In a new interview for iRock, former SEPULTURA frontman Max Cavalera talks about the groundbreaking 1996 album “Roots,” on which he and his bandmates collaborated with the Brazilian tribe Xavante. Asked about criticism from some SEPULTURA fans that the disc wasn’t “metal enough,” Max said:
“They just didn’t give the record a real chance. For me, ‘Roots’ is a very heavy album. I think some of the stuff like ‘Straighthate’, ‘Spit’, ‘Ambush’ and ‘Endangered Species’ were fucking heavy and fast and brutal. I think it’s all because he got labeled… It became very popular, it became trendy. Some people associated it with “nu-metal.” I don’t think Roots is nu-metal. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite – it’s more primal. It’s simpler – the build is lower, but the riffs are simpler. Very heavy percussion.
At its core, it’s definitely a special record for me. I won’t say it’s my favorite, because that’s like picking children – that’s wrong. I don’t want to choose between SEPULTURA albums, I like them all. But for me, “Roots” is like. It’s an idea. It was born at the right time. It’s just a crazy idea that came into my head: to make an album with Brazilian Indians and bring that into metal. And I think it was very ambitious and very brave. Because not many people do that in their career; not many people risk everything and record an album with such crazy ideas. Because a lot of things can go wrong. A lot of bands prefer safer methods, “We’ll make this record for the fans, and we’ll be fine.” And we’re not that kind of band. We like to push the boundaries. We like to go forward. And we tried to never repeat ourselves. It was an exciting record for me.
I was very passionate about the idea of the record – to appeal to a tribe; to use tribal elements, percussion. There’s a unique Brazilian spirit on the record. And, to me, the record sounds amazing. The mix that Andy Wallace did is very good. The videos were great. The “Attitude” video with the Gracies; the “Roots Bloody Roots” video in El Salvador; the “Ratamahatta” video with the dolls. Yeah, it was a phase in our lives. It ended up being crazy because it was the end of my career with SEPULTURA. But I’m proud of that record. And it’s an important album. A lot of famous people really like this record, like Dave’y Grohl’y, and a lot of others. The guys from SLIPKNOT love “Roots”.
I understand some old school metalheads: they want to hear “Arise”. They want me to play “Arise” my whole life – just keep playing “Arise”, “Arise”, “Arise” all the time. “Arise” and “Beneath The Remains” are great, but there are other things to do. “Chaos A.D.” – That’s great. “Roots” is great. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That was the record we wanted to do at the time. And I think now that I’m rehearsing it for the upcoming tour, I understand “Roots” more than I did before. And I think it’s a very challenging record; it’s a very weird record, very unconventional and very cool to listen to. If you listen to the whole record, there are different dynamics in it, which is great.”