Impact interviews vocalist Dez Fafara from Devil Driver about the new album, the current tour and the attempt to break the largest circle pit at Download.
How are you finding Nottingham so far?
Good. We got some good food and we’re ready for the show.
Have you been into town at all?
Yeah I have, many times, many times. I like this town a lot – its a good time and its a good time out at night too. I believe after the show we’re probably gonna go out even though we were out late last night too, we’re a little tired but the party must go on!
Indeed! Where are you thinking of going out to?
Not sure. I heard some guys talking about going to some clubs so –
Yeh I’m probably just gonna follow the party…
This is one of the heaviest package tours to run on such a large scale. What do you think of the condition of extreme metal at the moment?
I think there’s a lot of really good bands out right now, man. There’s a lot of bands that sound the same at this point, but I think you’ll find that the cream will rise to the top over time. I think everybody on this tour is doing they’re own thing and has their own sound and it’s a very, very important thing for a tour that everybody has their own unique gig and that you don’t go and see five bands that sound the same.
You’ve been doing this leg of the tour with two English bands for support. What do you think of the English metal scene at the moment?
It’s killer! I mean if you’ve got bands like Malefice coming out of it, you’re doing just fine. That’s why we’ve taken them on tour a few times now. We like the guys, we like their music and I’d like to get them over to the States too. I think that people would like that band in the States.
How have the gigs been so far?
Sold out and crazy. Absolutely insane. We did two nights in London sold out, last night was incredible and tonight is gonna be incredible.
Have their been any notable stories so far?
Well it’s only 4 or 5 days in, so nothing really notable other than just good times. Everybody’s getting along and trying to stay healthy.
Your newest album is called Pray for Villains. What does this mean to you and could you expand upon some of the themes of the album?
Pray for Villains was kind of a tongue in cheek title when it comes to the good guy letting you down and the bad-ass in black taking care of the situation, that’s basically what that means. The owl concept is because the owl is both revered and feared in different cultures so it’s a villain, it’s a hero, thus in the song: ‘They pray for their villains | When their heroes let them down’ [from ‘Pray for Villains’] so it all kind of ties in.
It’s arguably your heaviest album to date and its debuted at number 35 on the US Billboard. What do you think it is about DevilDriver that inspires such affection?
It’s part and parcel due to us being proficient at our touring and prolific in our writing. We’re not gonna make you wait 3 or 4 years for a record. Some bands do do that and it just doesn’t work for us so we stay on the road and we keep giving music and our show never wavers even if we’re tired or sick or hungry or whatever, the show is the most important thing. I’m known for, even if I’m sick, not cancelling and the rest of the guys are the same way. You know what you’re gonna get when you come and we’re not gonna let you down. We put together good bills like this one, so from start to finish you get your money’s worth.
Your previous band climbed to fame quite quickly whereas this time around the process has been more steady. How do you think that’s affected things now?
Well even the road with Coal Chamber was a long one before we started to really pick up steam. I think this band has such a road work ethic, it’s very important, and we’re doing it the right way. I started all over again and we opened up for everybody who ever opened for Coal Chamber. They took us out, which we’re very thankful for. We just keep putting in the road work and we all know that in the end it’ll pay off and I’m not talking monetarily, I’m saying that even now the shows keep getting bigger and more are sold out and that’s really what you want when you’re in a band – you wanna see people coming out.
Do you see any difference between yourselves and some of the younger bands that are also achieving success?
We’re all on the road, we’re all doing the same thing so it doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or if you’re 40. The current state of music right now is that there’s a lot of heavy bands and that’s good. It means that its out there and people are listening to it. I’ve got a 12 year old at home and that’s all he listens to. DevilDriver, Behemoth, Job for a Cowboy, Lamb of God, no bullshit, he’s a heavy metal fan.
If you could give younger bands one piece of advice, what would it be?
Get your partying out of your system now. Stay away from hard drugs, hard alcohol and your ego. Stay the fuck away from it. You won’t last very long with those three things.
At the Download festivals you’ve attempted to break the record for the largest circle pit. Where did this idea come from and was this year’s attempt successful?
It was a tongue in cheek thing between the band members. Somebody said we should ride in and try to do it and the first time was under the tent, there was a lot of people and they said they didn’t know how to speculate how big it was. We didn’t contact the Guinness Book of Records people for the last Download but apparently they showed up. It was 80,000 people and everybody was divided in four so it was kind of hard to get one big pit. It was going off nonetheless, there were kids all the way at the top doing it. For us it’s just an appreciation thing, it’s something that the fans give us. Somebody said to me the other day in an interview ‘How do you create that?’ and I said like ‘I don’t. We don’t. They do.’
Do you think you’ll be trying it again?
The circle pit kind of comes with us and that’s what we do, so if the shows keep getting bigger and the pits keep getting bigger, eventually I’m sure Guinness are gonna come to their senses.
What did you make of Download this year?
Amazing. It was great. That festival is a great time. Its nothing but bands and crews running around and you know everybody. It’s a big, big summer camp. I love it.
How do you think it compares to festivals back in the States?
Oh it doesn’t. No, no, no. Ozzfest is pretty big, like in LA they’ll have 60,000 people but it’s usually 20 or 30,000 people, nothing like 80 or 100,000 like Download. That’s a hell of a lot of people.
What does 2010 hold for DevilDriver?
We’re gonna do this tour and then we go to Australia with Lamb of God, maybe Indonesia or Japan. We go back out in January with Suffocation and Goatwhore, then we go in to write a record and we go right back out on the road in June, and hopefully release another record for next Halloween, which would be appropriate timing.
You have a lot of tattoos. Are there any stories behind any of them?
There’s stories behind all of them, son [laughs].
Do you have a favourite one?
Well I like my wife’s name on my hand. It reminds me of her. Everything I do with my right hand I get to see her name. But my pumpkins on my hands are probably my favourite. This is by Paul Booth in New York and he’s an incredible tattoo artist. The story behind that is: I love Halloween.
Nottingham’s gonna be the best gig on the tour…
Yeah it’s gonna be pretty awesome. It’s always a good crowd here, so we’re looking forward to it.
Have you played this venue before?
Many, many, many times. We’ve played the big room and the small room.
Was there anything else you wanted to say?
We’re very appreciative to be here, man. We wanna thank anybody that’s ever been behind us.