Killer Be Killed: Complete Freedom

"Can we just ask Max to yell out ‘Territory’ like just one time"

As I guzzle my third latte for the day I have Greg Puciato on the wire for Metal As Fuck from the recently-newly formed Killer Be Killed. A breath of fresh air for Greg [The Dillinger Escape Plan] and Soulfly/Cavalera Conspiracy/ex-Sepultura/Nailbomb frontman Max Cavalera. This quality troop also features Mastodon bassist and co-vocalist Troy Sanders and former The Mars Volta drummer Dave Elitch. Oozing with talent and gushing with enough ‘big’ names to make your nose bleed; the band are on the road (and on the phones) of late, promoting their debut self titled album and enjoying the fact that they all finally found some time to tour Killer Be Killed....

“I’m doing a tonne of interviews; I’m hungry and I just want dinner. Hopefully we can talk about some new things?” [Laughs] Never! I understand you’re getting through over forty interviews? “It’s such a joy [Laughs] I haven’t done a massive press junket like this in a while, I forgot how to do it. Although I’m sitting here also thinking that it’s amazing that people give a shit still, it’s a privilege. There are worse things in life than someone on the other side of the world caring about what you do. It’s weird in general but we can get through it”.

So from the musicians comprising Killer Be Killed its mind boggling the potential this band holds in terms of creativity “It’s strange to think of it that way, all of us have been in bands and this sort of life for decades now. Although when I think of Max and the career that he has had, the bands he has played a part in I start to get a little... well a little excited [Laughs] when you are reminded of the fact that this dude was a part of Chaos AD you’re like 'what the fuck!' We’ll be in the studio just jamming and both Troy and I will just stare at Max while he’s doing his thing – then we stare at each other and we’re both thinking the same thing.... 'Can we just ask Max to yell out Territory like just one time?' [Laughs] Max is the coolest guy ever and he is so down to earth and you forget how much shit that guy actually went through. Like when people say they come from nothing, it’s true in Max case; they really came from nothing and built an empire. It’s a common ground in all of us that we came from unlikely circumstances and grew up in ways where we shouldn’t really have amounted to anything. We came from various amounts of poverty. Lived in vans, whatever. Whereas Max really came from a place where no one is the world ever expected him to break out of. That’s the commonality between all of us; that we clawed our way through life to get to where we are”.

The Killer Be Killed project in particular - it’s been about three years since inception, where you all had kept a tight lid on it? “Max and I started talking about it in 2009 but I don’t think we really made a move on it until about maybe the end of 2010. So from 2010 to the end of recording by 2013, about three years yeah. Troy didn’t jump on board till about 2012, so the whole things started to pick up speed as soon as Troy was involved”. The recording process for the debut album was quite quick and you’ve basically put it down to trusting your first instincts? “Yes, I feel like we were kind of on the same page. We’re all at the point of our careers creatively that we know over thinking things is a bad thing. If you’ve been doing this for so long and you can’t trust your first instinct than what have you got, where do you go? It’s part of the culture; One thing you need to learn as a musician is to get out of your own way and I think that’s what makes Killer Be Killed, we’re pretty confident in our instincts and we trust each other, we all give each other a lot of freedom”.

The first decree of the band was that there were to be no rules when writing the music?  “Right, we wanted to take it back to the stage when you were fifteen years old and you’re in your room and you have no idea what the fuck you sound like yet. We wanted to get away from everything we’ve done, the bands, Soulfly, Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan because we didn’t want Killer Be Killed to sound a little like this band and a little like that band. It’s uninteresting; I mean what’s the point of that. So we wanted a fresh new sound that had no comparisons to our other projects. We wanted Killer Be Killed to be its own thing. And because of that we have spent a lot of time sitting around talking about our work, the common denominators of the band, what were our lives like, where we came from, the bands we were into growing up and basically what were the common threads that we can identify with one another personally and musically”.

With three massive influences forging together, the end product was certain to be something original and I believe this is why you wanted all three to have shared vocals? “That was the only rule, the only stylistic rule that we set. We didn’t want the whole 'oh this is Max’ song, this is Troy’s song'. In a strange way we took the R&B collaborative approach where both artists are trading vocals, the differences between both in the one song, and their different approaches to the same beat and melody and that’s what is exciting for me - seeing what the guys come up with and things I would never have thought of, it’s really opened my eyes to my own vocal style. The whole process was really amazing”. Recording an album can be fairly stressful so it’s good to hear you guys had a blast on certain aspects of the process “It is so fucking stressful like I’m used to recoding being really stressful, it’s like putting together a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, constantly sitting there racking your brain and it takes forever. Its fun, like in a way sadistic torture is fun. But at the end of the day you know you’re getting something out of it so that makes it bearable. Though, yeah the whole process with the Killer Be Killed recording was really fun”.

The (self titled) debut album has now been released through Nuclear Blast and the four of you are extremely busy with other very successful touring bands so what is the next step for Killer Be Killed in terms of promoting the new album since you guys are so damn busy? “Well another thing that makes this project so much fun is that we don’t have any expectations with Killer Be Killed; like if Troy brings out another Mastodon record or Max brings out another Cavalera album you know that they will be playing shows for over a year, it’s their bread and butter, you know they’re going to be beating themselves to fit in 200 shows, you love doing it but you know there is a massive expectation with it and it’s a giant mountain you have to climb, you know that people aren’t waiting for you to do it, and that is really freeing. That’s the thing about Killer Be Killed, it’s just relaxed if we find that we all have some time off during the same period it’s as easy as Hey you guys wanna play some shows? It keeps the realisations pure because you know you don’t have to do it. Like we want to play more and write more but it doesn’t have the same amount of pressure”.

What are your thoughts on the term ‘Super Group?’ Because I know that Killer Be Killed have been described as such and I personally find it is the wankiest term in the world but what are your feelings? “It’s awful. It’s fucking awful. It’s the same as putting a category on the music. I use to really fight that shit, but I guess I understand why they do it now because people need to market things, they need to categorise everything in a neat box. I can’t stand it but what can I do. I think it’s really silly. I mean I’ve known Troy for so long, so far back to when we were playing for under 100 people, back then no one gave the tiniest shit about us then, but yeah get a band called Mastodon and a band called Dillinger Escape Plan and apparently were now a super group. The douchiest word ever”.

Amazingly enough, Killer Be Killed have managed to book some shows to promote the new album including a trip to Soundwave. What are your anticipations for the tour? “I’m so excited for Soundwave, I wish it was tomorrow. Troy and I were both there last time and our last shows were in Perth and I remember we were standing outside joking around and Troy says maybe next year we can play with Killer Be Killed and we both knew it just was not fucking possible, like there was not one week where we all had the same time off, so the idea of finding time to play was still so remotely out of the question. Then a couple of months ago we realised we had the time so very quickly to each other, ok so no one fucking book anything during that time, we actually have a chance to do this now. I’m really psyched that it’s happening there too; because it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had with Dillinger was coming to Australia for the first time, I mean when you’re from here [USA] especially back then and at that time we hadn’t been everywhere in the world yet, so we had no idea people cared about us anywhere yet, especially that far away and you guys are SO far away! We thought we’d head to Australia and no one would know us or give a shit that we were there and head home with piles of debt [Laughs] but we got there and it was overwhelming, the crowds were amazing, everyone knew who we were and loved the music, having someone from the other side of the world to scream your lyrics, goes beyond appreciation”.