- Thais Carrança – @tcarran
- From BBC News Brasil in São Paulo
“I’m very happy that this is happening there in Brasília,” says musician Max Cavalera, currently in the band Soulfly and one of the founders of Sepultura, about the mobilization that brings together over 6,000 indigenous people from 170 people in the Brazilian capital.
The native peoples are in the Federal District protesting against the time frame for land demarcation, whose judgment must be resumed by the STF (Supreme Federal Court) this Wednesday (1/9).
“You have to respect the indigenous culture, which has been here for over 500 years, older than all of us. We have to do everything possible to prevent this from ending one day, not only the language, but the customs, the dances, the This is a very wonderful thing and that people in society sometimes end up forgetting,” says the musician.
The statement comes at a time when the iconic album Roots Sepultura, one of the most influential in heavy metal history, with more than 2 million copies sold, turns 25 years old. Released in 1996, the album featured the track Itsari (“roots” in Xavante), recorded in partnership with the indigenous people of the Wedera village, in Canarana, Mato Grasso.
“In 25 years, things have changed,” says Paulo Cipassé Xavante, the chief who received Sepultura in his village in 1996. “The problems regarding the indigenous issue were the same, but things were hidden. something more direct. Not only for the indigenous — for the indigenous it is worse — but the rights of Brazilian workers are slowly being dismantled,” opines the Xavante leader.
The musician and the chief remember the experience of recording the album that would become historic.
“I was at home, had a wine and was watching a movie called Playing in the Lord’s Fields, by Héctor Babenco, when he gave me the idea of recording in the middle of Brazil, with Brazilian tribes”, says Cavalera, now 52 years old and resident of Phoenix, in the American state of Arizona.
He remembers that, at first, he thought about making the recording with the Kayapó, because at the time he was listening to an album of war songs by that people. But, with the help of journalist Angela Pappiani, from the Nucleo de Cultura Indígena, Ailton Krenak’s NGO, he reached the Xavantes in Canarana, Mato Grasso.
“I said to Angela: ‘Get all the material related to them [à banda Sepultura] and send it to us, which I’ll put on the air for everyone here,'” recalls Cipassé, now 53. “She said: ‘They’re just like you: hairy, tattooed and people are prejudiced against them’. She sent the albums and I put them on the air on our traditional board. People liked it and said ‘if they suffer prejudice like us, let’s do the job’.”
According to Max, the technical part of recording Itsari it was all organized by his wife Glória Cavalera and by Angela Pappiani.
“We rented two small planes and the equipment. We knew that there [na aldeia] there was no electricity, so we took an eight-channel, portable, battery-powered recording device,” recalls Max.
“The only thing I asked to communicate to them is that I knew that the people who play this style of music [heavy metal] smokes and drinks a lot. So I asked them not to bring any of this so that we could do a job with respect,” says the Xavante chief. “They accepted.”
Max says that, on arrival in the village, he met Cipassé and was introduced to the main places of the village – the place of meals, the place of ceremonies. The band was also introduced to older indigenous people in the community, always surrounded by kids, who “went crazy” with the visitors and their long hair and tattoos, according to Max.
“One of the coolest things in my entire career was when Cipassé asked us to play a song of ours to show the indigenous people what our sound was. We played the song. Kaiowas, from the album Chaos AD, which is a beautiful instrumental made of guitar and percussion. We played, with 300 indigenous people watching and they asked for an encore”, recalls the musician.
“This was one of our coolest records and one of the times I was most nervous to play my music, in front of the 300 indigenous people. I was super nervous trying to convey the right image to them, but in the end they loved it.”
After 25 years and millions of copies sold later, Max says he is still proud of the album Roots. “His influence is everywhere, we see it in new bands, especially in Gojira, on their last album. I’m super proud”, says the singer and guitarist.
Members of the death metal band Gojira were even at the indigenous camp in Brasília, offering solidarity to the struggle of the native peoples. “We are here to show indigenous peoples that they are not alone,” drummer Joe Duplantier said.
The struggle of indigenous peoples against the time frame
The indigenous people have been camped in Brasília since August 22, carrying out the national mobilization “Luta pela Vida”, organized by Apib (Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil). The main focus of the mobilization is the judgment of the thesis of the so-called “time frame” in the STF, which can define the future of the demarcation of indigenous lands in Brazil.
The time frame defines that indigenous peoples can only claim the demarcation of lands that were already occupied by them before the promulgation of the 1988 Constitution. The decision may affect more than 300 processes of demarcation of indigenous lands that are open in the country.
Indigenous peoples are also fighting over a bill by the Chamber (PL 490, 2017), which basically imposes the same thesis of the time frame, in addition to opening indigenous lands for exploration of agribusiness, mining and mining projects. infrastructure.
Just like the track Itsari from the album Roots introduced to foreigners and non-indigenous Brazilians the power of Xavante music, the indigenous mobilization in Brasília brought the power of the Guarani song to a wider audience.
A video with Guarani indigenous people singing the song Nhanderu Tupã it went viral on social networks, helping to sensitize people to the importance of the indigenous cause.
Chief Cipassé highlights the importance of music in sensitizing public opinion, but complains about the loneliness of indigenous peoples in the struggle for the preservation of their lands, which he says is of interest to all Brazilians and the world. He also criticizes the lack of attention given by the press to the mobilization of native peoples against the time frame.
“The fight for the issue of demarcation is not just for us [indígenas], is for all Brazilian people. But people do not care, there is a lack of support from public opinion and the media, which seems to be entirely controlled by ruralists and businessmen”, says the Xavante leader.
“Indigenous people and non-indigenous sympathizers are doing everything they can to put our struggles on social media, but the press is supposed to play this role. That’s why we are fighting: to raise awareness, to raise public awareness, because with support we’ll stay strong and we will be able to fight,” he says.
“Today we feel lonely, without support. It seems that Brazilians do not know that the territories that are preserved there in the Amazon provide a service to the whole world. Climate change is there and this is the result of deforestation, human activity, our fight is against that.”
Back on the road after the pandemic
Mineiro from Belo Horizonte and born Massimiliano Antônio Cavalera, Max founded Sepultura with his brother Igor Cavalera in 1984. Due to disagreements, he broke up with the band in 1996, forming Soulfly.
Now he is back on the road with Soulfly in the United States, after a forced retreat by the pandemic.
“The shows have been wonderful, because people were really hungry. With that feeling that something had been taken from them by force and now it’s being given back. So they’re super excited, super grateful,” says the musician.
“I’m super happy because my habitat natural is on stage. It was nice two years at home, spending birthday with my family, I enjoyed the house and family a lot. But it’s time to get back to doing what we love and this tour is just the beginning,” he says.
“Next year, there should definitely be a tour in Brazil,” he anticipates to BBC News Brasil.
During the pandemic, Max developed a project with his son Igor Amadeus Cavalera. Together with drummer Zach Coleman, from the band Khemmis, they released the album Go Ahead And Die.
According to the musician, it is a more political work, with riffs “full of hatred against a system that only benefits the most powerful”, according to the album’s promotional material.
“These are lyrics from now, from what’s happening in the world today: police brutality, covid-19. One of the songs I like the most is called roadkill and it talks about homeless people, a subject that is not much discussed in metal and rock in general, but we poke the wound, showing that most of these people are rejected by society,” he says.
In the midst of this more politicized phase, in an interview in May, Max compared Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to American Donald Trump.
“He [Bolsonaro] it’s kind of like Trump, he embraces the negatives with pride — he’s proud to kill people, proud to kill Indians. It’s kind of scary because he’s proud of those things,” he said in an interview with Landry.audio podcast, as transcribed by Blabbermouth.net (which calls itself “the CNN of heavy metal”).
Asked by BBC News Brasil if he continues to see similarities between the two leaders, Max prefers not to get into controversy.
“I don’t live in Brazil, so it’s a little difficult for me to do an analysis,” he says.
“Here in the United States, there are a lot of Soulfly fans who like Trump, so we leave that aside, because regardless of political taste, we have metal. It’s like religion, which no one discusses, because discussing just sucks” , he adds.
“I think here [nos Estados Unidos], is definitely improving with Biden. One cool thing about him is that he has a lifetime of experience working for the country. Trump was a bit of an outsider, it was an experience. I think that 100 years from now we will see this phase here as a sinister phase, an error of experience. Let’s say: ‘Look what a crazy thing we did, we put this Trump on as president and it didn’t work’.”
“That’s how I see it. And I hope, of course, that things in Brazil also get better.”
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