Interview: Dez Fafara of DevilDriver
After what seems like an eternity, US metal icons DevilDriver are finally returning to Australia to appease their rabid legions. It’s been five long years since the band last headlined here and Dez and the boys are primed and ready to make up for lost time! Armed with their latest release, Outlaws ‘Til The End: Vol. 1, and a back catalogue of face melting, circle pit inducing anthems, DevilDriver in 2019 are as barbaric as ever and will be on point to deliver the goods in a big ole barrel of heavy metal moonshine! Adding fuel to the DevilDriver fire, All That Remains, will be bringing a set heavily focused on most recent album, Victim Of The New Disease, which was released in November 2018. We caught up with the mighty frontman himself, Dez Fafara, just weeks before they destroy our stages with the chaos that is DevilDriver!
Hey Dez, thanks for taking the call today, how are you doing man?
I'm doing very well thank you man, just doing these interviews and packing for another tour which is good timing. I am extremely excited to get back to your beautiful country and play some shows for our great fans.
Very good. We are really looking forward to having you guys back that's for sure. It's been long overdue it feels like since the last time DevilDriver was here actually.
Absolutely, it’s been almost 5 years. I mean the reason was we were supposed to do a festival that cancelled out on everybody like a year or 2 ago and it kind of left the fans hating it and really left the DevilDriver camp bummed out. So 5 years it’s been and now here we come to headline and bringing proper support with All That Remains. The band is on fire, the setlist is blistering and we’re coming down to burn it down.
Will you guys been playing a bit of everything from your catalogue? Any new stuff or some nice little surprises perhaps?
Man let me tell ya, there’s a lot of little surprises in there let’s just say that. Some surprises from my past, some Outlaw surprises. I’m not going to be able to say the first 8 or 9 songs, it’s just going to be blistering and on fire. We’ve kind of created that set specifically for Australia so I think people that are coming down are going to have a great time, they’re going to get some good music plus the favorites they want to hear like “Clouds Over California."
Can you talk a bit about the 'Outlaws Till The End' album? How did the concept for that come about? Well, I knew that it was going to be three years between records. And I wanted to do something special. Here in America, if you say, you go to a show, and you go to a SLAYER show and you're tailgating outside and people are barbequeing, you're going to hear Slayer into Johnny Cash into Pantera into Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, nobody even bats an eye. I mean, those outlaws that outlaw country music, old Hank Williams, stuff like that is really thought of as heavy. It can go along with heavy metal very well. And it has never been done proper. It has never been really done putting those things together. As a matter of fact, I had a lot of people reach out and tell me that it would be bad for my brand if I tried to tackle this, but I said I'm going to do it. And we started getting all these guests man John Carter Cash, the son of Johnny Cash, Hank III, Wednesday 13, Randy from Lamb Of God like I could go Burton C. Bell from Fear Factory. I mean, I can go down the line on on the amount of guests were on that thing you know, I mean, I worked with Lee Ving, from FEAR, who was my, my childhood like fucking idol. I ran away from home at 15 with a FEAR shirt on. So I said look, I'm going to try something and even though people are telling me that it's dangerous to do that gives me a bit of a bigger middle finger completely. Now looking back, man, that think came out high charted, sold a lot. Nine out of 10, 10 out of 10. So, you know, with art, anything that's pure art, you kind of gotta stick to your guns, do it for the reasons you want to do it. And that's and that's that, you know,
We’ve always enjoyed you guys down here in Australia, you’ve had some great times over the years. It’s interesting how you’ve mentioned creating a setlist for Australia, is that something you do quite often when touring different countries?
I do but there’s some songs that we gotta play and there’s other songs that we want to play, so we gotta put those setlists together and it’s fun to do when you’re going different places obviously. So like when we went to Japan, it was our first time headlining and we had to play a lot of the stuff that was just extremely popular rather than kind of come out of pocket, put one or two odd ones in there and that’s exactly what we’re getting ready to do in Australia. Give you guys some kind of signature groove but then also give you a little taste of some different stuff as well.
Yeah I guess with each new album you guys put out, that must be more and more difficult these days to put a setlist together?
You know, it is but they all kind of raise their head right, they really do. As we’re starting to look at what we’re going to play off of new records or old records, they all kind of raise their head. Somebody in the band will say, ‘Hey let’s play this, we haven’t played this in a while’, or, ‘Let’s play that, we haven’t played that in a while’. So we’ll add one or two of those in for sure and then put in a couple of other little surprises but we’re definitely ready to come down! I mean I’m sitting here packing right now, because I’m going to be out in the United States for almost 6 weeks and it’s almost sold out so coming home for a week or 2 after that and then boom, straight over to see you guys. So first it was Japan, now it’s the United States and then next on the hit list is Australia.
Nice! I wanted to ask you about that North American tour, you guys are touring with Static-X and Wednesday 13 right?
Yeah a lot of people don’t know that I knew Static-X back in the day and gave them to the people that gave them their first record deal. So when Wayne passed away it was a big deal for me, I think “”Wisconsin Death Trip” is an amazing record, it was one of the best records of that time period. I think the band is doing it right, they’re paying homage to Wayne and doing it right. We also managed the project at the Oracle management so I’m honoured to be part of that and bring this music back. You had it with AC/DC right? You had it with a lot of bands, when the singer dies does the band go away? Or do they come out and do a proper tribute and do it right and bring the music back. So these cats are doing it the right way, Static-X is coming down to see you guys as well so I’d tell you to get out there and go to those.
Yeah absolutely, looking forward to that as well. Funnily enough they are actually touring at the same time as you guys in Australia so I don’t know if you are teaming up together or what but it’s the exact same dates.
Well we’re doing the United States together and we’re not really taking it around the world together. They’re going to do their own thing in the UK and Europe and Russia, they’re going to do their own thing in Australia. I think it’s important for them to come out and do their own thing, the reason I’m even linked in to this thing at all and the reason I’m allowing them to close out of respect for Wayne because DevilDriver is a massive band in the United states, is out of respect. The reason I’m excited to do this as well is I’m doing a few Coal Chamber songs for the first time in almost 20 years with DevilDriver and you should hear “Loco” with two guitar players and double kick drums playing tight, it’s a monster of a song! It went well together so that’s why we’re doing the United States together but as a manager I also told those guys, ‘Look I think you need to go out on your own in these other markets. You need to go prove yourself and come back and give the people what they want’, and they’re getting ready to do that. So definitely go check out Static-X if you can.
It’s such a legacy that Wayne left behind as well and a great band. Care to share any memories of Wayne from over the years that you worked with him at all?
Yeah man it was back in the day when I walked into a small club in Hollywood with about 40 people and I heard 2 or 3 songs from a band that made me just go grab me some Coal Chamber and say, ‘Hey come in here. Don’t hang out at the bar, come in here and look at what’s going on’, and fell in love with the band immediately. Turned them onto the guy who actually helped them get their first record deal, watch them come up and do their thing, watch that record go gold. Watch them slowly slip away into drugs and alcohol and pass away, had a hard cry about it most definitely. You know what, now they’re coming back and doing the right thing. The singer is wearing a half mask over his face with his hair up and everything to embody Wayne, doesn’t really want to talk to anybody or do any press. It’s really all about Wayne, they’re doing it the right way. They’re giving 50 percent of the proceeds to Wayne’s Mom so this thing is a big deal, for me they’re doing it right and I’m proud to be part of it. I’m proud to be manning it, I’m proud to be going out with it in DevilDriver.
It’s great to see and great to see everyone involved in this in putting a nice tribute to a great legacy and a great band as well. Moving back to DevilDriver, I hear you guys are working on some new material for a possible double album, any truth to that at all?
Absolutely. We just finished recording, it’s mastering now. I’m actually going to listen to the first masters tomorrow. We’ve got over 20 songs recorded, we’re going to do a double record staggered release next March and then the following March we’re going to release. The reason is we’re going to be doing a real crazy tour schedule that just started with Japan, we just got home a little less than a week ago. I’m going to be running real strong until late 2022, early 2023, then I’m going to come off a very long self- imposed hiatus which I haven’t taken since 1995 when I started touring with Black Sabbath and Pantera. So I had a real moment of clarity in my backyard about 6 months ago, I’ve been sober for 4 years and I kinda looked at my wife and said, ‘Hey I’m sorry for missing one of our kids’ high school graduations, I’m sorry for missing birthdays and deaths etc etc’, and I said OK that’s it. So I’m going to tour extremely hard until then and I’m going to take a very long vacation and hopefully that vacation finds me coming back to music, if not, we’ll see. So now would be the time to come see DevilDriver for sure.
Yeah definitely. So before you head down to Australia, do you have any last words for the Aussie fans?
Yeah man the thing is this right. Last time we were there I just did an interview where the guy said the whole floor and the whole upstairs was shaking, that’s what we’re looking for. Get your boots on and get ready to mosh. Get ready for complete volatility, this band is on 110 percent right now. We’re ready to come and burn this down and get ready! And I want everybody to come out and get in the pit and make it a ferocious show because I’m looking for this thing, it’s been a while since we’ve been there and everybody is extremely excited.
Watch the official music video for "Ghost Riders In The Sky" below: