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Stage Buzz: DevilDriver at Portage Theater

| February 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

DevilDriver: Dez Fafara center

California groove-metal machine, DevilDriver have returned with a ferocious seventh album, Trust No One. On 10 tracks, vocalist Dez Fafara is like a ticking time bomb ready to explode. With a dose of anger and brutal rants about life being destroyed by trust, this is Fafara at his cynical best. Gearing up for their first headline tour in three years, Fafara is locked and loaded.

IE: Bound By The Road Tour with Death Angel, Winds of Plague, The Agonist and Azreal will be your first headline run in three years. How stoked are you?
Dez Fafara: I’m really excited. Those are really killer bands in their own right. For us, it’s been a longtime coming. We’ve just been doing so many other things and hadn’t had a chance to properly headline. We’re bringing a full production with huge LED screens. The live show that we’re bringing is going to be incomparable to anything DevilDriver has ever had. I would say if you’ve seen us before, this is the time to come back. And if you’ve never seen us before, get ready to establish one of your favorite live acts after we get ready to show what we have to show off.

IE: How has the preparation gone leading up to the tour? Has it been a bit nerve-wracking?
Dez Fafara: Not really. I’ve just been going over the last-minute details right now. There’s three/four minute videos for each song that has to be done to a click track and all sorts of stuff. I’ve been putting together the show for about two months now. There’s a lot of preparation. We go into rehearsal for four days with the band with full-scale production with lights and full crew. We’re truly trying to do something different on stage that not a lot of people are doing. So it’s going to be a fantastic thing to come out and watch.

IE: Since your last album, Winter Kills, you went through another band change with the departure of guitarist Jeff Kendrick and drummer John Boeklin in 2014. How did you approach the songwriting for Trust No One?
Dez Fafara: I let cats do what they wanted to do. Neal (Tiemann, guitar), my new guitar player is a very talented guy in his own right and I told him to bring me some songs. He brought a fair amount to the demographic of the songs that we had. The first single that we released was “Daybreak,” which was Neal’s song. So it’s not very often that a new member can come into a band and you release their single as the first track. But he just fit in so well. And I told Austin (D’Amond, drums) that I like it to groove and I like it to swing. Other than that, I wanted him to put his own style into it and not just file in and follow underneath the last guy. So things didn’t really get thrown upside down other than the vibe getting much better. As you know, often times if you leave a job or other people leave a job, sometimes the air all of a sudden comes back into the room. And that’s what it’s been like for DevilDriver since. It’s been an absolute fantastic time touring and writing music with those guys and I’m glad that the change did happen in the long run.

IE: On past albums you’ve had to call out certain people. Was anger a motivation for this album?
Dez Fafara: Not necessarily anger, but it’s me exploring the way that human relationships are. This record isn’t about calling anybody out per se, but it’s about calling out people in general. I’m saying watch how you treat people, watch how you’re treated. This record really does dive into so many aspects and perspectives of what it’s like to be a human on this planet. I got a lot off my chest definitely.

IE: What were you trying to say lyrically?
Dez Fafara: Heavy metal and especially what I do, is kind of incumbent on me to be the speaker of the house for a lot of people who can’t get up and explore those emotions, either anger or frustration. If you’re driving home from work and a construction truck slows you up, and you put on DevilDriver, you’re going to get to let it out. So it’s my job to capture those emotions that you may be feeling but might not want to put it forth or may not want to experience it on a daily basis. No pun intended, but a lot of people say, ‘Driving is fun when you’re driving to DevilDriver!’

IE: Trust no One was produced again by Mark Lewis. After five albums now, it seems like you’re both on the same page.
Dez Fafara: I’ve done a lot of records with Mark. He started co-producing us back when we did The Last Kind Words. From there we moved on working with him on numerous things, not just DevilDriver records but also a lot of the one-off stuff that we did like the Iron Maiden cover. Working with him this time around we got to experience different emotions from each other. And it was definitely interesting for sure.

IE: On Trust No One, DevilDriver sounds like DevilDriver. Did you keep things organic or did you want to experiment with different elements?
Dez Fafara: It’s kind of weird in DevilDriver. We’ve got seven records, but every one of those records are so different from one another. For us, we don’t stay true to a formula, but we do what we’re feeling. As long as it’s aggressive, it’s got groove, hooks and it’s hitting hard, that’s what we go for. This record was all about keeping it heavy and not going the route that a lot of bands are going right now as far as trying to get radio air play. We wanted to do what felt natural. It’s the highest-charting record we’ve had. And that’s a pretty interesting thing to say after seven records you charted the highest you did after changing two members. So something is working incredibly correct within DevilDriver at the moment.

IE: There’s some great guitar solos throughout the album. Mike and Neal really let loose on this one.
Dez Fafara: Neal’s been playing guitar since he was four years old. He’s one of the most accomplished songwriters I’ve come across. Not only that, but we hung out for two or three years before he joined the band and a lot of people don’t know this but I had a side project with Neal that we were working on under cover. So just that open candle, we slotted him into DevilDriver and he was happy. And Mike (Spreitzer), that guy is incredible. And his sense comes from a real dark atmospheric feel. Some of the best solos I’ve ever heard from these guys are on this record for sure.

-Kelley Simms

For the full interview visit our mobile edition

Appearing Feb 14th at Portage Theater

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