Latest release: Beast (Roadrunner/Warner)
DevilDriver is about to tour Australia once again after doing a demolition job here at Soundwave 2011. This time, they’ll be headlining and bringing along good friends Darkest Hour and Six Feet Under. Loud talked to charismatic frontman Dez Fafara about the tour and the great passion of his life: music.
Q: You’re about to head down to Australia once again very soon, and I know how much you love it here. But this will be the first full tour by DevilDriver, am I right?
A: It will be the first headliner down there, and I think it’s so great, you know? We’re going to be doing a full set of thirteen songs and we’re bringing two great bands down with us, Darkest Hour and Six Feet Under. I’m really looking forward to it.
Q: I know this is about DevilDriver, but how do you think the Coal Chamber shows went while you were here?
A: Absolutely incredible. It makes me want to come back down and play a kick ass show, you know?
Q: This will be the second time you’ve been in Australia supporting the Beast album. Are we going to get a different show this time?
A: Hey most definitely. We’re throwing in a lot of different songs and stuff that we haven’t ever played, and some surprises.
Q: Darkest Hour and Six Feet Under – I don’t think SFU have ever been to Australia before. Have you played with those guys much?
A: Chris Barnes hasn’t been to Australia for ten years, since he was there with Cannibal, and I don’t know if Darkest Hour has been down but they’re a great band. It’s gonna be a fun bill.
Q: A very diverse bill too, because none of the bands really sound much like each other.
A: Exactly. Everybody sounds different from one another, and yet we all complement each other equally.
Q: So what’s the timetable like for a follow up to Beast?
A: Basically we’re gonna tour until July, and then when July comes round we’re gonna take some time off to write and record as well as… we’re free agents right now, so we’re looking at different record companies around the world to work with us. So that’s really what’s up with us. We’re gonna come Down Under and then about eight days later we go over to the European festivals and do a very large, main stage European festival run.
Q: Do you think that this is going to be some kind of transitional phase, then, for DevilDriver?
A: Well not really. We’re just going to continue to do what we do, really. We haven’t slowed down or stopped at all. We just continue to tour and we’ll put the business stuff to rest and then once we do that we’ll go in and do the recording part of it.
Q: When I first spoke to you about a year ago, just before Beast came out, you’d been having a pretty tough time of it. It sounds like since then things have started to go your way once again.
A: Yeah, well all things change. In life there’s hardships thrown upon you. It all just defines your character as to how you deal with it. Everything that came my way, I just stepped up to the plate, and now the days are sunny we’re playing the game. That’s what’s happening.
Q: You must feel fortunate too that you’ve got such a big fanbase behind you with this band, and now that Coal Chamber did so well too, it’s almost like you’ve got two bands you can use to unleash those demons if you need to.
A: Yeah man, I’m really fortunate that Coal Chamber came back around into my life after being gone for so long, and then having DevilDriver; I’m a blessed guy. I do art for a living and I get to travel, and you know, I don’t take that for granted. Ever. I wish more artists felt like I do, to tell you the truth.
Q: So what’s inspiring you? Have you got anything yet for the next album?
A: Well, I’ve got parts of about 140 songs written right now. I’ve just been writing non-stop since Beast. So I don’t know what’s gonna make it to the next record or not, but I know I’ve got lyrics aplenty. When I say that, a notebook… two notebooks full of stuff for the next record. I kinda now where I wanna go direction-wise. So we’ll see what’ll happen. I’ve gotten four songs delivered to me, one of which I like. The other three really need some work. So we haven’t really found the sound yet or where we’re goin’ with it, and I don’t wanna rush it. It’s a very critical record for DevilDriver, the next record, and I really really want to make something that defines us completely. That means, takes all five of those records, and puts it all into one record so that I can say to someone, “If you really want to know what DevilDriver’s about, go to number six, the sixth record, and check it out.”
Q: You’ve said before that in many ways you consider Beast to really be DevilDriver’s second album, so I agree with you that the next one will be a critical release.
A: Absolutely. We’ve come to know that every record is different. There has to be evolution. It’s really important because you can’t define what DevilDriver is, you can’t stick us in a genre. We don’t belong to any kind of moniker, which is good! And I wanna keep it that way. In order to do that you’ve gotta go through songs and hunt for it.
Q: Some bands tend to wait until they’re in the studio to start working on songs. You’ve been touring a lot since Beast, so is your band one that writes before recording?
A: Well, they need a bit of prodding now and then (laughs). But now that they know the time is coming, they’ll start writing. They’ll start writing on the road and everything else. Me, I personally write daily. It’s just something that I do. I try to get up every morning and write a song, happy or sad. I have books and books and books of lyrics that will probably never see the light of day unless I publish them outside of the song realm. I enjoy writing. It’s something that, when I come up a good line, whether it be 4 in the morning and I have to get up and write it down, or jump out of the shower to find a pen real quick, or grab someone else’s iPhone to write a note real quick, I do so. Because those are the kind of lyrics that will end up on the record, sticking with you, those lyrics that come out of the aether. You have to be writing all the time to unleash that spirit all the time in order to have it form that energy otherwise it will just wink its eye at you once in a while and then shut itself off.
Q: You ever think there may come a time when you want to do a Henry Rollins type book of all your lyrics that you’ve never published as songs?
A: I don’t know. My wife’s been trying to get me to for a couple of years, but I don’t know. Some of this stuff is so personal that I’m not sure I ever wanna share them. That’s the way writing is to me. It’s all very very personal. It’s like the best song lyrics with the best titles are something I almost don’t want to give up. But if you feel that way, if you feel that way about words, it’s important to get them out there and share them. So we’ll see.
Q: Is there any other projects that you’re currently involved in or is there something you’d like to do in the future?
A: Well, I’m on the new Cancer Bats record. I guested as well on a song on the new Soulfly record that just came out. I have a side project with Mark Morton [Lamb of God] called Born of the Storm. We’ve got twelve or thirteen tracks and Mark’s been releasing those slowly. I have another project that is basically desert music: slide guitars and a lot of Native American influence. I do a lot of different things and keep myself busy. I enjoy the work. If I’m at home, I like to go into the studio for the day. If I’m on the road I like to got into a studio and lay down a track and then go do a show. I like to work. I’ve always been that way since I was a kid.
Q: When these colloborations come about, say Max with Soulfly for example, how does that work? Do you put yourself forward, or do they come to you?
A: Well, in that case, Max is a great family friend. His family and my family keep in touch and exchange Christmas cards every year, so when I was coming into town in Arizona and Max had a track available, I went to the venue then over to the studio and spent three or four hours over there laying the track down. It had no vocals so he and I wrote together, which is a great honour and it was a great time, and the track turned out marvellous. And in the case of the Cancer Bats, I was in Los Angeles at the time, at home. They sent a driver to come get me and I spent two to three hours laying the track, and that again was a great time. So I like to work, I like to keep busy and I like to do different things. I’m not a purist by any means when it comes to music. I listen to everything from blues to black metal, from Billie Holiday to Black Flag, Bauhaus to Black Sabbath. So, for me, I enjoy music, I enjoy working in the field of music, being in the studio, being on stage. It’s all encompassing to me.
DevilDriver will be touring Australia with Darkest Hour and Six Feet Under on the following dates:
4/5: The Tivoli, Brisbane QLD
5/5: The HiFi, Sydney NSW (Lic. A/A)
6/5: Billboard, Melbourne VIC
7/5: Fowlers Live, Adelaide SA (Lic. A/A)
9/5: Capitol, Perth WA