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Interviews   

Dez Fafara (DevilDriver) has coffee with his ex


However firm you can be about the impossibility of your old band ever reforming, of ever playing this or that song or of seeing this or that musician ever returning, a door always remains open. History has proven this fact many a time, to the great displeasure of those who have absolutely no desire to yield and really never will, and who are still condemned to being asked the question anyway, “just in case”. Too strong an assertion would be seen as an emotional reaction and lose any credibility. Too composed a statement would create another type of reaction: “There’s no animosity between them, so it is possible!” In the end, it’s probably best not to say anything. But even then…

Because some separations happen in a very emotional context, it is logical that some bands should declare, driven by their current anger, that they will never reform. But after this legitimate and rational reaction, you start seeing things differently.

It’s the case for Dez Fafara and Coal Chamber, who intend to give a few shows at the beginning of 2012. Although Devildriver is now his priority and he remains adamant regarding his desire to not take on too much, the following statement during the present interview is slightly more moderate: “I want to go on a date with this girl. I want to have a drink with her and see how it goes. I’ll treat her to dinner in Australie and if all goes well, maybe we can see each other again”. You know as well as we do, dear readers, that sometimes, a simple cup of coffee with an ex can get out of control… More seriously, if Dez rejects the possibility of Coal Chamber going back to the studio, it seems likely that few show in 2012 shall not be the last.

Among the information gathered during this interview, conducted on the occasion of Devildriver’s tour as Machine Head’s opening act, there’s the fact that the band have already started to write a new album, and a few hints regarding Dez’s collaboration with Mark Morton (Lamb Of God), where the frontman will evolve in a different vocal range, close to that of… Soundgarden!

(Note : about the release of a live DVD) « We’ve tried to get the record company to do it for years. They don’t wanna do it, so we can’t do it. »

Radio Metal: How is the tour going?

Dez Fafara (vocals): The tour’s going amazing. Machine Head’s been treating everybody really well, the shows have been great.

Why didn’t you decide to promote your new album Beast with a headlining tour?

We’ve toured Europe a lot and the fact is – it’s a very blunt fact – that it would take another 5 or 6 years to headline a tour in front of that many people. Machine Head had the slot open and we knew that it was gonna be great: I’ve toured with them before with Coal Chamber and I know what Machine Head can do when they check a band out. For instance tonight is over 5 000 people. To play in front of that many people is why we’re not being headliners right now. We’re playing with Machine Head and we’ll be coming back with new festivals. It’s time to grow the band and play in front of different people.

Will you organize a headlining tour after the tour with Machine Head?

We’ll come back over for festivals in June and July and we don’t know what the headlining situation is right now, we’re working on that, and deciding if we’re gonna come back in the fall or not… We’ll see.

By the way, DevilDriver is a pretty efficient band on stage. The band never released a live dvd or a live cd yet… Why is that? Have you planned to do it soon?

On a special edition of Beast is a 3 hours making-of that takes you all the way back to the first record, all the way on tour through Beast. So it is a live dvd, but however it’s not a camera-filmed live dvd. We’ve tried to get the record company to do it for years. They don’t wanna do it, so we can’t do it. We’re owned and operated by Roadrunner Records at this point.

DevilDriver has recently recorded a cover of the song “Holier Than Thou” on the tribute album for Metallica’s Black Album. What does this Metallica album represent for you ?

Early Metallica especially is a lot of our favorite music. It’s some of my favorite stuff. Ride The Lightning is one of my favorite records of all time. To cover something from a Metallica record, to be given the opportunity by the record label to go in the studio and do that was great. It’s fun to step outside yourself and we did a great job and the people are really coming to the table with positive responses so we’re grateful for the record company for giving us the money to do it and I think the band did a wonderful job.

You’ve just said that Metallica is one of your favorite bands, so I have to ask: what do you think about Metallica’s collaboration with Lou Reed?

I haven’t heard it. I’m not really a fan of new Metallica. I’m a fan of old Metallica.

« It’s quite easy now that I’m older, now that I can really take a look at the world, at the people around me, people who’re friends, people who aren’t friends, people who have fucked me over the years, and people that have been with me over the years… It’s very easy to take all that and put something together. »

You’ve been into music your entire life, since you’re a kid. When you’re doing it for so long, how do you manage to not let this become a routine ?

You know, everyday is a new day and something different. New venue, new people, new experience… So really it doesn’t get old, I don’t think you’re wearing out the experience. The circumstances change from day to day, show to show, and that’s what keep us fresh.

You declared in an interview in Lithium Magazine that it’s easier to write agressive music when you are a grown man than when you are a teenager, because when you are twenty, you write angry music because you are twenty. Do you think then that the violence in young band’s music is superficial?

No, I don’t judge any art, it being superficial or not. Who am I to judge any other person’s music, you know what I mean? The question was “is it easier or harder to write aggressive music now that you’re older?”, and I said it’s quite easy now that I’m older, now that I can really take a look at the world, at the people around me, people who’re friends, people who aren’t friends, people who have fucked me over the years, and people that have been with me over the years… It’s very easy to take all that and put something together. For me what’s happening with emotion, either it be anger or either it not be anger, is just easier now that I’m older for sure.

Actually the DevilDriver’s Facebook page is very active, so it is on Twitter… How do you manage to decide how often you have to post in order to be active without becoming too invasive or boring?

Well, we just post whenever there’s something to post, if there’s a new show or a new something going on… Me on Twitter I most of all just talk constantly. People hit me up, I talk to the fans, I’m very in connection with our fans. It’s an important part to have that connection. That’s the good thing about social media. The bad thing about social media is many other things as well but as I said I don’t have a personnal Facebook or Myspace but I do have a Twitter.

It has been announced that you will be on the next Soulfly album as a guest. What can you tell us about this collaboration, who got this idea?

Working with Max Cavalera is just a pleasure. He’s a great guy. I’ve known him for years, I’ve known his family for years, I love him and his children and his wife, they’re great people. I have a lot of admiration for him. I’m a huge Sepultura fan as well as a Soulfly fan. I was in Arizona, he called me, he said “I have a song, let’s do it”, and we’ve been together for about 5 hours, we wrote a song from start to finish on vocals together and I actually finished the whole thing. It was amazing working with him

You will also work with Lamb Of God’s guitarist Mark Morton.

With Mark [Morton] from Lamb Of God… Well that was both of us. We just have a lot of common influences away from heavy metal like Soundgarden, a band called Trouble, Circus Of Power… So he started sending me songs and now we’ve got almost ten to fourteen songs. There’s no screaming, I’m singing more like Chris Cornell, very high, almost with a classic rock influence, and the songs are amazing. We don’t know what we’re gonna do with them, if they’re gonna see the light of day but we actually had a conversation about that last night before and in the morning he was texting me. So we’ll see what comes to life with it, but it’s wonderful working with Mark, he’s a great artist, he has a lot of great ideas, and he’s a very close friend of mine. I adore him and his family.

« Most of the music from that era has really held up, some of the biggest bands of the planet are from that era, from the era when Coal Chamber was around. »

That’s a busy schedule. Can you just give us an update on what you’ll be doing after the Machine Head tour and how you’re gonna organize yourself?

Well DevilDriver’s doing 45 minutes every night, so we pretty much just punch out the songs without a lot of talking. We just wanna give it to you, give it to you fast, and give it to you hard, you know what I mean? And then we go home in two weeks for Christmas. After that I’ll go with Coal Chamber for Soundwave in February, then in March DevilDriver is going to tour in the United States with a really good package. So there’s no stop in sight for DevilDriver. We’re gonna tour until mid to late next year, then we’ll start thinking about a record. We usually record every two years with DevilDriver but I think it’s gonna be a little more this time, because the tour is more extensive. As you know we played more shows per years than any other heavy metal band on the planet. So we’re gonna see what’s gonna be happening with the new record. We’re already writing.

In June 2005, you stated that Coal Chamber’s hiatus was permanent and that the band would not be reforming at any time in the future. You also described a reformation as “like repeating the 4th grade again”. What made you change your mind? Was the show of 2008 with them a starting point?

What happened is when I left the band we were all on drugs really bad. I left the band because of it. Then in 05 Meegs [Rascon] came up and apologized to my wife and children at a party, at a show in Los Angeles and I thought that was really a big one of him. In 09 Meegs came up with Devil Driver and did Loco, you can youtube it, and after that he said “look, I really want to do this”, and I said “if you guys stay off of hard drugs, I would love to do a few shows”. And that being said now in 2012 we’re gonna go over and we’re gonna do shows in Australia and see how it goes. For me, it was a big part of my life, and a big part of a lot of people’s life. Most of the music from that era has really held up, some of the biggest bands of the planet are from that era, from the era when Coal Chamber was around. If you look at Slipknot, Coal Chamber took Slipknot on their first US tour ever, System Of A Down, they opened for Coal Chamber for the first three years before they ever had a record deal, I can go on and on… Disturbed opened for Coal Chamber in Chicago everytime we came through before they had a record deal… It feels like the appropriate time to revise up the music. I wanted to do it before we all get older, and since we’re off of hard drugs it’s gonna be fine to see them on a hundred percent on stage.

« Right now DevilDriver is my life and I just want to date Coal Chamber for a while. I want to date the girl. I want to take her out for drinks and I want to see how she does. That’s really what’s happening, you know. I’m taking her out for wine and dine in Australia and if it goes well we might talk about doing other shows but for now, there is no talk of that. »

Coal Chamber is just supposed to play live for a few shows. You declared that you won’t even want to talk about the idea of recording an album. Why not? Is it because you don’t want to or because you think that you won’t have the time to do it?

You know at this point right now DevilDriver is my life and I just want to date Coal Chamber for a while. I want to date the girl. I want to take her out for drinks and I want to see how she does. That’s really what’s happening, you know. I’m taking her out for wine and dine in Australia and if it goes well we might talk about doing other shows but for now, there is no talk of that. Offers from different records companies have come to the table but with the DevilDriver record coming out as well, I don’t want to spread myself too thin. I don’t wanna become the artist that has two bands, numerous side-projects, and goes solo, skipping gigs… I don’t wanna be that kind of artist. DevilDriver is my world, the other things that I do it’s because I like to be busy. If I’m home for more than three weeks, I’ve got to put myself in a studio, that’s why I did this stuff with Mark Morton or the collaborations with Soulfly, it’s all because I like to stay busy. That being said, taking on a new Coal Chamber record when I have a DevilDriver record to write would be just too much work at that point. And I wouldn’t wanna do it half-assed, I wanna do it full-on.

In your career you always wanted DevilDriver no to be associated with Coal Chamber. I guess now that the band has been reformed, all those efforts are ruined?

No, it’s just two different monsters. DevilDriver is a totally different beast than what Coal Chamber is. Coal Chamber is inspired more by goth music, goth and old punk and things like this, and DevilDriver has many different influences as well. And I think it’s important that when I started DevilDriver I didn’t range my success on the fact that I was in a previous successful band. You know, I just said “look, it’s a different monster completely so let’s move forward.” That being said, when I look back at the music, a lot of it holds up. I just got an email this morning from Monty Conner, the guy who signed both Coal Chamber and DevilDriver for Roadrunner Records, saying he was listening to Dark Days from Coal Chamber this morning and that he loves the record, that it held up, that the music held up over the time, so… That being said I take everything in consideration and all the things in life can change due to circumstances.

Interview conducted on november 23th, 2011, by phone.

Transcription : Chloé

Devildriver’s website : www.devildriver.com

Coal Chamber’s website : www.myspace.com/coalchambermusic



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