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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Dez Fafara Coal Chamber - Interview
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Coal Chamber were one of those bands that stood out amongst a lot of the 90's nu-metal bands, even a lot of the metal purists took an interest in the band which helped create a succesful career for the band. After their break-up in the early 2000's, it certaintly seemed like we would never see another album from the band again but their reunion a couple of years ago not only surprised a lot of people but proved that there was something still there with this band. Now in 2015 Coal Chamber are back with their first album in 13 years, "Rivals" which may very well be their best work to date. We had a chat with frontman Dez Fafara who was at home in the California weather to discuss everything about Coal Chamber, the new album and the latest with his other band, Devildriver.



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Andrew: So let's get into the first Coal Chamber album in so many years "Rivals". We did a review of it recently and was massively impressed by it, it's a great album. How happy are you with the songs and how it came out?

Dez: I'm very happy! I wouldn't of been part of this record first of all if they hadn't really come with songs when they started to demo that were absolutely incredible. The song writing was very mature, the arrangements very mature, the hooks, the melodies. Everything was incredible and it's one of the reasons I wanted to be part of this, this record that Coal Chamber is getting together to do here. I don't think we as a team, none of us, wanted to be part of anything nostalgic so I don't think you can really expect some kind of throw back 90's record. It's got a very fresh kind of now feel which is exactly what Coal Chamber was when we first came out in the day, we were something fresh on the scene, something different and I think that's what we have now. If you are familiar with the discography - 1, 2 and 3 records - then you will realize those records were so different from one another that there's no way we can repeat records. We're just moving on and creating a brand new sound for ourselves, I think people are really going to enjoy this record.

Andrew: Yeah you are absolutely right, all your records are definitely different from each other including the last one "Dark Days". The seperation between "Dark days" and "Rivals" is a huge leap between those 2 albums. You mentioned that you wanted to stay away from the whole nostalgia sound but what was the other stuff that you wanted to do as well?

Dez: We just wanted to make sure that we leaped forward and there's no way not to do that after what I've done for years and what they have done for years and then coming together and knowing that the song writing was mature and that it was musically setup perfectly for me. What we really wanted to do was to make sure that our sound kept the diversity that we had before. Meaning from song to song on the record you are going to get something different, it's going to take you to different places, different rooms, different houses. And that was important for us, to make sure the record itself was interesting. But there was no problem with that because the demos that I was getting early on, I was just astounded at the variations and styles that were happening between the members. Now my guitar player has a soundscape about him that really, the only guy I can put him in the class with is this other cat from Rage because he just has this crazy...I mean he does things that have never been done before, he makes sounds that have never happened before. He's doing a good job at it.

Andrew: One of the things that I do recognize in the album is that it still has that trademark sound, it still sounds like Coal Chamber and your vocals sound great as well. But lyrically was there anything that was maybe different or similar to what you had done before?

Dez: Yeah I mean just to get into the first part of that, I don't think we couldn't not be Coal Chamber. Obviously there's a Coal Chamber signature sound. I mean I have the same thing with Devildriver, there's a signature sound there. Lyrically this thing just flew out of me, usually most artists will tell you it takes a good 3 to 6 months to lyrically write a record and make sure it's really great and making sure you are never repating yourself from different records that you've done. And this thing flew out of me, there were some days where I was writing multiple, multiple songs and lyrically I trid to touch on everything. I really tried to go into the feeling of what it's like to be a human on this earth! I tried to touch on all levels and try to talk about some of the things that maybe you might not want to talk about in your personal life. That's one thing I do lyrically with both of my bands, is bare my soul but on this one on songs like "Bridges You Burn" or ""Suffer In Silence" or "Bad Blood", they are really getting in there deep when it comes to human repoire. And I think that's the only way to be as a lyricist is to be totally stripped away naked and let yourself flow.

Andrew: Yeah definitely! And also getting back into the studio with these guys again, what was it like working with them again on new songs?

Dez: It was incredible! I mean first of all the writing started in pre-production, there was nothing but constant laughter. That's all we would do is just sit around and laugh and have a good time and I think that spurred on such a form of musical creativity. I mean that really set the mood for having fun and once you're having fun, you're really getting artistic and once you're getting artistic, you're truly in there in the gap creating art that's not only different and unique but something special because you're in the moment with it and having a good time. And that's where we were.

Andrew: Yeah it sounded like you were having fun. Is that something that is very important because of some of the stuff that has happened with the band in the past? Sort of trying to get past all that kind of stuff and just moving forward?

Dez: Yeah I mean I don't think there was any getting past it, it's more we had communication about all of that. Coal Chamber broke up due to horrible circumstances, those guys had very negative lives and vices that took them down and I had to leave. And in doing so I think I actually saved my friends, I watched them come around, I watched them get clean off of drugs. Meegs (Rascon, guitar) is now very happily married and Mike (Cox, drums) might as well be married with a 1 year old baby boy and he's very mature and he's sober. If Mike was not sober I don't think we would even be together at this point and talking about having the record and it's kind of contingent on that, is that everybody keeps their shit together. I just think when you have a chance to get back together with somebody that you love and make music that you love and having another shot at it when you see and hear an evolution in the music and you see an evolution in the writing and there's no reason not to do that. I feel blessed that we got the chance and I feel we made one hell of a record and I can't wait to share it with people.


Andrew: Yeah it's going to be amazing when you guys tour out in the world with it. What's the idea behind what you guys want to do with Coal Chamber now that you have a new album and everything? Is this something that you are going to continue forward with?

Dez: Yeah we've been touring man, we just did 8 weeks in the United States with only 3 days off with Filter and Combi Christ. It was a great run, people were coming out in force and we came home for only about a week and then we went over to South America and played Mexico City, Chile and Monsters Of Rock with Ozzy, Motorhead and Judas Priest. And now we just came home basically yesterday and I'm home for about 8 or 9 days and then we go over to the UK and Europe. A pretty short time over there, I think only about 25-30 days so just a short run. And then we come home for another 4 to 5 weeks and then getting ready to announce a really bad-ass headlining tour again in the United States and the record will be out by then. And I'm on the phone with AJ Maddah from Soundwave, we're like family and he's in New Orleans right now and he's coming out to my house to visit and I think we'll get together next Wednesday and that's where we're going to talk about Coal Chamber coming over (to Australia) to possibly do a headlining run later on this year.

Andrew: OK cool! Obviously you personally are quite a bit of a regular at the Soundwave Festival so it's always good to see you come over to Australia.

Dez: I am man, I haven't been there in a minute but I have a great time there and it's been something I look forward to, something the whole band...either one of my bands Devildriver or Coal Chamber...we look forward to coming down there. AJ is a friend of my family, he's not just a guy I do business with so that's a great relationship there and Soundwave is always a good time.

Andrew: Yeah the last time we saw you guys was at Soundwave last year I think and it was phenomenal to see Coal Chamber back on stage again. I mean that must have felt great to be back in Australia with Coal Chamber.

Dez: It did and actually Coal Chamber had never been to Australia! I was coming on stage the first day and hearing almost the whole crowd know the words was like, either people had a very long memory or we were very missed and I think it's a little of both. It made us feel like 'You know what, let's keep going. Let's take it around the world as long as we're having fun, let's see what happens'. And it's actually in Australia that I heard some of the new songs they were writing so part and parcel you guys were a bit responsible for us getting together to do a record. That made me want to do this.

Andrew: Well thats good to hear! As far as touring with Coal Chamber you mentioned trying to come back to Australia but with Devildriver as well, I know you were supposed to headline (in Australia) some time ago and that had to be cancelled. So what's the plan with that as well?

Dez: Yeah what happened with that, we need to come back. Over 12 years we put out 6 records and we really never really took time off. Where most bands take a year and a half off between cycles, I'm kind of a road warrior and I never did that. And it became to me and everybody else around me I was like 'Look man I need a little bit of time off, I need at least 9-10 months off music just to hang out with my family'. When that happened, Coal Chamber ironically just came to the table and said 'Hey why don't we do the record inbetween that time?' So Devildriver, by the time we come back, I'm recording a new Devildriver record at the end of this year. I'm sitting on 12 blistering songs that I'm in love with and I'm recording those [in] October- November this year and sometime next year [in] spring/summer/fall, I'm going to release another Devildriver record and get right back in a Devildriver cycle. I don't want Devildriver sitting around too long but we definitely needed to take a break out of the markets and a break from touring for a little bit.

Andrew: Yeah I suppose since Devildriver has started it's been pretty consistent, you guys have been putting out albums almost every year, every 2 years. So I guess at some point you probably got burnt out by it.

Dez: It wasn't even just a case of burn out, we put out a record every 2 years solid for 12 years and we never really took a year off between touring which most bands do. And it was like 'You know what? Let's recharge, Mike went home and does his studio and is surfing everyday, I was helping to re-do my studio here as well and by the time they were all ready which is now...I mean they have been writing daily and sending me songs the time we all get done here, we'll probably get in July-August with about 20 songs and I'll start narrowing it down and then we'll get together in October-November and do a record. I'll tell you now, it's definitely going to be something blistering! The music is on a different level right now with what's going on with Devildriver. That being said, I'm getting ready to release the Coal Chamber record, we'll be touring. It is limited touring but we're hitting everywhere in the world. And whether we hit everywhere in the world twice really has to do with are we still having a good time and how the record is doing etc etc.

Andrew: How does it feel to have 2 great bands in your life like that? It's not very often that people have that opportunity.

Dez: No man, I feel blessed! I think it's because I put my family first. I really do, I sit down with my wife and a calendar and a pen and say 'When do you want me home babe? OK I'll definitely be home in October for Halloween time so period, I'm home. And definitely home for Christmas with the kids and definitely home here and there. OK for our anniversary, what do you want me to do here?' And she's like 'Well isn't it festival time overseas during this time? I love to travel at that time so book some shows and I'll come over when you hit Italy or when you hit whatever.' People ask me how do you do 2 bands and it's like, it's not how you do 2 bands. How do you do your family? Make your family work first and the work will come second. That's what's going on with both bands and in a a short answer man? I feel blessed. Everything is firing on all cylinders, all the bands right now. Family is well and I'm happy and healthy so it just feels like a great time right now.

Andrew: Awesome that is absolutely great to hear! As I said we did a review of the new Coal Chamber album and have been blown away by how good it is. In my opinion out of the albums that's out there, I think this is the best one that you guys have done so congratulations!

Dez: I thank you man! You live in a bubble as an artist until you start letting people hear it and we let out a secure link a while ago and I've known most of the journalists I've talked to for 10-15-20 years and even the most cynical cats that really only write on black metal or whatever have hit me up and said this record is one hell of a record. It feels good when you start getting that praise and I really do think we tried so hard on this record to do the best we could and whenever you do that in life in anything, I think things come to fruition. Getting a lot of positive feedback so thank you.

Andrew: Well we are looking forward to seeing you in Australia hopefully and it's been a pleasure chatting to you today!

Dez: Alright man thank you very much. I appreciate the support and have a good day!

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on May 2nd 2015