GO AHEAD AND DIE – “It’s Pretty Easy To Get A Gun In America”

June 11, 2021, 5 months ago

By Aaron Small

feature heavy metal go ahead and die

GO AHEAD AND DIE – “It’s Pretty Easy To Get A Gun In America”

“Killed in a mass shooting in Oshawa, Ontario, Friday morning,” says the news reporter in an audio sample that’s part of the song “Punisher”, from the new Arizona-based band Go Ahead And Die, featuring Igor Amadeus Cavalera and his father, Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly). Oshawa is a mere 15 minutes from BraveWords’ head office – talk about hitting close to home.  

“It’s crazy man! We tried to… it was Arthur (Rizk, mixer) who made those samples for ‘Punisher’; he got them from all over the world,” reveals vocalist / guitarist Igor Amadeus Cavalera. “You’re not the first person to say they heard a town that was close to them. That was kind of the point of doing it – drive it home. Let people know this is happening and raise awareness to it.”

The aforementioned mass shooting took place less than a year ago in September 2020. Four members of the same family – the 50 year old father/husband, and his three children, aged 20, 15, and 11, were all shot to death by the mother/wife’s 48 year old brother, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He drove 21 hours from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Oshawa, Ontario to target his sister and her family because he was left out of his late father’s will, and they were the beneficiaries. “The idea was to use news samples from shootings. That’s kind of what the lyrics are about in that song as well,” clarifies Igor Amadeus. “We sat on YouTube and looked through tons of videos, and took clips from so many different ones. That Ontario one happens by itself, with nothing else there, so that might have been why you noticed it so prominently. With the power of the Internet, you can find out about news all over the world.”

Lyrically, “Punisher” paints a horrific picture that unfortunately is all too familiar - “You’re so brave with your gun… innocent lives are lost for your guilty pleasure.” “It’s kind of a look inside a deranged madman. While it comes off as dark, and maybe a little edgy, it’s definitely intended to bring awareness to the fact that it’s been normalized,” explains Igor Amadeus. “In America, you’re not even surprised anymore when you hear about a shooting. A lot of the songs are like that. They’ll have this dark imagery and sound to it, but if you dig into it and realize what we’re saying, we’re actually just bringing attention to the reality that this is normal, and it happens all the time. Even to bring awareness to the mental health that drives people to do this.”

Wrapped up in that is the very controversial issue of gun control. “Personally, I could care less about guns. I don’t own ‘em, I don’t keep ‘em. But I’m not against people that do. On my Mom’s side, they’re actually very avid hunters; they actually live off of hunting and get their meat that way. I don’t necessarily think guns are bad, people using them are bad; that’s what the problem comes down to. Personally, I think there could be a little more tightening on it. It’s pretty easy to get a gun in America. There’s very little background checks, things like that. I do think there could be a little more control, but I wouldn’t say I’m anti-gun or anything like that. I’m anti-deranged people having access to them.”

Go Ahead And Die release their self-titled debut album on June 11th via Nuclear Blast. Although, this isn’t the first time Igor Amadeus has made music with his famous father. Max and Igor Amadeus joined forces, albeit briefly, in Soulfly in 2015 when Igor stood in for bassist Tony Campos on a UK tour. Then in 2017/18, Igor played keyboards and sang Alex Newport’s parts when Soulfly performed Nailbomb’s Point Blank album live in its entirety. “That was a lot of fun,” remarks Igor Amadeus. “That was definitely some of the first times getting to jam live with my Dad, and getting to work on stuff together. But at the same time, it was playing his music and stuff he had created. So, my interest in it would only go so far; I like to create. I like to be part of the creation. I like to play stuff that I come up with. It was one of those things, we did Nailbomb… I think that’s actually where the idea came from to do an extreme record like Go Ahead And Die, was when we were doing Nailbomb. We had jammed a couple of times before and had some fun with it, but we were like, ‘Let’s do our own band, our own thing, our own control, our own view and sound.’ And I’m really glad we did.”

Intense and violent are both appropriate adjectives when it comes to Go Ahead And Die. Max Cavalera said it has the same spirit as Nailbomb, his exact words were: “A f**k you to everything we didn’t like. Very unapologetic.” “Yeah, that’s a good way to put it. It was literally our frustration, our anger, our exasperation… just the current state of things. Also, the fact that a lot of these things we’re talking about have been going on for a long time. Maybe they came to some kind of peak last year, some kind of climax, but these things have been going on for years. Obviously, with him writing all the way back in the ‘90s, like Nailbomb and Chaos A.D., I don’t think he’s any stranger to writing the socio-political stuff. I’ve been into punk since I was pretty young, so that definitely got me in the mindset of acceptance and equality. There’s an interesting dynamic going on in the band for sure. I’d say lyrically, I had a little more to do with it. I guess you could say I was editing it. We’d both write and then when we had some stuff done, I’d go back through it and maybe chop a line that sounded a little weird with the rest of the song, maybe we were using the same word too much. My dad actually took a little bit of a creative back seat on it and let me go crazy, but it is definitely views that we both share and support.”

Go Ahead And Die is an irate record, however it was brought to life in a rather tranquil atmosphere – specifically a remote family cabin in the middle of the Arizona desert. “Yeah, it was one of those things where we wanted no distractions. There’s nothing getting in the way of making music. The property is out in the desert, there’s almost no neighbors. It’s quiet; you just hear crickets and coyotes at night. It is very peaceful, but I think we needed to be somewhere like that to channel the anger correctly. It almost gave us a breath so we could channel it, if that makes sense. Each night we’d watch VHS tapes and listen to CDs – we were trying to write an old school record, so we went with a whole old school day. We’d turn our phones off and just work on music. We lived a little minimalist. Despite the chaos of it all, we needed a nice, quiet place to think about it.”

The Go Ahead And Die demos were actually recorded on an old 12-track machine that Sepultura used for the Chaos A.D. demos back in 1993. “Yeah, my dad had a Korg 12-track, so we did very, very rudimentary demos with a drum machine,” says Igor Amadeus. “Like one guitar track each, one vocal track each; that was what we first came up with. We did that before we got Zach (Coleman, drummer) involved, before we went in the studio. We wanted to see how it was going to come out, see if the parts were cool. Once we had five or six of those demo songs pretty dialed in, we were talking like, ‘Yeah, this is cool. It’s coming along really well. Our ideas are going together, the content is there, the anger is there.’ But they were super rough, so we had to get Zach. We had to get a drummer to bring it to life.”

Previously Zach played in Black Curse and Khemmis; neither of those bands came across the radar. “We actually didn’t know Zach prior to this. We had the demos done and we needed a drummer. We have a pretty big network of friends and colleagues that we work with. It was actually Arthur Rizk, who mixed and mastered the record, who put us in touch with Zach. They had worked together on the Black Curse record. He told us to hit up Zach and vouched for him saying, ‘This dude’s a really solid drummer.’ We called him and hit it off. He came out, practiced for a few days, and recorded the album. It was a super serendipitous type deal. Once the pieces fell into place, it was all easy from there.”

Speaking of your associates in the music business, Jeff Walker from Carcass created the Go Ahead And Die logo. “I’m going to be totally level; we actually don’t know how Jeff got involved in it. We were talking with Nuclear Blast about signing. We kind of gave them the idea of what type of logo we wanted, and I think they said, ‘We’re going to reach out to an artist.’ I don’t know exactly if they sent him music, if they told him about it; it might have been something completely different and I’m wrong here. We just woke up one day and it was there. They were like, ‘Hey, Jeff Walker did it for you guys.’ I was beyond humbled! I couldn’t believe it. He did the original Earache logo. He did the Napalm Death – Scum cover. He doesn’t do a lot of stuff, and he’s got that crusty, grindy vibe to everything he does. When we saw that, we were totally amazed! Still to this day, I don’t know who exactly pulled the strings and made that happen.”

“Jeff Walker just did the logos. The cover was done by, almost like a comic book artist named Stewart Easton. I think he’s worked with Nuclear Blast on a couple of their releases. He uses very heavy lines; it almost reminds me of Judge Dredd a little bit. When they hit us up, I knew with the lyrics and the punk rock roots of the album, that it was all going to come together well. And sure enough, when we saw that, it was perfect! It gets the message across.” 

It’s a pretty powerful image, there’s a lot going on there. It really delivers a visual description of what the music’s going to sound like and what it’s about. “Absolutely. It literally shows demonized police and military officers holding a person down, with the other guy coming in to kick him free. In a way, it is showing something that is going on with stuff like police brutality and racial targeting. But it also is kind of the symbolism of the world right now – we’re sort of held down and forced to do what these people who control the world want us to. It had a double meaning, depending on how you look at it.”

Returning to the lyrical content on Go Ahead And Die, Igor Amadeus and Max certainly don’t hold back. “Toxic Freedom” is a perfect example as it contains the line, “It’s always authority killing minorities.” That’s a bold statement! “Yeah, that was actually one of my Dad’s lines. We were both just coming up with stuff like crazy during that time. He’s good at rhyming; he says in interviews he hates writing lyrics, but he does some good shit once in a while. That line is one that I love from that song, cause it’s true. There’s evidence to support that claim.”

“Worth Less Than Piss” is another audacious title. “I like that song a lot. I wrote the majority of it. In my opinion, it’s very Extreme Noise Terror meets Terrorizer. It’s totally a punk / crusty / grindy type thing. And the lyrics are about child slave labor; companies like Nike and Apple that – I don’t think it’s any secret to anyone they abuse third world countries and work forces. That’s what ‘Less Than Piss’ is about, these American CEOs are just like, ‘What do I care if these people die in this other country? I need these shoes to sell in America.’ Like you said, it’s abrasive, unapologetic, big middle finger to them. Hopefully we’ll raise some awareness about it and get people to stop buying from companies who do stuff like that.”

The way that Igor Amadeus and your dad Max split the vocals is damn near perfect. “It was all natural. We’d have our guitars on, and we’d write the lines, we’d come up with patterns. We’d try to play it and if it was coming naturally, cool, we’ll do it that way. If there was a couple of lines my dad was having trouble with, we’d switch and I’d sing it, and vice-versa. It was trial and error. I’d say the whole album was actually kind of like that with both of us writing. Let’s put this on the plate and see how it is. Maybe we need to change it a little bit… alright, we got a version we like, cool, let’s keep it. On to the next one.”

The band name, Go Ahead And Die, originates from a Japanese saying that Max came across. “Yeah, supposedly. I don’t know if it’s completely fact-checked that it’s a real Japanese saying or not, but he found a Google translation that was basically, Go F Yourselves, in Japanese. He was like, ‘This is kind of cool, it translates to Go Ahead And Die.’ He was actually thinking of using the Japanese version, and I was like, no, let’s use Go Ahead And Die. It sounds really punk. It punches you in the face a little bit.” And it’s much easier to pronounce. “It’s much easier to pronounce! None of us are Japanese, so I definitely don’t ever want to get into the area of using other people’s cultures. I didn’t want to go with that approach. Go Ahead And Die just sounded super mean. The minute I heard it, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s good!’ In reality, the meaning of it is sort of black humor, I guess you could say. During COVID, during these police brutality protests, during the election, during this time of crazy stuff going on here, it was pretty evident that the government didn’t give a crap about us. To us, it was like they were up at their high table and went, ‘Eh, Go Ahead And Die.’ That’s sort of our meaning behind it, our reasoning.”

Undoubtedly, Go Ahead And Die is putting Igor Amadeus Cavalera on the map. It’s establishing the next generation of Cavaleras. “Definitely. I’ve been doing music since I was about 15, so for 10 or 11 years now. It’s nice to come from a scrappy young kid who didn’t really know what he was doing, to having an album that’s kind of written and composed and structured this well. It’s coming out on a major label, I’m doing press. It’s all pretty new to me, and I’m happy to do it. For a lot of people, it’s going to be the first thing they hear from me. A lot of the bands I was in before stayed small on an independent label. But I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing regardless.”     

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