Iggor Cavalera is one of the most notable talents in metal history. The 46 year old is the former drummer of the Brazilian band Sepultura, who released their iconic record Roots in 1996. Although both Iggor and his brother Max (also once a member of Sepultura) no longer play in that band, they are currently in the process, 20 years on, of touring the monumental record that they created together –Roots.
Our writer Joshua Turk sat down with Iggor to discuss the experience of touring the record, and its lasting impact on the music industry.
JOSH: How does it feel, coming from trading tapes through magazines and making bullet belts out of batteries, to getting to tour worldwide playing Roots – which is now considered to be a heavy metal classic – for a whole new generation of fans? IGGOR: It’s fun. You know I have to say, in the beginning I was not really into the idea of playing an album. Like, Max called me up and he was like “it’s been 20 years of Roots, we should do something special for it.” And then I went to see Black Flag in Brazil, and that completely changed my mind because I got to see a band that I didn’t have a chance to see growing up, and I got to see them right now – like, they’re older now and they still kick ass. So to me that was a gamechanger, where I decided that it would be worth it to do Roots thing because I had gotten that kick from watching those guys in Black Flag. If I could do the same for our fans, for me that would be amazing. So it was more of a fan-type decision; as a musician, its still a fun thing to do, but it was more like a fan thing.
JOSH: Definitely. For me, I always thought the trend for bands to play their albums in full was a bit of an odd one until I got the chance to see The Melvins play the Houdini album in full, and I had a similar experience where I realised that I had never gotten the chance to see what is one of my most influential albums live, and how much of a life-changing experience that is.
IGGOR: I completely agree with you. I think that it is a bit of a trend, but I think it’s a positive one because in the end, it’s a trend that is a lot more for the fans. Again, as a musician, we already did the album, and of course we’re proud of it. But I think sometimes, especially for me growing up in Brazil, or for someone in Australia, bands like that didn’t tour that much out there. Not constantly like in Europe and in the United States. So I think that it is a positive trend.
JOSH: It must be a positive as well to get to experience first-hand the gigantic stamp that Roots has left on metal music today, some 20 years after its release. Are there any stand-out moments over the years where you’ve seen your influence in other bands, and have been especially proud of that fact?
IGGOR: I think it’s really cool, but I think the most important thing that we did with Roots was to do something to open a lot of minds; not only [the minds of] our fans, but of other musicians. So I think for me, that’s where the pride comes from. It’s not really the style, but more that we took the chance of doing something very different at the time, which was including some of our roots from Brazillian music and culture in there. So I think when I see bands now – for example, from Norway – where they integrate their roots and bring that into their music in the form of Metal, to me that’s where I see the Roots influence. You know a lot of people, they have a tendency to talk about the influence on the whole nu-metal thing, but I think it was way deeper than that.
JOSH: Absolutely. I see the influence of Roots still to this day, especially in your playing personally; incorporating those traditional Brazillian tribal influences to your driving, tom-heavy playing created a style all your own. And I think the changes on Chaos A.D. as well; bringing that slower, heavier vibe to Thrash metal in ’93 was such a pivotal moment. And I think it’s really fascinating 20 years on to see those influences still permeating into metal music today.
IGGOR: It was a lot of – you know I think it was a combination of things. On Arise we started experimenting a little bit, with some tribal stuff in the intros, then of course on Chaos A.D. we went a little heavier with it. When it had come time to write Roots, I think that it was just like a natural progression – where we were at in developing our own sound, especially with the drums and percussion. I think that was the most special thing about it, that it wasn’t forced; it took us a lot of years to be able to do something like Roots. It wasn’t like we could all wake up one morning and just decided on doing something like that. It took a lot of time to get to that point and that’s why I think it’s so important.
JOSH: And it took a lot of heat once it was released. As you said earlier, a lot of people still mention the nu-metal influence, and at the time some people even went as far as to blame Roots for that era in heavy music. So I think it’s important to be able to look back 20 years on, and see just how important a legacy that Roots has left, and for you guys to be able to see all that risk finally pay off. And with Max in the Cavalera Conspiracy, you guys got to pick up where you left off 10 years later, and continue that amazing legacy together. The new CC album’s almost finished, I hear? What can you tell me about it?
IGGOR: Yeah, we’re pretty much done! I just got the masters back from the record, and it sounds really, really good. I have to say, I’m really happy with the way that me and Max decided to do this record, bringing in a producer. Most of the Cavalera Conspiracy stuff we’ve done in the past was produced by ourselves, but this time we invited our good friend Arthur Rizk (who worked on the last Power Trip album). He’s involved in many different projects, and he can play many different instruments, and he’s also a great producer. So that was quite a big step for me and Max, having someone that can push us to do something more than what we would normally be comfortable delivering; he was trying to get the best, and the most out of us. So I think that was the right choice. It’s a very heavy record. Its hard to speak right now on it, because we can’t really have a strong conversation about it when there’s only side of the conversation here. What I can tell you right now is that it’s a super heavy record, and I think it’s really going to surprise a lot of people with how heavy it is.
JOSH: That’s beautiful to hear. With Cavalera Conspiracy, it just gets more and more heavy with each album and I’m sure I speak for all of your fans when I say we’re really excited for it. The last question I have is that I understand that you’re a bit of a Nutella fiend, is that correct?
IGGOR: Yeah, that’s like my childhood guilty pleasure!
JOSH: Have you tried Nutella donuts?
IGGOR: No?! Man, that’s a dangerous thing!
JOSH: Well we’ve got Nutella donuts, and Nutella milkshakes in Australia, so you can look forward to that when you get down here in September. We can’t wait to have you here!
IGGOR: Oh man. Truly, Australia is such a special place for us. Me and Max, you know, since the beginning we have had such amazing support from Australian fans, but also, we’ve made a lot of good friends throughout the years there. I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully I’m not gonna overdose on these Nutella donuts!
JOSH: We can only hope! I guess you gotta leave us, but I wanna thank you as a fan for taking the time to chat today, and I can’t wait to see you guys in September.
IGGOR: Thank you brother, I hope to see you soon.
Thursday 21 September – Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane – Lic A/A
Friday 22 September – Big Top, Sydney – Lic A/A
Saturday 23 September – Forum Theatre, Melbourne – 18+
Sunday 24 September – HQ, Adelaide – 18+
Tuesday 26 September – Astor Theatre, Perth – 18+