DevilDriver unleashed their monumental sixth album “Winter Kills” over six months ago and are still riding the crest of the wave reaching to the four corners of the globe. They are about to hit the UK once again on one of the final legs of their Winter Kills tour cycle (check out the tour dates at the bottom of the interview). In anticipation of this ThisIsNotAScene‘s Ross Allen put a few questions to DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara. They talked about the record, touring, moving record labels, social media and much, much more…
“Winter Kills” has been out for 6 months or so now. What has the reception to it been like?
The reception around the world has been outstanding. The record basically out performed all of our previous records at this stage and keeps gaining more & more ground in all territories. (Keep in mind we are touring very hard on this release so this always helps.) It’s good to see a 6th record steamrolling!
DevilDriver moved to Napalm Records for the release of “Winter Kills,” what was the reason behind the move and how is life now with Napalm Records?
Working with them has been not only a good business venture, but the fact that they’re totally into what we do and support us 100% by not dictating the type of art they want, but instead let us do our thing is fantastic. There are many reasons for the split from our previous label and we shall leave it at that for now.
DevilDriver are known for their no holds barred live performances, particularly at festivals. Do you prefer playing club shows or festivals? Are there festival moments, in particular, that stand out?
I’ll say it like this; anywhere there’s more than 10 people and a good bottle of wine, i’m down to play! I think what i do personally is take the energy of the smaller clubs to the large festival crowds and the massive energy of a huge festival crowd and slam that into a club! So it works both ways … There are so many stand out moments within a career that it would be hard to narrow it down , but i would say the largest pit in the world at download was a highlight. People like to come out to our shows, get in the pit and dance and we encourage that wholeheartedly.
Many people were surprised with the choice to cover AWOLNATIONS’s ‘Sail.’ The result was excellent, in my opinion. How did that choice come about?
Truly it was an afterthought! We were short on one song and thought we should do a cover since that can always be a very stress-free type of thing. I was driving with my family, my youngest put the song on, I connected with the lyrics, called the guys and within 10 minutes the band had heard the song and gave the green light. Thank you, i’m very glad you enjoyed it! It was a blast to do….
“Winter Kills” saw an ever greater departure from the all out heavy attack of earlier albums, replacing it with more groove laden riffs. Was this a natural progression or a concerted effort among the band?
It was time to tighten things up, arrangements as well as the groove aspect of what we do. It has attack but in the right places, meaning we took more time to craft the songs and put in or take out parts that just didn’t fit, etc. For us, this record was about really getting down on what we do best, which is ‘groove’. It’s important for DevilDriver to attack but not get caught up in the heavy just for the sake of it. It’s gotta be quality.
Have you guys started work on the new album yet?
We have 4 songs written and even at this premature stage i do believe that it will rival ‘winter kills’. For now, that’s all i’ve got on the subject.
You’ve embraced social media, Twitter and Instagram in particular. How important do you feel it is to be able to connect with your fans through social media?
First you must understand me to realize why social media works. I’m extremely anti-social, rarely go out while on tour, don’t really do the backstage thing, etc, i’m very much a hermit/isolationist, so it’s a great way to connect and let people in on my life, without having to make personal contact. I personally would have loved this kind of connection with artists i grew up listening to when i was younger, so i answer questions etc, and on instagram, i get to give you a glimpse of my home life, my few close knit friends, my dogs, etc, so people can see a part of me they will never know in person.
Tours can be difficult on all involved, how to you cope with the long tours away from home and loved ones. What things do you do to keep you sane when on the road?
DevilDriver probably does more live shows per year than any other heavy band touring, period. You’re either built for the road or your not, and I am. That being said, you must have a balance between family and the road, so i make sure we get time off when we need it, and work hard when we are all feeling like going on a long run. This is becoming the hard part for me actually, as being away from my wife of nearly 16 years/my best friend is getting very difficult. We have a 3 week rule, any longer than 3 weeks and she flies out to wherever I am. It’s not only missing her though, it’s my children (i have 3 sons), my dogs, my cats, simply being able to cook for my family or go swimming with my kids that is getting hard to be away from. I can see another record dropping, a long tour cycle and a very prolonged break coming in the next 5 years, but until then it’s pedal to the floor!
Do you have any pre-show superstitions or rituals?
I’m a creature of habit. Some wine, a few good friends, my crew who i’m very close to, and good music has to happen every night for at least 2 hours before the show, in my back lounge of the bus. It’s my favorite time of the night besides stage time.
From the first time I saw you onstage with Coal Chamber back in 1999 on the Type O Negative tour with Static-X, I saw a fire burning inside you. The same fire was burning when I saw DevilDriver play Download festival 2012 and again with Coal Chamber last year. How do you keep the fire burning?
It’s simple….I love what I do and people’s reactions are contagious. The stage is something I can’t live without. You need to love your work, and your work becomes your love.
I have to admit I was I surprised when I heard about the Coal Chamber reunion. I was a fan back in the day and was front and center at Download last year. Was it fun to roll out the old CC tunes and were you surprised by the reception they got?
That’s why we did it, for fun! Something happens when you shove the business aside for a moment and really roll your sleeves up to just have a good time! It was great revisiting those songs and the reaction from Australia to the UK to the USA was insane, which means we must have left a mark! 🙂
Is the Coal Chamber reunion done with now or can we expect anything else?
One never knows…
The music industry has changed beyond recognition since you arrived with Coal Chamber. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing bands today and do you have any advice for bands that are starting out?
My advice here is simple. Have fun, play live constantly, if you do come upon a record deal or even if you self-release, have a great attorney. Gather around yourself a manager, accountant and agents you can trust with your life. Always stay hopeful your music will grow and enjoy yourself.
What is next for DevilDriver, in the immediate future and further afield?
I’m writing this from the back of my bus in Germany. We landed today in Amsterdam and i’m trying to stay awake to beat jetlag, keeping in mind I just returned from Australia and japan! The plan is to tour our asses off and as we do so, continue to write and demo so we can get all of you some new music sooner than later.
DevilDriver UK Tour Dates:
3rd April – Cardiff / Solus
4th April – London / Electric Ballroom
5th April – Wolverhampton / Wulfrun Hall
6th April – Glasgow / Garage
8th April – Dublin / The Academy
9th April – Manchester / O2 Academy 2
10th April – Southampton / Mo Club