DEVILDRIVER Look Toward the Future
Life in the DevilDriver camp has never been easy.
Formed after vocalist Dez Fafara hastily quit previous act Coal Chamber under combative auspices, the Santa Barbara-based brutes have been assaulting heavy music fans with their alloy of groove, melodic and death metals over the course of nine years and four albums.
Despite earning respectable praise from Your Average Banger however, DevilDriver still fails to garner critical appreciation. Even as their fifth studio effort Beast (Roadrunner) was released earlier this week amongst high pundit anticipation, the tattoo-laden screamer admits that DevilDriver is a tough row to hoe. He asserts that where other bands amass ample opportunity/experience before committing a single note to tape, thanks to being signed at their onset so many moons ago, his crew have only been able to solidify under public scrutiny.
“Everything is a defining moment for us,” he sighs. “Five albums in eight years: that’s a large body of work in a pretty short period of time. Here’s the deal, though. The band was only together for about six months before we got our first record deal. We had five songs when we went in the studio. Most bands are together for five or so years before they go into the studio so they get to demo 15 or 20 songs. They put all the effort into that album and fall short afterwards.”
Such is the reason he feels that with Beast, DevilDriver is only now beginning to find its true feet, an achievement founded on the power and unity of previous effort, 2009′s Pray For Villains. One of the band’s most accomplished—and favoured—affairs to date, Fafara feels that it was the first inkling of their true potential, ushering in the tenacity of Beast.
“Beast is our best moment yet but it can only continue to get better because we’re still learning,” he avows. “We’re having a growth musically. The first two records feel good but they’re demos to me. Honestly, we only had two years together before our second record. That’s hardly a stride. You can’t learn what you’re capable of or good at in that time. We’re only now starting to touch on what’s killer and what we can do.”
Still feeling the sting from pesky naysayers though, Fafara is compelled to staunchly defend DevilDriver almost a decade into their career, going so far as to all but forget Beast in an effort to justify the band as a whole. Discussing years of being attacked/dismissed as “jumping ship to heavier music” in an effort to “make more money” after leaving Coal Chamber, he becomes animated at what the band (completed by guitarists Mike Spreitzer and Jeff Kendrick, bassist Jon Miller and drummer John Boecklin) has realized.
“We’ve earned our fans one-by-one,” he admits. “It’s been a handshake at a time, a show at a time but the people who’ve stuck to us, do it organically, not through a mass-media blitz…Those people who say I (bailed)? Hello, stupid. I was selling millions of records with the kind of music I was doing. I’ll never come close to that with DevilDriver at this point now. I can’t tell you the hardships I put my family through just trying to start this band, putting them in a one-bedroom apartment and restarting (touring) in a van because I love music.”
“I didn’t jump ship to make more money. I did it to save my friends,” he maintains. “I thought Coal Chamber was doing something original but it got labeled as nu metal like Korn or whatever. If you really listened, it didn’t sound fuckin’ anything like that. It came to an end abruptly, though. One day, we’re on the cover of magazines and everyone’s favourites—nobody’s talkin’ shit—and the next day, I leave. Then, the media turned in an instant.”
“They had no idea I left because fame and money were killing ‘em. The fame and money were feeding them methamphetamines. They were staying up for a year on end. We had to get separate buses because our lifestyles were so different. Theirs was so insane, I’m surprised they’re still alive. Eventually, I realized that every time I picked up a mic, I put money in their pocket…which got them drugs…which were gonna kill my friends. Now, I see them and we’re all friends. We talk and they’re off hard drugs because I bailed. If anything, applaud that effort.”
Brushing off the past and looking towards the present/future however, Fafara feels acclaim for DevilDriver’s upcoming endeavours is nigh. Refusing to adhere to their typical two-year album cycle in hopes that Beast will be fully embraced by critics and fans alike, he aspires for a solid victories from the band he refuses to let lose.
“When I was a kid, you got a record every year. I don’t know when it became in-fashion to wait two or three years,” he chuffs. “This record is just ready to be released and we’re already writing; have five amazing songs. We don’t rest on our laurels. We’re always looking for new tones and ways of doing things. We know where we’re going with albums six, seven and eight and it’s not where Beast is. We could have easily said, ‘Well, Pray For Villains got great marks, so let’s continue doing that,’ but we didn’t. I told this label when they signed us that our best albums would be from five to nine, ’cause that’s when we’re gonna learn how to work together. I don’t know any bands who’ve had that happen, with better albums coming out later and they start to blossom. That’s what’s happening with DevilDriver.”