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DEVILDRIVER and GOD FORBID: A workout with the bands

An interview double feature, and this is how it happened: A backstage room somewhere in Germany and a lot of sweat (but no beer) due to some serious martial arts workout by a little man with a big voice named Dez Fafara, frontman of modern Thrash aficionados DevilDriver, had some European dates on their current road trip with melodic hardcore metallers God Forbid. So Dez was more than pleased to interrupt his daily routine to "get in the ring" with STALKER, so to speak.

Dez, something a bit confusing right away, on your MySpace page under music category it also says "Black Metal" next to "Death Metal". What´s up with that ?
Oh, the girl who did our page has put that in there (pointing to his assistant James: "Have her change that."). Obviously we´re not a BM band. It should just say fuckin´ Rock´n´Roll or Heavy Metal, plain and simple.

So do you care about categories at all ?
No, not a bit. What´s cool about us is that you simply can´t put us in a category. I think, my previous band (Coal Chamber) was like that as well. For eight years people were trying to put Coal Chamber in a category and they didn´t succeed with it (laughs). I like DevilDriver to be the same way, a band that is hard to categorize. Our music is quite diverse, it´s got a lot of hooks in it. I am very much influenced by more bluesy stuff. The groove is the most important thing.

And where would you personally see the difference between the two bands ?
Coal Chamber was very sophisticated and we wanted to diversify ourselves from other bands in L. A. at the time. We worked hard on our stage show, it had a more goth-oriented vibe and we were influenced by Nick Cave and Bauhaus among others. With DevilDriver it is completely different. You could almost say, that a non-image is our image. No wonder when you consider that my pants smell like shit on the road most of the time, ha ha.... Seriously, we like to keep things aggressive and down to earth with DevilDriver.

Where do you guys stand with "The Last Kind Words" ? Would you call this album the superlative to everything you have done before ?
To be honest with you, I thought that the first album was okay and I am not a big fan of the direction we took on our second. But there is always room for improvement and now I feel that "The Last Kind Words" should have been our first album. I am way self-critical and I wanted DevilDriver to be even more brutal, more heavy and more hooky without selling out or getting lighter. That´s why I really like our third album.

What made you guys come up with the idea of making a record breaking attempt to have the biggest circle pit at one of your shows ?
Actually Lamb Of God had this thing and we incited our fans to do so as well. The basic idea was to have the band, us,  and the music we play and the fans to become one. I can totally lose myself watching the fans down there and having this wall of death. It is a very important part in our shows that people go off crowd surfing and stuff. Those moments make it worth the long wait a musician has to face when he is on the road. Most of the time as a musician on tour you spend waiting and hanging out until you can finally perform. The audience gives you that energy back.

Of course we have to ask you about this whole Venom tour controversy and statements from Cronos picking on you and DevilDriver. What exactly happened there and are you still mad at Cronos ?
It´s no problem that you bring this up. We were supposed to be main support for Venom, they postponed the tour and we let go of another tour for it. Then they postponed again and we let go of another tour again to wait for them. And after that we got Australia booked and then they said they wanted to finally tour, but I told them that we have Australia booked already and cannot do it. He went on a radio show and started to talk shit about me and the band. So, I just think he was really wrong and I said that when I see him I will confront him face to face and ask him what was this all about. So people asked me if I would go up to fight him. That was not exactly what I had said. I would just walk up to him and physically confront him. You must know they were my heroes and they put me off, so he should apologize. We were waiting for them having to change our tour arrangements and then that guy talks shit about us. No way.

What is your opinion on downloads ?
First of all downloading music makes it impossible to live for any band out there that makes music their life. So I honestly respect anybody who goes out on tour or any musician who believes in his dream and tries to make a living the hard way. The times have changed a bit and touring becomes important again which is good for a band like us.

We see here you work out a lot.  Is it because you got a grueling tour schedule ahead of you and you wanna stay in shape for that ?
Definitely. You got to be physically prepared for  touring and being on stage with DevilDriver requires a lot of energy. And life on the road for me is kind of like being in a monastery (laughs), 30 days or something and not getting laid since I am a happily married man. It´s worth it, though, and when you are playing your headlining shows and there are 600 - 700 people in a packed place, it makes me want this even more. On top of that I am a martial arts freak anyway and I work for it up to four hours a day.

Thank you, Dez.

Surprisingly we were approached by the GOD FORBID tour manager and ended up with chatting to the New Jersey hopefuls, namely guitarplayer and background singer Dallas (Coyle).

So what´s up with your label (Century Media) ? There didn´t seem to be a lot of promotion going on for you on this tour.

Yeah, man, you are right about that since we didn´t get much tour support. This is actually the only interview we have at the moment.  I honestly wish there would be more. But with the labels nowadays it´s never easy.

Thanks for your honesty. So how is it touring here in Germany ?
The people who know us already are totally into it and we are getting rave reviews about our shows. In England, however, we are actually making money when we are playing. I guess we are getting more and more established there. In general it is always tough without any promotion. But it is getting better here in Germany as well and we know our music has something to offer for any open-minded metalhead out there.

The intersting thing about the God Forbid sound seems to be the blend of thrashcore guitar riffs on one side and melodically intricate background vocals on the other.
Well, I am not only a guitarplayer but a singer also. We work on a lot of dynamics and therefore we are not only trying to cover the shouting part in our music. Our fronthorse Byron is the man here and he does a great job. So we are having those background harmonies on top of it to make it sound even bigger and memorable. We just don´t wanna be pigeonholed with our music.

Short and honest. Thank you.
Author: Marc Hoek & Dirk Seegers, photos: DevilDriver, God Forbid
Date: 2007-11-17

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