The ‘record album, release album, tour album’ cycle is more than just a series of motions for DevilDriver – since 2003, it’s been their way of life. Without fail, the band has released an album every two years, up to and including 2013 effort Winter Kills. The Californians have a devotion that has been unshakeable to date, so it may come as a shock that 2014 could be the last time you see DevilDriver… for a little while, at least.
“I think what’s happening within the camp is that [we say], ‘If the music’s there, let’s do it,’” says Dez Fafara, the band’s lead vocalist and primary lyricist. “‘If it’s not, let’s not.’ We can only guess or surmise as we’re writing where we’re at in the process. All I can say is that the cycle is ending here – there is not going to be another album two years after Winter Kills. We’re laying low all of next year and probably 2016 as well. The next DevilDriver record could come out in 2016. It could come out later. Even still, we’re writing. I’m writing every day, and I know the other guys are, too. There are about four or five killer tunes in the mix there. So we’ll see what happens, but don’t expect anything for a while.”
It’s suggested that if any band deserves a break from the wear and tear of touring, it’s DevilDriver. This is a sentiment that Fafara himself is all too quick to agree with. “I’ll tell you what, we’ve been on the road for 12 years,” he says, the weight of those words not lost on him and the husk in his tone confirming that he’s not bullshitting. “In those 12 years, we’ve put out six records; all of them different, and all of them received really well. We tour harder than any other band on the planet. We just did a two-month tour of the States with only three days off – and those were driving days. That said, we’re coming toward the end of the road. We need to get back to basics, hang out with our families… we need to chill out for a minute.”
Of course, this isn’t to say that DevilDriver are unhappy with where they are. Far from it – Fafara himself is extremely proud of Winter Kills, which scored Top 40 chart positions in Austria, Germany, Finland and the band’s native US upon its August 2013 release. He also feels the album has developed a life of its own as it’s been presented to audiences around the world. “We wrote this record to be performed live,” he says. “Someday, I’d love to do a show where we play the entire thing from start to finish. It’s meant to be a live record. We’ve been playing a lot of the record in our recent shows, and every time we switch one [song] out for another or add in a new one, they really feel as though they take on a life of their own.”
2013 also saw Fafara back on the road with his original band, Coal Chamber, who reformed in 2011. Although he is adamant about not looking to the past and doing things for the sake of retrospect or nostalgia, many questioned his motives in reviving a group whose heyday had long gone and were seemingly ripe for a nostalgic market. “In a lot of ways, it was about looking forward for me,” says Fafara. “We’d all mended our ways, and Meegs [Rascon, guitar] had hit me up with some new Coal Chamber songs. It made sense for me – for us – to go out on tour. We took it around the world, and it was so well received. Here in the States, we were playing to thousands of people a night. It was incredible.
“It’s funny, because this question came up with my wife. She asked me, ‘Honestly, when was the last time you even listened to a Coal Chamber song?’ I couldn’t even tell you. It might be 15 years. I didn’t even have to listen to the record when we started rehearsing – I mean, I know the songs, I wrote them. So it’s all about forging forward.”
September will see DevilDriver return to Australia for a series of headlining shows alongside deathcore giants Whitechapel. Although it’s been seen as somewhat of an odd pairing, Fafara has developed a bond with the other band that is extremely rare and personally important to him.
“The tour we just did with Whitechapel was just exceptional,” he says. “Our fans and their fans get along really well, even though the two bands are so stylistically different. Our crews get along like pirates, too. I remember the first time we met in Europe – we were at a festival called Bloodstock. I was getting off the bus, and their bass player and their drummer came up to me and were all like, ‘Dez! What’s going on?’ And that’s all it took. Maybe once every few years do I meet a musician on the road that I really want to hang out with, and I managed to find two in Ben [Savage] and Gabe [Crisp], especially. It’s cool when you find that. So we’ve decided to bring them down to Australia with us, and I hope you guys like ’em as much as we do.”