With DevilDriver heading to Australia for the first time in five years this August, we caught up with the band's legendary frontman Dez Fafara about the idea of playing old Coal Chamber songs on the tour, as well as his thoughts on their upcoming US tour with Static-X and their upcoming double album. Scroll on to read our chat with the man himself!
Hey Dez, how are things going?
I'm real good brother, I've got rehearsals tonight, I'm excited to come back to Australia and we've lined up some cool shows with some great bands and the tickets are going off the hook; I'm in a fuckin' ferocious great mood today.
It seems like every time DevilDriver want to come out here something goes wrong - you cancelled in 2012 due to illness and there was that whole Legion Festival mess in 2016...
Yeah we wanted to come over for that but it didn't happen...look I haven't been over there in five years and I think we were being called Australian citizens we were out there so much, right (laughs), so I think a brand can either keep going and destroys the market, or you stay out for a few years and you come with something amazing. We're also coming right before releasing a double record next year - it's the perfect time.
At the start of the year you said that you'd be dusting off some old Coal Chamber songs for select shows. Will we see any of those in Australia?
Well...I'll tell you what the deal is. I'm very close right now...mended ways with Meegs, and the other night ran into him and Nadja, and him and I had a big hug backstage where there were thirty or forty people around us crying - and it's just come to my attention that that brand...the ship has sailed. So, you know, I didn't wait like say, Rob Zombie when he left White Zombie and started doing White Zombie songs, or Danzig when he left and kept playing his songs.
I waited, I kept it apart, and I think now is the time for me to revisit what made me who I am, what gave me my first gold and platinum records around the world. So, to play songs like 'Loco', 'Fiend' and some of the other ones with DevilDriver? You should hear it. Like, with double guitars, double kick drum...these songs sound like they could have been written in 2018. They have a freshness and a heaviness about them that's fucking unbelievable. So it's just time for me now to embrace everything that's made me, right? I mean, if I was still 30 years old I wouldn't look to that, but now it's the time for me to embrace it all and to bring it to people that have waited so long.
So, you're definitely gonna get some surprises in Australia let's put it that way.
Has it been weird for you to watch the popularity of nu metal come full circle?
Well it's incredible, we took out a band in 2017 named Cane Hill - great guys and heavy hard workers, but I said to them one day on the tour "hey, what do you guys call yourselves?", and they were like "we're nu metal" and I just went "huh? What are you talking about?". And I mean I do keep my ear to the ground but I also keep myself separate from what's going on so I don't fall into what's popular with my own art, but what I realised is yeah the resurgence of that style of music is all huge right now, and there's a reason.
I mean, if you look at the top bands in the world right now - Korn, Disturbed, Deftones? All rooted in nu metal. That scene never went away, but it became an ugly word with the later bands came in and I think that's really what ruined it. There were heaps of bands that came in on the scene in the later half that just, fuck...they ruined that name. So it's good to see it coming back. Anybody who knows me knows that it's a part of my past, and again, I don't feel like making the 19-year-old kid that never got to see Coal Chamber wait for 'Loco', and I don't feel like making the 35-year-old that got to see us in the past wait anymore. And I kept it separate because I didn't know if Coal Chamber would ever get back together. But now I know for sure that the ship has sailed.
I wouldn't be happy being in that band, leaving my guys in DevilDriver home to do things with that band.
So the Coal Chamber guys are obviously cool with you doing the songs with DevilDriver, then?
Yeah absolutely, I mean I talked to Nadja in LA and asked if she wanted to come up on stage and she was like "hell yeah!" and I told Meegs that if he wanted to he could come up he could feel free, and he said he would think about it. I know that he has pride so that's all good - if you can drop the pride feel free to come up and jam with me my man, you're always welcome.
The Coal Chamber thing man...difficult to talk about because I will say straight up that I have nothing to do with why it's not together. It was really the other members that needed to get their shit together, and I gotta be on tour with people who have their shit together, you know? Meegs looked clear-eyed when I saw him in LA...still was drinking, which upset me, but to each his own and we are totally friends now.
Let's talk a bit about DevilDriver's output - Outlaws 'Til The End in 2018, and now a double-staggered release over next year and the one after...how do you write so many god damned songs?!
Well...I don't really do anything else other than art. It's not like I'm, you know, sitting in front of the TV for 10 hours a day not doing anything - I can't do that. As an artist it's what I do, like if I'm home, I wanna write. The Outlaws thing came to fruition because over here in the United States if you're going to see let's say, Slayer, and you're in a tailgating party our in the parking lot, you're gonna hear Slayer into Johnny Cash into Pantera into Willie Nelson, and nobody bats an eye!
And I thought those two things need to be put together, so we did it, and it came out to resounding applause...and I mean, how could it not? You do a song like 'Ghost Riders in the Sky' with Johnny Cash's son and Randy from Lamb Of God, how are you not gonna like that?
So, I knew we were gonna be doing a double-staggered release which is going to be out in 2020 and 2021, and our fans were gonna have to wait almost three years for a record. And I was like "you can't do that". Over here in America, high school is four years. You can't give a kid a record in his freshman year and he gets another one in his senior year - he'll never follow you. So Outlaws was us going in the studio with a ton of really cool friends and giving the audience something to listen to while they wait for that double record.
We're not doing an interview now on our new record but I will tell you this - that thing is breaking all the fucking rules, all the boundaries. It's heavier, it's groovier, it's got bigger hooks and I broke all my boundaries vocally. If you like Coal Chamber, if you like DevilDriver - this record you're gonna get those things put together vocally, which is something annihilatingly dark and heavy. I mean dark. It's really going to a punk rock, goth kind of place with me. Just really dark and brutal and I think people are gonna love it, man.
We put a lot of work into it, you know. Here's what I say to any band listening to me - if anyone approaches you about doing a double record, don't do it. It's the fuckin' most work I've ever put into something in my life. I had sleepless nights where I was grinding my fuckin' teeth. Like, I'd wake up and my hands would hurt from clenching my fists, and I was recording so fast and hard that it was just daily, daily, daily, daily. And now being able to listen back to this record, it's absolutely astoundingly on fire. I had someone from the label the other night - who's a fan of our early stuff - say that this record needs to be postponed and released at the top of the year (2020), because it's the most incredible album DevilDriver's ever done and he didn't know if it was even us in some parts. To me, that's a huge compliment. To me it's too easy to just stay on your laurels and make the same album over and over. And that's happening with a ton of bands around me, and I can see their audiences dwindle.
Damn, you know how to get us hyped!
I'm comin' man, I'm comin' for everybody. My whole thing is this - I'm too fucking old to hold my tongue at all. And I'm telling ya, this double DevilDriver record is going to show up a lot of bands, and that's what we're trying to do.
How are you feeling about touring with Static-X next month? Did you ever think it would be possible in 2019?
No and I think what people need to know is that when singers die...it's happened, right? AC/DC lost a singer and they came back. You never would have had Back In Black if they hadn't got a new singer. So whenever I hear someone say "they can't do this without Wayne", it's like well I'm a singer. If I died, I would want somebody to come in and pay memorial to me. People need to know that I'm the one that found Static-X back in the day in a club playing to like 40 people. When Wayne died, I cried...hard. When they came to me to ask me to manage Static-X during this, I had no ideas of touring with them with DevilDriver. It just so happens that DevilDriver doing some Coal Chamber songs is gonna work proper, and that's why it's a co-headline tour.
I don't think I would have been a part of it if I hadn't seen the singer in a mask, and he doesn't wanna tell anybody who he is or take any credit. The reason he's wearing a mask and his hair up is because he's trying to actually embody Wayne and give people that experience. So that in itself was so respectful that it humbled me a great deal, and I was like "yes let's go do this". To be part of that, to watch that band come back...people need to realise that when a singer dies, it's not just the family or the girlfriend of that singer. It's the bass player, the guitar player, the drummer. They lose their life, their income, their identity. They lose any sort of who they are and what they're doing because they've invested their whole life and personality into their band.
So now these guys get to come out of their day-jobs and go back to sold-out headlining shows to play music that made them who they were - I'm intensely proud to be a part of it.
Can't wait to have you back in August Dez, take care!
Thanks man, I'm feeling the open arms from Australia so hard - I've been doing interviews all day and all I've felt is welcoming, open arms. See everyone at the shows!
DevilDriver 2019 Australian Tour w/ All That Remains
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