of Max and he was like “I don’t like this one as much as the rest of the record” and he has no problem saying that and it doesn’t hurt me when he says that either, I don’t have that kind of ego. So it was a joy working with him and he’s a pro and he gets the best out of us and sonically the production is awesome, everything sounds the way it should sound.

This goes back to where you called the record brutally melodic before, in listening to it it’s almost a cross between metal and hard rock with these catchy hooks that just make you latch onto these songs…
Well yeah we grew up with classic rock all of us, we love that, and what is great with Killer Be Killed is I get to be part of a world that I’m not normally part of in my own band Soulfly or Cavalera Conspiracy, it’s like pop rock kind of stuff but done in a very good way, natural way, not forced and without compromise, you don’t compromise the music the music is too great you know. It just had really amazing hooks and a lot of them end up being a combination of a lot of times my riff and the guys singing on it either Greg or Troy delivering a badass chorus on top of the riff, and I’m more responsible of keeping the brutal side of Killer Be Killed alive and I think that’s where maybe the magic of it is, it’s never too soft all the way and it’s never just all brutal. You have this diversity that goes through the whole thing that for some reason works, man, and it’s exciting, it’s just the elements of all of us together results in these songs. I couldn’t agree more that’s there’s a cool hard rock element in some of the songs, especially like ‘Left of Center’, ‘Dream Gone Bad’, it’s catchy as hell and you could almost drive your car and it would be cool to listen to this. Then you have crazy stuff like ‘Dead Limbs’, and ‘Animus’ and trippy stuff like ‘From a Crowded Wound’ is almost like a progressive song, but yeah the record is very diverse, man, I like that, it doesn’t stay in one thing all the time, it changes a lot from song to song an I think people will dig that when they hear it. It’s almost like it you listen to it all the way through which I think is a cool way to listen to this record it’s almost like you take a journey somewhere, the album takes you to a different place.

I was lucky to see you guys live here and man that show was amazing, are there plans to tour with Killer Be Killed when the world allows live music to happen again?
Yeah I think more than ever, because now we feel like this record really kind of officialises us as a real band and kind of puts a target on our back, we are a real band, this is a real band record, so with that in mind I think we should go out and tour like a real band and so yeah, I think we’ll make serious efforts whenever is possible next year, I hear of things opening up next year. Who knows, even maybe back for round two in Australia that would be great.

What if anything has 2020 taught you that you will now maintain through your life and career?
It taught me patience more than anything else and that sometimes it’s okay to slow down, we’re always in a hurry to do things, to put records out, to make music, it’s almost like this never ending non stop machine, and this year slowing everything down by force where it really put into prospect for me that it’s okay to take it easy and slow your pace down. On the other hand it made us appreciate so much more what we had playing live especially I will never ever take for granted being on a stage *laughs* you know? When you have a show that for whatever reason you don’t feel like playing it, that’s never gonna happen again, man. I’m gonna worship every stage moment from now on because it can be taken away from me like that. So it’s cool, it put a lot of things into perspective.

A lot of people are saying that it’s almost been a reset this year too…
Yeah I think you just saw people try to do whatever they can in their life to stay as busy as they can so I think you’re gonna see a lot of productivity, a lot of music being recorded because there’s not a lot of shows. I got to spend my first birthday at home in twenty years, that was cool I never expected that, so I got to spend time with the family and do things like that, that was cool, I liked that. We are all looking forward to being back to normal hopefully.

Let’s look ahead to the future as we like to do. So forgetting the rest of this year, finish this sentence for me. In 2021 Killer Be Killed will…
Play live *laughs*

Well hopefully that does include Australia one day…
Yeah I hope so too, man, especially with this record now we have two records, we can make a really cool show and probably play for an hour and a half and adding a couple of cover songs, you can have a decent headline tour type thing, so yeah we’re super motivated by it and like I said it’s becoming more of a band to all of us and I think you can hear the enthusiasm when you hear Greg talking about it, and Troy, and me, like there’s a real spark of pure enthusiasm in this band that sometimes you don’t feel a lot when you’re in music for thirsty some odd years you kind of lose that spark and everything becomes a little bit monotonous, but that’s not the case for Killer Be Killed, that’s actually the opposite, I’m really excited to be a part of this and looking forward to being as active as I can with it.


Essential Information

From: USA

Band members: Greg Puciato – vocals / guitars, Max Cavalera – vocals /  guitars, Troy Sanders – vocals /  bass guitar, Ben Koller – drums

Website: www.killerbekilled.com

Latest Release: Reluctant Hero (Released November 20 – Nuclear Blast) – Pre order here


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