DevilDriver have long been one of the most explosive and hard-hitting bands in modern heavy metal music and on a recent UK tour Dez Fafara and co laid waste to a number of northern venues. We chatted to the vocalist about playing live, the next record and circle-pits when his band stopped off in Leeds.
“UK fans are in the trenches for us”
S] Hi Dez! How’s the tour coming along so far?
DF] Great! Unbelievable, every single night. Last night was the first one, and tonight the ticket sales have been great, so looking down the line everything’s going to be killer!
S] It’s a great night for live music in Leeds tonight, with you guys and 36 Crazyfists here, Alexisonfire over the road and Dillinger Escape Plan up at the uni…
DF] Yeah, they were at the same place as us last night too, we should have all played together!
S] You’re on tour with 36 Crazyfists, were you friends with them before the tour, or is this something new?
DF] Yeah, we’ve toured with them several times. Everyone has got these little tattoos of a pirate ship with the initials of where they’re from, it’s called ‘The Bro-Ship’. They’re great guys.
S] I’d imagine the touring for the current album is winding down now, is this one of the last runs for this record?
DF] This is the last run for us this year. We go home for Christmas then start up again in January in Canada and then Australia in February, and then we’re going to run right through until late 2012. They just told me upstairs that I’ll only have about 35 days off next year. We’re gearing up for the new release in February, so it’s going to be really important to get some touring in there.
S] Cool, sounds like a busy schedule! What can people expect from the album which is out in February?
DF] Well, we manage to diversify and change our music every single record, we never want to make the same record twice, and this one is again, something different. This one that’s coming up next year is faster and more aggressive, more technical, and ‘back to the street’ lyrics, the last one was a lot of storytelling. On this upcoming one I was having a rough time, having to move my family a bunch of times, having to leave the record then come back to it, but that added fuel to the fire and made it a really angry record, which is good.
S] How does the writing process all come together? Do you all contribute different parts and bring them together, or do you sit down as a group and write all together?
DF] We write individually, then get together in teams and lay it down at Mike [Spreitzer]’s house – he is our guitar player. It goes down on the computer and then they give it to me. I’ll make some arrangement changes and I’ll demo some vocals before sending it back to them, but it’s real set before we go in. We don’t do a lot of pre-production with producers, we never have. Pre-production with producers often turns the record into their record instead of what we want.
S] When it comes to writing lyrics, do you sit down and think ‘I want to write a song about this specific subject’, or do you just write down any ideas which come to you?
DF] No, I find myself just writing about personal experience. I could just walk down the street and write a song just by seeing stuff. ‘Pray For Villains’ is more storytelling, I kinda came out of the box a little on that. This next one’s kinda personal, it’s all stuff that’s going on in and around me.
S] At Download Festival a couple of years ago you attempted a world record for the biggest circle-pit, how did all that come about?
DF] That was just an idea that came up over a few beers, like, ‘let’s do this,’ and it ended up going down. Guinness said that they couldn’t recognise it, because they couldn’t define how big it was from one end to the other and that, but y’know, it was just for fun with us anyway. We don’t want to lay your whole career on something like that.
S] I take it we can expect wall-to-wall pits tonight?
DF] It’s going to be insane tonight. If it’s anything like it was yesterday.
S] Do you find that the UK fans react any differently to the US fans when it comes to the huge circle-pits?
DF] It seems to be really rampant all over the world for us right now. It’s a blessing, because we work our asses off and it’s good to see it come to fruition, but the UK fans are definitely in the trenches for DevilDriver. When we come over here it feels like the UK is our stronghold, and it’s still starting to build for us, which is really cool. A lot of bands from America don’t get to come over here, financially, with the crew and everything, but we manage to get over a couple of times a year, so it’s been successful for us.
S] If they were to make a movie about DevilDriver, which actor would you like to play you, and why?
DF] That’s a great one! I rarely come across a question I’ve never been asked. [shouting to a crew member across the bus] Hey, who’d play me in a movie about DevilDriver? John Wayne!? I have no idea. I really don’t know. You’d have to see me in a couple of months and ask me that. It’d have to be an actor that could not act. You’d have to get into the skin of what I do, there’s no way you could act it out.
S] Okay, finally, what message would you send out your UK fans?
DF] We’re very appreciative of what’s gone down here. We love the fact that people are coming out to shows and we’re going to continue to give you great music. We’re gonna continue to give you a new record every two years and we’re gonna continue coming to play shows, and give you 110 per cent.
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