By Ryan Meehan and Garret Bivens
In his long tenure on the frontline of heavy metal—first as frontman for respected ’90s nü-metal unit Coal Chamber—Dez Fafara has seen and heard it all. But while he doesn’t appear to be on some kind of invented crusade to “save” metal, he’s quite forthcoming with the respect he has for both his bandmates and the artistry they bring blasting through the speakers of the tiniest earbuds to a PA system the size of a Congressional voting district. “There’s a lot of follow-the-leader going on, for sure,” says Fafara.“But I can’t do it all. What I’ve learned about us is that through all of the differences in the things we like, we’ve become a cohesive unit. Everybody can bring their distinct styles, but it still makes it Devildriver.” The band will be playing the now-world-famous Knotfest this upcoming October, and vocalist Dez Fafara is our guest today in 7 questions.
GB: When Coal Chamber originally disbanded, what exactly was the main that eventually brought Devildriver to life?
DFF: DURING THE MAKING OF COAL CHAMBER’S LAST ALBUM “DARK DAYS”, I WAS ALREADY DEMOING THE DEVILDRIVER MUSIC. NOT ONLY DID I KNOW COAL CHAMBER WAS COMING TO AN END DUE TO MANY INTERNAL STRUGGLES, BUT I ALSO WANTED /NEEDED AN OUTLET FOR A HEAVIER SIDE OF THE MUSIC THAT I LOVE .DEVILDRIVER WAS SIMPLY AN EVOLUTION OF WHERE I WAS GOING MUSICALLY .
RM: How long have you struggled with sleep deprivation; and how many hours of sleep do you usually need to get every night in order to achieve maximum productivity the next day? Is it harder for you to get sleep on the road; or do you find it to be more difficult in the comfort of your own home?
DFF: I SLEEP 4/5 HOURS A NIGHT ON A GOOD NIGHT. I’VE SUFFERED FROM NOT ONLY A.D.D. THROUGHOUT MY LIFE, BUT NOW I AM AFFLICTED WITH THE GIFT OF HAVING A.D.H.D AS IM GETTING OLDER LOL. I LAUGH BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH IVE MANAGED IT AND IF MANAGED I CAN MULTI-TASK LIKE NO OTHER… BUT THIS ALSO KEEPS ME UP AT NIGHT, AND WAKES ME OUT OF DEAD SLEEPS. I SLEEP BEST IN ALL HONESTY WHEN I’M NEXT TO MY BEST FRIEND AND WIFE ANAHSTASIA, IF IT’S ON THE BUS OR AT HOME. THANK SHIVA FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA OR SLEEP WOULD NEVER COME!
RM: I remember seeing you guys on GWAR’s 20th anniversary tour at this awful venue in Davenport, IA where parts of the stage were blocked by these large concrete pillars that obstructed the fans’ view of the band. However, you seemed to be in a great mood and really got the crowd going for a legendary headliner. I was blown away by how you had such a positive attitude in such a bad situation…How are you able to remain so focused on making sure the crowd has a blast when something goes wrong with the sound/stage setup, or any other negative variables surface?
DFF: THANK YOU, MUSIC IS CONTAGIOUS AND PUTS ME IN A KILLER MOOD! I’M A GLASS HALF FULL KINDA GUY AND TEND TO LOOK AT ANYTHING THAT GOES WRONG ONSTAGE AS “HEY THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT A LIVE SHOW “. IT COULD BE STAGE OR SITUATIONS IN LIFE, NO MATTER WHAT THEY ARE YOU NEED TO HANDLE THEM WITH A CHIN UP, DUST YOURSELF OFF ATTITUDE … THAT’S HOW YOU PERSEVERE IN LIFE.
RM: This is kind of a loaded question, but who are you looking forward to seeing most at Knotfest this upcoming October? How many times have you guys had the opportunity to play Knotfest before; and what’s the best part about that whole experience for the artists?
DFF: NAH IT’S NOT A LOADED QUESTION AT ALL, AND I CANT JUST NAME ONE OR TWO BANDS. I THINK ALOT OF THOUGHT WENT INTO THE CHOOSING OF ALL THE BANDS AND IT’S A GREAT LINE-UP.
THAT BEING SAID I’LL HAVE MANY FRIENDS TO CATCH UP WITH THAT DAY FOR SURE AND IM TAKING MY WIFE AND KIDS SO THEY EACH HAVE THEIR FAVORITE BANDS THEY WANT TO SEE.
NO, WE HAVE NEVER PLAYED KNOTFEST; IT’S A PLEASURE TO BE ASKED.
RM: How does the material that the band has been writing over the past year differ from the songs on “Winter Kills”? Is there anything that you want to do musically on the next record that you feel you didn’t get the chance to fully expand on during the production of that album?
DFF: IT’S WAY TOO EARLY TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION, BUT YOU CAN BE ASSURED THAT WHATEVER WE DO WILL AGAIN DIFFER FROM PREVIOUS RECORDS. MUSICALLY ITS ABOUT PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF NOT ONLY THE BAND BUT THE LONG TIME LISTENER . THOSE WHO FOLLOW DEVILDRIVER EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.
RM: You have three sons now, and you’ve stated in interviews that you want to keep your kids “as far away from this lifestyle as I possibly can”…Since Simon already has a vocal credit to his name, if he or one of your other children decided to pursue the rock n’ roll lifestyle what would be the best piece of advice that you could give them as adults? Is your desire to keep them away from the lifestyle mostly based on their current ages; or given what you’ve seen go on in your many years on the road?
DFF: MY SONS ARE 17-20-23 THIS YEAR, THEY ARE ALL GOOD MEN AND MAKE GOOD DECISIONS . MY ADVICE IVE ALWAYS RAISED THEM WITH IS FOLLOW YOUR HEART , BE A SQUARE GUY IN BUSINESS AND BE SOMEONE YOUR TRUE FRIENDS CAN COUNT ON … AS WELL AS ” TAKE NO SHIT FROM ANYONE .” EVER …
MY OLDEST TYLER IS A SHREDDING GUITAR PLAYER AND PLAYED WITH DEVILDRIVER AT A SOLD OUT SHOW AT LA HOUSE OF BLUES. MY YOUNGEST SIMON IS AN INCREDIBLE DRUMMER AND WILL DEFINITELY BE IN THE ARTS. MY MIDDLE SON IS GOING TO BE A DOCTOR.
I DO NOT LIVE IN HOLLYWOOD, I KEEP A VERY NORMAL LIFE FOR MYSELF AND MY CHILDREN. I’M VERY PRIVATE, AM RARELY BACKSTAGE OR AT THE BAR, I PREFER THE COMPANY OF A FEW CLOSE FRIENDS/CREW OR MY FAMILY. I’M SOCIALLY AWKWARD AND HAVE NEVER BEEN COMFORTABLE IN GROUPS OF PEOPLE. MY KIDS HAVE INHERITED THIS AND ARE VERY PRIVATE AS WELL; THIS SERVES THEM WELL AS THEY GO INTO THE WORLD.
GB: What made you decide to cover “Sail”?
DFF: IVE HAD A.D.D MY WHOLE LIFE, SO I CONNECTED WITH THE LYRICS AS WELL WANTED TO COVER SOMETHING MORE CURRENT SINCE WEVE COVERED A TON OF METAL ETC I LIKE TO TAKE ON DIFFERENT PROJECTS WITH DOING A COVER .
RM: How did you come to be interested in playing the Native American Flute? Do you view that instrument as something that exists separate from heavy metal; or do you think that you will eventually be able to work it into Devildriver similar to the way Jethro Tull was able to work the flute into some of their records in the 1970s?
DFF: IT’S TOTALLY SEPARATE FROM MY METAL ROOTS OF COURSE, BUT I ALSO LISTEN TO EVERYTHING FROM BLACK SABBATH TO BLACK FLAG (PRE HENRY ROLLINS), TO BLACK METAL, BLUES TO BILLIE HOLIDAY. I LOVE CLASSICAL AND JAZZ AS WELL AS NATIVE “SCREAM SINGING” (Look up BLACK LODGE SINGERS)…SO I DIG EVERY GENRE.
I HAVE HAD A CONNECTION WITH THE NATIVE PEOPLE MY WHOLE LIFE, AS WE SPEAK IM HELPING TO START A CHARITY TO HELP SAVE A NAVAJO SCHOOL AT WINDOW ROCK, WITH ANY LUCK THIS WILL HELP THEM. IVE BEEN ASKED BACK TO THE NAVAJO NATION CAPITAL TO ACCEPT A FLAG IN MY HONOR FROM THE ELDERS, THIS MEANS MORE TO ME THAN ANY GOLD RECORD I HAVE IN MY HOUSE. LIFE IS ABOUT SHAPING YOUR OWN DESTINY AND CHANGING OR HELPING OTHERS IN THE STRUGGLE.
THE SHORT STORY OF HOW I STARTED WAS THAT I BROKE MY MIDDLE FINGER PLAYING WITH MY DOBERMAN , AFTER A SURGERY I WAS TOLD I WOULD NEVER HAVE A GRIP OR BE ABLE TO BEND MY FINGER . WHILE GOING THROUGH NEW MEXICO I BOUGHT MY FIRST FLUTE, NOT ONLY DID LEARNING THE INSTRUMENT TOTALLY REHAB MY FINGER BUT ALSO MY HEART!
I NOW OWN MORE THAT 30 HAND CARVED FLUTES AND HAVE A RECORD CALLED “HIGH DESERT MOON” THAT I RECORDED YEARS AGO .YOU CAN HEAR THIS ONLINE. ONE OF THE SONGS WAS JUST FEATURED IN THE MOVIE “HIGH SCHOOL”.
GB: Is it true that you worked on the early Phil Anselmo side project Viking Crown? When did you first meet Phil; and how important was it to have support from guys like him supporting you who had put in a decade by the time that Coal Chamber released their first album?
DFF: I MET PHIL BEFORE CC WAS EVER SIGNED STOPPING HIM ON THE STREET IN LA AND TELLING HIM ONE DAY I WOULD LIKE TO TOUR WITH HIM , HE SHOOK MY HAND , GAVE ME SOME KIND WORDS …. CUT TO A YEAR LATER COAL CHAMBER WAS PUT ON THE PANTERA TOUR. I WAS ON MY BUS THE FIRST DAY, HE CAME UP ONBOARD, I MOVED MY SHIT OVER TO HIS BUS AND RODE THE REST OF THE TOUR WITH HIM, WEVE BEEN BROS EVER SINCE.
HIS SUPPORT HAS MEANT A GREAT DEAL AS I TOURED THE WORLD SEVERAL TIMES WITH PANTERA AND THE FIRST DEVILDRIVER TOUR EVER WAS WITH SUPERJOINT RITUAL .ONSTAGE HES UNTOUCHABLE. YES, IM ON VIKING CROWN ON 2 SONGS. IT WAS RECORDED IN NOLA IN HIS BASEMENT. BETWEEN TOURS I HAD NO HOME SO I WOULD GO STAY WITH P.A IN NOLA AND ENDED UP LAYING VOX ON VIKING CROWN .THATS WHERE I FOUND MY SCREAMING VOICE SO IT WAS A LEARNING LESSON AND A DAMN GOOD TIME. THAT DUDE IS MY BROTHER!
RM: What’s up next for Devildriver in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
DFF: AFTER KNOTFEST THE WINTER KILLS TOURING WILL WRAP UP. CHANGE IS COMING …I THANK EVERYONE FOR THE SUPPORT! THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME …
Official Website: http://www.devildriver.com/
Devildriver on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DevilDriverOfficial1
Dez on Twitter: https://twitter.com/evilriver
Devildriver on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DevilDriver
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