Interviews > DevilDriver
DEVILDRIVER
Interview by Athena Schaffer

Since its inception in 2003, DevilDriver has proven itself a mighty force to be reckoned with indeed! Their 3-pronged mission statement, “Work hard, rock harder, and kick as many asses as possible in the process” has been one they’ve definitely adhered to, while bringing inspiring messages of Hope and Positivity through their music as well.

An excellent example of this is their newest release, Pray For Villains (Roadrunner Records), which instantaneously grabs you by the jugular, shakes you in its jaws like a mad dog, yet still delivering profound messages and leaving you begging for more. The title track, for instance, is about the Anti-Hero who comes in and gets the job done when the heroes fail. Inspired by Dez’ love for Westerns, its about how people put all their eggs in one basket and bet on the hero, but it’s actually the villain who comes in to save the day. Great stuff! Check out the "Pray For Villains" video!

Hailing from Santa Barbara, California, DevilDriver are: frontman Dez Farfara, guitarists Mike Spreitzer and Jeff Kendrick, bassist Jon Miller, and drummer (and occasionally extra guitarist) John Boecklin. Named after bells that Italian Witches use to ward off evil, DevilDriver are currently touring the world to bring this message to the masses.

The Crowgrrl (and HP Gwydion) caught up with Dez at Sonar in Baltimore during their Thrash & Burn Tour .

I love the video for the "Pray For Villains" title track! Tell us a little bit about filming it.

We did it with Nathan Karma Cox. He’s an amazing guy, not only at his art but as a person!

We wanted something that was different rather than just us jamming. I wanted something that went along with the “Hero/Villain” concept. In the end, we all get killed by the villain, and it works out great! We were going to use a gunfight, but MTV won’t let you use guns or blood or bullets or anything like that. So we ended up using cards, because in our first video we were playing cards with the Devil. So we just carried on in that vein.

Right! But you’re big into Westerns anyway, aren’t you?!

Big!

OK, some favorites?

The usual: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. I like a lot of the old silent movies, too; a lot of the old Samurai movies. That’s where that genre comes from anyway. I watched The Unforgiven again last night; another great movie!

The red-eyed theme carries over from the owl on the cover?

In the video, that wasn’t my idea. Nathan said “I want to do something that’s almost animated.” I said, “Great! Let’s go for it!” He’s the kind of guy that you just let it go, and he delivers something unexpected.

OK. So tell us a little bit about the owl – what does it symbolize on your cover?

Well, it’s feared and revered in many cultures. It’s something that goes along with the anti-hero – the villain/hero – it’s something that symbolized it. I collect owls as well. My grandfather collected owls, so I have a lot of his. So when I was looking around the house while I was writing; I was in Santa Barbara at the time. There’s a big eucalyptus grove around my house that had this huge owl that hooted all day and all night as I was writing. So it felt very appropriate.

Very cool! So did you design the cover yourself?

I worked with a guy that really, really knew what he was doing! He works with Visual Creatures; his name is Ryan. I gave him my ideas and some sketches and some things, and he came up with some ideas. We worked hand in hand. The original concept was mine but he helped bring it to fruition.

The card theme carries on with "In The Cards", doesn’t it?

Yeah, but that’s about Tarot cards, which I’ve been reading for many years – the Tarot – and what it’s brought me in life, which is just what’s happening and what’s going to happen. But this year I very much didn’t want to go there.

So "It’s In The Cards" is like, “OK. It’s in the cards, it’s destiny, but I’m not going to read it. I’m going to see what happens.”

You haven’t given them up completely, have you?!

Well, I had a really incredible experience surrounding those cards, so I’ve put them behind glass and I’m not using those.

Is it just that particular deck?

I use a custom deck. It was custom made for me. But that deck is no longer going to be used.

Are you shopping around for another deck?

We’ll see.

OK. The whole album has a permeating message of Hope against Adversity, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s definitely... I tend to write lyrics that give you a little more strength and positivity instead of focusing on how bleak everything is. Of course it is, but I’m more of a “Glass half-full” kind-of guy.

Is "I’ve Been Sober" based on personal experience?

Yeah! It’s a very personal song about trying to be home and living a normal life when I’m not accustomed to any kind of normalcy at all. There’s a huge difference in getting up at 7 in the morning. I’m just not accustomed to it. So that’s what it’s about: trying to be home, trying to be sober, trying to be a good father figure, but at the same time missing the road and craving the road.

Do you have any personal favorite songs on the new album?

"Forgiveness Is A Six Gun" for now. And "Resurrection Boulevard". I think everybody lives on Resurrection Boulevard at least once or twice in their life. It’s where you get humbled and really have to start over.

I think "Forgiveness Is A Six Gun" is something people need to learn. You live with this grudge against somebody who’s trespassed against you so many times and you won’t let go of it. But you’ve GOT to let go of it or it will just eat you up.

That song also had an Old West feel to it!

Nothing’s really written from my standpoint on this record. That’s the first time I’ve ever done that – from another standpoint, from an anti-hero standpoint. All of the material is seen from somebody else’s eyes besides myself. Somebody else was going through trials and tribulations instead of me.

Me writing from an outside perspective gave me a whole new view of things.

Roadrunner only gave us 13 songs to review from the album, but aren’t there actually 17?

Those other songs are for the special edition. The special edition comes with extra tracks, totally different artwork, totally different cover, a “Making Of” DVD about all of us going out to LA to make the record. It gives you more of an insight into the band. It’s not just a “special edition” with just 2 extra songs. We actually made it something definitely special. It has a lot more content!

With an Iron Maiden cover song?!

Yeah! We did that for Kerrang Magazine. A bunch of bands got together for Kerrang. We did that in an afternoon. It was fun! It’s good to step outside of yourself and do other things.

What’s happening after the Thrash & Burn Tour?

We go to Europe with Behemoth, then we go to Australia with Lamb of God, then perhaps to Japan by ourselves, then start right back out in January again in the ‘States. So we’re booking right now up until the middle of 2012. I don’t see any time off until then.

"Another Night In London" brought back memories of the Punk movement: the Sex Pistols and The Clash and stuff!

Right on! I grew up on all that! I grew up on Black Flag, GBH, The Partisans... Good Punk Rock! London especially in the UK has always been a great place for DevilDriver, and a great place for music. So that was my ode to that town.

We’re going back over there. With Behemoth, we’re doing something extremely special! We’re doing the BBC Sessions which is an incredibly legendary show. We’re doing 4 songs plus an interview. So, we’re doing London for sure!

Are you going to be able to release the BBC Sessions for the rest of us to hear?

Don’t know! It’s up to the BBC people and what they want to do with it.

OK, let’s get back to the album. Are you going to be doing another video from it?

Definitely! We’re not sure which song, who’s doing it, or what the concept is going to be. But it’s probably going to be 2 or 3 months from now. We’d like to see it out before Xmas, but I’m not sure. We’ll see. Maybe it might have to come out after January.

Yeah, but you’re touring the rest of the year!

Yeah! So having time off to be able to do a video right now is almost non-existent! But I’d like to see it out by January or February of next year.

Do you do any writing on the road?

Yeah! I was just writing this morning! I’m always constantly writing. We’re hoping to get a record out every 15 or16 months. I don’t like making people wait two years. So in the middle of touring, we’re going to come off, make a record, then get right back out again. We’re all kind-of – in our own way – coming up with what we’ve gotta to come up with.

Are you filming any of the shows for a possible Live DVD?

We’ve been filming for 7 years straight! From the very first record – pre-production on the first record! We’re going to do a special 9 or 10 camera shoot, but not on this tour. We’ve got to set that up for a DVD. I believe this DVD is going to be extremely long, so we’re going to have at least 3 or 4 chances so we can get a lot of content on it. We haven’t figured out who’s going to be putting it out, when it’s going to be put out, the whole deal right now.

So how is this tour going so far?

Great! It’s like an “Oil & Water “ Tour. People never put Metal and Hardcore together! It Does Not Go together! Which is why we signed up!

I thought it was a very diverse package, great bands, cool heavy music. Everybody on this bill is extremely heavy. We get along with all of the bands really well. It’s been really cool! It’s turning some of the Death Core/Mallcore fans into Metalheads, and some of the Metalheads into their deal and checking out all their music. So I think it’s a really cool, really diverse tour. It’s probably one of the most diverse tours I’ve ever been part of, which is cool to see happening.

As soon as they called us, I was interested right away.

Very cool! What do you do during your “down time”? Do you bring any videogames with you?

I’m not a videogame kind of guy. I’ll do movies occasionally. Usually I do art. I’m in the back drawing. I’ve got ink all over my hands. But that’s what I do. I do art, I write, I play Native American flute. But I do art most of the time.

Awesome! How did you get into the Native American flute?

Well, I broke my finger a couple years ago. In my development – I had a really serious operation, and they told me I had to work on my grip. So going through New Mexico, I picked up a flute and started playing. I not only totally rehabbed my finger, I rehabbed my soul completely! That’s how that happened. Just like anything. Accidental.

Do you do any research into that traditional music?

Absolutely! I just did a record called High Desert Moon. It’s with a guy called Greg Weiss. His father did "Rhinestone Cowboy". He wrote "Rhinestone Cowboy", "Bend Me Shake Me", tons of stuff!

I do a LOT of looking into that culture! I know a lot about the aspects of many, many different tribes, many of those Nations.

As far as your art – did you design any of your tattoos?

Some of them. Some of them were just off the top of my head. Others are cover-ups or works in progress.

[G]: You tend to have an Occult theme that permeates throughout your music.

Most definitely! I think the Occult theme has followed me my whole life.

[G] Any particular paths that you follow?

Raven Grimassi. But Darker is good as well. It just has to be used at the right times. It’s all about balance.

I’ve read everything from LaVey to Crowley. There are a lot of people who are charlatans. They’re not working with true Earth Magick and using the mathematics of Magick.

[G] They’re all hung up on the Quantum Extreme Theory.

Correct! They should at least think about the cycles of the moon.

[G] And the spiritual aspects of it.

Absolutely! The grounding aspects of it, the Earth aspects of it.

Your logo is very Saturnian, but it kind-of reminds me of Blue Oyster Cult’s.

It’s the symbol of Chaos and Confusion. It’s centuries, centuries old! It’s our take on it. Blue Oyster Cult’s is their take on it. Actually, theirs is a little different. This one’s more Babylonian-based; Sumerian-based. It means “Question Religion. Question Everything.”

My kids are raised with a big sticker that says “Question Authority.” Basically, it’s better to be that way. It’s better to question everything around you, get yourself more analytical.

I’ll bet that makes it hard to discipline your kids, though!

They don’t need discipline. They’re too intelligent to be disciplined.

Are your kids following in your footsteps musically?

We’ll have to see. I keep them away from this lifestyle. We’ll see which way they’ll go. As long as they’re happy, healthy, and having a good life, that’s good to me! I think spiritually they’re following in my path for sure! I know my young one and my middle one are, most definitely! My 18-year-old goes to church; perhaps he’ll find his way through that. Perhaps he’ll come back to what’s real.

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you’d like to tell our readers?

Anybody who’s stuck with DevilDriver from the very beginning, Thank You Very Much! Anybody who’s ever been with DevilDriver from the very first tour, that means the world to us! Thank you very much!