Be sure to pray for forgiveness after reading this interview, because it may be your last. Vocalist and frontman Dez of DevilDriver managed to catch me after missing our scheduled appointment earlier that evening out at the second day of the second annual Thrash and Burn Tour. He spoke to me about the band’s musical career, life out on the road, and the upcoming plans for the almighty DevilDriver. You get it all when you sit down and read this rather interesting conversation…
NP: So, four albums as a band thus far! How does it feel?
Dez: It feels amazing and what people need to know about DevilDriver is that while most bands have 4 or 5 or 6 years to write their material before they get a record deal, we had about 6 months before we got our record deal. Our first record was written by one guitar player. By the time we did our second record we’d only been together for like 2 years or so. I think everything has been an evolution, a real killer progression to this point that I think now I think there’s a really defining sound; the growth is right there.
NP: When you guys started this band, where did you see it going? What were your goals?
Dez: Goals were just to go make music. In this day of downloading, and with the economy, I didn’t really have anything on my mind other than working and doing music. We’ve been on the road now since 2002, and I don’t think anybody tours as hard as we do; we always have a good time.
NP: Did you ever see yourself being a “professional” musician?
Dez: I don’t know. I kind of dreamed of it as a kid, ya know? Everybody has their dreams, right? I got my first tattoo at 16, and they asked me, “What are you doing?”
I said, “Don’t worry I’ll be in a band one day.”
So something observably in the back of my mind… but I just did everything I could just go to rehearsals and all that stuff. Being young and being in different bands helped me find a good way to do it, ya know?
NP: When and where was the first DevilDriver show? Can you describe the scene?
Dez: It was good! A lot of people didn’t know us, and it was at the El Rosa.
NP: What keeps you guys going?
Dez: Music, love of brotherhood, love of the road, love of doing something different right now. We love the fact that we stand out like a sore thumb, ya know?
When there are so many thousands of bands sounding the same right now, we don’t, which is just totally organic; you can’t make that happen! So, we look at that and that’s just great for us and also the main reason we do it.
NP: Have there ever been any major road bumps where you considered that you’d had enough of the band?
Dez: Yeah, totally! Of course! But… Then my band would say the same thing about me and you’d say the same thing about your job or whoever’s reading this, or listening to this would say the same thing about their girlfriend or boyfriend, ya know? Of course!
But in the end, family wins over, and you end up talking. Most bands have a hard road when it’s in band life, but we know how to get along. We know what exactly pushes each other’s buttons, so we don’t do it to each other. When you’re first coming up, everybody’s learning what those buttons are, ya know?
NP: Over the years you guys have always been with Roadrunner Records. Has there been any interest from any other labels, why do you choose to stand by Roadrunner?
Dez: This record (“Pray For Villains”); we couldn’t put it out anywhere. We actually took it to 10 different labels, and were offered more money, and all this, and more promises, but I feel comfortable with a label I’ve been with for 10 years, and I know everyone over there. Honestly, when they got on the phone with me and said, “Hey, we’re gonna be behind this record,” Roadrunner was just the obvious choice to go with. They are the best label when it comes to metal. Some labels are good for other things; hardcore, or whatever types of music, but this is a metal label so they know what they’re doing.
NP: “Pray For Villains,” came out a week ago, what can fans expect, can you give a brief description on how it all came together?
Dez: Well… We recorded it in a month, and to describe the record… It’s an evolution, a defining moment in our career. As for the other part of the question, we are totally pleased with what’s going on right now, we couldn’t be happier.
NP: Looking back, do you have a favorite album or any particular song, and why?
Dez: Right now “Back with Vengeance.” It’s just so fun to play.
NP: What’s been your favorite place to eat while out on the road?
Dez: *Laughs* Aw to eat? Anywhere that’s kind of like home-cooked, and not fast food, which is rare. A lot of us live off protein stuff, and shake mix, and crap like that – Otherwise you end up stopping and eating BS every night.
NP: I noticed you guys tend to tour with Lamb of God a lot, among other bands. When coming in contact do they ever get tired of seeing you, like “Oh no not these guys again leave us a alone?”
Dez: They are great guys! Really nice. We’ve been fortune to tour with them, ya know? Their album came number 2 on Billboard, they’re a huge band! Make no mistake about that!
Lamb of God is probably the biggest heavy metal band right now next to Metallica. They’re also really great guys and amazing players. They’re also a band that likes to take another band out a lot, and knows that they’re doing that band a favor by turning them on to other people, and that’s what they’re doing for us. We are all extremely grateful for that.
NP: What is the best part about being in this band?
Dez: The best part of being in a band? Is being able to play music I love to take the stage I love all of that and I love the road I do, but I’m the kind of guy that can sit back here and say nothing for 4 hours that’s just me.
NP: How long do you see yourselves doing this? What do you want to accomplish with DevilDriver?
Dez: Accomplishment for me is in the journey, because you don’t know what the destination is, and any kind of accomplishment is in the journey. How long do I want to do this? I want to do this until my health fails me, which could be until I’m 40, but who knows give me 50 years!
NP: How does it feel to headline this year’s “Thrash and Burn Tour,” and are you guys getting along with everyone? What is expected after this tour?
Dez: Yeah, Thrash and Burn is good! Totally diverse bill… Most bands wouldn’t go on a tour like this because it’s all hardcore bands in completely separate genres. I mean for us, we’re not scared to test the waters and go out with different bands and different people.
After this, we are going to Europe with Behemoth for about 6 or 7 weeks, and then going with Lamb of God to Austria, and then trying to do Japan and Hawaii by ourselves. Then we’re gonna start at the end of January next year. We’re already booking to the end of 2010, way into 2011.
NP: Any last words?
Dez: Any last words? Never! There are no last words.