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DevilDriver – Dez Makes A Run With His Own Band


From the black ashes of Coal Chamber comes ex-front man Dez Fafara like a bullet train. The next stop of his musical journey is DevilDriver, which combines Nu-school brutal groove with black metal guitar riffs in a way that will run you over if you don’t hold your ground. If you’re looking for a band that’s heavy as hell but doesn’t sound like classic old school metal, these guys are for you. We caught up with the humble and down to earth Dez before their Vancouver show, part of their current tour that will bring them to the Ogden this Monday, February 2.

Kaffeine Buzz: I’ve read that you and Evan Pitts (guitarist) got together with him leaving you a note on a napkin in a diner. So how did the rest of the band get together?

Dez: It happened pretty organically…a lot of different people hanging out at my house barbecuing and drinking tequila. The guys were from different smaller bands in the area. They crumbled and came and went, and during all this I was talking to the players trying to get it all together. You never really know if it’s the final lineup in a band until you go on the road for a year; if this is going to be the life for those people. What I did in the beginning is just make sure everyone hung out and got along before anything else, and we did. John Boeklin, the drummer, was originally going to be our second guitar player until he decided to get back behind the kit, because the kid is so good at drumming.

KB: Damn, you’re kidding. He was originally the second guitar player? That’s impressive because I really like his drum style. I definitely think he made the right choice.

Dez: Yea, when he decided to get behind the kit we had to get another guitarist and found Jeff Kendrick, who was friends with John Miller, the bass player. On May 12th, my birthday, I was at this little bar that I go to a lot. At 10:00am in the morning, listening to the jukebox, I called Miller down. We did a bunch of shots of whiskey and I asked him to be in the band right then.

KB: I’m still surprised about John B, because like you said, he is such a badass behind the kit.

Dez: Shit, he’s a badass on guitar too. I firmly believe that he will be bringing a lot to the next album guitar-wise. I have a great bunch of guys behind me now and I really hope this lifestyle is for them. I hope that 5 years from now we will be looking at each other on the tour bus going “Everyone doing alright? Yea? Good, Good.” Everyone’s loving this life so far. We’ve already been out on some significant tours, really traveling across America, and they seem to love it.

KB: So those guys really haven’t done any major touring with the smaller bands they were in before?

Dez: They haven’t done any touring at all. They haven’t even been away from their homes, you know. So it’s bitchin’ that they’re taking to it. Plus, I was used to being on two tour busses and a Mac truck full of equipment. We toured in an RV with Superjoint Ritual for 3 months straight. So the fact that they could take that was cool; it made me view them as pirates.

KB: So tell me a little about the name DevilDriver. Where did that come from?

Dez: We used to be DeathRide, but we had to change that, and quick. The album was about to come out. At points we were in the studio with a hundred names written on a piece of paper and none of them would work. My wife was going through one of our witchcraft books and found it. Italian witches, known as “Strega”, ring their bells to drive away evil and call them “Devildrivers”. So this was just perfect. I was on the phone with Evan when she told me and he loved it. That was it; it really explained what we are, trying not to be like anyone else, in essence, driving away the evil bullshit in the industry. You can look into it as much as you want, ya know. Just a cool name we found in a book, or that perfect name that defines us.

KB: So how do you go about writing your lyrics? What’s a day in the life of Dez when he’s writing?

Dez: Well it strikes me in the weirdest moments. Late at night I’ll just sit and write. I’ll be in a diner and have to grab a napkin and a pen. How I write an actual song is listening to a tape of the music. I have this thing where I can write really quickly and have the song done easily when I’m listening to the music. A lot of the time I just sit and write prose and poetry. Right now I’ve got probably over 400 “songs” that aren’t really in song structure right now. So a lot of the time I’ll go back into those books and pick out what would be perfect for a song that the band has started.

KB: So with John B being a drummer and guitarist, do you guys ever switch up to where each of you will bring in another aspect of a song, like someone bringing you lyrics to build off of?

Dez: I’ve never been one that could sing other peoples lyrics. I just can’t. I suppose if someone brought something in, I would try but I doubt it would work.

KB: I’m sure it has to come from within to really put your all into it.

Dez: Yea, but as far as the music, everyone brings so much to the table. Our bass player also plays guitar, so there you have four guitar players in the band basically. (laughs)

KB: (laughing) So I bet there are a lot of riffs coming in, eh?

Dez: Yea. Evan is up until 5am every night playing his guitar writing riffs. This next album we are really going to step it up a great deal. We want to do 5-7 albums of pure brutality. An album a year, which not a lot of bands do. The next time we record an album we are also going to record a few covers of either heavy songs or crazy classics that we turn into brutal songs. So say you get an album release on January whatever, a few months later you’ll get another EP of 5 or 6 songs you can get into, instead of having to wait a full year for the next full length. The label is 100% behind us in anything we do, so we just want to bring the fucking music, ya know?

KB: Absolutely. That’s what we want to hear. So out of my own personal curiosity, what’s the significance of the face tattoo?

Dez: Well first off I have found that the Maori tribe in New Zealand is really, really cool. Along with other cultures, I find that it’s just really beautiful. That as well as the basic “fuck you” aspect of tattooing your face, it goes along with other aspects of my life, doing what you want to do.

KB: So delving into the music itself, can you tell me a little bit about the track “Swinging the Dead” and what the hell “Rock and Roll Haunted” means?

Dez: (laughs) Good one. “Rock and Roll Haunted” is about a lifetime of touring, which I’ve feel like I’ve already done. “Swinging the Dead” for me is two things. One, its [about] people that are standing in the pit and being dead, not moving; and two, being on a tour bus as long as I have. It’s making myself get up and going, swinging the dead you know, like the words, “get it up, fuck it up.” It’s telling myself, come on lets go!!

KB: How about the track “Revelation Machine”?

Dez: That’s talking about bringing about a new kind of scene, a revelation. Nobody wants to be inside one barrier like, “I’m only black metal” or “I’m only death metal.”
That sucks to be stuck in one little area. It’s just about bringing something different.

KB: I think lyrically one of my favorite songs on the album is “I Dreamt I Died”. I love the line “Greeted by a man Saint someone, said how’s the ride son? / It’s been alright, at times a little rough, why am I here? / You did alright, lived a little dark and that’s alright / ‘Cause we made the darkside and the lightside, so have no fear.” I was wondering if you really dreamed that or is it just a story about a possible dream?

Dez: I actually did. I woke up about 3:30 in the morning and went out into the living room, lit a bunch of candles and wrote most of it down. I went back to bed, read it the next day and most of it was there, so I finished it in the studio.

KB: So you have a wife and kids. Tell me how it works having a family and being on the road so much.

Dez: Well my family knows what I do. I don’t know how it works, it just does. Touring is in my blood as much as having a family. We just try to make it work as much we can. I spend as much time at home as I possibly can when I’m not touring. Otherwise I make sure I’m in constant contact with my family when I’m on the road. Nothing is going to change anytime soon. I’ll be on the road for the next 10 years straight probably and my family understands that.

KB: Well, you have to stay on the road when you have more of an underground metal band, not having that radio hit to bring in money.

Dez: Yea, and I refuse to make something just to have a radio hit. I’d rather make something from my heart. And I love touring man. Half of me can sit on my floor and play Legos with my 6 year old, and the other half of me is the pirate that has to be on the road with a bottle of rum in my hand going nuts every night. It’s a weird diversity I know, but I just have to work it out.

KB: Well I caught you guys at the small show in Ft. Collins at the Starlight with Superjoint Ritual and I could tell that you were really having a good time on stage. It was like you finally had the band together that you wanted after being in the trenches for the past ten years with Coal Chamber. You really were enjoying what you’re doing, which you don’t always see a lot in bands that tour constantly.

Dez: I’m having a great time up there; my microphone is my psychiatrist (laughs). And I have found a group of guys to play music and that’s all I ever want to do. I am a lot happier in this project. I sacrificed a lot of money and commercial success to do something that made me happy and is a little more of where my heart is at. People have been accepting it and I say thanks to all of them. I’m going to keep bringing it.

KB: To be more on the underground side of things, I think you guys have done really well with your first tour. You’re getting a lot of good press and are getting the name out really well so far.

Dez: Thanks. The album has only been out a little while now and it’s done over 30,000, which isn’t too bad without radio airplay. People are buying it and coming to the shows, so it’s a great thing. I worked hard to make sure I can make the transition go down properly. In my previous band I was the heavier element. Now I’m going where my heart is and I hope the other guys from Coal Chamber are going where their hearts are, giving those fans more to listen to as well.

KB: One thing that really interests me in my reading on Coal Chamber was, you said a Democracy didn’t work in that band and that DevilDriver is more of a Monarchy of sorts, with you being the lead. Why do you think that way?

Dez: Well in Coal Chamber, we were such different people that I don’t know how we did anything cohesive in the first place. We were never in the studio together writing or recording. It was very strange how that band worked. Even in a band that is a democracy, someone will have to initiate the right thing to do. Of course in DevilDriver, I take into consideration everything of what the others think. At this point in my life, I’m taking responsibility for the other people that are responsible for what goes on in my life; make sense? I can’t have anyone ever dictate to me again what I should play or sing, what tours we should do, anything. So I’m the final word on things. But you know, the band thinks that I am a great leader and I feel like to be a great leader you have to be a great listener. These guys are really easy to lead because they are really easy to listen to. No one has any big wants; all they want to do is play heavy music, that’s what we all want so it works.

KB: So you’re not a dictator to the point where if someone is really against something, that you would make them do it regardless?

Dez: Well that’s tricky and it all depends. I do what is good for the band as a whole, not myself, my ego or anyone else in the band individually. I come from the most humble place, but I do have the final say. For example, if no one would have wanted to do the Superjoint tour, which of course they did and were all freaked out (laughs), but if they hadn’t, I would have put my foot down and said we were going to do it. It would have been the best decision for the band. It really depends on what the circumstance is. I run my business extremely level headed where as in Coal Chamber I don’t think that there was one level head that prevailed for eight years.

KB: Can you give any advice to bands that are having personality problems and are in a similar situation as that?

Dez: If you can’t get along with someone that stands next to you on stage, just don’t play music with them, ‘cuz there’s a million other people out there that play music. Don’t waste your time. You know when you’ve been dating a girl for months and you finally come home and realize that it’s not going to work? Man there’s a million girls; go get another one. And listen; don’t sacrifice friendship just to be in a band either. If you’re friends with people, and when you get in a band together, you’re not friends, don’t sacrifice the friendship. Just don’t be in the band. It’s not worth it, and this is why I say that every band should have a leader to make decisions, otherwise decisions won’t get made properly. Everyone will have their own agenda in front of them instead of the good of the whole group, and you can’t have that. You have to think of what’s best of the whole group, and if you are it should be pretty easy to make those decisions.

KB: So are all of those personality differences finally what broke apart Coal Chamber?

Dez: Honestly man, we were just together for a really long time. I had a good time in the band. I got to sing and tour with Ozzy, Nikki Six, Black Sabbath, and Pantera. We toured all over the world playing in front of 15 to 110,000 people. We had a good run. We helped start a whole scene, spawning a lot of other bands. So it is what it is. We had that good run but now its time to move on. I wanted to do something that I could listen to when I woke up in the morning, something more from my own heart and I feel like that’s DevilDriver. I don’t write anything but the lyrics, but when they bring the music and I sort of decide what riffs are used to compliment my singing, especially making sure this shit is brutal.

KB: So a lot of people wonder if you guys are still together and DevilDriver is a side project.

Dez: No, Coal Chamber is absolutely not together. We will probably never speak or play another show together. It’s done. It had its time in the sun and was great while it lasted, but its time to go about my life now, and I don’t mind answering stuff about Coal Chamber because it was such a huge part of my musical career, but its time to move on.

KB: Understood, honestly I tried to put together questions that didn’t mention Coal Chamber, but man it was impossible. I think we just needed a little closure.

Dez: No Problem man.

KB: So what are the future plans for DevilDriver? You guys are such babies in the scene right now, how do you plan to step up?

Dez: We just want to tour our asses off and play with some great bands that we love and get our music out there. We plan on making a second album within a year, we are looking forward to going to Europe, and there is talk of some other big tours coming this summer. We’re on the perfect tour right now because we are doing six nights in a row with one night off, so that’s the kinda shit we are looking for. We’ve got 40 days on, and five days off and we love it. We’ve all got it in our blood. That’s what we established early on, making sure everyone is all about touring. I love the road and I’m addicted to people every night. I’ve got to have a microphone in my hand, you know how it is when you get three or four shows in a row and you get in the groove, I love that feeling.

KB: Well do what you want to do because a lot of people out there are digging it. Any closing thoughts?

Dez: Yea if anyone is in Denver the night before we play, Hank Williams III will be performing at the Ogden, so definitely come check that out. He first does this set where he is like his grandfather, but I think it’s better because he’s such an outlaw. Then he goes into this set called “Assjack,” which is this heavy metal shit and it is impressive, to say the least.

KB: Right on, well have a great show in Vancouver. We’ll see you in February at the Ogden.

DevilDriver will be at the Ogden Theatre on Colfax on Monday Feb 2nd with Opeth and Moonspell. For more info check out or, where you can also view their debut video, “I Could Care Less”.


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