“If you’ve never heard of DevilDriver, you may wanna pick this record up,” says frontman Dez Fafara of Winter Kills, his band’s sixth studio album. They might’ve been around for 11 years now, but the Santa Barbara crew is just getting started – and Dez (known more formally on his birth certificate as Bradley) reckons this one’s nailed it.
“You’re never gonna hear me say, you know, ‘This is our best record ever’. But I will tell you right now, yeah, this is our best record ever,” Fafara says. This isn’t just one for DevilDriver virgins: even old fans are expected to go nuts on Winter Kills. It brings a little more oomph to their back catalogue than previous albums have been able to, and it seems we can expect even more in the future.
“Each [album] has its signature sound, but this is completely different from the next record, and I think that’s another important thing; you wanna have growth. I don’t want to leave a legacy of the same record for ten years. And I’ve said it; you know, on our second record I was doing an interview and I said, ‘Dude, where you’re really gonna see DevilDriver shine is on our fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth record.’ That’s just the bottom line, we’re growing as musicians. We’re gonna know what we’re doing and hound in on it and you can hear that starting to happen. You may get four more records from us; five more records from us … ’Cause we’re very focused at this point. We know who we are. We know we don’t really fit in. We’re kind of the square peg in a round hole and we’re fine with that.”
They might be a self-proclaimed “force to be reckoned with”, but Fafara believes the group isn’t just “heavy for heavy’s sake”. DevilDriver like to experiment a little more than the other hardcore acts out there, incorporating everything that inspires them from ’60s acid rock, psychobilly and rockabilly to punk rock and the blues. Dipping their fingers in so many pies has resulted in a sound unlike any other, dubbed by fans as the ‘California Groove’ sound which, according to the frontman, “makes you wanna drive your car faster.”
“When your fans can’t find a niche for you, when they can’t find a way to pigeonhole you, your fans after years and years have to come up with some kind of title. And I agree with it! California Groove fits us perfectly. We have our own style. A way to describe it would be a gallop, a swing, a definite fist-pumping groove to the music.”
But Fafara insists their success (and that of DevilDriver’s sister band, Cold Chamber) is owed to nothing more than purity of heart and a love for music – because “if you’re into heavy metal, you’re not doing it to get rich. If you’ve had hit radio songs, I guess; but we’re a kind of animal, most definitely, and if a hit does come to us in some way it’s a lucky stroke. ’Cause we never go out and write for it … I’m gonna do music all my life, if it’s to ten people or a thousand. If you got a microphone, I’m in.”
And play to thousands they do. Thankfully, plans to head Down Under are in full swing, where the five-piece hopes to make amends for the 2012 tour, cancelled on the fateful day Fafara found pneumonia his lungs. Get your mosh technique up to scratch: DevilDriver could hit our shores anytime in the near future. Here’s hoping.
BY RACHEL EDDIE
DevilDriver‘s Winter Kills out Friday August 23 through Roadrunner Records.