Interviews : Devil Driver (Dez Fefara) – 26/07/2009
Metal Obsession recently had the pleasure to speak with Dez Fefara. Dez is most notably known for his work in the band, DevilDriver. He was also apart of the once highly successful band, Coal Chamber which skyrocketed him to success. DevilDriver have just recently released their 4th studio album entitled, “Pray for Villains”.
We chatted to Dez about the new DevilDriver album, the bands upcoming Australian tour and his past work with Coal Chamber.
Metal Obsession.net: Hi Dez, how are you?
Dez Fefara: Good Megan, how are you?
Metal Obsession.net: I’m pretty good. How have you been?
Dez Fefara: That’s good to hear, things have been great. We’ve got five days before we leave for the tour, my crew just flew into the house. We barbecued some chicken, and we’re sitting at the table with a big bottle of wine. Good times, I’m having a good time at home so when I get a little time at home, it’s good to be with my wife and children.
Dez Fefara: From what I’m hearing, there’s incredible things, positive things coming our way. The good, bad or indifferent, I usually keep my head under the pillow about such things, but I’m hearing that the phone has been ringing off the hook with positive news.
Metal Obsession.net: And you’ve also done a video clip for the title track to “Pray for Villains”. What is the general theme of that song?
Dez Fefara: It’s about when the heroes let you down. All of a sudden the villain, the guy you thought was the villain in black, comes in and takes care of the day. It’s about my love for the anti-hero, those old western movies, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, those movies always have the anti-hero that comes in and takes care of business. Also the old black-and-white samurai movies from the 50’s and 60’s, I love those movies as well.
Metal Obsession.net: Is that the same theme that runs through the whole album?
Dez Fefara: Well, it’s behind that theme of that character that all the other emotions play out. Like “Resurrection Boulevard”, it’s about that character living on Resurrection Boulevard. Everyone lives on Resurrection Boulevard once or twice in their life, it’s when you’re humbled out completely and you’ve hit rock bottom and you’re on Resurrection Boulevard, you’re either going to come up or you’re going to go down. Different themes like that – “Forgiveness is a Six Gun” is that character learning about how to forgive those who trespass against him, and not holding that grudge in life and learning how to let go of that. There’s all sorts of themes that run throughout the record, all played out through the anti-hero type way, the anti-hero way of thought.
Metal Obsession.net: I also heard that the Dirty Icon team [Logan Mader and Lucas Banker] worked on the new record.
Dez Fefara: Yeah. Logan Mader, he is an incredible guy, completely zen in the studio, has a very intimate studio so he works one at a time with people. We came in totally prepared. He brought the best out of everybody. He’s also a producer that allows you to create your own sound, he doesn’t put his sound, his stamp on you. He’d make sure that all the vocals were clear otherwise he’d stop me. I really love working with him, and I’ve known him for years, I’ve travelled the world with him when I was in Coal Chamber, and him and I are the same kind of guy, a lone type guy, stay-to-myself type guy, so he and I ended up hanging out, and now that he’s a producer, he’s now producing the band.
Metal Obsession.net: Is that why you chose them to produce the album?
Dez Fefara: Well I love what he does, I like the fact that all the records he has produced sound different to one another. I don’t think that happened by accident, I think that’s his creative path in life, to create art that’s extremely different from one another and I think that’s a great thing in a producer.
Metal Obsession.net: Being in Devildriver for as long as you have, how is the experience being in Devildriver compare to being in Coal Chamber?
Dez Fefara: Being in Coal Chamber, I was a kid coming up and learning my lessons on the way up, and when I started this project, you learn a whole other group of lessons. I think how to compare this is so vast, we would need hours and a couple of bottles of wine to go into that, but I can say that this [Devildriver] doesn’t have the de-railing factors going on.
We don’t have people up for four days in a row on speed, that kind of thing is not going on within the band. That was going on in the band with the other players [Coal Chamber], and I think that it needs to be said is that’s the reason why I left Coal Chamber. They found drugs, especially methamphetamines and speed, more interesting than doing good music and being comrades, so I bailed out. We don’t have those kind of things in [Devildriver], I don’t allow those kind of things and I tend to believe that you can follow my example. That being said, a multitude of things different with this band.
Metal Obsession.net: With the new album, how do you feel about this album compared to previous releases?
Dez Fefara: I love them, they grow, so I think the effort is there amongst the players and amongst myself to create something that defines us and something that has growth. That’s the important thing to be said about any art form, and especially anything underground, for example blues, punk, metal, you know what I mean? I think it’s an evolution with us, for what people need to know is that the first record was created and written, and recorded in six months by one guitar player predominantly. After that guitar player knew we were going to be touring for so long, he disappeared. We had only been together two years around the time the second record, and that’s where you find out suddenly everyone plays guitar. There’s this artistically scattered thing that we’re trying to figure ourselves out and then on the fury of the last record, we just put our foot down on the throttle all the way on full, and I look back on that record, it lacks diversity and it lacks the emotional ups and downs that I would prefer in a piece of art.
The new record is a culmination of all the records and us being together now for six years or so. What people need to know is that most bands get four to five years together before they even get their first record deal. We didn’t have that. What you have is this growth on CD over that amount of time with us, if you go back to the start you hear us growing with every single record. And I said to the record company frankly, when we got signed I said “The fifth, the sixth, the seventh record is when we’re going to hit our peak”. It only looks like up from here, we’re already writing for the next record, you’re going to know this when it’s out.
Metal Obsession.net: Cool. I also heard that you’ll be touring Australia in December.
Dez Fefara: Yeah, we’re coming over with Lamb of God and Shadows Fall. It’s an incredible bill, incredible friends, it’s going to be an incredible time. We always have a great time when we come down, and I’m from California so any time you can come down there and hang by the beach and go to the bus and play the show. The one line I’ll repeat in every interview, is “If I can surf and then play a show, I’m in!”
Metal Obsession.net: Has there been much discussion about the set list for the Australian tour?
Dez Fefara: Yeah, we’re definitely going to play everything that people want to hear, the expected tunes, but we’re also going to rehearse some new ones. We’re going to rehearse at least three or four new ones. Eventually we’re going to incorporate many of these new tracks, and phase out some other tracks, but that will happen over the course of time.
Metal Obsession.net: Are you looking forward to it?
Dez Fefara: Oh yeah man, of course. The promoter and his wife are awesome to us, and I got good friends down there. It’s a place that we try to return to about twice a year if we possibly can.
Dez Fefara: Absolutely. We had such a great time. Great friends, great bands, good times.
Metal Obsession.net: A while ago now, you reportedly attempted a Guinness world record for the largest circle pit. What became of that?
Dez Fefara: That just happened for giggles on the bus, having beers and we said, “Let’s call them”. We ended up getting a piece of paper back from them, saying that they acknowledged our existence, which was half the hilarity about it. Then, they heard that we were playing on the main stage [at the Download festival] and they came out again in 2009 to see if we could get a record set, but the crowd was 85,000 people so they divide them in fours. It’s real difficult to get something huge, but we had four massive circle pits, the day was great, the crowd was great. I always love playing Download, and I love the UK in general, it has kinda become my second home over the years.
Metal Obsession.net: With the upcoming Australian tour, what can Australian audiences expect this time around?
Dez Fefara: Pure energy and ass-kickin’ metal.
Metal Obsession.net: That wraps up the interview, any last words?
Dez Fefara: I appreciate everything over the years. The band has been working real hard and it’s showing, people are coming out to our shows, and get in the pit! Get the fuck in the pit!
Metal Obsession.net: Thanks for taking the time to do the interview.
Dez Fefara: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time. We’ll see you then.
Origin: Santa Barbara, California
Interviewer: Megan Masters
Interviewee: Dez Fefara (Vocals)
Catch DevilDriver on their upcoming Australian tour with metal heavyweights, Lamb of God and Shadows Fall this December.
LAMB OF GOD/DEVILDRIVER/SHADOWS FALL – Australian Tour 2009
11 Dec 2009 – The Riverstage, Brisbane (L/AA)
12 Dec 2009 – Luna Park, Sydney (L/AA)
15 Dec 2009 – Festival Hall, Melbourne (Licensed and AA areas)
16 Dec 2009 – The Barton Theatre, Adelaide (L/AA)
18 Dec 2009 – Metro City, Perth (18+)