A Deadly Personality: An Interview with Dez Fafara of Devildriver and Coal Chamber

It doesn’t happen often that an interview surprises me. When you interview musicians, especially when they’re doing the rounds promoting something, there aren’t a lot of surprises to be had. Whether it is an album or a tour, we’re both on the clock trying to talk about that. It’s an annoying process, for them as well as for me, as we go through the motions talking about how “this new album is going to be the heaviest ever,” as well as an opportunity to “go back to our roots, you know?“.  By the time they sit with me, they’ve used the same canned responses countless of times already, trying to get through the dreaded press day without calling anyone an asshole right away.

It is because of this routine that I always try to get people to talk about other stuff. I prepare my interviews meticulously, research as much as I can (or, at least, as much as time allows) and try to have meaningful conversations with the people I meet. I mean, if I wanted to know how someone’s upcoming album “sounds,” I’ll fucking listen to it, there’s no need to verbalize it.

And then, there are times like these. Starting a new job, moving houses, with very little time on my hands (to the point of recording the interview right before I packed my computer for the move) I was ready to just phone this one in. I did the minimum necessary research to, at least, appear coherent. I knew Coal Chamber as a kid, and I knew of Devildriver (I remember listening to “End of the Line” quite a bit back in the day), but not nearly enough to have a good conversation about it when meeting Dez Fafara, the frontman of both bands. I thought we’d just cover the basics, maybe get some interesting tidbits, and call it a day. It wasn’t quite like that.

I’ve always wondered what it must have felt like to be the person interviewing Charlie Sheen when he was going on that absolutely disjointed, drug-fueled, insane diatribe about “winning!”. There’s something inherently intimidating about interviewing someone who’s that fucking intense, to the point that you question your ability to keep up with them, as they jump from one idea to the other. When it comes to Dez Fafara, some of that intensity was there, although, in his case, not the result of a cocaine binge.

Devil Driver (photo by Ben Hoffmann)

Blame it on my ADD

Dez suffers, although he’d resent that word, from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADD” or “ADHD” for short). He’s all over the place, delivering long-winded responses that jump from one topic to another, trying in vain to leave no loose ends. He wants to make sure all of his points come across.

He projects a relaxed, although slightly grandiose, personality, as he answers every question. As laid back as he appears though, he points out that under a veneer of tranquility rests a very aggressive, dangerous self. Although I’d normally dismiss that as the kind of boasting you’d expect from a 13 year old kid playing Call of Duty, his anger seems very real. It’s the result of violence, abuse and hatred.

Dez struggles every day to keep that anger in check, as he lives not as a musician, but as a devoted husband and father, not only to his own children, but to the ever increasing number of animals he rescues. Slowly, but surely, he has diversified his ventures, as he focuses not only on his music, but also on a series of entrepreneurial pursuits that he seems eager to rub in the face of anybody who questioned the ability of that Californian kid with ADD to ever make it.


I can’t do anything unless it is 110%

MB: I heard that you’re not only working as a musician anymore, since you’re also starting a management company, The Oracle Management.
Dez: Yeah, we started that a couple of months back, and since then it folded into other managers, with other bands. There are a lot of people calling me from very well known bands asking me about how that is going; I’m very pleased about that. 

MB: It’s always good to see musicians diversify what they do with their time and their money. What motivated you to go into that entrepreneurial role?
Dez: I firmly believe that the big secret in the music industry, and people are gonna be pissed that I say this, is that a manager, for a band that has been active for 8, 9 or 10 years, is simply not needed.
I got tired of telling managers to do something and to see it take three weeks when I could have done it myself in 24 hours. A lot of this business gets done between musicians nowadays, a lot of it at 11 or 12 at night, on Saturdays and Sundays; and, let’s face it, those are the times that managers aren’t working. They’re out with their families, they’re doing their thing. Being in the music industry is a 24 hour career, and to have any longevity in the music industry takes a lot of work.
I formed this company on the basis of a very simple formula: We get shit done quick. That’s where we’re good. We don’t wait around. We send invitations to bands to be on tour with a 48 hour notice, and we move forward.
It’s been a pleasure to do this. I obviously know the ins and the outs; I’ve had some of the best managers in the industry working for me. One of my mentors is a guy called Steve Davies, with whom I worked alongside for about 9 years, and who was one of the people, along with my agent, who told me: “Dez you should do this yourself, man; You’re up early, you’re kicking ass, you’re driven…” That formed into first taking care of Devildriver and then of some other bands, and now we’re forming other managers and all kinds of other bands. It’s been a phenomenal success so far.

The logo of “The Oracle Management”

MB: It’s interesting that whenever I speak with musicians, regardless of how long they’ve been working together, they always have horror stories about the “business” part of the “music business.” About their first managers downright stealing or taking advantage of them.
Dez: There’s a lot of that in the industry, and this is why I say that the shell game in the music industry is the manager. He’s taking 15%, sometimes 20%, from their clients, and sometimes doing a half-assed job, not being on the job full-time. If you’re going to come into a band, work with a band, take 15% or 20% of their living, then you better eat, live and breath that band. That’s literally what I do for the bands that I work with, and for my own band as well.
This has been the shell game, the unspoken thing that nobody wants to talk about; I’ve actually had people call me and say that they saw that I said this in an interview, and that I should stop saying it. I’m like “Why? ’cause I’m gonna hurt all your jobs?”
The bottom line is that you need a manager when you’re first starting out. You need a manager on your first record, your second record, your third record. Do you need a manager on your fourth, fifth and sixth record? Do you need a manager after 10 years in the business, when you can call your own agent or call anybody in the industry to make tours? I mean, that’s what I do! For our touring cycle that is coming in the fall I just made phone calls myself at 10:30 at night, the people picked up, we made the plans to tour, and we told the agent what to do. This is really what’s happening now within the music industry.
I even tell my clients in younger bands, or to bands that are just starting out: “I’m going to show you the ropes.” That’s what I do; I don’t call them in the middle of the night and go like “hey, I just got you a tour!” When, in reality, the agent called and got the tour. I don’t do any of those things, it’s not a shell game over here. I tell people how it works, I tell my artists how things work. I tell them that the agent called me late at night with an offer, and whether they want to take it. These are the times when you need a manager, when you need someone to tell you what’s right, what’s wrong, and to teach you the industry so that you can come into this business. Doing all of that on your first 10 years without management, now that’s a really difficult process. You’re going to get eaten alive.
You have to watch out with who manages you. I’ve been fortunate enough that throughout my career I haven’t had managers steal money from me. I’ve had managers who have, fortunately, showed me the ropes. People like Sharon Osbourne who worked for me for several years. I learned from her. I had a manager for like a month and a half who tried to take me to court and sue me for money, even though he didn’t do anything for me. That’s when I realized that this is a shell game. I had my agents call me one night and tell me that I should do this for myself, since I was killing it on my own.
Since I started to manage myself, I confirmed Blackest of the Black, several tours overseas, several tours coming up in the fall, secured record deals for many of my clients under The Oracle with excellent record companies, and with excellent deals because I watch them really closely. It has been fascinating to actually hear the artists talk to me and to thank me for showing them these things. I don’t just take them from point A to point B without showing them what’s in between. They learn! My philosophy, and this is what I tell them, is that if I fall off the curb and die they will still know how to get themselves out. People don’t really do that.
Many managers in this industry are great people and are doing their clients justice, but there is also a small group of people who aren’t like that, and who are just feeding off of musicians. That is not what we do here at The Oracle, myself, Mark Riviera, and the other managers who will be joining in shortly, and which will come as a great announcement in the next couple of weeks.

MB: I take it that a lot of the things you mention were also much harder to do before the Internet was massified, since a big part of the communication can now be done directly by (and between) artists. So maybe it’s also that big parts of the managerial job became obsolete.
Dez: Right, and I think that artists need to understand that old business term of “know your bankers.” Know your record label, know your agents, know the people that you work with. I surf with my agent a couple of times per week; I surf with the head of my label, from Austria, who comes over here to surf with me and my family. We sit out in the water and do business. You have to know these people; you can’t just depend on the manager to talk to the label, the agents, etc. You need to be involved in your career. It’s your career. They may drop you one day, they may not be around one day, and you’ll either have a career or not based on whether or not you got personally involved.
One of the bands that we’re picking up now is a big band coming out of the Ukraine; they’re brand new, of course, but they’re gonna blow up. They already sold a lot of records here in the United States even though they’ve never been here. I say the same things to them and teach them the ropes.
You have to know the people that you deal with. I’m the one who laid down the groundwork for the multiple record deals that Devildriver has now, the groundwork for outlaw country record that we’re doing… that’s a whole another thing. If I had a manager, a guy that I called, asked him to do something, and who’d then tell me the next day, or five days later, if he got anything done, then this outlaw country record would have never happened. Every phone call from every artist that’s in this thing, and there are probably over 20, all happened after 11 at night, on Saturday nights, Sunday mornings, etc. The scheduling would have been a fucking nightmare for some other guy who didn’t live it. A manager who’d be like “Oh my god! how can I get this done? How am I supposed to get that person to your house?” whereas I can just call these people and get them to drive themselves here.
Any artist that’s coming up, who’s signed, who has a couple of records out, and that doesn’t like who they’re dealing with… well, come on over. We have a lot of that at The Oracle. Many people are emailing from many bands; some of them asking not only about how to come over, but asking about how I managed to do certain things: “How did you do these things? Can  you help me? Can I manage myself?” my answer to them is “Well, I don’t know… can you?” I mean, you have to be a businessman, you have to be an artist, you have to test who you are and what you do.
Fortunately, I’ve suffered from ADHD my whole life, so I can run multiple businesses, multiple bands, a surf company that is taking off now, a lot of different things, because I enjoy the work. Life is in the work for me. It’s a very blue-collar philosophy that I’ve had all my life. My dad was a construction worker, I know what it’s like to be at a job site at 4 in the morning so that you’re tired when the sun goes down. I’ve never lost that work ethic.

MB: It’s interesting that you see ADHD as what allows you to diversify your work like this.
Dez: Well, this is why Devildriver covered the song “Sail” [by Awolnation], which has the chorus “blame it on my ADD.” I was on Ritalin, I was on medicine for 10 years; my parents put me on that stuff and it made me a fucking zombie. And now, all over America, people are like “oh, your kid is hyperactive? Give him the pill!”. No, your kid needs to be engaged; your kid is bored; your kid is not hyperactive in school, he’s just bored. He’s sitting underneath bright fluorescent lights, with a teacher that’s talking so fucking slowly that he can’t even get it, while he can just get on the Internet and get any answer he wants in a second.
Here in the United States we just feed kids with pills that are fucking killing them. They’re literally killing them. They don’t understand what an asset this “disease” (that’s how they call it, so I’ll just go along with it) can be. It’s a major asset in people’s lives. If they can learn to function on it. Now that’s where marijuana comes in for me. I found marijuana when I was 15; all of a sudden my grades went to A’s and B’s; history and social studies were grand for me, since I now enjoyed them. All of a sudden my right and left brain started to open up more and BOOM! I understood math more. It was an unbelievable game-changer. It’s why I have a medical marijuana business!

MB: Wait… you also have a marihuana business?
Dez: Yeah, absolutely. Devildriver OG is in many dispensaries, and we’re getting ready to branch out with a major company in California now. Our code for that is that it’s not stoners making money; it’s me offering the prescription, given by the Gods, for life. It treats cancer, it treats depression-

MB: Wait, wait— Marijuana helps with the symptoms of cancer. There’s literally no evidence of it “curing” cancer. None whatsoever.
Dez: It actually clears cancer. You give people tinctures and it clears and attacks the cancer. Kids with epilepsy who can’t even talk or move, smoke a joint and all of a sudden have conversations with their families! And yet big pharmaceutical companies are running the world, running a billion-dollar industry, shoving this shit down our throats!
To go back to what we were saying, ADD, ADHD, can be a very helpful thing when you want to be successful or you want to be a businessman. That “disease,” as they call it, can also, for some reason, open your brain to where, if people talk to you, you can see right the fuck through them. That’s a part of what ADD and ADHD is! And that’s part of the reason why kids reach out in school. They get loud, they get too obnoxious, because they’re hearing someone talk to them but they’re not getting it, they see right through them. They’re already seeing through to the conversation that they’re going to have half an hour later on that topic. I have three boys, and everything in life is so quick for them; it’s a fast society, and yet you put them in school so that for 45 minutes so guy can talk to them very slowly about some subject, and then you call the kid “ADD” or “ADHD” and you put them on drugs because they can’t put their head around this teacher. It’s so ridiculous.

MB: I get it if you believe that marijuana helps adults with ADHD, but you’re not going to get a 14 year old kid smoking weed, I assume.
Dez: Oh, definitely! I’ve raised my kids around marijuana; some of them smoke now, and some don’t, because I raised them around it. I believe in it. If a kid can smoke weed at 14 and all of a sudden high school gets more interesting, that’s cool; but if a kid starts smoking weed at 14 and ends up just sitting on the couch watching TV all day, then that’s not the kid that should be smoking weed. That’s the bottom line there.
I don’t put up with stoners; I don’t like the whole “stoner mentality.” I’m a fucking productive individual, giving back to society; I do a ton of charity work, I run at least 5 businesses… now, go on and tell me what’s wrong with ADD [laughs]

MB: You’re also breeding dogs, right?
Dez: No, we don’t breed, we rescue. I just rescued a doberman from Quebec, Canada, and he had a hell of a time getting here [laughs]. He had a 5-day drive across country, but he’s here now; he’s been with us for 2 months. He’s actually upstairs chasing my great dane [laughs]

MB: The fact that you work with rescued animals does say a lot about you, and it’s definitely something you should be proud of.
Dez: Thank you!  We have 4 rescued cats and 2 rescued dogs. My great dane is so beautiful, but no one wanted him because he had one blue eye and one black nail, and they always want this pure-bred thing, and I don’t understand that at all. It’s kind of the island of misfit toys over here, and everybody is welcome.

MB: The whole “pure bred” animal thing is pretty fucking insane. When it comes to boxers, for example, people often kill the white ones, because that’s not how a boxer is “supposed” to look.
Dez: That’s fucking horrible, man! That’s a form of racism against animals. There’s a white boxer that lives about seven doors down from here, and we love that dog. He’s amazing.
Racism from people towards dogs is definitely a thing. We address racism towards human races; if you were on the phone with me and use the n-word, I’d just hang up on you. But if you were to tell me that you’d never have a white boxer… I’d probably still hang up on you [laughs]

MB: If nothing else, it’s great to see that a lot of the atrocities that used to be done on pets are no loner being done. For example, in many parts of Europe the idea of cutting the tails or the ears of dogs for aesthetic reasons is, thankfully, going away.
Dez: Our doberman, when he came to us, he had cut ears and a cut tail. My best friend, a doberman who passed away a year ago, Bacchus, he was my life. I’ve never cried so hard in my entire life, and I’m not afraid to share that, as a man. He didn’t have cut ears at all.
We did have this conversation when we got Piper, our doberman. We were taking this animal knowing that there were these things that had been done to him. Would we ever do it ourselves? Go cut his ears off? No.
Having said that, God, he’s a beautiful, stunning creature.
Humans do augmentation to themselves, they do it to dogs… it’s just a crazy scenario all around.

Lord Bacchus Augustus The Mountain Fafara. #Doberman #BatWingEars #OhSoHandsome #DaddysBoy @dezfafara

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MB: It’s funny that you mention the “augmentations” in humans… I mean, in “Loco,” you looked pretty modified, right?
I like modification, but I don’t like augmentation. Modification is about tattoos, piercings, haircuts, whatever. Augmentation is plastic surgery, where people come out not even looking the same.
I talk about this with my wife; we’ve been together for almost 20 years, it’s a long time in this industry, but I’m a very private person and raised a family away from the public eye, and that has helped. We’ve talked about getting older, to just get older. In China they look at wrinkles as life lines; they look at your face and see how you’ve lived. You can tell if a person has been downtrodden in life, or if that person has smiled a lot. I don’t ever want to lose that; I don’t want her or myself to get plastic surgery just because we have to “stay young.” This is a philosophy that is just terrible on the human race, that age is something that we should stay away from. I’m 50 years old; I skateboarded last night for an hour and a half, I do martial arts, I’m in a better shape than I’ve ever been in my life, I could kick the shit out of my 25-year old self. If he walked in the door I would kick the shit out of him. There is something to be embraced about that.
So, anyway, augmentation is one thing, but I do love the tribal culture of piercings and tattoos. I started doing that when I was so young. I got my first tattoo when I was 15, when “only bikers and gangsters” would get them. I had my nose pierced when I was 15 and it was the biggest deal in the world. Now I go into the bank and the local kid there has a full sleeve of tattoos and nose rings. I applaud that; I applaud society for opening up to tattoos and artistic people and culture and letting them into this “normal” spaces.
I grew up being told that I couldn’t get a “normal” job if I looked like that. That’s why I tattooed my face at a very early age. Now face tattoos are so fucking commonplace that it’s almost not even cool anymore. When I did it it was to make sure that I wouldn’t put myself back into a fucking cubicle. I was like “I’m never going to go back to whatever it is that you call normal; I’m going to live myself as an artist my whole life, and I’m going to force myself to do it by doing this” and I tattooed my chin. In American culture that was like “holy shit!”

MB: To be fair I think that having your face tattooed still carries a certain stigma and it’s seen as pretty weird.
Dez: Not here in America; it’s just everywhere. I see 22-year old kids with their faces tattooed and I applaud it, as long as they understand that they have to go through life with a certain stigma from other people that are judgmental. You just have to be prepared for that.
People can be judgmental anyways… like I said before, I’m a very private person, I find humanity to be completely fucking vulgar, so I tend to just stay with my family, my close friends, make my art, and try to live a life of solitude, and it’s helped. It has helped my marriage, it has helped myself, it has helped my business, it has helped my career, and I think that the people who have followed me for a long time realize that, with me, they get what they see. I did an interview yesterday when I was asked “how come that you have to develop this persona” and I was like “no, dude, there’s no persona.” The only thing that changes is that right before I hop on stage…. that’s a totally different cat, I don’t know where he is coming from, but he’s up there doing his thing. After that, there’s no persona.

MB: I think that’s also for every performer though. If you were always just like you’re on stage, you’d be unable to have a family, since you’d be incredibly annoying for being sooooo fucking energized the whole time.
Dez: I can name handfuls of musicians who, as we call it, “go home but stay on tour.” They go home, but they’re immediately out at a night club, drinking, they gotta let people know that they’re there, they’re living off the ego of being in a band.
I recently asked a friend of mine, a very wealthy musician, “how’s life?” and the first thing out of his mouth were “great! I made a ton of money last year!” And I was like… “I didn’t ask you this, man. Are you married? Have you ever been married? Do you have any kids?” and he said “no”, so I just said “so you’re living, but you haven’t really lived.” And he said “woah! that was deep.”
I don’t put money in front of family; having children is one of the most blessed things I could have ever had in my life. I’m just a different sort of person in this business, and I’m going to remain that way, and I refuse to accept the ego that a lot of singers have .“LOOK AT ME! I’M IN A BAND!

Kindly put your hands up and step back slowly …. #OutLawTillTheEnd

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MB: On that note… Coal Chamber started pretty big right away, with Sharon Osbourne giving you a lot of support at the beginning. Did you ever use the line “motherfucker, do you even know WHO I am?!”
Dez: Mmm…. no, I’ve never really found a need to use that. I mean, if you don’t know who I am then what am I going to get by asking? They’ll just be like “no, I don’t… so, anyways….” [laughs] You know, I’ve had a lot of long-time relationships in this industry, with some of the most intense frontmen on earth, who don’t carry that ego with them. Phillip Anselmo is a great example of that; he’s one of my closest friends for probably 25 years, but he doesn’t have a fucking ego. He’s just not that guy. You learn from people like that. When you’re around a singer that has the ego because he’s got two girls on his arms, and he’s got a bottle of whiskey in his hand, and “oooh, he’s soooo cool.” And, no, it doesn’t look cool to me.
I’ve come out of this unscathed. My wife said it to me last night. I’m one of the most private people in the industry, let alone in the metal industry. I mean, I make certain guys look outgoing [laughs]. I think that it’s important; all you have is yourself and your family, everything else comes second.

MB: As far as answers from musicians go, that one isn’t very common: prioritizing family and just being a nice, laid back person. I think part of the reason is that some of the larger-than-life stylings that we used to see in things like rap and hip hop are now also becoming popular in heavy metal, since the musicians wants to stand out.
Dez: I play it cool and I try to be nice, just like you said… but, on other hand, don’t fuck with me. I’m a gangster. I ran away from home at 15, I come from a ton of psychological and physical abuse at home. I was in prison. Don’t fuck me. Don’t fuck with my family. Don’t fuck with my businesses. Or you’re gonna be on the end of a shitstick. That’s not ego; you can be a good person, you can be nice, you can rescue animals, you can help people out, you can be forthcoming in the press, like I’m being right now… but you also have to let people know “don’t fuck with me, don’t come around and fuck with me; don’t think you’re gonna fuck with me. If you think you’re gonna fuck with me, you’re gonna get fucked with. And if I can’t fuck with you, I have 4 attorneys that will fuck with you.
That kind of standoffish behavior, that really is in metal full time. It’s the guy in the backstage going “HEY WHAT”S UP MOTHERFUCKER? HOW YOU DOIN’?” , and who really needs to drop the ego, because I just look at him and think that I’d just love to kick the shit out of him in front of everybody. It’d be so fucking fun for me.
There’s a very visceral, violent, aggressive, nature within me, that I’m constantly, daily, backing down. Constantly, daily, dealing with.

MB: I can sincerely relate to that, but it isn’t exactly a great way to be.
Dez: I guess the best way to put it is to say that, at any given moment, if it was needed to defend myself, my family, or my personage… there’s a deadly personality in there that was beat when he was a kid, that had a real rough one.

MB: I’m really sorry to hear that was the case. I can also relate to some of it, and I’m sincerely sorry that was the case for you.
Dez: I appreciate that, thank you. What you do is that you take your moments, when you’re younger, and you use them later on in life. If someone were to fuck with me or my family, all of that comes out in such an intense form that it just puts up a massive wall. It’s a great thing to actually have and to keep for yourself, within yourself.
…But I think we’re getting a bit off-topic now.

MB: Well, let’s get back to the music then. Regarding that upcoming album of outlaw country covers, you said that it wouldn’t have happened if it had been in charge of a manager. Is it because of the music being hard to sell, or just because of the logistics of the collaborations involved?
Dez: It’s just because of the collaborations. The music was easy to sell! The minute the label heard it they were over the edge about it, and they’re an Austrian label! I didn’t expect them to “get it” right away, but they did, and they understood what we were doing, and they understood that when you come to America, and you go into an American tour bus, you’re gonna hear Black Sabbath, followed by Johnny Cash, followed by Willie Nelson. That’s just how it goes.
Every metal guy that I know listens to outlaw country, not pop country, but outlaw country. There’s something there, between metal artists and outlaw country artists, blues artists and punk artists, we all understand each other because we’re doing something underground. We’re all not skewing our art or our music in order to reach a pop-fanbase in order to make more money; we’re doing truly what we want, and I’ve been doing that since the beginning. Not only with Coal Chamber, but also with Devildriver. 

MB: Speaking about Coal Chamber, I read that in your upcoming Devildriver tour you plan to play more Coal Chamber music, something that you had sort of shied-away from doing before. What motivated that change?
Dez: I waited 13 years to get back together with them; we released Rivals, it came out really strong, most of the shows we did around the world were sold-out… and after a year of touring with them I realized that a lot of the same problems that existed within them as human beings were still rearing their ugly heads. I was like “I don’t wanna deal with this, I’m not going to put up with this, I’m not gonna go through this ever again with these people.”
I got a call around 11:30 at night one time, from Danzig. He asked “Is your wife there?”, I said “yeah.” He said, “put her on speakerphone.” Then he proceeded to invite us to play Blackest of the Black, and asked “why are you running away from your past? When I left Misfits, I was doing Samhain and Misfits songs in Danzig. When Rob Zombie left White Zombie he was doing White Zombie songs. Why are you running from this?” 
He was right. I’m not going to get back together with those guys, there’s nothing ever coming in the future, it’s completely done, forever, but I’m not going to stop playing the songs that made me, and the songs that people want to hear from me. I watched Philadelphia sell-out with 2600 people; I saw amazing things happen, so why should I wait to play these songs, and make other people wait? It’s ridiculous.
I’ve always wanted to hear these songs played “the right way.” With the right timing, two guitars making it heavier, double kick-drums, and so on. You hear a song like “Loco,” or “Fiend,” and they’re unbelievable when they’re done by Devildriver. During certain shows, in certain places, we’ll definitely play 2 or 3 songs. Not every time, not every tour; I’m not going to embrace it full-on. I’ll give people an opportunity to hear those songs again, and they don’t have to wait another 13 years for the Coal Chamber people to get back together, because that’s just not gonna happen. If 13 years doesn’t change you, then another 13 also won’t.

MB: What were the kind of problems that you felt could not be worked out with your ex Coal Chamber guys?
Dez: I don’t wanna go on the personal attacks. All I’ve got to say is that a lot of the things that hurt the band previously due to the other people in it… are still there. It’s not attitudes, it’s other things that they need to get a hold-of. I can’t be a counselor, I can’t sit there and help people through their lives if they’re not gonna get it together themselves. I wait 13 years and after a year of touring I just came away with my heart sick and disappointed.
Even some of the shows suffered from it. Nobody realized it, unless I point it out, but I can’t do anything unless it is 110%; I have 110% tattooed on my left hand knuckle! It’s gotta be pro; it’s gotta be 110%! If you call me to do a gig, I’m gonna come. I’m not gonna be fucked up, I’m gonna be ready. When I’m ready to tour I’m gonna be mentally and physically ready. I just realized it’s not gonna come to fruition with those guys anymore, so I’m moving on. Forget it.

MB: Do you think that popularity, the music business, etc., is something that some people, not necessarily your ex band members, have a very hard time dealing with? Mostly in regard to that comment you made about arriving fucked up for a show. People who are either drinking too much, partying too much, doing too many drugs, etc., to the point that it’s affecting the job that people are paying to see them do.
Dez: Some people do that. I mean, I’ve done it. You’re raised to think that everything about Jim Morrison is cool but, that’s not the case. Jim Morrison was cool, but him getting so fucked up he couldn’t perform was not cool. When you’re coming up as the frontman, you think that getting fucked up is the coolest thing on earth.
Being backstage with 6 women on your lap and a bottle of booze in each hand. I’ve done it, I’ve been there, big deal. It’s not real, it’s fucking fake, and it gets in the way of the music, of the art. Your fans, the people who come out and pay good money to see me, or any band, they don’t want to see a half-assed show. They won’t come back and see you again if you’re half-assed. They’ll talk about it on the internet, “he was so fucked up he didn’t even know the lyrics.” That’s the worst, man. 

MB: Dez, I think that I’ve taken more than enough of your time already. It has been really interesting and illuminating.
Dez: All good, brother. I appreciate the insightful conversation, it wasn’t the normal bullshit, so that’s always nice to wake up to.

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Considered by his mother as the brightest and prettiest boy, J's interest in metal started in his early teens, listening to bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica (coupled with an embarrassing period in which Marilyn Manson "totally represents me, man") eventually moving into the realm of power, black, and death metal. He holds a PhD in law, trains martial arts, practices law, and enjoys coming up with excuses as to why he has to miss work after going to a concert. He also dabbles as a concert photographer, you can see his sub-par work on his instagram.
  • nn

    Great interview. Dez also seems like really interesting person, cool and mature at the same time. Nice!