As you’re likely aware, Devildriver just completed a whirlwind tour of Australia. Their hectic schedule allowed them a small amount of time for publicity and Killyourstereo.com managed to secure a chat with frontman Dez FaFara at their hotel before the band’s final show of the tour in Melbourne.
Okay just to start things off, how have you been liking Australia?
I love it man, it’s kind of a redundant question because it’s one of the things everybody asks me, but I love this place. There’s something about it that feels like home to me, I’m from Southern California so it’s similar. I love the people, I love the culture. It’s wonderful.
You guys have been here for Soundwave, you’ve done tours all around the country. Do you have a favourite part of Australia by now?
I love the places I’ve been, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide. I’d like to go see some of the Outback, I really would. But in general, I like the whole region and it’s a good time. You guys like your music down here, which helps immensely.
So on the tour, which show has been the best? Which has had the most energy?
We’ve done Brisbane and Sydney; Sydney was packed out but Brisbane had it beat. The energy was insane, I almost had to stop the show at one point. It was out of control. But Sydney was amazing, so I’ve gotta hand it to both cities at this point. We’ll see what happens with Melbourne, we fly out tomorrow; it’s been a whirlwind of a tour, we flew in, we had one night and then we just started to play, fly, play, fly.
Are you going to come back and do some more touristy things at any point?
I would love to, I don’t tend to take time off and when I do, I stay at home cause I travel so much. But it would make my wife happy if when I took time off and I took her to a few places. She came with me to Australia before with the children and had a great time here and she loved it. We’ll see about that.
How do you manage family and touring at the same time? Are your kids used to it after growing up with it?
Yeah they’ve grown up with it, I’ve been doing it for 20 years. You have to be Yin and Yang about it definitely. You tour just enough to do what you have to do; I over-tour, I tour harder than any musician out there. I don’t know who logs more road miles and air miles than me per year on a release. That being said, I took my first summer off this year in like 15 years. So we had two months off before we got here, and it was awesome. I’m going to make sure I institute that. As far as when we’re going to come back, I don’t know, I think Devildriver’s going to take a prolonged break at this point. We’re writing for the new record, but I think it’s time for us all to just take a minute at this point, take a rest. Plus I’m getting ready to do a Coal Chamber record; that being side, I don’t want to convolute the two and I certainly don’t want to give one of them 50% cause I’m giving the other some of my time.
With the new album, what sort of ideas do you have going on for it? Is it following on from Beast, or Winter Kills?
We have a signature sound on every record, and every record is quite a bit different. Different guys take the leads on writing different tracks, which adds to the album. If you go from Pray for Villains to Beast to Winter Kills it’s totally different worlds, but you can tell it’s Devildriver and I think it’s going to be the same sort of thing with the new record. You’re going to hear a revolution from the band definitely; Mike [Spreitzer, Guitar] is taking a predominant lead on this next record, which is a great thing. He’s very melodic, we’ve got some special things that are in the works as well that I think will be extremely pleasing to people.
Sounds like you can’t elaborate on anything like that at this point.
I wish I could. It’s so early and two years from now is when you’re gonna want to talk to me about this, or a year and a half.
Here you’re still on Roadrunner, but overseas you’ve moved away; how does it feel to be away after being with them for so long?
First off, you’ve gotta know; I’m a tourist, I don’t like change. Like, at all. I had to open myself up to that, and I think that was a wonderful thing that I did. Napalm [Records] is a great partner, not only are they passionate about music, but they support it to the point where they don’t want to infringe on the creative rights of the artist. They don’t tell us what to do, they just say “deliver us a great record”, and we do. I’ve also partnered up with Metal Blade Records, Brian Slagel is a genius you know, he’s been around a long time in the game and guys like me have a lot to learn from someone like him. If you get 10 minutes to pick his brain, you do so. If you’re scholarly in any way with your business, you want to look up to those who have been there longer than you and done those things. That being said, the one thing you need is passion in anything, not just music. You’ve got to be passionate about what you do, and Napalm has the passion for what we do right now, as does Roadrunner, and Metal Blade, which is cool.
You’re working with all these record labels, for bands that are just starting out and thinking they may want to go down the independent way, what would your advice to them be?
I get asked this a lot and I personally don’t recommend it. I’d say, start packing clubs in your hometown. If you can’t do that, then don’t do anything else, period. If you’re not selling out the clubs in your hometown, then you don’t have a shot nationally. From there, get yourself a really good manager, somebody who’s in the game and has other bands. He’ll give you a good agent; from there get yourself a good attorney. I mean, start building from the ground up, it’s not just signing with a good record label. I do believe in labels, they help artists man. The deals have gone down money wise, because obviously downloading and everything else; I started in 1994 when there was none.
Not even Napster was around.
Nope, not even around. It was fortunate, because I pulled records from that. Now people say “if you sell 100,000 records, that’s the new Gold” and I say “then change the status, give me the plaque!”. But my advice to them would be, keep your nose to the ground, sell out your local towns. Try to affiliate yourself with a manager or somebody that’s really good, and get in and go from there. To go nationally, internationally, you’re gonna need partners, you can’t do it yourself. Even if you crowdfund yourself… Say you wanted to start a band. You crowdfund $300,000. Do you know where to use it?
Nope, I’ve got no idea.
Exactly. Well you can say “I’ll just hire a publicity person”, if you know that far ahead. I believe in partners in business, and I believe if you take good partners you’ll be successful.
Even the bands you tour with are technically partners in your business.
Who do you want to tour with after this prolonged break, or are you just not thinking that far ahead?
I’m not even thinking about that right now. We just spent two months in the US with Whitechapel and had such a great time with those guys and their crew we decided to bring them over here to be main support for us. After this we go home for maybe a month, month and a half and we do Knotfest in California. That’s our last show on Winter Kills and probably be our last show for maybe two years, which we’ve never taken anything longer than maybe a three month break. I just think it’s important we do that now. Instead of seeing a record every two-two and a half years from us, you’re not going to see that this time. I believe you’re gonna see one three years down the line from our release, and that’s just the way it’s going to be. Everybody needs time to breathe.
With Knotfest, that’s going to be one of the first shows Slipknot are going to be playing when they come back; have you heard anything about how well they’re doing?
I wouldn’t comment on anything I have heard. But of course I hear everything. I’m the guy who can sit at the back of my bus or my hotel room and people come tell me everything about every band they want. I can’t comment on anything that’s going on with them, I’m sure they’re getting ready, they’re going to come out and they’re going to do great. The thing with Slipknot is, they’ve got a great leader. Not only a great frontman, and keep in mind Coal Chamber took them on their first US run ever. He’s not only a good frontman, he’s a great businessman. So I trust in what they’re going to do, and I’m happy they asked Devildriver to be a part of it; they actually asked Coal Chamber to be a part of it as well and I just didn’t feel it was right on the Winter Kills album to bring Coal Chamber fans to that festival. So I said “let’s just bring Devildriver” and next year when you’ve got something going on, if you want Coal Chamber involved, let me know.
Well bringing out both those bands is a ridiculous amount of work, you’d have to be doing two full sets each time.
We were talking about supports before, how did you get onto Aversions Crown?
We heard about them just through local people, and then we put them on. I was just in their dressing room now and shaking their hands, because I haven’t really seen them the past couple of shows. It’s just been incredible for us, the minute we hit the hotel we go to sleep, even if it’s in the daytime, then we hit the show. But I was just in their dressing room shaking their hands and saying it was great to see them. But here’s the thing, today’s local band is tomorrow’s national act, if the local people get behind them. These guys got shows with us, so they’ve obviously got something going on, so people should go support them. Because then you’ve got another Australian artist that’s gone national, that’s good for them, that’s good for you, good for everybody.
Aversions Crown have done that, they’ve only been around for about four years. They’ve just got that rise in popularity from word of mouth; do you think that’s the best way to get up in the industry?
I’ll go back to before, if you’re not selling out clubs in your hometown, you’ve got no reason to even think of going international. Some bands do get together, then four months later they’ve got a record deal after giving a demo to a label that signed them and they start touring, and start doing well. But you need a magician to do that. I think if you’re doing well in your hometown, go from there.
We were on piracy beforehand, what are your views on it? Do you think it’s killing the industry, or that’s just how it’s evolved?
It’s very difficult man. When I came in, if you listened to a song or knew my music, it’s because you bought a record. You supported the process of what we had to do to get through to make that record and supported the process of us touring etc. I can only say it like this: we were up in my room listening to Spotify and I love it. But for $13 a month, I can listen to 500 records. So I said to Frankenstein, my best friend who’s been on the road with me for over 20 years now, we were listening to some artist and I said “what do you think this artist sees off this?” “What do you think this artist is going to get from me listening to this record?”. Usually he would see, out of the $15 he probably sees a buck or two right from a CD? What does he get from this?
It’s like 0.00006 of a cent or something.
I know from iTunes I see about 2 cents out of the $1.50 or 99c of a song.
It’s absurd. How are you expecting to support yourself and do it in a decent manner, and even farther than that, a younger artist dedicate his life to music, supposed to survive in that world? I don’t know where it’s going to go, I really don’t. We try to do everything when we release CD’s, we watermark them and everything else to make sure they don’t get out. Winter Kills was successful because it never really leaked. Roadrunner in the US was notorious for leaking out CD’s two to three weeks early to hype it up for the sales. But I think that didn’t work because I watched Winter Kills not get leaked and it’s the highest charting record we have. We’ll just have to wait and see man, we’ll just have to really see. I’ll do music if we’re making dime or a dollar you know? You’ve gotta be passionate about what you love, and I love making music.
Do you think there’s still going to be the same amount of younger bands coming up now that they can’t support themselves as well?
I don’t know. There’s a million bands too right now, that’s another thing, it’s so convoluted. Especially in underground blues, punk, metal. Metal has just been injected in the last five years with so many new bands and so many new forms of metal as well, and I think that’s good in general for everybody. But who’s going to weed out in the next 2, 3, 4, 5 years? We’ve just gotta see where it goes. The smart ones are not only going to be artistic, and they’re going to have a business mind on them and I think that’s important. You can’t forget you’re getting into a business.
Well thanks for talking with me today man, unfortunately we’re out of time.
Thanks man, thanks for taking the time out to talk with me today.