DevilDriver’s Dez Fafara: I Feel Like I Left Everything on the Table With ‘Dealing With Demons’
DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show. The singer spoke with Jackie about making the decision to deliver one of his most personal collections to date, with the double album set, Dealing With Demons (first volume due Oct. 9).
The vocalist calls it one of his most "literal" records, having experienced some significant changes and challenges in his life over the past year and deciding to meet it head on through his music.
Dez also shares his thoughts on the return of live music, discusses offering some insight into his life by creating Instagram pages for his dogs and more. Check out the chat below:
We're here to talk about the new DevilDriver record, Dealing with Demons. Lyrically, it's very literal and easy to understand. What's easier and harder about being so direct with your lyrical message?
I've always kind of waxed off the question, "What is this song about?" I usually say what is it to you? I let it live in the listeners' minds as to what they have as their conjecture as what the song is about. This is a very literal record for me. Dealing with Demons is exactly that. I had come off years of sobriety and other things I've been going through, and I said look, I'm going to deal with every demon that I've got, put it on a record. So, I actually don't have to go back to waxing lyrically about the things that I've discussed since Coal Chamber, which are people's inability to communicate and oftentimes the human struggle etc. etc. I said let's put them all down.
So, what is the first one? One of them was the fact that I had lived basically socially distanced my whole life and I've been a loner, a very private person. So, that's what "Keep Away From Me" was about. "Iona," the song that you're spinning now, is a separate thing. That's about how death is feeling like it's constantly chasing you. Everybody feels like that and how do you get away from that kind of a feeling.
It's a very direct record for me. I think people are going to see each of these songs as being something they’re going to identify with and that's really what I've been finding out on social media. A lot of people have been hitting me, going, "Hey, I identify with this song or that song. So, thank you." That's where we are coming from with Dealing With Demons.
DevilDriver, "Keep Away From Me"
Life was already pretty tumultuous for you, even before the pandemic. What makes writing music an effective coping mechanism when you're immersed in turmoil?
Some cats go out and wrench on their car or go play baseball with their friends or whatever it is, right? Lyrics have always been a way out for me. And yes, it was a really intense 2019 for us. In the middle of writing and recording a record, we had to flee our home twice from wildfires. My wife came and went through multiple surgeries for cancer. We delayed the record. It was insane. I was looking very forward to 2020 until around Christmas time in 2019. I started watching this virus and I told my wife this is looking like it's going to come to the U.S., and we've been quarantined since Jan. 5. Just so you guys know, I've always used Instacart for groceries etc. because I just have better things to do than wander around the grocery store for two hours. So, not a lot has changed in the fact that I'm extremely private. We've been locked away except for the fact that it was just incredibly tumultuous 2019 and now into 2020.
Not only that, but we also started a management company with several massive bands that we handle and you gotta keep them afloat. So, the world is in a crazy place. The one thing that is needed right now is music. This is why we decided to not wait and forego putting out the record until 2021 when we could tour around it, like a lot of bands are. I decided not to make the business move which was waiting until 2021 would have been. I decided to do the people move, which is people need music and especially this record in their life. That's why we are releasing at this time during this pandemic and getting out to people.
Dealing With Demons is a double album but it's a staggered release, correct?
It is, it's a staggered release and I don't think I could have gotten all this out and tried to move on lyrically, which I'm gonna do on my next records to I say more "woke" topics than the human foibles that we all go through, right? So it is a double album, staggered release. This year and then next year.
In what ways will distancing the two parts enhance the overall listening experience?
I think what we're already finding out now is just the two songs that have been released. People can't wait to hear what's going to go on further and what I'm going to discuss. What I've always said is, there's been a convolution of things here right. A lot of people love the second one better than the first one. A lot of people love the first one better than the second one. So, I think people are going to want to get that second record to hear where I'm going with this. And how I bring this whole thing around to circle, to the end. There's just way too much for me to write about to get off of my chest to do a single record. I've never done a double in my life so I think it's just about time to do that.
Dez, the way you've described the new album, it sounds like an amalgamation of DevilDriver and Coal Chamber. What was the biggest challenge in combining those two distinct sides of your musical personality?
First of all, when we discussed that, we discussed my lyrical styles, my way of writing, we're not really discussing musically, because those guys couldn't go into that round. But what I said to the guys in DevilDriver is if we just met today, and we just started to make music today, what would we make? If you disregard the band, and the brand, what we've done over the years, and all the favorite records of people, and this or that, who would we be? And what would you guys write?
When I started to get that music, I knew I had to get all of what I've done in my career, and put it in with Dealing with Demons, and that's why you're going to come up with I think what is such a different record. I've made the comment several times that if I walked away after this double record, I would have felt like I left everything on the table, which every artist should feel like that every record, but now at this specific time in my life, that's how I feel.
DevilDriver, "Nest of Vipers"
Music, especially metal, generally works best in the communal environment of a live concert. With the concert industry on hold, how will that change the importance of music with the emphasis solely on recorded music?
I think you have to go back to where you were when you were a kid and you couldn't go to concerts because your parents wouldn't allow you. You have to go back to the place where listening to music in your room with a friend or by yourself is an amazing experience. Watching a video with this band for the first time is an amazing experience. Put the live shows aside for a minute because the fact is we can't all get there, and go back into the place where you fell in love with music. Buy a vinyl even if you don't have a vinyl player so you can read the lyrics, look at all the photos in there, and get yourself part of music again without that live experience. We're all missing it.
I made that comment to someone last night that I'd pay 10 grand to go play in front of 2500 people right now. It would be an amazing experience. But it's not going to happen anytime soon. I have my own thoughts about when that will even happen. I think we need to get back to the experience of what is music to me. How do I find a new band? How do I search for a new band? And remember what it was like sitting in your room, in the dark, listening to your favorite band by yourself. That's where we're back to and really, that's the honest love of music. That's the place we should be in so when we do attend those concerts, we actually are wholeheartedly into it when we see the band.
Dez, thank you so much for being on the show. Be safe, and I miss you guys and I hope to see you soon. Also, you should follow Dez's dog on Instagram. Little doodlebug.
Thank you so much. We miss you too. Thanks for always supporting me over the years, and thanks for spinning "Iona." It's a very different song for DevilDriver - people are really taking to this. We love you and we miss you. We can't wait until we can all get back in a room together and hang out. Until then, let the music guide, you man. Let the music be a driving force in your life. It's what we have right now. We have media and music is part of that. So find your favorite jam, and jam it daily.
And it's true. I have a Doberman and I have a Great Dane and they both have Instagram pages. People love them. Look, I started realizing that people wanted to see - I have been a very private guy for 20 years, people want to see into my life. It's a good way to do that. Show them my dogs or starting the personal positivity posts that I did on Instagram as well. Start talking to people as well. Just get out there and start opening myself up a little bit. It feels good. So, follow my dogs.
Yeah, and your Doberman, which can be very terrifying if he wants to me. But Dez and his wife call him "Doodlebug," which makes it sound like he's not scary, which is even funnier. That dog, I thought was either going to kill me or -- I don’t know, eat me last time.
He's insane. All my animals are rescues. And Piper, Piper Doodlebugs, we call him Doodles, he's a rescue from Canada actually. I sent my assistant. They drove five days with him back here. He's been a wonderful dog, amazing guard dog. I wouldn't come to my house unexpectedly because he would be hell to deal with.
I've raised pits in my life, but this dog has that thing. Like right now, he's laying by Anahstasia and if someone were to come to approach her, it would be a really bad situation for him.
Thanks to DevilDriver's Dez Fafara for the interview. You can follow DevilDriver on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and pre-order the 'Dealing With Demons I' album, which is due Oct. 9, here. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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