As DevilDriver sharpen up their axes and brush off their gold-coated selves after their well-received Bloodstock appearance, I caught up with Dez Fefara (Vocals) and spoke to him about the plans they have for the year, their time watching a marriage proposal take place in the Bloodstock Signing Tent, past events and how he believes work ethic is a key to success.
We have selected a number of questions from the interview for your reading pleasure, but please also find the audio version above.
Hi there Dez, so at Bloodstock you witnessed a marriage proposal take place, what was that like for you?
That was a good time man, I mean any time people will go to a gig and coming together as a couple and enjoying music when, they were tying the knot at a Metal concert and I mean that is a damn good time. You know what I mean? (laughs).
Was that the first time you saw something like this happen?
No, actually that has happened quite a few times with DevilDriver, it happened after playing in Berlin and Australia and it is a wonderful thing to see people come to a gig and tie the knot, basically it's a cool thing. [Then refers to the Bloodstock occasion and reflects on his thoughts]: I was thinking this could go one way or the other (laughs), nah like I said it could be a beautiful thing or it could be turned down, but I always wish everyone the very best and I've been married for a long time so I know what a beautiful day it could be but I've also been a part of scenario's which were not so good. But I wish the best to people.
Now you released "Winter Kills" back in 2013, have you got any plans for a new release this year?
No, I mean if I had my way we would put a record out about every year and a half, it's just impossible so we're pretty much on a two and a half year cycle right now and we can very much keep up with that, that being said later on in the Fall (Autumn) of this year we will be recording and then sometime next year I will be recording vocals. But just the way we learn to write together is what made "Winter Kills", "Winter Kills", it's what made the six records perform well on the road, we're glad we're using this new writing style and by starting now we want to get ahead of the game to make sure we have a real quality product to go in and record.
Of course you're coming over to the UK in April and are touring with Sylosis and Bleed From Within, is it the first time you've played alongside these bands?
No, playing alongside Sylosis they were on tour with us and they got into a little horrible accident in America, I'm not sure if you know about that so they were in an RV and they got wrecked pretty bad and were pretty lucky to be alive, but I mean they had to redirect their tour so it was kind of like 'hey guys lets get together and kick shit up, we're glad your alive', they've got their own and sound and brought a lot to the table.
I always like coming to the UK, there are certain places as a musician you can make it or break it, in that stage we were looking at Los Angeles and the UK. We're very loud over there, it's a great time and I have a lot of friends and I know the shows are going to be off the hook, and that is going to be important for me, when you know the shows you're going to perform at are going to be crazy, it makes it all the better and we got to make sure that we will be ready to do it.
In regards to your song 'Not All Who Wander Are Lost', there's a section where the band-members are subject to x-rays, was that your idea or another band-members?
No no, that was an idea I had and when I tried it out the director was like oh this can easily be done this way and that way and so we ended up putting that in the video. I've worked alongside some really cool people so.... [listen to the audio at the top for a more in depth answer to this]
Thinking back to when you were a child, did you foresee yourself with DevilDriver as big as you are now?
Oh no I don't think it's the matter of being big or small, it's about being a musician. So now it's kind of a different scenario in relation to listening to a record collection because now you would ask 'hey mum, dad, let me borrow your iPod for the day', which is not going to happen because they're going to need it for work, or to go to the gym or whatever. In my house, all those kinds of records I got into them early on so now I have 60's stuff like The Doors, Steppenwolf's 'Born To Be Wild and other stuff like that I got into when I was really young, so I saw myself being a musician but didn't want to think in terms of being big or small and instead just getting up on stage and being a musician and that is really worked out for me.
Regarding "Winter Kills" which debuted #32 on the Billboard, could you perhaps shed light on why Metal music does or does not tend to get high positions on the Billboard?
Well metal tends not to get in to Billboard top #40 and it is extremely hard to get into, especially when you're against someone like Justin Timberlake and just not getting into it, but this is starting to change and I'm really proud to say that we made #32 and that's with no clean singing or no clean vocals, nothing good on the radio and as a result making it onto the radio means that it shoots onto the Billboard chart, that with requests for airplay pushes you further up the chart. But the chart is mainly a lot of pop music, a lot of pop punk and to see this shift with metal now making the chart's, it's something rather special, as metal is seen as the disproportionate and I don't know why it is happening, but it's happening.
Out of all the albums you own, what album would most people be shocked at in knowing that you own a copy?
(laughs), well I listen to a wide range of music so from everything including blues to punk rock, to Black Metal, to psychobilly and I love it all man, as far as being shocked I think you would have to take a look at my record collection and see that I have some Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Black Sabbath, Emperor, Dio, Sepultura, Black Flag, etc. and crazy opera stuff, you know I collect music as I am a music musician, not a metal musician and I'm very far from the purest in that anyone who knows me knows that I love Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy as much as I love Black Sabbath and Black Flag. So, I wouldn't say they would be shocked, more so I would say they would be like 'Oh that's a Sinatra CD, didn't know you like that music and I'd say yeah been listening to it a lot'.
What would you say to those unsigned bands who don't quite understand yet what being in a metal band is about, in respect to investing time and money? What of those bands who think promoters should bow down to them and give them gigs instead of working for them?
If you're getting into an underground art, and I mean anything that's an underground art like painting, sculpting, playing the Blues, Punk Rock, Heavy Metal, don't get into it for the money, and basically you will always have to put something into life in order to get something out and so that means you would have to pay for gas, food, hotel accommodation or you'll probably have to go one or two weeks without a shower and so there's always going to be different kinds of scenario's on the way up, but if you stick with it, you know you keep your day job and you keep yourself sane, you stay away from the problems that will kill your band and stay away from hard drugs and all of the things that are going to destroy your future, then you might have a future. Don't go following a scene, you should be making your own style of music and do it for your heart and yourself, and those who like your band. Believe in yourself man, that's all you got to do just believe in yourself and those kinds of people who have done that have started all kinds of bands, if you believe in yourself you will be able to do things.
People who believed in me helped me out and those that didn't, I am no longer friends with and most of them are no longer in the industry any more so it is also not only important to believe in yourself, but others too as they are the ones who you will want to spread the positivity around.
Those bands (laughs) who think that people should bow down to them are stupid, you know you're just a f**king musician. You're not a world leader or whatever, you're a musician. Here's the thing right, I come from what you would call a working-class background, ok I was on a construction site for years and I know what it's like to work my ass off. With my dad, I would go down there around 5 in the morning (a.m.) and still be working when before the sun goes down and you're so tired. I've never lost that work ethic because I believed in becoming a man, and not through buying houses, or cars or having a beautiful wife. So no, no one should ever have to bow down to you even if you're a musician.
Finally are there any hello's, thank you's, etc you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
Yeah well, for anyone who has supported me from the beginning of my career up till now, in any number of my bands thank you very much and I'll never ever let you down, not through my music nor through the live shows, so come on out to the shows, get in the pit and have a good time with DevilDriver and throw away the chairs for a night with us.
DevilDriver are on tour in the UK from the 3rd to the 10th April and are hitting these following cities (in order): CARDIFF, LONDON, WOLVERHAMPTON, GLASGOW, DUBLIN, MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON.
Tickets are on general sale now and you can pick them up at www.kililive.com and www.seetickets.com (Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton), www.ticketmaster.ie (Dublin), www.triplegmusic.com (Glasgow) and www.wolvescivic.co.uk (Wolverhampton).