Soulfly is an American metal band formed in 1997 based in Phoenix, Arizona. The original lyrical themes revolved around spirituality and religious themes, though religion is usually criticized, with later albums encompassing other themes including war, violence, aggression, hatred, and anger, with the spiritual elements now almost non-existent. Soulfly is led by former Sepultura frontman, Max Cavalera. The band has released seven studio albums, one tour EP, several singles, and one DVD video. Their seventh album Omen was released on May 25, 2010 through Roadrunner Records.
Last week, Soulfly was performing at Magazzini Generali in Milan, and I had the opportunity to have a chat with their drummer, Joe Nunez. He is known for his energetic performance, fast drumming and friendly nature. Yes, in fact, this interview has convinced me about this concept!
Hello Joe, and welcome to Italy! How are you today?
Hello Tarja, thanks a lot! Yes, we’re fine, but lately we’ve been very busy for the tour. We’ve just been in Russia and in Siberia. You know, we spent two weeks in that part of the world, and then we came to Europe, and now in Italy, and we are very excited.
Soulfly will be playing a concert tonight at Magazzini Generali in Milan, how is your program, after this interview?
Oh, I usually just do a warm up for the show, dine and relax, you know, I get online and communicate with friends and people at home. So my program will be quite relaxed before tonight’s show. You know, when we are traveling a lot and playing hard in several clubs and festivals, I want to keep very “smooth” the hours before the concerts.
You have recently released a new album ‘Omen’ that truly kicks ass and is full of old school energy … What can you tell me about it?
Thanks! Well, this new album is different in sense, that it is not so fast and not full of thrash. Some people have said that it has more groove and has a lot of influence from hardcore and even from punk in some points. Yes, it’s definitely a great album. And I hope that everyone will receive it well.
And what is your favorite song in the album?
Well, I would say “Rise of the Fallen” or “Counter Sabotage”.
How would you say that this album is different from other albums of Soulfly?
Well, the previous albums are more with tribal and ethnic sounds, you know, more like “world music” what comes to the sounds and rhythms. This album represents perhaps the heaviest part of Max’s creativity, without using the tribal stuff all the time. You know, he can do everything, and it’s great because I can do the same thing with the drums, so that everything is working really well together. That gives us the possibility to focus ourselves on heaviness, without the tribal sounds. This was very important for us to highlight in this album.
Very good! And what can you say about the lyrics of the album?
It’s all written by Max, I have nothing to do with that. You know, all the song titles and ideas came from him, every word is his. It is not a concept album, at least for what I know … lol.
Your new album has some guest-apperances like Tommy Victor (Prong) and Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan). How was it working with these guys?
Oh, usually what we do is that we record the various parts, without the guests, until Max decides that now is the right moment for the guests to come in the studio to do their parts, and usually that moment we’re not there. You know, I’ve never worked with these guys in the studio, I only played live with them. But playing with Tommy and Greg, on the tour and some festivals is fantastic! So we have much fun on stage.
Joe, where are your main influences coming from?
Well, since I was a kid, I always listened to metal, you know, speed metal and thrash, death metal and. .. well, all types of metal that you heard around at that time. It’s still a big part of me, who am I and what I do…and then later on, I always listened to a lot of different things. And all this, remained a part of me. You know, all the bands you listen to, leave something in you, in your veins. So, it’s really cool, all the old and new genres make a good mix in me and therefore they have as well a huge influence on me.
You are now touring in Europe, how has it gone so far?
Thanks, it has gone great! I love touring in Europe! If I could, I’d do it for the rest of my life LOL Here all is so fantastic and beautiful. And I really love it!
What concert, until now, has been the best and most memorable one?
Oh, the most memorable one… I think it was in Moscow …no, in fact, one night before. I don’t know exactly where we were, but it was really nuts, haha, that night was really crazy, you know … We had also some surprises on the stage, it was definitely a great fun.
What are your upcoming projects?
Well, right after this tour, we’ll make a short U.S. run, which begins, I think, November 25 until December 15. And then we’ll take a break, you know, just to spend some time with our families. And I’m sure that Max has already something in mind for the next album.
Joe, now a couple of questions to you as a drummer … how long have you played drums, what are your earliest memories, and why did you choose this instrument?
You know, I chose this instrument because, when I started to listen to metal, I really wanted to PLAY with it. You know, I couldn’t play heavy metal with a saxophone haha. I was a bit interested in playing guitar, but there was something very powerful in drums, the beats and everything, something incredible. I started when I was 12 years, and now I’m 35, so I’ve played drums for 23 years now. I’ve practically joined in it, because I was always very inspired by the beats and rhythms and heavy metal and music in general … and this was why I started with the drums. In fact, you wanna know how I started? I took the wooden sticks hitting with them a big pillow, pretending it was my drumkit. And later on my parents saw that the drums really inspired me and that I was also good, so one day they bought my first drums, you know, and the rest is history.
Was it difficult to get where you are today, and in how many bands have you played so far?
Well, I’ve played with many local bands. You know, everyone has his own way to get somewhere. Mine was interesting, in fact, I started as a fan. I was very into playing this kind of music, but my band at home, never got anywhere. So, I was frustrated and I stopped playing the drums, I stopped being in the band, at that time I was so frustrated that I didn’t think I would play again. You know, all those years I had worn money, time, effort, energy, just like many others, and never got anywhere. So, I gave up, I went to school and I found other interesting things. But later on, the desire to play came back to me, even in a stronger way, you know, my heart was still very much in there. Well, it was really an interesting experience, a special story about how I got here, where I am today … I believe that one day I’ll write something about it…
In fact, speaking of Soulfly, you started playing with them in 2000, then after one year you took a few years break, and then again you entered the band in 2003 … Can you say something about that period?
Well, yes, when I joined the band, Soulfly was doing the album “Primitive” (2000), but when the cycle of the album was finished, we decided to part ways. It did good for us all, for a while. Then Max called me asking a favor, and I decided to give him a hand. And what happened, almost immediately I found myself in the studio making Soulfly’s next album “Prophecy” (2004). Since then the things are going well and the cooperation between us works as it should. So, this is more or less what happened.
Has it ever happened to you, that in a concert your drum skin breaks, or something like that? and if so, how have you resolved the situation?
aaah, that really happened couple of nights ago in Russia, and it happened to my most important drum, the bass drum… my pedal went right through it …we were freaking out! and I had to use my left foot and pedal to play, you know, the show must go on… while somebody from the staff was able to fix the broken part. It was a nightmare! but we did finish the concert, and it was amazing!
Well, I do a lot of stretching, some weightlifting, even if I’m not as enthusiastic about fitness as I was before. But I definitely have to keep myself in shape, to be able to go ahead night after night. I have to eat small meals, and I have to be careful when I eat. You know, I cannot eat 2-3 hours before the show, otherwise I throw everything out. I have to drink a lot of water, so there’s a bit of responsibility on how to go with the maintenance, you know…
Now the last question Joe, as tradition. Do you have anything to say to your fans?
Oh yes! This is for all our fans in Italy by Soulfly: we are so happy to be here, we cannot wait to see you tonight, and every time we come back to Italy. We love you very much! Come and see us and let’s stir everything up! Take it easy! Ciaooo! Joe Nunez and Soulfly!
Well Joe, our time flew too fast! Thank-you so much for this short but sympathetic interview! Kick ass tonight and have fun!
Photos: Soulfly-Facebook – Live Photo: HeadBanger.ru