DevilDriver’s Dez Fafara Weighs in on Drugs and Departure of Former Bassist
It’s been a tumultuous few years for metal warriors DevilDriver. But not even wild fires, a major riff in the band (which saw longtime bassist Jon Miller booted from the lineup) or people frontman Dez Fafara refers to as “vampires,” have dampen their spirits. Noisecreep caught up with Fafara to get the lowdown on all things DevilDriver. Here, the heavily tattooed vocalist offers a stern warning to those following in the path of the late Amy Winehouse: “Get off hard drugs.” He also sets the record straight about pushing Miller out of the DevilDriver fold, weighs in on the ravages of wildfires in his home state of California, and proclaims bull riding to be the ultimate sport.
There was a lot of tension between you and DevilDriver’s former bassist Jon Miller because of his issues with addiction. How did you react to the death of Amy Winehouse then?
Get off drugs. Get off hard drugs. If you’re on hard drugs right now and you’re listening to this, get off hard drugs — now. Your spirit will tell you what’s good and what’s bad, and you know what you’re doing. I feel sorry because she’s a great artist, man. Her first record is amazing — I listen to everything from blues to black metal, I’m not just that solid metal guy — I feel sorry for everyone around her. Great talent.
My whole thing is, if I see you going over the deep end, you’re not going to do it on my watch. I left Coal Chamber because they were all on drugs, on methamphetamine, and I knew me going on stage was feeding them money, feeding them drugs. I left. And with Jon, this time I don’t have to leave, you leave.
Did Jon really leave the band by handing over a note of resignation?
He handed off a note after we sent him home, twice, ’cause of abuse of certain things. I’ll be damned if someone is going to die on my bus; he’s got to go clean himself up.
Your road manager Aaron “Bubble” Patrick has since filled in on bass — how are things going and was he the obvious choice for a replacement?
The new lineup is amazing — not even a hitch. We had no idea he’d be the guy. He plays bass, and we said, “How many tunes do you know?” And he said, “I know them all.” He filled in and now he’s filled in for near 70-100 shows.
Watch ‘Pray for Villains’ from DevilDriver
So is he officially in the band now or still just earning his stripes as a touring member?
At this point, it’s working so we’re just not thinking about it. I’m sure there will be a statement one day — he’s in or he’s out. But look, he’s done a 100 shows with us — seems like he’s hanging out. He’s a great guy and he’s straightedge. He brings a whole feeling to the band that’s different and I’ve watched everyone come to their senses, really, as well.
Last week you almost had to cancel some festival gigs in Canada, what happened?
Aaron went to brush his teeth and threw his back out and ended up on a stretcher and in the hospital. He called me two days before this gig [in Toronto at HeavyTO] and said, “There’s no way I can make the gig.” But he got on the plane, in pain, and ended up making the gig. So I give a big thumbs up to him.
When it comes to discussing DevilDriver’s latest record, ‘Beast,’ the conversation normally turns to your headspace while making the disc. You were clearly dealing with a lot. Do you regret being so candid about that dark period?
It is what it is, man. It was a really bad year in my life. I had to lay a lot of people to waste who were vampires in my life. And then my family was displaced two more times ’cause of wildfires [in California]. So try making a record when all that is going on, when you think your house is going to burn down… you get your dogs and cats and kids and get the f— out. It’s just an insane time to be making a record. At some point, I said, “I’ll never make art during that kind of feeling again.” But, in some ways, it really add to a very volatile record.
Lastly, what’s this about you wanting to ride bulls?
No, I just watch bull riding. One bull, one guy, eight seconds — that seems like a sport. I like outlaw country music and that’s something that goes along with that.