With their third album, Up In Hell, in stores, Incite is continuing to grow. Not just growing into their sound, either. Frontman Richie Cavalera is maturing as a band leader, helping the band focus their groove metal attack. He’s also had to oversee personnel changes in the band. And while the shadow of his stepfather, Soulfly/Cavalera Conspiracy frontman Max Cavalera, still looms over the band, Richie continues to differentiate himself from his stepfather. We caught up with Richie earlier this week, to talk about the band, who will be headlining our Metal Insider CMJ 2014 showcase at the Wick in Brooklyn this Wednesday.
You overhauled your rhythm section for this album. How was that?
Oh man, it was terrible. You never want to lose a band member, but I think when the time is necessary, and the person isn’t focused or isn’t there 100%, you have to do it. We had just finished our touring cycle for the last record, and our bass player Luis [Marrufo] had some family illnesses and just wanted to be home. We ended up replacing him with Chris EL, who was in the local scene in Arizona in a band called Autumn’s End. He was really just helping us out; we didn’t plan on him staying around because he had his band. Things just turned around, and next thing you know, he’s a permanent member, which is killer. I called Lennon [Lopez] one day when I was in a grocery store with about two weeks until our tour started, and my drummer had just quit on me since he was nervous due to our not having a bassist. Lennon was like, “Yeah man, I’ll drive down tomorrow!” He came to Arizona and learned all the songs for the tour. Just seeing their work and how much they love being on tour, playing shows, and writing music made me know that I’ve found my guys. They’re great; they killed it on the album, and everything that they do is awesome. I’m super hyped about it all.
Excellent. Do you think that, now that you’re on your third album, you’re seeing yourself become more of the bandleader, dealing with personnel, and trying to find your sound a little bit?
From the beginning of the band, I was always kind of in charge. I was kind of putting everything together and keeping the band playing, along with Gloria [Cavalera, Richie’s mother and band manager]. I let the other guys focus on music and making money to survive. I’ve always liked having all the jobs: selling merch, playing the show, driving the van on the same night. I’ve always made sure that it’s in my hands if something goes wrong, and not anyone else’s. The way that music is now, you see bands like Metallica, to Five Finger Death Punch, Machine Head; everyone has to either get rid of members or quit the band. It sucks, but it’s just become so hard now to really make a living, they don’t want to be away from their family, or whatever it may be. You’ve got to keep rolling and believing in what you got.
Speaking of family, obviously you definitely owe your dad credit for having the lineage and passing it on to you. I’m sure he’s brought up in pretty much all your interviews; does that bother you? Do you really want to differentiate yourself from him, or is it just part of the Cavalera legacy?
Any time you have someone who is as influential and important to metal and music as Max has been, I think that’s always gonna be there. I don’t have a problem with it; I carve my own way, do my own records, artwork, touring, and everything. It’s actually just set the foundation for us to be able to get into what we love. It’s shown us from day one – seeing Sepultura, Soulfly, and all the great bands they toured with – it was just natural that music, from the day I was born, was a part of my life. I definitely wanted to make a career in it, especially with a live show and being a band. I love it. I see the hardship they go through, but I see the joy at the same time. Without him, who knows; the band could be bigger, or it could be smaller. I just don’t think anyone really knows. Maybe I get a lot of hype because I’m Max’s son, but at the same time, people don’t want to give you the time of day because they think that’s just what you’re riding off, and that you’re not actually a good band. I think with Incite, you don’t have that. You have the really good band and someone who’s humble about what’s in front of him, and the background I come from. I just try to roll with it the best that I can and be who I am.
Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be in a band?
Oh, definitely. The title Up in Hell came from the first song I wrote when I was like seven years old. I had a band with some kids on my block. We weren’t really a band, but we called ourselves Wicked Death and we had practices and all that fun stuff. “Up in Hell” was actually the first song I ever wrote. When I was moving a couple of months ago, I found a notebook from when I was little, and I saw that titled and it just ruled that I was that young thinking about stuff like that. It just blew my mind. It’s been there; when I was three years old, I asked for a microphone for Christmas, and they’ve got pictures of me singing “Bubble Butt” by S.O.D. when I’m just three years old. My mom owned a bar when I was born. Rob Halford would come in, Poison would play there. Flotsam and Jetsam, Jason Newsted was found there; it was a part of my life even before Max came. I think Max just catapulted that drive that I had to do it.
What is the metal scene like in Phoenix? You just mentioned a bunch of bands, some of whom are from Phoenix, and it seems like there’s a lot of name acts there. Are there smaller bands as well? Is it a healthy scene?
It’s grown a lot, man, from the time we started. You had your couple big local bands, and everyone else was in a band where friends would come and watch them and leave. There was never a crowd there to see the other bands, it was just friends and family. In the last three to five years it’s really expanded to fans coming to support the local scene. I think that’s a big taste everywhere. I think a lot of people are going to local shows to try to find their music rather than social media sites or what’s forced upon them by radio. It’s been great to see it grow. We haven’t done too many local shows in Arizona in the last five years, but we try to do at least one show a year there, and we have a show coming up on November 9th with 36 Crazy Fists. I’m just excited to see a lot of bands getting out touring the country and getting noticed. I definitely think Arizona has got great talent.
I truly think Up in Hell was our first real release of a record. I think The Slaughter and All Out War were really just us trying to grow into what we’ve become. I think it all moved so fast that the writing and the music part was put in the back as opposed to preparing for a live show or a tour. For this record, it was purely focused on writing it. We knew we had no touring coming up. Every guy put everything they had into it, and it wasn’t rushed. Logan [Mader] is a great producer with a great sound and I think he did a great job with the first two records, but when you go to Matt [Hyde] you have someone who isn’t going to put one thing by him. If he wants this thing perfectly on time or played perfectly right it’s not going to be done until it’s done. He’ll sit there for hours until it’s right. I think that was huge for us, to have that dedication to what you’re making and to have that outside ear putting in every input that he felt. That just grew us immensely. Bringing the new members in, having everybody focused on the same page about what we want to do and what we want to accomplish has changed the whole environment of the band. Our label stepped up huge and did so many ads and press work and a great campaign for the album. It’s the first time really had that on the record. It’s all coming into place, it’s cool.
MinusHEAD seems like a cool small little boutique label. What is it like working with them as opposed to being on a larger, more corporate label?
There’s nothing like it. I think if we were on a big label there are too many big bands for us to get paid attention to. For him [MinusHEAD owner Brad Hardie] we’re his baby. We came when he was just starting the label and we were just starting to repair the band. We were able to grow at the same time and grow together. He puts everything behind us and we do the same thing for him. We party with him when we come to San Francisco. We were playing one show, and we looked out in the crowd and he’s in the pit… the owner of a label! I don’t care how small or big the label is, you don’t see that. For us to see that was life-changing. It made us want to do everything we could to give him the best record to sell and do what he does. I see us having a long future together. I really think MinusHEAD0 is going to become bigger and bigger with how cool Brad is. I think a lot of bands are going to go there. He’s flying out to the CMJ show to hang out for the day. That’s going to be awesome. It’ll be quite an experience, he’s great!
You’ve played some guitar with Nail Bomb in the past. Would you consider playing in a similar kind of side project again?
I definitely want to have side projects, I love that. One thing about Max is that he does that, and I think that’s important for artists now. I don’t think the 20 year band thing is really a possibility anymore. I think the more projects you can do, the more you’re going to put your music out to people and put your art out to more people. I’ve always really wanted to play the bass and be a front man bass player. I’ve always loved Tom Araya and watching him shredding bass and keeping the whole show going. It’s awesome man. We’ll see. Nothing is out of the question.
Other than ’68, Black Crown Initiate, and Toothgrinder who you’re going to be playing with next Wednesday for our showcase, what bands would you really want to play with and/or open up for a tour with?
Hatebreed would be amazing. Machine Head is one of my ones. My top favorite would probably be Lamb of God for sure. They’re the metal band of now, and for the last five plus years they’ve been that band and carried the flag for it and kept it surviving in the dark times as we call it. I think they would be awesome to tour with. It would be great for us to learn from a band like that.
Awesome! Cool man, well thanks for taking the time to talk to me, I appreciate it, and once again I’m really looking forward to next Wednesday. It’s going to be a good time.
No problem, I can’t wait to man. It’s going to be great. We’re breaking out tons of new stuff for that show, and it’s going to be a blast.
Incite will be playing the Metal Insider CMJ 2014 showcase on October 22, at The Wick in Brooklyn. Pick up tickets now!