On The Road (And Loving It)

Posted October 22, 2008 in Music

It was an easy decision for the founder and vocalist of groove-metal hardcorists DevilDriver Dez Fafara to tour with the recently reunited SNOT up the West Coast. Fafara is close friends with every member of the band, and was personally affected by the tragic death of its lead singer, Lynn Straight, who was killed in a 1998 car accident while en-route to Los Angeles. There’s a familial bond there.

“When I heard Lynn passed away it was hard,” Fafara said during a recent phone interview from his hometown of Santa Barbara. “And those guys are great. They did the right thing, though, to wait ten years for this. I have such a respect for them that I wanted to be a part of this tour.”

This tour may be special for that reason, but constant touring has become a way of life for the one-time frontman of nu-metal pioneers, Coal Chamber. He and his fellow DevilDriver cronies have been on the road for the better part a dozen straight years. After this 12-date mini-tour, which touches down at the Pomona Glass House on Friday, it’s off for a globetrotting visit to South Africa and Australia in November, then Japan, Korea and Europe after that.

Not too bad for a guy who once fronted a band called Area 51 that did Slayer covers.

Part of this success can be traced back to 2005’s The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand, which helped usher in a new era of mod-metal. Hand avenged the quasi-flop of the eponymous first album the band released, which cottoned a bit too close to the mainstream for hardcore tastes. Though DevilDriver was a lot heavier than Coal Chamber, not everybody fell in love with the direction. Well, at least they were slow to come around.

Now, with their third full-length album, The Last Kind Words (2007), they’ve sold tens of thousands of records in 2008 and have solidified a sound that falls somewhere between In Flames and Metallica.

And yet, even after a decade spent on the road touring with metal’s greatest, Fafara isn’t spared from the spiraling economical crisis we find ourselves in.     

“I’m a normal person, I pay attention to what’s happening—my parents lost thousands in stocks,” he said. In Fafara’s typical way, he can identify why and put an optimistic spin on things, too. “The root of the problem is all greed and corruption. It’s getting rough and I can feel the effects of inflation on tour. But we’re Americans and I think we can pull out of this.”

Fittingly, the kind of sentiment that shrouds the critically-acclaimed Last Kind Words is vivid and potent—it’s momentous death metal for hardcore fans. Songs like the Tolkien-inspired “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” do multiple things at once, like get the dander up while tempestuously working to distract.

So, when can we expect another DevilDriver album? Well, in between mile-markers and airports, Fafara says they’re working on it.

“We’ve knuckled out the drums and are working the guitars for a July, 2009 release,” he said of the tentative plans. Which means more promo touring, more passport stamps, more interaction with the fans.

 “The whole thing has been a memorable journey for me, man. I see a lot of fans from over the years, and new people at shows all the time.”

As busy Fafara’s schedule is, he remains dedicated to raising his three sons, ranging from ages nine to 16. “It’s really cool—if you’re an artist and raising kids you have a different view of the world,” he says. “My [own] parents were not for me doing this at all, it’s only now they feel proud. So when it comes to my sons, I’ll back them no matter what [they decide to do].”

And guess what? As soon as he has a free minute, Fafara is looking to relocate to the Inland Empire. “I’m planning on moving to Murrieta, I’m looking for some property there at the moment,” he said. “I have family in Temecula. I grew up out there. I love the IE.”

For those who make it down to the Glass House, a few words of caution from DevilDriver’s wild singer: “Come on out, get ready to drink, party and throw down.”

And to toast the late Lynn Straight, who’d have had it no other way.

DevilDriver, SNOT, Straight Line Stitch, Instinct of Aggression, Rosenguard at the Glasshouse, 200 W. 2nd Street, Pomona, (909) 865-3802, Fri., Oct. 24., 6PM. $16 advance, $18 DOS


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