Having been through just about every situation within the tantalising “plastic-like” infrastructure of the ever-changing music industry, Fafara has finally found peace in his life and is making the most of his obvious creative talent, as well as flexing his inked arms in the world of business, as manager of his Oracle Management company (1349, Black Tusk, The Casualties, Devildriver).
Speaking from his home in L.A, Dez is in fine form and casually chats on his excitement about hitting the road with his long-term friend Glen Danzig for a selection of dates before taking Devildriver for their first European and UK appearance, since the release of their critically acclaimed ‘Trust No One‘ album last year.
OD – Can you believe that Trust No One is approaching a year old this month? How time flies. Getting back on the road again for this album with a suitable break from Devildriver must have been refreshing for you, as it was like – tour/record repeat non-stop for almost twelve years, right?
DEZ – It was dude, it was just what I needed because there was a little bit of a lull there near the end of the last touring cycle. It was like a coming of terms for me because we had a gap of about five or six weeks off and we were getting ready to head out to do Knotfest and then on to Australia. After I had about two or threes weeks off I was in an extremely reflective mood with my wife and I said: “you know, we’ve released six albums in almost thirteen years as well as touring harder than any band that I know, maybe it’s time for a break“.
There was also the fact that we haven’t had a member change in all of that time and I’m looking at the situation and we have one guitarist (Jeff Kendirck) that literally hasn’t written a song or contributed in the studio for almost twelve years and not only was that a hindrance to us then and no doubt would be in the future and then there was my relationship with the drummer at the time (John Boecklin). We were not seeing eye to eye and I was just getting tired of the fights at three in the morning and all the other bullshit that was happening. I was just really, really over it and I remember very vividly sitting watching The Simpsons at home and turning to my wife and saying: “I think I need to make some changes. Life is way too positive and everyone around me is extremely positive, I’m personally very positive and I’ve got a lot more stuff to do in my life that I want to achieve and I just can’t surround myself with anyone who’s not on par with where I am“.
I then put a call to John (Boecklin) and it was very civil. I was saying: “Hey bro, let’s just be honest here. We don’t get along, we’ve never got along for the last ten years. What we’re doing is supposed to be beautiful, but things are becoming extremely dark for me” and he goes: “You know Dez, you’re right man” and he was just so cool with it all. We then travelled together, hung out and did the last show together and then parted ways.
So, I guess that was the long answer to the short question (laughs) but where we are now is just so incredible. That break was just what we needed. We now have a new guitarist (Neal Tiemann) from Italy and he’s just already brought so much to the table already with writing and ideas. I’ve also got a drummer (Austin D’Amond) who also writes and is just such a cool guy with a completely different personality to what I was used too. We put out ‘Trust No One” and it’s the highest charting position that Devildriver has ever seen. The fans were going insane with me on social media, being very respectful and loved the record and were just gushing with all of this positive feedback.
The break was magnificent and getting back in the studio then releasing ‘Trust No One‘ has been great and even though it’s been a year since its release, the time has just flown by as we have just been travelling the world and touring.
OD – You’ve never been one to shy away from working and your past with Coal Chamber has been well documented, however, I believe that you have been very busy working on an ‘Outlaws Country Covers Album’ also is awesome. Can you tell me about how all of this came about?
DEZ – People around the world don’t realise that when you get onto a metal band’s tour bus – I can name at least twenty bands that do this – you will hear cats like Jonny Cash and Willie Nelson blasting from the bus. There is a huge amount of respect between metal and outlaw country artists. There’s just something about the Americana outlaw country experience that everybody in heavy metal has some form of respect for and if you look at the other side of the coin – and I’ve talked to a lot of these cats – they have immense respect for Heavy Metal because we are also in that “underground” scene away from the eyes of the mainstream.
When I hear a Jonny Cash or Waylon Jennings song in my head, I would sing it loud and wonder to myself “I wonder what this would be like really heavy?” and that’s where the idea came from to do this album. It’s gonna be a cover album of country outlaw songs with a huge list of guest performers. Seriously, man, it’s like a mile long (laughing). We have already got something like twenty guest artists that are involved, including John Cash Jr. doing ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ we have Ana Cash on there also, which is just insane. We have Randy (Blythe) that’s gonna jump on that track also which is just fucking amazing! It’s such a pleasure to do this and I can’t wait until it’s ready for the public to hear how amazing it all sounds.
OD – How did the ‘Outlaw Country Covers‘ album come about. Was it all your idea?
DEZ – Yeah, the whole thing was my idea. One of the first people that I reached out to was Cory Taylor (Slipknot) with the proposition of doing Steve Earle’s ‘Copperhead Road‘ and he was totally up for it but unfortunately the scheduling has been really difficult as he’s got so much happening with a new book and with my own Devildriver commitments getting in the way of us both being able to nail it down. He just hit me up recently saying “Hey Dez, I’m just not gonna be able to be on this album” but it was really cool the way he put it me as he said: “Things are just so insane right now, but I’ll be the first one to promote it for you“.
The biggest problem with doing a project like this is that so many people are busy with their own projects and it’s trying to find multiple windows of opportunities to lock down each recording. Some of the names on this album are really going to shock people. I’ve already dropped a few hints as to who is involved but I’m keeping the rest close to my chest until we get closer to the release.
The music itself is just awesome. We stayed true to the originals but when you mix these two genres together that have never really matched up before the result it going to blow people’s minds. The sound of the down-tuned guitars with the steel guitar in the background is just so fucking sick man. It’s like a cold wind going through a haunted house and just sounds fucking unreal.
OD – There are some pretty big names on the album, including Glen Danzig who is a legend in his own right as well as being a tad elusive. Do you have a history with Glen and was he down to do this from the get go as I know he has his new album coming out this month also.
DEZ – You have to understand the backstory there is that I come from a blue-collar family and my Dad worked construction all of his life. During the time of my early teens working with my Dad, that first Danzig record came out and I was a bricklayer at the time and all I would do is listen to that record every fucking day. Dreams really do come true because my first tour was with Glen Danzig and since then we have been very close friends, so he was one of the first people I reached out to for this Country Outlaw project.
OD – When is the album due to be released?
DEZ – I can say right now that it’s gonna be released next year for sure. Here’s the thing – there’s always a release date set with the labels etc as they always have an agenda. In this case, I told the label “You’re not putting a release date on this album!” and at first they were like “Well, we want it out later this year or at the end of the year at the latest” and I just stood by my demand of no set release date as it’s going to be ready when it’s ready.
This album has to be done right with all of the artists on it or it’s never gonna see the light of day. So that being said, I can predict a release date around March, April or May of 2018. Already there is huge interest in it as there have been little leaks that have come out regarding the album and people are freaking out at the prospect of a project like this, so that’s a really good sign. I feel that I can talk just a little bit about it but really want to keep the rest of the information close to my chest (laughing). I wish I could just let you know of all the artists that are taking part because it’s fucking insane man!
OD – Although it sounds like an amazing project, I’m sure that it’s proving to be difficult to pull together when compared to just recording a Devildriver album.
DEZ – Yeah, totally! So many people have told me that I must be crazy because it has to be a logistical nightmare to organise so many artists, schedules, studios etc and if anything that just makes me more determined to make this happen and see it through to the end. My goal was this. If I personally called the artists and asked them to be part of this project and if they didn’t immediately point me in the direction of their record label or management, then I knew they were totally down for it and the vibe was good.
If I called you and I’ve known you for something like twenty years and you just tell me to arrange it all with your manager/agent or record label, I just never called them back because it just wasn’t the vibe I am looking for. Fortunately, that only happened to me two/three times tops and everybody has been super cool. I mean there was no way Glen (Danzig) was gonna be like “call my manager” or Randy (Blythe – Lamb of God), in fact, Randy was like: “Totally man, I’ll come out to you and we’ll do some surfing for three days while I lay down some vocals” (laughing).
Just like those country artists had an unbelievable comadre with each other as they supported each other, looked out for one another and travelled together on the road and that’s what I’m looking for on this project. That level of comadre between all of my friends who are artists and people that work in the industry. It’s turned out absolutely fantastic man, I’m so pumped and excited about this project.
OD – Seeing as Devildriver are a band that don’t seem to stop, has there been any writing for the follow-up to ‘Trust No One’ as of yet?
DEZ – When I was younger, band’s were putting out way more music in a short period of time when compared to the way things are today. I remember getting my hands on a brand new KISS album every year or punk rock albums from the same band each year! Now all of a sudden it’s taking much longer for artists to release albums. A good example of this is Tool. How long has it been now? Ten fucking years (laughing)!! What the fuck is going on man?
We have been writing recently and have been working on same new ideas here and there. I just spoke with Neil (Tiemann – Guitar) and he’s got eleven songs already and I know that Mike (Spreitzer – Guitar) has got just as much also. These guys do nothing but live and breath riffs (laughing) as well as myself. I get up every morning and write a song with my wife. Not a lot of people know that we write together and have been for at least eighteen years. Even if it’s just a chorus, we write it down and put it away.
I don’t just get up and put on the TV. I write song ideas and lyrics and file them away to hopefully use one of these days.
OD – When you think back on all the events that you encountered during the mid to late 90’s, with the hyper press interest and the public spats etc and you look at where you are now, do you feel that all if it was relevant to who you are now and what kind of a business mind you have with relation to the music industry?
DEZ – Yeah, totally. When I came into this I was just a kid. I saw a lot of money and gold records, as well as the press explosion surrounding us. Then I saw all the “rock star” cliché’s unfold and tear Coal Chamber apart with drugs and alcohol which ripped those guys away from me while I kept my head together. I had a wife and kids to support and I just couldn’t let myself fall down. I watched my band mates change and the band itself fall to pieces and just had to start all over again from the beginning with Devildriver, back to opening for bands that I actually took out on the road, way before it all came to an end.
When I look back, I think the only thing that actually saved me and still does to this day, is that I’m probably one of the most private people in music and definitely one of the most private people in the metal genre. I make Ozzy look like he’s a really outgoing person (laughing). So for me, the mainstay and focus for me have always been my family. I don’t come off tour and live a “rock-star” life whatsoever.
People don’t know this also but when I’m on tour I’m an extreme recluse. Unless there’s a meet and greet with the fans or something like that, you’re never really gonna see me. I really think the privacy factor has kept me who I am. That being said, whenever you get kicked down in life, either you get fired from your job, or your partner leaves you, or somebody dies, you just have to pick yourself back up. There are two kinds of people in this fucked-up world. The one that just gets back up, dusts himself or herself off and keeps going or the other kind that just crumbles and finds the nearest ledge to jump off.
At a very young age, I had a Stepfather that committed suicide, I ran away from home when I was just a teenager and was sleeping under bridges. I was this snot-nosed punk-rock kid living on the streets of L.A, trying to survive. I was stealing food and even ended up in prison which was a big eye opener for me. What has really kept me from falling over the edge, not only with my music, but also my personal life is the connection with a tonne of people around the world, that when they hear me talk about my experiences they know that I’m not full of shit!
They know that I’m the real deal and there is just no room for any kind of bullshit. They know that I don’t care about the ‘rock-star’ bullshit. I just love my family, my music, travelling and the stage. If there’s a band going on after us, they’re gonna pay and if there’s a band going on before us, they’re gonna wish they never did!
I believe that if you have that volatile “punk-rock” attitude whether it’s on stage or in everyday life situations, you will rise above the negative and find a happier way to live.
I have seen the ‘hero to zero’ thing happen to me and my bands so many times and I just know that the fans will stick with us through it all. Devildriver has never been so popular as we are right now. It’s no secret that I’m not in my twenty’s anymore and when I look out there into the eyes of the crowds at the shows, I’m seeing an average of twenty-five and under and that’s our crowd. I must be hitting on something to be able to connect with these people. I have three sons in their late teens and early twenties and they tell me: “Dad, you know why our generation likes you? It’s because you don’t take any shit“.
Music has just been a huge positive influence in my life for as long as I can remember. I recall lying in my bed listening to music when I was five years old or getting my first tattoo when I was only fifteen years old and my Mom found out and said to me “You’re never gonna get a job” because of this one tattoo. I just looked at her and remember saying “It doesn’t matter because I’m gonna be in a band“! Dude, I was only fifteen at the time, so I must have known something all of those years ago.
DEVILDRIVER are on tour next month and will be appearing at various festivals including UK Download Festival, which you can check out below.
© OVERDRIVE.IE 2017