DevilDriver: The Sugar & Spice...

After ten years we have proved our tag line of ‘The Californian Groove Machine’

No amount of words can describe the amount of energy pulsating from the Californian groove machine DevilDriver. A band so rich in flavour and spice, it’s no surprise they increase the stakes with every album they release. Metal As Fuck caught up with the man himself Dez Fafara to chat about the split from Roadrunner Records, the latest album Winter Kills and searching for the ‘vibe’.

There has been much happening over at the Devildriver HQ of late; your first album through Napalm Records (Winter Kills) is soon to be released, Chris Towning is now full time bassist, not to mention the other band members (drummer John Boecklin and guitarists Jeff Kendrick and Mike Spreitzer) have upped the ante in shaping Winter Kills…. You’ve been busy. “Absolutely, very busy! This new record is full of groove, we’ve tapped a stronger and different level each time, this record is basically lightening in a bottle”.

You've left long time record label Roadrunner - why? “the label isn’t the same anymore.” What changed for you and the future of the band to make that decision? “I think it was because the people, who initially signed us to the label, weren’t working there anymore, our last two albums weren’t treated very well by the label, the label wasn’t willing to put in the dollars to make the albums a success. A lot of the bands weren’t happy with how things were going for them you know. In saying this, yeah they gave me my career - I owe a lot to them, to the people involved, mainly the press people but they’re not there anymore, I really wish them the best you know”.   

Does this change to Napalm increase the level of excitement for the release of the album? “Absolutely! We can feel their passion for the album and they really got straight into promoting this album, they knew what we wanted to do and were onboard with everything we wanted to do and create. We’re the USA flagship for the label so we really needed to deliver for them, there are always two different kinds of bands; the bands that are good then go to shit and the bands that just get better and better, guess which one we are” [Laughs]

Now you’ve mentioned that the title of the latest album is all about rebirth? “I love the starting of things you know, the blank canvas, watching things take form – look at my career, I went from Coal Chamber to DevilDriver, I love being proficient, I love music and watching it all be created and growing. I work really hard. The band works really hard and it’s satisfying to see the end product after all the work that has been put in since the birth of an idea”. What will Winter Kills clutch be in your opinion? What is going to draw people in? “If you’re a DevilDriver fan you are going to love it. If you have never heard of us before than I recommend listening to this latest album first and working your way back through the catalogue”.

I totally agree – for instance the free streaming of the track Ruthless – the comments, the tweets, it was insanity! Comments such as ‘They’re back’ were most apparent. The DevilDriver Californian groove is most apparent and the furiousness has us all drooling…. “Thanks man, that means a lot, it’s cool to watch the momentum building over time, the new blood and new fire that has been injected into the band for this album is overwhelming. The case with Jon [Miller] who couldn’t tour anymore, he was just killing himself on the road with booze, we had to let him go – enlisting Aaron [Patrick] & Mike [Spreitzer] and having Chris officially onboard just added the sugar and spice that DevilDriver needed to really pop”.

Where was your head space throughout the creation of this album? We spoke about rebirth previously – did you achieve the essence of heavy metal (as you’ve stated) power & complete freedom? “After ten years we have proved our tag line the fans have given us you know ‘the Californian Groove Machine’ I am surrounded by dudes who enjoy their craft, its works so well, we have a pecking order in the band that we all live by, it works man, it has allowed us to create the power we need in the music and enjoy the freedom that comes with it. This album in particular was amazing with that – I was writing everywhere, this doesn’t normally happen, for me I delivered according to the great music I was given from the band – the home studio I set up allowed for the frame of mind I wanted to get into, I was more focused than I ever have been in my life throughout this record, it was on fire”. Right, you had mentioned that you wanted to work as stress free as possible on this album? Was the vibe in the studio relaxed? And what changes in the recording process were put in place to achieve this? “The worst thing about recording, I’m going to tell you – getting off a six month world tour then only getting to spend a couple of days with your family, fly out to another city into a recording studio who has had hundreds of bands before you, trying to achieve the same success – you’d think that being in a big fancy recording studio would give you some sort of edge, that couldn’t be further from the truth – you know, like shit, my dog was sick, my wife missed me, and I was seriously sick of looking for a place with a ‘vibe’ so I set it all up at my house and I tell you it was the best way to do it – I’m not doing it any differently from now on”.  

You kicked off the year with a bang of a tour; Cannibal Corpse, Black Dahlia Murder & Winds of Plague – good to see you all survived. And touring this year – a short run of gigs in Europe, Wacken I see. I’ll catch you there “Yeah for sure, we’ll have a beer – we head off for Europe in about two weeks then we begin two years of nonstop touring. I love the road! I live for the road…. So yeah seventeen days off then all hell breaks loose”. So what touring plans are in place for the two years? We have a killer co-headliner tour coming up in the States, I can’t say who with yet but it’s going to be fucking amazing, I love the bands and all the different styles we’ll have going on this tour. We may actually be getting down to Australia, your country made my wife and kids feel so welcome and seriously if I am able to surf in the morning before soundcheck then hell yeah I’m there [Laughs] So I guess we’ll be seeing you at Wacken!”