I started going to shows and listening to heavy music at around 14. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio and from 14 on I just kept going to shows. A lot of different underground punk and hardcore shows and I joined a band in Cleveland when I was 15 and I stayed with them for eight years. We did a lot of touring within the States and one tour in Europe. Iíve always been influenced by that style of music because lyrically I can relate to it more than a lot of things that were going on at the time. There was a lot of heavy metal I wasnít that into just for the fact that the lyrical content was really weak and very silly in a lot of ways. I couldnít really relate to a lot of the stuff that was going on along with a lot of the pop music at that time. For me I really felt a stronger connection with the hardcore and punk rock scene because the content of the lyrics had a lot more to do with society and social issues and things that I could really relate to.
I was talking with a friend of mine the other day and Iíve noticed over the years a lot more African-Americans have gotten interested in heavy music and youíve got bands out there like God Forbid and Sevendust. When you first started getting into hardcore, did you feel comfortable in that scene?
The thing with the hardcore and punk scene, a lot of times there were people who were Black or Asian and it didnít really matter that much. I didnít really think about it that much because one of the first bands that I saw was Bad Brains and they were all Black and they were the best band Iíve ever seen live in my entire life. For people in that scene, it wasnít really that much of a big deal. Once I joined Sepultura and weíre doing a lot of shows and I saw a lot of metal kids, I realized there were some very small-minded individuals that really didnít know what the hell they were talking about because they were living on various stereotypes and ignorance. I think it was just a matter of me putting my real personality out front and not being afraid to do that and not really taking anything to heart. There are a lot of people out there that are very ignorant and I canít really do anything but be myself and let them live their lives the way they want to live them. If they see fit that they want to close the doors to certain people because of their color or what they heard on TV then thereís nothing I can really do about that except for doing what I do which is playing music and not really get involved with the hating of somebody because of the way they look or the way they were born.
Well, Iím half Native American and my dad dealt with a lot of racism when he was growing up. To me racism is more of a mental illness than ignorance. I think people who are sexist or racist have a few screws loose upstairs. I think instead of coddling these people as ignorant or dumb, they really need to go see a psychiatrist.
A lot of it, youíre not born that way. Youíre taught to be that way. Whether it be your environment or your parents, babies arenít born that way. People arenít born to hate like that or to be that ignorant. I think itís definitely something thatís taught and itís also a cycle of ignorance.
Yeah, thatís true. How did you become a part of Sepultura?
I was living in New York at the time and I have a friend that started working at Roadrunner Records and he had seen a band that I had played in, in the past. He felt that Sepultura needed to go in a different direction with the singer and not try to get a duplicate because it would be impossible to have a duplicate of Max and a lot of the fans would see that and there couldnít be a future with trying to imitate something that happened in the past. It would be walking backwards very fast and so he realized or at least he saw that there was an opportunity or a chance that they would like me and be able to grow and have a future and create a new style or a new sound with me. Definitely having more options just for the fact Iím able to scream and can sing and have a different input being an American also and my influences. It ended up working very well once I did a demo of one of their songs they sent. They were sending to a lot of different people a new song they wrote with no lyrics or no vocals and people would have to come up with their own ideas and they liked what I did. They asked me to come down and do an audition in person and after that I came back again to Brazil and we went from there.
I think that is totally awesome. Did you feel comfortable being in a different environment? I know Brazil is a lot different than what weíre used to here.
I had to learn to be comfortable. I pretty much knew at a very young age that I would probably be living outside of the U.S. Or at least I wanted to. Iím very open minded to different cultures and different languages. I already spent time in Europe in Germany and I could speak German pretty well. Coming here I had to learn Portuguese and I love to wake up and have an every day learning experience. For me thatís important to keep learning and to keep getting fed knowledge from different people in different walks of life and itís exciting for me. I enjoy it very much. The people are extremely friendly and they have a lot of respect for the band and even for me as a person.
We have this big thing going on here in the States right now about people speaking Spanish. Iíve always felt blessed that my mom is from Switzerland and speaks five languages. Iíve always found learning terms and sentences in a foreign language is pretty exciting. To be able to string words together in another language and somebody actually understands what youíre saying. I think that people should really be more interested in whatís outside of their cultures and embrace that a little bit more. I think there are beautiful things in every culture.
Without a doubt I think itís beneficial for everyone to learn another language. They do offer that in school and I think people should really take advantage of it because it can open up a whole different world in culture and ideas with other people and opens up a better understanding of where people are coming from. I think itís important for people to know that. We need to realize that this world is a lot smaller than it was and itís inevitable that there is going to be more and more people from different areas and different walks of life.
I think the Internet has made the world a little smaller.
When you joined Sepultura and you guys got ready to do the next record, did you have a lot of input in writing it?
That was the number one thing that I wanted to know when I came down here the first time. If they were looking for a hired gun or if they wanted somebody to be a part of the band. They told me from the very beginning that they wanted a member of the band to be a part of the writing process and to give ideas the way that they always had done it. As a group. For me that was the most important thing. I didnít want to be a hired gun. I wanted to able to feel a part of the band and to be able to give my input and my ideas. That door has always been open since the very beginning and it was something that it grew into and together we evolved to try new things and to challenge ourselves and thatís something thatís very special that we have as a group.
You guys did that live DVD and CD, Live In S„o Paulo. Tell me a little about that. It must have been pretty exciting to be on a DVD.
Yeah, it was great. It was the first time doing a DVD with me in the band and we had enough songs where we could do songs with me and the older songs mixed together to create a really big, big show. It was an unforgettable show doing it here in S„o Paulo and it was a really great representation of what shows are like for us here. I did a documentary on the second DVD explaining how I got into the band and I filmed pretty much everything. Itís showing the transformation of somebody coming from the States joining this band and going on this incredible journey of playing and working in the studio and just the fans are really supportive and sticking behind the band 100 percent. That was one of the highlights for me being able to put that out on the DVD. Something Iíve been working on since I got into the band as far as filming and coming up with the idea.
I liked the DVD and I thought that show was so fucking cool. You had all these cool people get up on stage and do stuff with you and you had so much energy and passion. That crowd was just going ape shit. It felt like you were a part of it, like you were there.
That was the vibe that we really wanted to capture. We didnít want to go back at the end of the DVD and record everything and make it nice and pretty sounding and overdubs which a lot of bands do. They end up going in the studio and doing stuff on top of the live show to give it a really studio sound. We really wanted to show the representation of the vibe of being at the show and I think it really captured that. Thanks to a lot of really great people who were supportive of the band from our past to come and jam. It was a lot of fun.
You guys did a conceptual album called Dante XXI. What led you guys to do something conceptual like that and what got you interested in that subject matter?
We worked on a few film scores here as a group originally and we went into the writing process with that idea of wanting to do a soundtrack but for a book. Weíd have to come up with our own visuals in our heads and a vibe that we wanted to put on a CD. We had to think of that with our own imaginations so we started thinking of books and I came up with the idea of doing a soundtrack for the book The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. Once everyone concurred with me and thought it was a great idea and we can actually do a lot of music and have a lot of inspiration from the actual Divine Comedy and also the life of Dante, it really just sparked a lot of creativity in us to do something different. To really have that soundtrack vibe by using an orchestra and breaking things up into sections as far as five songs representing Hell, four songs representing Purgatory, and one song representing Paradise. Doing an updated version of this story because there are so many things that we can relate to that were happening in Danteís time that are still happening today. Political corruption and problems within the Church and self doubt. There are so many different topics that we could relate to now in the 21st century.
One of the things that really hit me like a brick was the year 2000 rolls around and while people have always been greedy, I think when 2000 rolled in these people turned into pigs at the trough. Itís all money and profit like a bunch of fucking pigs.
The consumption now is just out of control. It always has been. This greed and people wanting to consume. Dante even wrote about it in his time using certain metaphors like these people in Hell, this gluttony and this consumption of constantly feeding and not thinking about the consequences. We could really relate to that now with this greed that's happening and thereís a video that we have. Itís called ďConvicted In LifeĒ and itís a new video. It shows a lot of this. Certain people doing things on Earth and then in this Hell suffering with the deeds that they were doing on Earth. Suffering in Hell from the repercussions. There were certain scenes that I got from a DVD that we asked and got permission to use. There are certain images from these animals being slaughtered and the people doing it. It was very, very brutal and very heavy but I think everybody got the point across as far as the consumption. Watching the DVD the one thing they were saying is the amount of people consuming even meat, not the fact that the people eat meat but just the fact of the amount of meat that people eat just keeps growing. That was the one thing that really got me was not saying you have to stop eating meat, itís just the amount of meat. Itís not good for anybody. Especially the environment and especially for people themselves. The numbers keep going and raising and that was really something that stuck in my mind also. Not really telling people donít do this or donít do that but just really think about it. While youíre here donít wait for some type of afterlife for repentance or anything. Think about it now while youíre here on Earth.
I truly believe that once you die your spirit goes into a spirit world. At the end of the day your life on Earth is your heaven and hell and it just depends on how much heaven you want and how much hell you want.
Thatís definitely true. I fully believe that. Thatís why itís important for people to take responsibility for themselves and really get out of the pointing finger phase and just really look at themselves. What are we doing as individuals?
And what youíre leaving behind for your kids.
What have you guys been doing since the release of the record?
Basically in March the album came out so a little bit before the album came out we started a two month tour with a band called In Flames from Sweden.
Those guys kick ass.
Yeah, they were really, really great. I wasnít familiar with any of their songs or their career and once going on tour and seeing their fans and the amount of albums they have and hearing their songs, I have a lot of respect for them. It was great touring with them. Most of the shows were sold out and a lot of young faces and old fans. It was just great to be able to play new songs. The album wasnít out and a lot of people knew the songs already. We were figuring that they probably downloaded them of course. Weíve been touring. Weíve done a few festivals but weíre planning on coming to the States in the fall and to hopefully do a co-headlining tour with Hatebreed who weíre talking with. Nothing is concrete yet but that is the idea that we have in our heads right now is to do that.
That would be awesome. Iíve seen Sepultura in the past and thereís nothing more awesome than getting to see you guys again.
Right on. Itís been almost three years since we last toured the States and with this album and the material that we have, I think people would be really into the show. They loved the show in Europe and they really liked the set list there and it would be great seeing how it would go out with Hatebreed. We went out on the road with them before in the U.S. and it was such a great time and I think now would be even better.
Thank you so much for your time. Any other thoughts or comments?
Right on, no problem. I think thatís pretty much it. I think we covered everything.
Thank you for everything and I look forward to seeing you guys in the fall.
Right on. Take care.