2002 was an important year for Dez Fafara. Coal Chamberís record, "Dark Days," was in the charts and the band was enjoying some well-earned recognition; some would say that Fafara and crew were nearing the top of their game. Fafara didnít see it like that-- the messy behind the scenes business of being in a band was ravaging what outwardly appeared to be a functioning, hard working unit. After a long hard look in the mirror, Fafara decided he needed a change.
So whatís next? Well, some barbecues at his Santa Barbara home to start, followed by a little time to clear his head. He jammed with local musicians and basically just hung out with his family and friends. Then came a chance meeting in a restaurant with who eventually became the members of DevilDriver gave Fafara what he describes as his second chance.
Now, nearly five years and two albums later Fafara and DevilDriver are once again poised on the edge of greatness. Their next release, "The Last Kind Words" (due out July 31st, 2007 on RoadRunner Records), has the music world buzzing. Call it a gift or just hard work, for Fafara lightning is about to strike twice.
I congratulated Fafara on the upcoming release and asked if he could tell me a little about the new record.
"Itís faster, there are more guitars, more variations in the music and itís far more technical than anything weíve ever done. We wrote this record for us. RoadRunner Records has been great. They allowed us to make the album we wanted to make. If you want heavy, this record will not disappoint. The first thing youíll notice are the guitars. There are more solos, more harmonies and far more chug!" he explained.
DevilDriver started work on "The Last Kind Words" in 2005 while still on the road supporting "Fury of Our Makers Hand." They wrote on the bus, backstage and in hotel rooms searching for the right riff and the right lyric to push this record over the top. By the time they entered their practice space to begin assembling the new record, most of the songs had already emerged.
Next came the important question of producer. For this record DevilDriver enlisted Jason Suecof (Trivium, Chimaira). In late 2006, with a firm grip on the new songs, they entered Sonic Ranch studios near El Paso, Texas.
"It was great. The studio was in the middle of nowhere. There was nothing but desert all around us so there were no distractions," Fafara confided.
Suecof soon discovered that pre-production for the new record really wasnít needed. DevilDriver had demoed the songs so many times that they were near perfect. Recording began almost immediately. I asked Fafara what it was like to work with Suecof.
"He worked amazingly fast," Fafara declared. "Jason wanted to catch first and second takes on most of what we did. We recorded the entire record in less than a month. The result is a very organic sounding album. It feels much more alive. Itís easy to sterilize your music in the studio by re-recording every part until you get perfection, but that often takes away the feel of the music."
I read that Fafaraís son, Simon, made a guest appearance on this record. I asked him about the experience.
With a laugh Fafara replied, "Yeah, heís nine years old. We bought him a guitar for Christmas and heís been going nuts. Trust me, I would rather have him attending Yale than being a musician but sometimes that not up to us! We brought him in and I held him up to the mic. I sang along with him and then we backed my vocals off in the mix. He sang the line, Ďbelow angels and above beasts!í The kid sounds like corpse grinder! Itís really special that the band didnít mind my son being a part of this record."
Even though the release date was still months away, DevilDriver had begun touring in support of the new record. Theyíre just finishing a tour with Dimmu Borgir and Unearth. I asked how it went and what their plans were for the next tour.
"Dimmu Borgir were great to us. We were so happy to be a part of this tour. The shows are sold out or almost sold out every night. We are playing two of the new songs live and there has been tremendous response to the music. Sometimes youíre not really sure of what you have until you play the music live. Itís great to see that the fans are enjoying the new stuff as much as we are."
"After this tour we go to Europe to play a bunch of the festivals. Weíre playing the Download Festival at Donnington," he announced.
Donnington is where DevilDriver hopes to enter the Guiness Book of World Records. During their shows, DevilDriver encourages their fans to form a circle pits and these pits are fast becoming a signature for the band. At the 2007 installment of the Download Festival, DevilDriver will once again be calling for help from their fans as they hope to incite the world's largest circle pit.
I hear that DevilDriver planned to headline their first tour this fall. I asked Fafara about the future.
"We certainly hope to headline this fall, but first we have something very special in the works that Iím not in a position to announce just yet. But letís say that it is big and we are very excited about it," he teased.
I thanked Fafara for the interview.
"No, honestly thank you. Iím just happy to have a second chance!" he replied.
DevilDriver is a band that understands hard work and that precarious roller coaster ride called the music industry. And as they continue to climb up that first big hill, they prepare themselves for the wild ride that follows.
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