Devildriver – Driven to SucceedSunday, 17th June 2018
Dead Rhetoric: It’s cool to hear that you are so passionate about using your experiences to help newer bands to get to that next level.
Fafara: Instead of me starting a ton of other projects, like some singers do, my other projects are the other bands I manage. That is fun to me. When I can call a band and say, “I’ve only handled you for a week and a half and I just got you a record deal and now you are in the studio with Ross Robinson.” They are like, “Huh?” This for me, is the outlet of giving. I’m a free-mason, so I do a lot of charity work. For some reason, management has made me fall back in love with music again, but also, even though I’m making a percentage, I also feel like I’m giving and I’m doing charity work. I am the manager and I’m available. They call us the 25/8 team. That’s when we are available. You can talk to me at 4:30 in the morning. If you need me, hit me. Most of the time, if you hit me at 5:15, I’m already in the office on my second cup of coffee smiling and dialing.
The whole thing is that I haven’t been the type of guy to lay around and watch TV or whatever. Relaxing for me, is actually working. I’m also one of those guys who thinks that if you are not working towards your future, you are losing. You are going backwards. People take vacations – every time I get a vacation response from someone in the industry, I laugh. Last night, at 11:30 I sent out an email and got one back 15 minutes later that made me $8,000. The guy who is sleeping at that point, the guy who is not sending out emails late, not working, or on top of it – I’m going to blow right by him. He’s not even going to feel my wind, I’m going to go by so fast. That’s the notion on business, and a band as well.
You are a teacher – you have to teach your kids to do everything in life 110%. If you don’t do everything 110%, sure you may win but you didn’t. You are going to look at yourself in the mirror and know you didn’t give 110%. This is my way with everything. I have 110% tattooed on my knuckles [laughs]. I’m sober, I sleep 5 hours a night. I run 5 companies, and I’m running them all at tip-top shape, and I’m doing them with multiple partners executing and expediting around me, and I love it. It’s a way of life. I’d be bored without it. I have ADHD, so don’t know how to work without all of this.
Dead Rhetoric: That must help to in being able to jump from one thing to thing I would imagine.
Fafara: Absolutely. People have said it in interviews. It’s weird to say that I just did a Forbes magazine interview for The Oracle [laughs]. They said the same thing – that it must be good for me, and I said the same thing. It does help 100% because I can have four conversations with you right now, and keep up where most people can’t. Even some of my business partners have to tell me to slow down and ask what we are talking about. I say no, you keep up. This is what we are talking about. I think in life you have to be driven to succeed. All around me – this is how I’ve raised my three sons. I don’t want to say that was the way I was raised because I ran away from home at 15, so I raised myself basically. I was raised to succeed; I raised myself to succeed. Everything I’ve ever gotten, I have gotten on my own. As I said, you are a teacher – you are going to teach your kids that. I tell that to the bands I manage.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the challenges of trying to maintain a level of private life with a family as a near constantly touring musician and running all these businesses?
Fafara: I’ve really maintained privacy in what I do by being one of the most private musicians in this business. You have to go through multiple people if you want to talk about me. You can only talk about certain subjects – if you want to talk about my family, I will allude to certain things and that’s it. It’s taboo. I don’t do a tremendous amount of interviews – I actually say no to about 30% of interviews. Especially at this point in my career. I keep coming back to this because you are a teacher – I’m sure you have students like this that are in the corner by themselves. They are intelligent but they’d rather go home and play Legos than have Johnny over after school. That was me. I’ve always been a loner. I think that has carried through in my life.
Dead Rhetoric: I can relate with that, as that’s more my personality as well so I tend to associate with that type of student a little better.
Fafara: Right. Look, I’ve maintained my privacy because I have to. When I do meet and greets or have to go into a room full of people, I’m the guy who cancels last minute going to an award show or a movie premiere. I can’t picture myself around people. I’m literally putting on my suit going, “I’m not going” and my wife is like, “What?” And I don’t go. I walk into a room with more than 10 people and my hands sweat. It’s not because of nerves, it’s just because since I was a child I’ve been an empath. I can’t see animal cruelty, I can’t be around fighting and yelling…anything that’s detrimental to animals or humans in my line of sight or hearing. It keeps me away from people.
Whatever it is inside me, I can walk into a room of 10 people and I can walk up to four of them because I have to shake hands and once I do, I can almost feel them/see them, and I can go, “You are a terrible person. I’m out of here.” I can feel that. People say, “No, you just met that person, you don’t know that guy. You don’t know anything about them.” But I can feel this. Being an empath, it’s hard to be around people. I’m sure as a teacher you have kids that are like that. You have to tell them, “No, you have to go out, it’s play time. You have to go out and play with the others.” I was that kid. Teachers would ask me why I was sitting in here on break reading, and it’s because I didn’t feel like going out with the kids and playing.
Dead Rhetoric: [Laughs] That’s like every free period I have all day!
Fafara: [Laughs] You know, here’s the thing though, with our kind of people. I think there’s a driven aspect to them. People would consider me almost lonely. “You sit in the back of the bus by yourself for 20 years. You are always by yourself or with a few people. Aren’t you lonely at times?” No, and that kind of a thing also drives you to, if you are 5, if you are playing Legos, you are doing it better than everyone else. If you are my age, you are building businesses. That’s what I’m doing.
I think it’s healthy. I think being a private person in this industry is totally healthy. I live in a blue collar suburban neighborhood where kids play outside until dark. I’ve raised my family completely normally. My wife is completely like I am. She’s like, “People, no let’s not.” That works out really well for her. She’s one of the best managers I’ve ever seen in the business. She’s not anti-social, she’s just not social…she’s constantly working for her artists at The Oracle. We, as a team, and with the assistants we have, it all works out real well.
Dead Rhetoric: I can see that myself. When you don’t have that constant interaction, you can push yourself a little bit further and devote yourself to whatever you are trying to do.
Fafara: Totally. My parents saw this as a negative when I was a kid and put me on Ritalin for years and years. That fucked with my psyche so hard. As a teacher you can see that too. You see the kid bouncing off the walls and you’d almost rather deal with him like that, because now he’s a zombie as he’s been put on pills. I take that experience and I also talk to a lot of people around me, and I deal with people that have ADHD around me so I try to talk to them and try to push them towards marijuana instead of pills. That’s the place to go for ADD/ADHD for sure. I know as soon as I smoked a joint, history class started getting really interesting because Genghis Khan is the man [laughs]! That’s not something you can say to your students because they are probably younger, but when they start getting into high school, it might be a different story.
Dead Rhetoric: As you were staying, you didn’t have the best childhood, growing up. Could you talk about how music has channeled the anger within, from a personal perspective?
Fafara: I was raised predominantly by a single mom, but when she did get remarried, twice, they were bad dudes. The physical violence in the home was not good on me. To the point where she had to call the police. The only place I had to go was music. Even from a very early age, I would go from those little [follow along] records listening to stories. I’ve always been an audio person. Even today, I’ll tell my wife, “Hey let’s go to the movies,” she’s like, “What?” We go to the movies about once every four years, in an actual movie theater with people. I’m not that much of a visual guy.
I think music really did help. Especially when I started to find more aggressive music. I started to find it through my parents’ record collection. They had The Doors and stuff like that, but they also had Steppenwolf and MC5, so I got to hear a little more aggressive rock. Then I found metal punk rock. Those two just saved me. I was immediately turned on. At 14-15, I was a drummer in a psychobilly band with a mohawk – I had my first tattoo at 15. Music was everything to me. It still is. I wake up in the morning, and some people have coffee and turn on the news. I get coffee and turn on Spotify [laughs]. There’s nothing better than coming onto a new band! You are jamming and you are like, “Who is this?” So you look them up, find the name – I found this band the other day named Mason Gold. Fucking unreal. The song is called “Red.” It’s so fantastic – we reached out to the guys and we are going to manage them now.
Music is everything. Oddly enough, and most music people will agree with this, if you are not a music person, to me, like, “I don’t really listen to music,” you are a weirdo. I don’t even get along with them. It’s like, “Whoa, you are a weirdo.” That’s all I can say. I only hung out with the kids that dressed like they were musicians. That’s just where I come from.
Dead Rhetoric: [Laughs] That’s very true. It’s so strange to me. You don’t listen to music? What do you do with your time?
Fafara: Right – I’ve encountered people like that. It’s like, “Dude have you heard this band?” And they say, “I really don’t listen to music.” It’s like, cool…don’t come around here [laughs]. Just to quote the Tom Petty song, “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”
Dead Rhetoric: Lastly, what sort of plans are coming up with DevilDriver once the album is released?
Fafara: We have some festival stuff happening in July. We have Rock USA, we are playing Inkcarceration Festival, which going to be fantastic. Then in August we go overseas to do some massive festivals – I’m really looking forward to Bloodstock. We are just putting this record out and going on tour. But we aren’t doing a ton in the US or overseas this year. We are dropping the record and going back into the studio in June/July to do something real special. Outlaws ‘Til the End was because we knew there was going to be 3 years before the next Devildriver record. I’m a guy that likes to get a record out every 18-24 months. I knew that wasn’t going to happen because we are working extremely hard and extremely special. So we worked for 2 years on something extremely special here with Outlaws ‘Til the End in the interim, but look for another Devildriver record in 2019, 100%. We are pretty consistent, and write constantly, but this is the one that I keep telling people…and I’ve said it every record. It’s going to keep getting better. And it has. Trust No One, our previous record, debuted higher than the one before it.
We are just finding our speed right now, we are finding out who we are and it’s going to keep getting better. The songs I’ve heard now – we are on a whole new level. This is why it’s taking so long. Nothing good comes easy at all. As a matter of fact, I had a musician say to me, “We just finished our record and it was the easiest record we ever made! It was such a great time! There was no drama. We just finished it.” I said straight-up to him, “Don’t even send it to me.” He was like, “What? Are you kidding me?” I said, “Look at me, I know it’s going to suck. If there was no hardship, no pain, and it was easy to make, it’s going to fucking suck.” It’s funny because he’s in a big band and we are good friends, but he was like, “C’mon dude! Fuck you!” I said, “Hey, I’m telling you. You’ll see. People are going to give you guys reviews. I don’t even want to hear the record yet. Let me just hear the first reviews.” He said, “Oh my God Dez, don’t put that on me! [laughs]” But yeah, we are definitely coming on with something strong here with Outlaws ‘Til the End. We are going to come real strong with something in 2019. I think people are going to be very surprised with what we do. It’s not going to be your average, normal thing.
Dead Rhetoric: It goes back to what you were saying. Things take time and energy to get it to that next level.
Fafara: People can hear it when you don’t. I hear it all the time when I hear records. Like, “You were definitely not invested in that. That does not sound hungry, volatile, and visceral” – these words keep coming out of me, because we are talking about metal. It doesn’t sound hungry, starving, and vicious. Where are you coming from? That’s the part that people need to be – you need to be invested in what you are doing. It doesn’t matter what you do. One of my kids is young – he sells commercial insurance. Everyone in that field is 52 years old. This kid is 23 and he’s driving a brand new car and he’s killing it. You know why? Because he’s invested in it. You have to invest yourself in everything that you do, and it will pay off for you. That’s the lesson of the day! Go 110% or don’t go at all. Especially if you are around me.
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