Max Cavalera was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio program and discussed Reluctant Hero, the second album by supergroup Killer Be Killed, which also stars Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan), Troy Sanders (Mastodon) and Ben Koller (Converge).
In the interview, he revealed that the band secretly worked on the follow-up to their self-titled 2014 debut. Cavalera admitted he had a tough time keeping such news quiet, but that in doing so it’s likely the fanbase felt more eager to hear the record than if they had slowly built anticipation in the months or even years before its release.
For someone as prolific as Cavalera, the process of writing and recording has yet to lose its luster as he expressed how much fun it was to create with his three bandmates, all of whom he is a fan of regarding their careers outside of Killer Be Killed.
Read the full chat below.
The release of the record that was completely unexpected. What was the purpose of making it such a surprise?
Troy, Greg and Ben and I had been working on this thing for five years very, very quietly. Nobody really knew about it, but we’d been going at it maybe two to three times a year doing jam sessions and accumulating songs. At some point I think it might’ve even been Greg’s idea that wouldn’t it be cool if we keep this thing as quiet as possible and then out of the blue, we just drop a song. Like a bomb exploding, nobody will be ready for it and I loved that idea.
It was really hard for me to keep quiet because I wanted to tell everybody how good the songs are. [laughs] I have a big mouth, but I made a deal with the guys.
Every time we did an interview, people would ask about it and I’d say there’s nothing going on, we’d kill or be killed… that was sort of bullshit. But there was a lot going on actually [laughs].
It was cool because especially in this day and age with the internet you can, if you tell people you’re doing something, people can get bored with it. If they knew we were coming with a record then maybe it would have been less surprising or boring, but because nobody knew about it, it was like people didn’t even know the band was going anymore. People thought that it was one album and then we’re done and then we dropped that song out of the blue and that was cool. I think it worked. The evil plan actually worked.
Killer Be Killed, “Deconstructing Self-Destruction”
Enjoyment seems to be the purpose of Killer Be Killed. How is your creative spirit different when you’re making music just for fun?
I enjoy all things metal related because I’m just such a nerdy metal freak. I love everything about it. I’m most comfortable when I’m either in the studio or on the stage — those are my sanctuaries.Those are places where I found true happiness.
Killer Be Killed is a bit different. I get to really dive in with the guys and share all the thoughts with them — either riffs or lyrical ideas. It’s really divided because all of us bring stuff to the table and it’s really fun. In some songs I don’t have to do much — sometimes I only have two lines in the song but I’m heavily involved in the riffs. I love contributing to the riffs of the record.
It’s just fun. Every project I get involved with — if it’s Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, whatever it is — I go full on because you’ve got to live the moment. We’re not going to be here forever and if you don’t enjoy it and get true happiness through it, don’t do it.
I really try to enjoy as much as I can and I also take it seriously. I always want to make the best thing I can make for whatever it is that’s in front of me, but I definitely enjoyed the Killer Be Killed process. It’s a bit different from Soulfly or Cavalera Conspiracy — more divided with the guys, and I really enjoy that.
Every group has its own unique dynamic. What makes the relationship with Greg, Troy, and Ben different from any of your other bands?
I was talking about that with Greg and he said it was a bit like we’re back at being youngsters like when we were 17, 18, and you just grab a bunch of buddies. You like the same kind of stuff, you hang out and make music with them — that’s the kind of the feeling that we get.
We even joke say that if we went to school together, we probably would have ended up hanging out too. The feeling that we get is very similar to that kind of feeling that I got when I was 17, 18 and it’s really fun to be a part of something that’s so stress-free. It doesn’t really have much outside stress much. We don’t really have to write anything [that is] forced [on us] that we don’t want to.
On the other side, I’m all also big fans of these guys.I love all the works from Mastodon , Dillinger Escape Plan, Greg’s solo project and Converge, so I get to play with some of my heroes and they feel similar about that.
Killer Be Killed, from the beginning, was always a surprise element. The first time we all sang together was a “holy shit” moment. Then the second record came and [our mentality was to] beat the first record and I totally believe we did. Reluctant Hero is a bigger, broader and more powerful record.
Making the first Killer Be Killed album was unfamiliar territory for all of you. In what ways were your roles more defined when making Reluctant Hero?
I think we knew each other better in many ways from the experience of making the first record. Killer Be Killed started as just me and Greg and we did a bunch of demos. It was an evolving theme, then we got Troy in and then it evolved into something else.
By the time we got there, we started doing the sessions for Reluctant Hero. I just knew there’s so much potential in here and it’s we should take full advantage of the musicianship we have. I wanted everybody to be more involved because half of the first record was just me and Greg. It was before Troy joined the band and Reluctant Hero is everybody. I’m, I’m really proud of the final results.
Killer Be Killed is unique because there are three extremely distinct vocalists in the band. What do you like most about the contrast between you Troy and Greg?
I like the idea that it shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s one of those things that if you put on paper, you’d be like, “Nah, this is not going to work. This is a horrible idea.” And then we actually did it and we realized that on the first record how awesome it was to hear the voices together because they were so distinct and different and very original.
It’s just fun for the fan to hear the record. They know who’s singing on each bar because the voices are so different. We were hoping Ben would start singing so we have four vocalists on the next record. He’s taking vocal lessons right now.
It’s not just a voice — it’s a personality that comes in. Sometimes I don’t sing through half of the song and when I sing, the song becomes a little heavier and nastier. It’s just a natural way of my voice coming in.
When we were making Reluctant Hero, Greg that said that he and Troy put on all the pretty vocals and I just come with a big old tank and run over all the brilliant stuff that they did. That was pretty funny and it was a good analogy of it.
Doing lyrics with them was cool and I’ve learned a lot from that. The originality of the vocals is always something that cuts through the records and on Reluctant Hero, I think it’s really well divided how we shared the riffs and then who sings on what. It’s a very crazy process.
Thanks to Max Cavalera for the interview. Get your copy of ‘Reluctant Hero’ here and follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show here.
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