As American metal brutes Soulfly turn twenty and are gearing up to release their eleventh studio album ‘Ritual‘, we caught up with lead guitarist Marc Rizzo for a chat before he took to the stage with the rest of the Soulfly ensemble at Birmingham’s O2 Institute for a killer intimate show – click here to read our review of the gig. Here’s what Marc had to say:


On behalf of all of us at Bloggers Gamut I’d like to wish a belated happy birthday to yourself and to Max! Did you do anything fun to celebrate?

Thank you! My birthday was just a drive day and we drove pretty far, but we had a good time. And on Max’s birthday we played Poland rock festival which was a huge festival so that was pretty cool y’know!


We are also wishing many congratulations to the band itself, to Soulfly as the band turns twenty this year! How momentous an achievement do you feel that is?

It’s pretty incredible! It’s a long time for a band to be together and obviously it’s been an incredible career, it’s been an incredible experience for me too. I’ve been in the band now for fifteen years so for me it’s been pretty unbelievable you know, to still be here and still rockin’ out after all these years! They went by really fast – you go on tour with a band like this, you just go into warp speed, into overdrive you know.


What does the upcoming new album ‘Ritual’ mean to you?

It’s a great record – it’s just a great continuation of Soulfly and I think we really tried to make a record comprising all the different kind of styles that Soulfly has been known for over the past twenty years so it’s a good representation of all the records basically, on one.


Okay cool, on that note we were wondering as incorporating elements of tribal music has been quite a consistent feature of Soulfly down the years, is that a feature on the new album too?

Yeah, there’s probably a lot more tribal stuff than on the last couple of records you know, but I think we’ve always on each album had that tribal element to it, this one definitely has more of that vibe than on the last couple of records.


When you’re trying to incorporate the tribal music is there a specific way you go about finding those elements to use or is it more of an organic process?

I think it’s probably just, the tribal influence in riffs are a bit more simplistic than the thrash stuff, so if we’re going for more of a tribal type of groove sound the riffs are definitely less complex you know, and also tuned down low!


Other than the tribal influences, what can we expect to hear on ‘Ritual’? Is there anything on there that might have not been too big a feature on previous Soulfly releases?

Well we’ve continued with the thrash side on a couple of songs so for me there’s definitely a lot of experimental touches, some different ideas I’ve done on the guitars; lots of the whammy pedal stuff that I’m known for and I didn’t do too much of that on the last couple of records but this record I brought the whammy pedal back and did a lot of cool ‘Prophecy‘ type whammy pedal squeal sounds so that was kinda cool: I feel like I took my playing to the next level.


Are there any guest features that you can tell us about gracing the project?

I know there is, I’m not sure who though! With every record Max always has some guests, but this record I don’t have a copy of yet, so I haven’t really heard all the stuff, all the vocals so I’m not sure who was the guest on this record!


If you had to pick an artist to collaborate with who you’ve not previously worked with, who would you choose and why?

I’d probably wanna work with Dio; he was my favourite singer of all time and I would love to make a metal record in that vein y’know that old style like classic Maiden and Dio, so I would love to do a project like that. I wish Dio was still around and had the opportunity to do something with him. I love that relationship of an incredible lead singer and an awesome lead guitar player y’know like Zakk and Ozzy, Randy and Ozzy, Jake E Lee And Ozzy or Dio with Craig Goldy, he also had Vivian Campbell – that kinda relationship of a melodic singer with a shredder guitarist y’know so I would say Dio.


What is your favourite thing – if there is anything – about coming to tour in the UK?

Probably just the cool ruins y’know, I like the castles. The history, stuff like that.


Do you guys get to explore much of that?

We try to; a couple of days ago we were in Newcastle and our club was right by an old castle – or maybe it was a ‘newcastle’ (laughs) – but yeah it was cool I like coming here man, the history here is cool.


Excluding your own work, with Soulfly, previous bands and your solo stuff, if you had to pick your favourite most recent metal album, what would you choose?

I really like the new Overkill record – I’m a huge Overkill fan, we got to tour with them a couple months back which was great and I’ve been a fan of those guys since I was a kid, they’re from my area where I grew up in Jersey and I really love that last record they put out. I love that whole genre, the thrash metal bands and all the old school bands y’know I’m really intrigued with what a lot of the bands I grew up listening to are still doing. I think it’s great that a band like Overkill who’s still putting out quality thrash metal, 80’s thrash metal records and remaining true to their sound and that genre but also taking it to the next level, they’re one of the best bands I’ve ever toured with. And the new Suffocation, I love Suffocation too that’s another band that you know they’re an old school death metal band and in my opinion started that whole scene and every record they put out they get just get better & better.


It must be awesome to see the progression of a band that you love like that, especially a band that come from the same area:

To me it’s exciting to hear the old bands get better and better and seeing how their sound will evolve and take it to the next level!


I would imagine it’s quite motivating for you aswell!

Yeah it is, especially at the age that those guys are at now you know Overkill were my heroes when I was a kid so seeing them still rockin’ out and putting on a quality live show, and quality records man it’s incredible.


How do you find the act of balancing being in multiple bands and producing your solo stuff – do you get any downtime for yourself at all?

Yeah I mean basically when I’m not on the road with Soulfly or Cavalera Conspiracy then I’ll go work on my solo stuff, got a new solo record out called ‘Rotation‘ that came out about two months ago so basically I try to tour with that when I’m home y’know when I’m in-between tours I try to stay busy at least. I do a lot of weekend gigs you know, just go play cities nearby my area where I live and New Jersey, New York City area.

What is like to have worked so extensively with Max Cavalera and having such a close relationship with him?

It’s a dream come true you know I idolised Sepultura when I was a kid, I was in Sepultura cover bands so I grew up playing a lot of that old Sepultura stuff so for me its a dream come true and I take it seriously. It’s a big deal for me and I show up prepared; when its time to make a record I’m ready! I try to come with new ideas and work hard and try give 100% every night on stage and in the studio.


Your hard work certainly pays off! Final question; do you have a favourite song to perform live?

Probably ‘Frontlines‘. It’s always been my favourite song, when we wrote that song it was a really cool time cause we were going into the studio with a real thrash metal direction and for me ‘Frontlines‘ was the first song that had that real thrash vibe, thrash drumming and the riffs are some of my favourite riffs that are pretty technical. I think when we got that song the record it was like “oh shit y’know Soulfly is getting back to that old school Sepultura sound!” – and taking it to the next level. I think that song ‘Frontlines‘ could have been what Sepultura could have sounded like if they carried on doing thrash metal back in the day so I love that song. It’s got some of my favourite riffs, solos and the cool acoustic ending I came up with.


Soulfly‘s upcoming eleventh studio album ‘Ritual‘ is due for release on 19th October via Nuclear Blast Records. Marc’s most recent solo project ‘Rotation‘ came out on 30th March this year and is available everywhere.

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