MAX CAVALERA On Breakup Of SEPULTURA’s Classic Lineup: It Was ‘Rotten From The Inside’

Max Cavalera
Photo credit: Char Tupper

During a new interview with France’s Heavy1/Hard Force, Max Cavalera looked back on the breakup of SEPULTURA‘s classic lineup, saying that the situation in the band was “rotten from the inside.”

Max left the band in 1996 after the rest of the band split with his wife Gloria as their manager. His brother, drummer Igor Cavalera, stuck around with the group for another 10 years before leaving SEPULTURA  and re-teaming with Max in CAVALERA CONSPIRACY.

“The whole Roots thing is a very confusing time in my life, because I don’t think I knew how to deal with the whole fame thing very well — especially in Brazil,” Max now said. “We went to Brazil, and the record was massive — like real, real big; like BEATLES big. And I remember I tried to go to the mall with my wife, and we got mobbed. And I knew that 70 percent of the people didn’t own a SEPULTURA record; it was just the curiosity of the celebrity thing. And that really bugged me. It was, like, ‘Yeah, all these people, they don’t give a f*ck. They’re just there. It’s a thing. I don’t understand this thing.’ So I struggled with that a little bit.

“At that time, I was drinking heavily and taking drugs. So I was wild. And, of course, it is marked by glory and tragedy. At the same time you’re commemorating this big record, there’s a big tragedy right in the middle of the thing, which is Dana‘s [Wells, Max‘s stepson] death,” referring to the August 1996 passing of his stepson. “And it’s bitter, man. I don’t think I ever actually fully enjoyed what Roots brought because of that. It was cut in half, because of that. But that’s life, man.”

When asked if Dana‘s death was the starting point for many of the disagreements that led to the eventual breakup of SEPULTURA‘s classic lineup, Max responded: “The situation in the band, it had been going bad [even before that]. It wasn’t the beginning of that, but it added to it. And one of the main reasons why it added to it — a lot of people don’t know the story — we were in England, ready to do the [Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle] Donington with Ozzy [Osbourne]. And we received the news that Dana died. And my wife was in total despair. And I’m her husband; I have to comfort her.

“So I [flew] back to America to be with her. And I found out later that Andreas‘s [Kisser, guitar] wife tried to move the body, tried to steal Dana‘s body and tried to get him buried real quick so we could go back on tour. And that’s — c’mon, man. I was, like, ‘Who does that?’ It seriously made me think about the people I’m making music with. Are those my real friends? It was confusing, man.

“And then it got worse because, eventually, they ganged up, including my brother — I cannot put him out of that thing; he was part of it — it was like a mutiny,” Max continued. “The three guys against me, and against Gloria. So they wouldn’t talk to her. That last European tour, it was just pure misery; it was miserable. Of course, it [didn’t] show in the music; the music [was] great [and] the shows were great. But the other 23 hours of the day was f*cking misery — trying to deal with that. And eventually her contract was done. They always say in the press that she got fired by those guys, but that’s not true. Her contract was actually done; she decided not to renew it. In fact, she told me, ‘Go with them if you want to. It’s your choice. Don’t make me hold you back.’ And I just couldn’t do it because of things like that. There’s that kind of stuff going on — heavy stuff.”

“They had different ideas,” he added. “One of the main ideas was to replace Gloria and a lot of our crew and people with very ‘professional,’ big people. And to me, that seems a f*cked-up thing to do, where the people that helped you get to that was [these] people, and now that you’re big and successful, now you can hire anybody. You’re just, like, ‘All right. F*ck you. You’re done. Your sh*t’s done. We’re going with [these] successful people.’ I didn’t agree with that, because I think everything was going good. We were getting all the major festivals; we were supposed to headline Big Day Out in Australia, so she couldn’t be that bad of a manager, the way they envisioned.

“Honestly, I think the best thing we could have done would have been to take a whole year off, and everybody should go somewhere, clear their heads and come back a year later, and talk about it,” he added. “But even with that, there was no remedy. It’s broke — the thing is broke. It’s rotten, man, from the inside. It needed something, and eventually what it needed was separation.”

In a last year’s interview with the “Scars And Guitars” earlier this year, SEPULTURA bassist Paulo Xisto Pinto Jr. said that a reunion with former frontman Max Cavalera would have to happen “naturally.”

When asked if he has had any contact with Max in the last 10 years or so, Paulo replied: “Not at all. Zero. [Laughs] We just separated. Each one of us went to [his] own path.”

Addressing the possibility of a reunion with MaxPaulo said: “I don’t know about the future, but right now — I don’t like to force the situation that’s not there anymore. If one day it comes to terms, it has to come naturally.

“So far, that hasn’t happened. But I really don’t bother and think about that too much anymore. That was 20 years ago. And I just keep going. You cannot make everybody happy in this world. The best thing [you can do is] learn from your mistakes and keep walking and try to do better in the future.”