In a recent interview with Ireland’s Overdrive, DEVILDRIVER and COAL CHAMBER frontman Dez Fafara spoke about how he has managed to survive being in the music business for more than two decades.
“When I came into this [with COAL CHAMBER], I was just a kid,” he said. “I saw a lot of money and gold records, as well as the press explosion surrounding us. Then I saw all the ‘rock star’ clichés unfold and tear COAL CHAMBER apart with drugs and alcohol, which ripped those guys away from me while I kept my head together. I had a wife and kids to support and I just couldn’t let myself fall down. I watched my bandmates change and the band itself fall to pieces and just had to start all over again from the beginning with DEVILDRIVER, back to opening for bands that I actually took out on the road, way before it all came to an end.
“When I look back, I think the only thing that actually saved me, and still does to this day, is that I’m probably one of the most private people in music and definitely one of the most private people in the metal genre. I make Ozzy [Osbourne] look like he’s a really outgoing person. [laughs] So for me, the mainstay and focus for me have always been my family. I don’t come off tour and live a ‘rock-star’ life whatsoever.
“People don’t know this also, but when I’m on tour I’m an extreme recluse. Unless there’s a meet-and-greet with the fans or something like that, you’re never really gonna see me. I really think the privacy factor has kept me who I am. That being said, whenever you get kicked down in life, either you get fired from your job, or your partner leaves you, or somebody dies, you just have to pick yourself back up.
“There are two kinds of people in this fucked-up world. The one that just gets back up, dusts himself or herself off and keeps going or the other kind that just crumbles and finds the nearest ledge to jump off.
“At a very young age, I had a stepfather that committed suicide, I ran away from home when I was just a teenager and was sleeping under bridges. I was this snot-nosed punk-rock kid living on the streets of L.A., trying to survive. I was stealing food and even ended up in prison, which was a big eye opener for me. What has really kept me from falling over the edge, not only with my music, but also my personal life, is the connection with a ton of people around the world, that when they hear me talk about my experiences, they know that I’m not full of shit. They know that I’m the real deal and there is just no room for any kind of bullshit. They know that I don’t care about the rock-star bullshit. I just love my family, my music, travelling and the stage.
“If there’s a band going on after us, they’re gonna pay, and if there’s a band going on before us, they’re gonna wish they never did. I believe that if you have that volatile punk-rock attitude, whether it’s on stage or in everyday life situations, you will rise above the negative and find a happier way to live.
“I have seen the ‘hero-to-zero’ thing happen to me and my bands so many times and I just know that the fans will stick with us through it all.
“DEVILDRIVER has never been so popular as we are right now. It’s no secret that I’m not in my twenties anymore and when I look out there into the eyes of the crowds at the shows, I’m seeing an average of twenty-five and under and that’s our crowd. I must be hitting on something to be able to connect with these people. I have three sons in their late teens and early twenties and they tell me, ‘Dad, you know why our generation likes you? It’s because you don’t take any shit.’
“Music has just been a huge positive influence in my life for as long as I can remember. I recall lying in my bed listening to music when I was five years old or getting my first tattoo when I was only fifteen years old and my mom found out and said to me, ‘You’re never gonna get a job,’ because of this one tattoo. I just looked at her and remember saying, ‘It doesn’t matter, because I’m gonna be in a band.’ Dude, I was only fifteen at the time, so I must have known something all of those years ago.”
DEVILDRIVER is currently working on an outlaw country covers album, “Outlaws Till The End”, tentatively due in early 2018. The disc will contain thirteen “insanely heavy, swinging badass outlaw tracks by some of the best outlaw country artists,” including Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Paycheck, according to Fafara. Produced by Steve Evetts, the album will feature appearances by nearly two dozen “high-caliber guests,” among them Glenn Danzig, LAMB OF GOD‘s Randy Blythe and guitarists John 5 (ROB ZOMBIE) and Mark Morton (LAMB OF GOD).