DevilDriver Singer Talks Partying, Tour Finances, and Metal Scene Unity
When Noisecreep caught up with DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara, the charismatic vocalist was settling in for a brief respite from the road. Having recently returned from playing Australia’s Soundwave Festival, DevilDriver are scheduled to hit the road with Danzig after a stopover at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in Los Angeles on April 20th. The band is promoting its latest album, ‘Beast.’
This year, DevilDriver have experienced some key personnel changes. The band’s tour manager, Aaron Patrick, is now playing bass in place of the recently departed Jon Miller, who left the group after public admissions of substance abuse.
Noisecreep: How’s Jon [Miller] doing? That’s a heavy thing for a guy to admit, that he needs to leave the band to get cleaned up.
Dez Fafara: Look, I just wish Jon the best. Everything he put in for the band over the years was massive and I hope that he conquers his demons and has a wonderful, wonderful life. I love his family and I love him.
What does it take to keep up with life on the road?
You’ve gotta watch yourself. Get yourself some sleep. You’ve got to watch what you’re doing out there. You can’t fall prey to it. I’ve never really been that dude; I’ve never fallen prey to the backstage antics. I’m not into going out to the clubs and hanging out backstage, getting drunk all night. I kind of have a rule where I don’t really drink after the shows, if I drink at all. You’ve just got to watch what you do. Get some sleep, get some food, and don’t fall prey to the hard drugs, because that’s another thing. I’ve seen so many bands lately and I just look at them and go, ‘Dude, I’m glad your party’s good tonight. Let’s see where you’re at six months from now doing that.’
Are there any other pitfalls to road life, aside from the obvious?
[Partying] on the road is the same thing you have at home. Going to clubs is the same thing as you have in your city when you’re going out on a Friday or Saturday night. You know what’s going to get you in trouble and what’s not. If you’re drunk every single night, you’d better check yourself. Me, personally, I have people paying their hard-earned money to come see me in an economy that’s sliding. I’m not going to let them down by being so cocked-ass drunk I can’t get the job done. That’s the kind of stuff you want to watch out for. I’m not here to preach to anybody, but I’ve just seen a lot of people go to the wayside in the last 15 years. I’ve seen a lot of people around me die, a lot of people around me quit music, and it’s all due to those things. It’s kind of fun when you’re coming up. I mean, I can’t talk since I’ve done everything there is, but at a certain point, you have to kind of look inside yourself and say, ‘Let’s check yourself before you wreck yourself.’
You bring up the economy which is a hot topic these days, especially for touring bands. Fuel prices have been making constant headlines over the past few years. What have you been seeing out there as far as show attendance? Is it affecting DevilDriver’s bottom line at all?
I think it’s affected everybody’s bottom line. There’s not one person out there touring who’s saying it’s not going to affect their bottom line. We go out and I’m sure the tickets aren’t going to bring a million dollars. That’s the good thing about this scene right now, everybody understands. Most people coming out can afford a certain dollar ticket, but they aren’t going to be able to afford a $150.00 ticket! I’ve seen it because I come from a working class background. My family are either construction workers or teachers, so there’s a lot of people not being able to make ends meet as they should. That’s happening all over the place. You figure when you come to their town, you don’t want to rip them off. You want to give them a decent show, a decent ticket, and without a bunch of different charges attached on top of everything else. Hopefully this Danzig tour’s going to be run that way. We’re the direct support for it, so I don’t have much control over that.
I’ve come up through both eras of metal in my lifetime and I’m very glad to see the average ticket price for midline venues is anywhere between $10.00 – 20.00. Back in the eighties, ten bucks a ticket usually meant you were going to a hole that night.
People would be surprised by what it actually takes to run a tour. Going out for $18.00 – 20.00, then you really are saying ‘Okay, I hope we make some merch money to survive,’ and then you can run the tour the way that you want it. People really need to know that. $10.00 – 25.00, that’s a good ticket, that’s a good night out. You’re going to spend that much going through Del Taco with your chick, you know what I mean?
That’s certainly why the underground metal and punk scenes are still thriving in these harsh market conditions.
You’ve got a lot of really cool scenes going on right now. There are a lot of different genres within metal right now. Everybody can play together and still sound so different and even all the fans are different, but it’s cool the way everything’s blended together. You can see the different lifestyles going on right now. The straight edge scene is huge; I now have a straight edge guy in my band playing bass. He brought a lot of different ways and thoughts about touring and life in general to us as a whole. You see all of this going on, and you see different things happening, but the one thing all of these scenes have in common is that everybody’s playing heavy music. We just got back from Soundwave playing with Iron Maiden and a whole ton of bands. The common denominator was everybody was playing something that’s authentically heavy in its own way and in its own right.
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