DEVILDRIVER - “Religious People Scare The Hell Out Of Me”
September 1, 2013, a year ago
By Kelley Simms
Whatever success one may achieve in their life, their past is usually linked to it, for better or worse. For instance, current extreme metal band DEVILDRIVER vocalist Dez Fafara will always be linked to COAL CHAMBER, the nü metal band he fronted for ten years. And for Fafara, it was worse before it eventually (just recently) got better.
“Yes, there was some bad blood,” said the straight-talkin’ Fafara. “I left the band because I didn’t want to be around some of the things that were going on in the band. It’s not that I didn’t want to be associated with the music, I just didn’t want to be around the players. But time heals all wounds and Meegs (Rascón) and I have become very close. He’s a completely different dude, as am I, and we both have an appreciation for each other.”
Whether you were a Coal Chamber fan or not, there’s no denying their influence on the ’90s music scene. As much as there were great times with the band, there were tough times too, and Farara had to forget the bad stuff and move on.
“The minute I left Coal Chamber I wanted to forget about it and embrace DevilDriver. As time goes on, you start realizing, maybe it should be revisited. Then you start hearing people all around you telling you that you should revisit it. And you realize that all the bands around that are pretty much the biggest bands in the world right now, all either got taken out by Coal Chamber or got started one way or another around Coal Chamber. We took Slipknot out on their first tour of the U.S. for two months straight when we were growing up and had a following. MACHINE HEAD and SYSTEM OF A DOWN opened for Coal Chamber for years and years before they had a deal. DISTURBED opened up for Coal Chamber every time we came to Chicago before they had a deal.”
In 2011, Fafara and Rascón reconciled and Coal Chamber played some reunion shows. “Over the course of the year we did 11 days in Australia, nine days in South America a month in the States and about three and a half weeks in the UK and Europe. And it was great. People embraced it, I embraced it and now it’s time to get into DevilDriver mode.”
DevilDriver is in full-swing now with Winter Kills hitting the streets (release date August 27) and its subsequent European summer festival appearances followed by the recently-announced two-month North American co-headlining tour with TRIVIUM. In addition to Winter Kills being the band’s first album with Napalm Records, Fafara boldly states, “This is our best record. If you’re a DevilDriver fan, you’re going to love it. If you’re not a DevilDriver fan, this one may turn you around. If you’ve never heard of us, this would be a great way to start, then you can go back with our catalog and find out what’s going on.”
The 11 tracks that grace Winter Kills are heavy, down-tuned chuggers with bursts of melody. The music was recorded at Audiohammer Studios in Sanford, Florida, while Fafara recorded his vocals in his home.
“All I had to do was call vocalbooth.com and they sent me a vocal booth and I had some dudes put it together. I got black carpet and painted the walls all black and got some orange furniture and stuck black Baphomet candles all over the walls and got a vibe and I didn’t have to worry about somebody else catching my vibe for me. Nowadays, you don’t need the million-dollar board to record on. My producer rolls in all his gear and he came in with a little rack and set it up in an hour and, boom, we were tracking. I was getting very unfocused with making records (in the studio) so I found that making records at home made me so dead-focused. The work was getting done quicker because I was so focused. I like to be prolific and proficient. Lazy is something I’m not, so the home studio works great for me.”
This was also great because Fafara was able to be around his family more often, including his three boys. Having an Italian upbringing, family is very important to Fafara. His biological father was a child actor who played Tooey Brown on the iconic late ’50s/early ’60s TV show, Leave It To Beaver. The roles are somewhat reversed now as Fafara’s own kids are growing up with a famous dad.
“I didn’t actually grow up with a famous dad. My mom married a couple of times and a couple of those dudes knocked me around. One of them committed suicide. I had a trippy upbringing. I knew what he did but I didn’t really get it until I was in my teens but still didn’t really care, but then I started to understand that it’s probably one of the most iconic shows in TV history. I’m proud of my pops and he’s proud of me. I actually never really hung out with him until I was 13. We’ve become friends now and we go to Italian restaurants and drink wine and close it down and my wife has to come pick me up! It’s a good time to reminisce with him and hear about all his old Hollywood stories. My kids have never been surrounded by the rock star guy, they’ve always just had dad there, I’ve always been there for them even when I’m on tour. I’m like a wolf when it comes to my family, you just don’t fuck with my family.”22:43
Some of the subject matter on Winter Kills represent a lot of recent hardships in Fafara’s life, as well as his relatives and friends’ lives.
“I tried to talk about everything from the metaphysical to the spiritual to everyday life problems. Everything from dealing with ‘Desperate Times,’ (about his sister’s bout with cancer) to ‘Gutted’ (which Fafara wouldn’t spill the beans on who he’s talking about). Sometimes vengeance is a good thing and don’t think that revenge isn’t sweet because sometimes it is. Other things I’m talking about is the metaphysical. ‘Oath Of The Abyss’ is very much a magik oath that addicts of Crowley and others take — one that my wife and I have taken.”
Speaking of that oath, Fafara doesn’t dance around his religious beliefs. However, he explains that it’s a complicated concoction of metaphysical practices.
“To explain it would be a difficult process and would probably take up the next hour. It’s quite far away from Wicca, but it does have earth roots. I am working with numbers, solar, moon and tide. I’m working with entities and expanding myself into the ether and working with other realms. It has ancient Egyptian, old Babylonian and Sumerian language and workings in it. It’s deep. For me, I found organized religion to be terrible. I take it to a higher level. My wife and I both practice. I’m a spiritual person, but far from a religious person. Religious people scare the Hell out of me.”
Wrapping the conversation up, Fafara gives a shout out to his die-hard fans and his hard-working band members.
“Thanks for your support and DevilDriver will never let you down. We really hope you like this record. I’m in a focused headspace the first time in four or five years. I’m surrounded by killer players, they really came to the table. My guys are totally underrated players. My drummer smokes anybody and my guitar players are incredible together. They’ve created a sound over six records that can’t be copied.”