DEVILDRIVER FEATURE: “If I’m gonna go out, I’m gonna go out under the flag of ‘Fuck You’!” – Dez Fafara

Posted on by Oran

From 90’s Nu-Metal posterchild to a formidable force in contemporary heavy metal, DevilDrivers, Dez Fafara has been proudly flying the genre’s flag for the best part of 26 years and counting. Overdrive caught up with the frontman to talk about the bands new ‘Outlaws Till the End’ album, his issues with ADHD and a new double concept album that’s due for Summer 2019!

Speaking from his tour bus in Germany, Bradley James aka Dez Fafara is bubbling with excitement following the band’s recent flurry of European live dates which, included a mainstage throw-down at this year’s Bloodstock Festival.

With a new album already in the chamber and vocals scheduled for completion in Jan/Feb of 2019,  it seems the world will be embracing DevilDriver’s very first attempt at a double-concept album. Find out more….

© Down The Barrel Photography, exclusively for 2018

OD – Firstly, I gotta say this has been the most content I’ve seen you in a long time both on and off stage. Are things going well for you and the band at the moment?

DEZ – One hundred per cent! Sometimes you have to make changes around yourself in order to achieve happiness and that’s exactly what happened with Devildriver. I had certain members in the band for 12 to 15 years and when those two dudes left and two other guys came in the mood changed and you can feel it.

I also stepped out of Europe for a couple of years and now we are dead set on concentrating very much so on the European scene for the next four years or so. I don’t even think we’ll be in the US next year because of the itinerary we have planned for 2019.

The shows that we recently did in Ireland were just so awesome, in fact, those dates in Ireland were the best we’ve had in that country to date.

OD – Now that “Outlaws Till the End” has been released, how well has the album been received from your perspective and do you think that people understood what you were doing here because it was a really ballsy move with regards to paying homage to the genre with a full album.

DEZ – Well, I think that I’ve had to explain the concept of this album more to the European press than the US press because in America the kid with the Slayer backpatch has more than likely got a Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson album in their collection. If you go to a Bus BBQ backstage at a show, it’s so common to hear Slayer then Willie Nelson, Pantera, Hank 3 etc and no one bats an eye. It’s very normal to have those genres sitting beside each other.

Culturally in America, those outlaws are considered to be very much ‘heavy metal’ not sonically but more for the ethos of how they lived and how they toured, survived and lived to tell the tales. A ballsy move with regards to the European audience I can understand but in the States, it was accepted with open arms and no questions asked.

It was really supposed to be a covers album in between records and all of a sudden it debuted at number 1, then it came back three weeks later and took the number 1 slot again! So, there’s a life of its own happening with the album and it’s fantastic to see. At the end of the day, we did what we wanted to do and even though it should have been done a long time ago, it just had to be done right and it had to be done with the special guests because that’s what made it so special. We just made a ballsy heavy metal record that was staying true to the spirit of both country and metal and we didn’t give a fuck about pandering to radio. Fuck that! We did what we wanted to do and stuck by our guns.

OD – With the title, it says “Vol 1” so, can we expect to see a ‘Vol 2‘ anytime soon?

DEZ – We put that on there because just before we turned in the album, we had a bunch of calls from some of the biggest metal bands on the planet asking: “Why didn’t you ask me to be part of this?“. When you have certain people like that getting in touch we figured we better keep this option open for future ideas and guest slots.

OD – You have been very vocal about your experience with ADHD, have you had a lot of people who live with this ‘condition’ share their own experiences with you?

DEZ – Everybody man! Let me tell you what’s happening. ADHD and ADD are pushing kids to the point of suicide and with doctors and psychiatrists  – who mostly treat it like some kind of disease – feeding people with shit like Adderall and Ritalin is pushing these kids to the most fucking darkest place possible and that is leading to manifesting suicidal thoughts with a majority sadly taking their own lives.

I treat ADD and ADHD like a fucking miracle! I can run four businesses on about 5 hours sleep a night and have no problem getting all my shit done because I have ADD and ADHD and people try to back that down. If you have a hyperactive dog you don’t just chain him to a fence, you let him run around. That’s what needs to be done with people who have ADHD. They need focus, tasks and goals to achieve, and when they put their minds to something, it’s a fucking incredible force that is so powerful compared to the normal or what is considered “normal” brain.

© Down The Barrel Photography, exclusively for 2018

Most parents are fucking lazy and spend most of their time listening to doctors, who are straight-up wrong when diagnosing ADD/ADHD. They are saying: “Hey, give your kid this pill and he/she will be more focused.” They might get more focused but 6 months down the line there is a possibility they might kill themselves! I’d like to see the end of all of these fucked-up drugs for good!

OD – You are obviously speaking from experience with regards to these prescribed pills.

DEZ – I watched my old bass player abuse Adderall to the point that he fell apart mentally at 27/28 years old. This just needs to stop. Marijuana is the cure for this, its the cure for cancer, seizures, ADHD/ADD, pain etc. When you think about it, this is a natural plant that has all of these healing powers and instead we are being fed a man-made pharmaceutical pill that totally fucks with your brain all the while they are making billions of dollars and kids are dying. It’s so fucked up man. It’s time for everyone to get together and revolt against this shady corporation bullshit and take to the streets. Enough is enough!

OD – Looking back through your career, there’s no denying that you were part of a huge musical revolution in the 90’s with Coal Chamber which we all have come to know as the dreadfully titled “Nu-Metal” genre. Metal has evolved with each decade, but we really haven’t seen a dramatic almost pioneering movement since Nu-Metal, do you think that we will see a powerful shift/change in the metal genre anytime soon?

DEZ – What’s going on is there are two times of metal bands that exist, in America anyway. So, you have the bands that are being visceral, volatile and super fucking heavy, saying: “Fuck the radio” and then you have the other bands that are totally skewing their art and pandering towards the radio corporations.

Their choruses are very ‘sing-along‘ and they’re making sure that their lyrics are palatable and let me tell you, man, there a whole fucking generation of those bands out there right now doing that. To be honest, that in itself I think is killing the scene. Don’t get me wrong there’s tonnes and tonnes of awesome bands out there that are just amazing and doing their thing, and I champion those guys all day long. but if you’re going to skew your art for the radio, – which is almost an epidemic in America right now – then,  you lost me.

I just can’t take that heavy verse with a sing-song chorus shit on every song! It’s been done to fucking death and just needs to stop! The reason that I started Devildriver was to avoid that shit and get way more aggressive with my writing. What I’ve seen in the last eight years is bands completely changing their styles to fit the radio. I mean, how the fuck is that supposed to translate because ‘heavy metal‘ for me is about being visceral, angry, unpredictable, noisy, violent and ugly. I grew up on Sabbath, Black Flag, Pantera, Circle Jerks and when you look back on that and see what’s going on now, it’s vomit inducing!

There are bands that are sticking to their guns and producing sensational music that essentially is being overlooked by the mainstream like Powertrip or take the last Ministry album for example. Do you think that Al (Jourgensen) sold out? No fucking way man!

What’s really happening is that so many bands are relying so much on clean vocals that they are slowly murdering the scene. It’s fucking ‘heavy metal‘ man, not this pretty, palatable bullshit that’s clogging up the airwaves. Fuck that shit! I refuse to tour with those bands either. It makes my fucking skin crawl!

I would never change my music to fit with what is popular. Where is the next Slayer, the next Pantera, the next Bad Brains? These fucking bands are killing the scene and having to take out a big production to cover up the sheer boredom of their music. Eventually, the fans will see through their shit and will find the real essense of what metal is really all about.

There is so much bullshit happening in American right now between Tump being president and the racism, problems with cops etc. There are very few bands talking about this in their music. Where is the aggression? I can tell you now that the next Devildriver record is gonna be the biggest middle finger to society. I don’t fucking care what people think. If I’m gonna go out, I’m gonna go out under the flag of “Fuck You!

© Down The Barrel Photography, exclusively for 2018

OD – You have always approached things outside of the box and with the latest release you seem to have ticked off a bucket list with that project. Is there anything else that you want to achieve that would be out of the normal cycle of releasing albums and touring?

DEZ – Yeah, I’ve never done a double record or a concept record. So, the next album is going to be a double, concept LP and it’s going to be on a staggered release where there will be a release every 16 to 18 months.

Being on this run of dates in Europe has really opened my eyes with regards to how metal music is respected in Europe. Metal holds in this part of the world. I’ve been to festivals and have seen the 7-year-old kid with the backpatch alongside the 72-year-old who’s just as down with the music as the younger audience members. That’s not the case in America.

© Exposing Shadows Photography, exclusively for 2018

Most bands are waiting for something like four years for their next release and that’s just killing the scene. It’s like a living thing that you have to keep feeding in order for it to grow and maintain a strong presence.

I’m looking at these bands and thinking: “Are you fucking lazy? Don’t be fucking lazy!” When I was young, I remember getting a record a year from some of my favourite bands, and in some cases, it was two albums a year! So, bearing that in mind, Devildriver are gonna be stepping things up and we’re gonna be delivering a new album ever 16 to 18 months.

There will be a new Devildriver album next year and then another new album the following year and it’s gonna be real firey!

OD – So, just to clarify, you’re totally going for the concept album?

DEZ – Yes, we’ve already recorded 22 tracks and the vocals are being laid down in January.

OD – Can you give us an insight into the concept for the album?

DEZ – The concept is going to be about humanity. I’m gonna paint this picture really well. There’s so much to talk about and nobody is talking about it. My experience of living in America has had a huge impact on my life recently. Just seeing all the negative things that have been happening all around us is heartbreaking for me.

I am totally against borders, we are humans who share this planet with each other. Why the fuck do I need a fucking passport to go from country to country? So many things need to change on this planet and I’m gonna do my part to help to get people to talk about it, to think about the way things have become.

OD – So, I guess we can expect the new album in May/June of 2019?

DEZ – Yes, we are aiming for June/July release and then the following year at the same time. Then we’re gonna come off the tour, write some more and keep releasing albums. I want to try and release a new album every fucking year. Somebody has to come back into this industry and lay it down like it used to be. I really don’t know why bands wait so long between album. Most of the time, it takes like four years for the album to be written, recorded etc and then when you get home and listen to it, it’s fucking shit!

I mean, think about this. High school in American takes four years. So, a kid goes into high school who loves your band and four years later when he/she has graduated they are still waiting on a new album! What the fuck is that all about? (laughing)

Jamie Jasta said it best at this year’s Bloodstock Festival back on his bus. Everybody was pissed off with Gene Simmons when he said: ‘Rock music is dead in America” and Jasta looked right at me and said: “But he was right!“.

Devildriver’sOutlaws Till The End” is out now on Napalm Records as well as a selection of re-issues on limited vinyl. Click here to order.

© Down The Barrel Photography, exclusively for 2018

Oran O’Beirne

© 2018.