Max Cavalera has been a prominent contributor to heavy music for decades.
March 8th, 2018 marked 23 years since the release of an album Cavalera performed on titled Point Blank, by the band Nailbomb. In the time since the release of that record it has developed a cult following though Nailbomb has yet to release a formal follow-up. The other half of Nailbomb, Alex Newport (Fudge Tunnel), is an audio engineer who has been at the recording helm of a number of great records.
Soulfly, one of Cavalera’s longest enduring bands, will perform the Nailbomb record in its entirety in a tour of Canada. (Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts Newport is unable to join this tour.)
Point Blank 2018
Scene Point Blank spoke to Max about revisiting Point Blank, its enduring effect and touring Canada.
“The Nailbomb record was not even supposed to be a record. We started just for fun. Me and Alex were just writing riffs and learning from each other. Alex bought a sampler and started sampling, and making drum machine patterns. We started adding guitar riffs on top of it, and started writing songs.”
What started as a casual collaboration between Cavalera and Newport blossomed into a full-length record that had sustaining impact on its members, and fans alike.
Sepultura, for whom Cavalera plays guitar and sings, was in between releases, so a window of time was available for Nailbomb to exist.
Cavalera describes how he and Newport meshed, and the factors that fueled the writing process.
“As far as the riffs it was really kind of like my curiosity in Alex’s songwriting for stuff like Hate Songs in E Minor (Fudge Tunnel’s 1991 record). And then Alex’s curiosity on my kind of riffs like Desperate Cry, Dead Embryonic Cells, Arise (tracks from Sepultura’s 1991 release, Arise). The chugging, the Sepultura chugs, and the thrash stuff. The combination of that is what you hear on Nailbomb,” says Cavalera.
Cavalera reflects on the genesis Point Blank as though he was recording for it yesterday. His vivid recollection of assembling sounds, writing and recording is told enthusiastically with great detail, and reflects the relentless energy of the record.
“The most insane things about Nailbomb was actually not even the writing. It was actually the stuff we did for the album.”
Cavalera describes the process of making sounds to be used throughout the record in an era without the convenience of the internet.
“Back in those days we created our own sounds,” Cavalera says.
Those sounds included baseball bats against the metal of washing machine, screeching brakes from Cavalera’s Camaro (a sound that was slowed down and used many times on the recording according to Cavalera), and audio samples from various films. Max Cavalera and Alex Newport were incorporating a variety of sounds, riffs and processes into Point Blank.
“Nailbomb kind of taught me don’t be afraid of machines and industrial sounds,” says Cavalera. “Embrace it. Just don’t over do it. If you keep it simple, and good, it’s actually quite good.”
Reviews and fan commentary cite the incorporation of industrial sounds into the Nailbomb record as an appealing element on the surface, as well as something that galvanized the styles of music heard on the record. Cavalera highlights the importance of using a drum machine and the ability to sample sounds in making the record. In addition to crafting their own sounds were direct, and indirect, contributions from other bands, including those with industrial sounds.
“We did our own very innocent, naive, discovery of that creation. We did not really want to sound like Ministry but its born from the same idea of some Ministry, or even Lard.”
Cavalera lists bands that he had been listening to around the time of creating Point Blank. Those bands include Nine Inch Nails Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Big Black, Sonic Youth, Minor Threat and a “never ending amount of stuff to dig from.”
While recording Cavalera describes a chance encounter in the studio.
A “dude with a cowboy hat on,” Cavalera recalls. “He was super nice. “You guys sound pretty heavy.” I think he said something like that.” The man in the cowboy hat was the late Glen Campbell.
Max Cavalera and Alex Newport recording Point Blank
The album saw contributions from Igor Cavalera(Sepultura),who provided a couple drum tracks, and Dino Cazares(Fear Factory) who added guitar tracks.
“I always loved Dino’s guitar sound and riffs,” says Cavalera.
For Cavalera, it had been a break from Sepultura between Arise and Chaos AD that helped facilitate the creation of Point Blank. When Sepultura picked up their writing for Chaos AD, Cavalera had yet to finish vocals for Point Blank. While Cavalera was mixing Chaos AD in England, he made time to keep working on the Nailbomb record.
“I remember I was in the studio in England mixing Chaos[AD] and Alex had me on the phone. I screamed on the phone all the way from England and he recorded me on the phone. The vocals you hear on the record I recorded from a telephone all the way from England.”
In the years since, Cavalera’s experiences writing and recording Point Blank have stayed with him.
“Nailbomb really opened the doors to me that what’s possible in different drum things that you can use, and programs. Don’t be afraid of machinery and its ok to mix both. It’s fine; it’s fun. Something cool can come out of it.”
Cavalera is about to embark on a tour playing the Point Blank record in its entirety, in Canada, with the members of Soulfy. He talked about the upcoming tour, eager to play.
“It’s huge. The booking agent came in with the idea of doing all these Canadian shows. I loved it man. From the beginning I thought it was great. We are doing more shows in Canada than ever before. This is gonna be a historic, great tour to remember. It is gonna be a blast going to Canada and doing so many shows in Canada like this.”
As for being able to tour the lone release from Nailbomb, a project he started in the early 1990s with Alex Newport, Cavalera says, “It’s really cool; it’s a great record. It’s a cult album in the eyes of a lot of fans. And we play the whole thing beginning to end with Soulfly behind, which is a real power band. The record is more relevant now than ever, so it’s an amazing thing to go on tour for.”
Max Cavalera can be seen and heard on tour in Canada, with Soulfly, playing the 1994 release Point Blank by Nailbomb.