DEVILDRIVER’S DEZ FAFARA CHECKS IN FROM THE ROAD
When DevilDriver front man Dez Fafara called me this past Friday following a tumultuous, multi-day bus ride between stops on the band’s current tour with Suffocation, Goatwhore and Thy Will Be Done, I was expecting him to be an exhausted mess. But a decade and half of the touring life has made him a hardened veteran, and he clearly hasn’t lost any of his passion for playing live – clearly still riding high on the success of 2009’s Pray for Villains, Dez sounded like he was ready to jump on stage at any second. DevilDriver shows are a full-contact sport with Fafara presiding as the main instigator, and it’s clear that the man loves his job.
After the jump, get Dez’s thoughts on this tour, being away from his family while he’s on the road, a preview of the band’s current set list, and some news on the next DevilDriver album,which he hopes to have out by this time next year at latest. Phew!
Hey, Dez. How are you?
Good, man. We’ve been running through the mountains here. We just got into Colorado.
You just got there?
Yeah. We’ve been driving for two days.
That’s crazy, man. Other than that, how’s the tour going?
The tour is amazing, man. We picked a bunch of good bands. Everybody compliments each other and been hanging out. The shows have been really killer. The night before last was just off the hook.
Where was that?
Vancouver. It was unreal.
Was it just the crowd, or…?
Yeah, yeah. Unreal. The amount of stage diving… it was unbelievable, man.
So the bill is you guys, Suffocation, Goatwhore, and Thy Will Be Done…
That’s four very different bands. Do you find the crowd reacts well to every band?
It’s been a diverse crowd, and everybody stays until the very end. It seems to be working incredibly well. Like I said before: I think the bands compliment each other very well, man.
That’s cool, man. You said that everyone is getting along. Are there any fun road stories yet? Any debauchery?
[laughs] We’re only about five or six days in [to the tour], so nothing really. We’re still kind of meeting everybody and hanging out and doing shows. No real road stories at this point.
I’m sure you’ll have some by the end of the tour. Now you guys have four albums now. How long do you play every night?Forty-five minutes? An hour?
An hour and ten, an hour and fifteen minutes.
So how do you go about picking a set list at this point?
During our touring process, we’ve become aware of whichs songs are the stand-outs, which ones people wanna hear. We know what works live and what doesn’t. We try to throw other stuff in that we haven’t played as well. We tend to go back over the last records and choose what we know is going to work, and then we throw some other little things in there as well.
So do you guys have any little surprises for us on this tour?
Well we’ve been playing “I’ve Been Sober,” and that’s really fun. We’re playing “Back With a Vengance” even though we’re going on after Suffocation. So we’re taking some chances, we’re putting ourselves out there.
You’ve been touring for how many years now, between DevilDriver and Coal Chamber?
Oh… since ’95, ’96.
So you must really like being on the road…
I do, man. I logged a lot of hours, and I enjoy it. The road suits me well. I don’t see myself taking any serious time off at this point right now.
Yeah. What do you do about your family? I know you got a wife and kids at home…
They understand. My wife has the life of a wife of a sailor. She met me while I was already doing this, so she understands. And my kids understand. They’re proud. They’re music fans. When I come home, it’s a big deal. We hang out and have a good time as a family.
Awesome. To switch gears a little… Pray for Villains has been out now about six months. How are you feeling about it six months in?
Unbelievable, man. The accolades that have come down for this record are just unbelievable. We haven’t really paused and taken time to take the notice too much, but it’s really felt within the camp that our work is paying off and our music is getting through to people – not only critics, but everybody else. We’re just going to keep staying on our same path and make sure we keep defining our sound and stay away from what everybody else is doing.
From album to album, do you guys go in with a conscious goal that this is what we want to achieve this time out or is it a fly by the seat of your pants type thing?
Totally organic. Whatever we start writing, we start writing. That’s the way it’s always been. I think anytime you make a conscious effort to divert from someone else’s sound or what’s going on, you almost end up going into something else. We write what we like. We write what we know our fans are going to like. We write for DevilDriver. You know?
Right on. What about from tour to tour? How do you keep challenging yourself after all this time as a performer?
Well, I think pushing yourself for an hour and fifteen minutes every night kind of shows that I do [push myself], and the kind of shows that this band does are extremely energetic. With the amount of days and the amount of touring that we do, you got to keep throwing in different songs and you mix it up a little bit and that’s another push. Everything has its little edge.
Got it. It seems like you guys have an album out ever two years.
Yeah you got to, you got to, you got to . . .
You just put out an album last year, and I read in an interview somewhere where you’re going to have another one in 2010. Is that right?
Yeah. We’re going in [to the studio] in April or May. We don’t know if it’s going to be released in October 2010 or January 2011, but either way ,we’re going to get it out within two years.
How do you keep up that schedule? Do you guys ever run out of ideas?
We’re just always writing. As soon as we’re done with the records, we’re writing. I’m constantly writing. I’ve got hundreds of songs that’ll never see the light of day. It’s important to be prolific and proficient.
I don’t know how old you are, but when I was a kid I got a record every single year. If I didn’t, what was going on with that band? Usually a record a year is kind of standard. Nowadays, band deviate. They wait three, four, five years. They’re touring three to five years on one record. It doesn’t make sense to me. You can always manage to get into the studio for a month or two, record a record, and get it out for fans. Fans don’t want to listen to the same record for three years straight, man. If that ever happens with DevilDriver, it’s because we need a significant amount of time off.
Well, I appreciate it as a DevilDriver fan.
Cool, man. I think Tool can do that [take that much time in-between records]. [laughs]
Right. But that’s a whole other story.
Yeah, I like Maynard. I like that band.
Well of course. When you say that you have hundreds of songs stored up that’ll never be heard, do you ever think about starting another project on top of DevilDriver?
My focus has to be on DevilDriver at this point right now. That’s the bottom line. I’ve had a lot of opportunities with people that want to jam and other things, but my focus has to be on DevilDriver at this point.
Right on. Alright, just one more and I’ll let you go. I know you got a lot to do today. This is a completely silly one: I know that you’re something of a wine aficionado.
I know nothing about wine. Where would be a good place to start learning?
Go to Italian wines. Go to Sangiovese.
Great grape. You’ll like that.
I appreciate it. Anything you want to add for the MetalSucks’ readers?
Come out to the DevilDriver show and come have a good time. This tour especially, because this is a great time to come and see a bunch of good bands all the way from Thy Will Be Done on up. Everybody is hanging out and having a good time. Come shake our hand. Come on out.
You heard the man. Get DevilDriver tour dates.