Dez Fafara (vocals) – Devildriver

DEVILDRIVER is getting ready to wrap up their touring cycle for Winter Kills as they play some shows in Australia in September and returning home to play KNOTFEST, but frontman Dez Fafara was kind enough to have a conversation and discuss several topics including the passing of Robin Williams, songwriting, his praise of Corey Taylor, and what has kept him going for 20 years now. We pick up as Dez was wrapping up some last minute travel items before heading Down Under.

Q: How has your day been at the Passport Office?

A: Pretty uneventful! Had to sit there and wait to pick a few things up. We’re heading to Australia in September then playing Knotfest in October; it’s going to be great! This is my first vacation in the summer time in about 15 years.

Q: Is that a good vacation for you?

A: Oh dude, come on, I need it! Just hang out with my wife, my kids. Just being off the road and being a normal dad is amazing so I’m having a great time with it. I’ve always been extremely grounded anyways and away from the limelight. I’m an extremely private person. A lot of people tell me often I picked the wrong job because I’m socially awkward, I’m uncomfortable around big groups of people, and I really do keep to myself on the road. I don’t do the backstage thing or any of that. Nothing really changed for me once I got in this industry. I live out in Murrietta, CA, a very small town, everybody knows your name, and I keep myself grounded. I do music for the love of music, the love of traveling, and the love of the stage.

Q: You grew up in Los Angeles didn’t you?

A: Definitely! I ran away from home at 15 and slept under bridges in order to be in bands.

Q: Then you moved to Santa Barbara, CA? Was that to get away from it all?

A: Well what happened was when on my 2nd record when I did the song Shock The Monkey with OZZY, I was leaving his house for dinner and went to the House of Blues early for a cocktail with one of his assistants and ran into a really beautiful woman that was leaving after dinner and turned out that’s my wife and we’ve been together for 16 years so she is why I moved up to Santa Barbara. We spent about 10 years up there. We found a great little place in Murrietta to raise children. The first week we moved here the cops brought my sons home at 9:30 at night for skateboarding because it was too late. I talked to the officer for about an hour and a half because he was in to Free Masonry as well.

Q: It’s interesting you bring up the social awkwardness because something hit my life last week when Robin Williams passed away and the turmoil he had, do you have any insight or thoughts on to him leaving us?

A: Well, what a sad thing. That next morning we woke up and ALADDIN was on TV and we watched it and laughed our asses off and without him this movie would not have been what it was. He must have been extremely distraught and to the point of no help and coming from someone who had a stepfather that put a shotgun in his mouth and commit suicide, it’s like, ‘I get it.’ He thought he was past help. Who knows what goes through a person at that moment? It’s a terrible tragedy! You pray for his family.

Q: It’s interesting as I read something controversial in the LA WEEKLY this week where HENRY ROLLINS is chastising his suicide.

A: Are you kidding me?

Q: No, it’s just came out this week. I’ve been around people that suffer from depression and have social anxieties and I know it’s not always easy for them.

A: It’s not easy at all. I dealt with it all through school. It’s an overpowering thing. No amounts of drugs or booze can take that away from you. The minute I walk into a room with more than 15 people my hands start sweating and I feel like leaving. I hope that Henry gets a lot of flack for that. I can’t get over the fact that Henry Rollins is saying this. Once a mind goes to that point, who knows where the mind is going to go next? Let’s talk about the beautiful things. When an artist dies, there’s something extremely beautiful left behind. He has left such majesty and art. 48 hours after he passed away we watched WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, DEAD POETS SOCIETY, that movie changed my life.

Q: Winter Kills came out, and in my opinion it’s probably the best one yet. And each time you put out an album it’s a step up.

A: Thank You very much! You have to go backwards and realize we were only together for 6 or 7 months before we got our first record deal. So we’ve really been developing and hitting our stride over the records. When we first signed to Roadrunner, I kept telling people the later records would be better because there would be members that would come and go, which happened, and we would also really learn how to write with each other and hone in on our sound. How to make sure we keep to what we’re doing and not follow suit with others and not sound the same. The guys start writing riffs and putting them together, they send them to me and I start arranging, remove riffs that don’t belong, and really find the hook in the song and build. That’s what we’re all about, the groove and the hook. I’ve watched all of the guys around me step up over the years. I’m proud of all of the musicians I’ve played with over the years from COAL CHAMBER and everyone that has come and gone in Devildriver.

Q: Is there anything on the books after Knotfest?

A: No! Nothing past Knotfest! We’re planning on ending the Winter Kills cycle, unless something comes up. Actually somebody gave me a call yesterday about something in February and March for Devildriver that I’m going to consider right now. But as of right now Knotfest is it. And I thank the SLIPKNOT guys for thinking of me. When they actually called me to do this, they wanted Devildriver to do one day and Coal Chamber to do the next which I thought was an awesome idea. But I couldn’t tell them at that point that Coal Chamber was going to be in the studio writing a record. Coal Chamber was the first band to take Slipknot on tour in the United States for two and a half months when Coal Chamber had a gold record. Those guys turning around and putting us on a show here and there. That makes me believe that Corey Taylor thinks about the people that helped him out on the way up so he’s a good dude in my book. I saw those guys come up and do their thing and take over the world. Corey’s keeping his head together and calling on me to do this. That’s the one thing I want printed, “thanks for remembering the people that helped you on the way up.”

Q: You brought up the CC words, you just signed a new record deal for Coal Chamber.

A: Yes! Napalm Records; extremely excited! Also signed with Metal Blade for Australia and Japan and I’m really excited for that pairing. I love Brian Slagel (The Man at Metal Blade), he’s a really intelligent guy and he likes what I’m doing with both bands and we’re friends. We’re very excited. I’m writing now through November. The guys are recording in October and I’m recording in November and hope to be done by the first or second week of December. We’re not sure if it will be out in Spring or in Summer. But I’ve already written 17 songs. How many times do you get to go back in life and revisit that friendship? People don’t realize that I lived in a one bedroom apartment with Meegs, Mikey, and the original bass player. We traded Top Ramen for food. We were starving as a band. Then you get up there, you get gold records, you get money, and some people find drugs and other avenues and that’s exactly what happened and we broke up. It fell apart at the most magical point too, the third record Dark Days. I don’t know how many times in a life you get a change to go back and revisit that. I will tell you that the relationships are far more than mended. They are beautiful between me and everyone in the band. Everyone since has gotten married, has children, really has their head on their shoulders, no hard drugs going on because I said if there were hard drugs I wasn’t going to play in the band. I enjoy an occasional cocktail and I am all for the legalization of marijuana, but don’t bring the hard drugs around because it will ruin the scenario. I feel blessed. I feel like the world is on our side.

Q: In closing, what’s the one thing that has kept you going for 20 years now?

A: The love of the stage. The love of the people. The love of being able to make art. I have a wonderful wife who is my best friend of 17 years who is my rock. When I left Coal Chamber I told her, where do I go from here? I could do a million things that would keep me home with the kids and family and she went, ‘No! This is what you do’ and I got back out in a van and in the RV and I opened up for everybody whoever opened up for me and started the thing with Devildriver and look at us now. You have to love what you do and if you love what you do it’s not work!

Mark Thompson

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