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Dez Fafara from Coal Chamber

Markus Hamence interviews Dez Fafara from the 1997 formed Nu-Metal super-group Coal Chamber. They chat, the music, the history, the dynamics of the band and the 2024 Australian Tour (performing with Mudvayne) which hits Adelaide’s Hindley St Music Hall on 19 February 2024. Read on…

Markus Hamence: Let’s kick off with going back to the early days of Coal Chamber, how was the band originally formed?

Dez Farara: I took out an ad in what was called ‘Rock City’ back in the day and the Guns & Roses have said this, they used to put ads in that paper all the time, but Miguel Rascón answered tha call out and came on over with his guitar and that was it, we kind of realised we loved all the same type of music and we both wanted to go a different direction that most of the bands in LA were going and we wanted to forge ahead and we really started to create our own sounds. So, way back then, that’s how it all happened.

Markus: Now Coal Chamber have had a unique and distinctive sound with their blended elements of nu-metal and alternative metal, what were some of the musical influences that you were listening to that really helped to shape or direct your style?

Dez: Well, I listened to a lot of rap at the time and when we got together I think we we both loved Fear Factory and they had a down-tuned sound. I was really into White Zombie. We both loved Pantera, we loved all early metal Of course. I think we both bonded hard on Ride the Lightning from Metallica. Like there was a lot of just different sounds and we love both loved a lot of Goth stuff. The Cure, Alien Sex Fiend, Specimen, we just really vibed on music, you know, he was open to listening to other bands, that I may have turned him on to you know, Jane’s Addiction, etc, etc. And, I think when you take a combination of art that you guys love as as artists, you put it together, you’re going to come up with something that’s different. And that’s really what happened there.

Markus: Coal Chamber have had a significant impact, obviously, on the new metal genre, how do you feel the band’s role? What do you feel about the band’s role in shaping that period of music?

Dez: You know, I don’t know, we always just considered ourselves the violent volatile underdog of the whole scene. Really, and we were playing shows, sold out shows, in Los Angeles. So early on, we realised that what we were doing was hitting. And then as far as, you know, being groundbreakers with this, and that, you know, we hear a lot of that I try to, I try to just concentrate on, on the fact that when we came out there was really not a lot of bands that even sounded anything like us. And I think that’s the main thing with any art is if you come out and you’re doing something different, visceral and volatile, and violent in nature, and that could be you know, painting even right, I think it’s going to go far. It’s going to create genres or, or fall into genre whatever have you.

Markus: Totally 100%. Loco and Big Truck amongst others. You know, some of your big well known songs that were just massive bangers. How do you feel like they impacted the band’s career at the time?

Dez: Well, I mean, Loco, took you know, got us our first gold record. Playing with Black Sabbath doing tours around the world and arenas. I mean, in soccer stadiums. I mean, it’s absolutely incredible when I look back on the ride, that that we all took, but I think Loco drove the way right because we were from Los Angeles. I was raised predominantly, in a in a Hispanic area, especially all through middle school. I was only white kid in my school actually so we had a lot of gang members, the South Gate crew is what they’re called, but a lot of gang members actually coming to the shows. A lot of incredible, incredible fights and, you know, and stop the show because it’s violent. It’s crazy. So I think you know, that song that just led the way for what paved the way for what we were what we’re now up to.

Markus: Let’s stay on there for a minute, what is probably one of the craziest things you’ve ever experienced at one of the gigs, whether it be, you know, dangerous, or just like, way over the top or whatever.

Dez: I mean, I could just go more into that really, you know, the the new metal bands that were around us at the time, were known for violent or volatile crowds, right? We had big crowds, they were getting bigger. And then we were getting known for ‘watch out if you go to the show, right, like it’s going to be deadly’. And that was always and still is the case for Coal Chamber when we do shows. So really, I’ve had to stop shows, probably more than more than 100 times in my career, to make sure that people are safe, because you know, a lot of people just want to go out and watch music, right and stand in the front. I don’t recommend that if you’re coming to see Coal Chamber, right? Like, if there’s a pit or if there’s a pit area, and you’re looking to kind of just like, sip your Coca Cola and watch the band, you better get out of the way, because that’s not what’s gonna go down. So I’m looking forward to seeing Australia put the boot in. I mean, I want everybody to stay safe, of course, but it’s on and when we hit the stage, I want it to be on, so let’s go.

Markus: I love it. Hey, go back to 2003 with me when Coal Chamber had a little break for a little bit. And you formed DevilDriver. What was the motivation for starting the new project for you at that time? And how do you feel that Devil Riders music really differs from Coals?

Dez: Well, I mean, I formed DevilDriver in early 2001, when I was recording in 2001 or 2002, Dark Days, the third record, that Coal Chamber put out, I was also at night, driving to Santa Barbara from LA and recording DevilDriver I had just wanted to go in a different direction. I’ve always been someone who loved heavy music, I come from a punk rock background. And I always say like if it’s volatile, visceral, violent, I’m in and musically, we had taken a bit of a turn. And then within the band, obviously, it just wasn’t working anymore. So I knew that I’d take a break and I wasn’t going to take a break from music. So this is why I put together DevilDriver. And then our first tour was with Superjoint Ritual in 2003. And from there obviously we look back at a long storied career. And I think everybody who had my back on that move it, it could have very well failed, many guys tried to go their own way after being in a band that is very successful, like Coal Chamber, but I think the fan base followed me which is which was awesome. And and we were doing something different. And we still are within DevilDriver we always like to say like we’re you know, we’re doing something different. We don’t fall into the crowd, you know.

Markus: So what prompted the return together in 2011, obviously, releasing Rivals in 2015. But what prompted the reunion at that particular time,

Dez: I was at Al Jourgensen’s house with my wife. Late night we were hanging out around shows like two three in the morning. And there was texts that were coming in, the band Coal Chamber and I we just started to talk. And I remember the next morning we all got on the phone and hey, I miss you and and you know, what are we doing here? We’ve been you know, we’ve been apart for a long time, like is this dead? Well, you know, what are we going to do? And the conversations just kept on coming. And we became friends. And I think that was the ultimate thing. There’s that we became friends like we used to be. We buried a lot of hatchets and just really got back together for the music. And that was an incredible time. That record I still stand by is Rivals, through the dark days, as being one of our greatest records. We actually have al Jourgensen on a song called Another Nail in the Coffin on that record, because it all started when I was at Al’s house to conversations.

Markus: I’ve actually got the album playing in the background over there. It’s absolutely amazing.

Dez: Yeah, yeah, right. Awesome.

Markus: I just got another couple of questions. Now. Are there any details maybe that you can give me on any upcoming projects or sneak peek reveals on a new album that you’re working on?

Dez: You know, I wish that I could open my mouth right now. I just can’t. I’ve signed NDAs and yeah, all I can say is that, I have to be very thoughtful of my words here, I’ll start speaking slowly, like Sadhguru at this point, I think, which, by the way, I love him, I think. If you’re looking to see what’s gonna be happening within the Coal Chamber world, you want to watch very closely over the next three weeks. That’s what I’ve got to say. There is a lot in the works. Everybody already knows about my Coal Chamber autobiography is done and dusted and edited. We’re putting together pictures and everything now. But around that there will be numerous, numerous press releases. And I think it’s going to be, you know, if you’re a Coal Chamber fan, you’re gonna get fired up pretty heavy.

Markus: Looking back on your career, and look, you’ve already told me that one of your proudest albums is Rivals. But looking back on your career, is there a particular moment or an achievement that you really are super proud of, at the top of the list?

Dez: Not really, I have many of them to be honest with you. I think being able to carry on and, and raise a family and do art for a living I think is a blessing. I think you know, getting my first record deal with Coal Chamber my second record deal with DevilDriver. Signing to numerous other labels with different projects, I think is something to look at. But I just feel extremely blessed I you know, you may get to three, I tell bands, even that I manage all the time, you may get to three records in, you may get a five, six, maybe even a nine year career. But if you get a you know, almost almost 30 year career out of this with multiple bands, you’ve done the right thing, or fans believe in you enough to actually follow what you do. And so I’m grateful every day. And I’m humbled that I’m still here and still at the top of the game. I mean, Dealing With Demons 1 with DevilDriver was number 12. And, The Fury, number 1, 12 weeks in a row here in America. And that was just recently. So it’s incredible to see. And really I don’t look back too much. It was really difficult for me to actually co write the book, the autobiography, because I just I tend to not look back. You know, there’s that old saying, if if you don’t look back, you’ll never know where you’re going. And I firmly think that’s bullshit. I put my blinders on and look forward at every given moment. And I think that’s where I’m at right now is looking forward for the next 10 years of my career. I’m looking forward to do many more projects, much more music, much more touring. Before I hang up my hat.

Markus: Yeah, that makes me happy

Dez: Makes me it makes me happy to man I feel blessed. My health is great. Fucking second to none. And we’re, you know, we’re ready to go full chamber. After everything we’ve been through, you know, since 2020. You know, if you can’t be happy now, you’ve got to have a really good bloody look at your life, I think because you know what, we need to find that joy in life again and do what you love to do.

Markus: Hey, very, very last question for you is, so obviously you are playing in Adelaide on Hindley St Music Hall. It’s seriously it’s a banger of a venue you’re gonna freakin love it. And I’m going to be there. I can’t wait. It’s February 19. What can you tell the fans? Your diehards? The new people? What can they expect from the show this year?

Dez: If you’re looking to see Coal Chamber at 110% poppin on all cylinders, adding in songs, I’ve lived a long time, if you want to see some surprises. If you want to see us go song to song without any fucking bullshit banter. If you want to see a real band ready to throw down on everybody else around us. Come see this show. Because we are coming in full force. We are ready. And we are digging in at the heels. And I think you’re gonna see one hell of a show. And like I mean, it’ll be lucky if I say you know two or three sentences during the whole hour we’re on banging songs out and I’m really looking forward to see what the crowd does I want everybody in pitt. Looking forward to seeing you in town Markus! Its not long away man.

Markus: You’re so easy to talk to and your content is just amazing. I really really appreciate it.

Dez: Thanks. I’m humbled every day by the fact that I got breath in my lungs, and I’ve got a career and, and I’m really, really chomping at the bit to come. I started talking to AJ about putting on the shows and coming down. I mean, he could hear it in my voice that I was just over the top excited. And, you know, for us, Australia has been that thing, right. Like when we played Soundwave, it was insane for us. And so now I’m really looking forward to see who’s going to come out and, and for the new people that have never, never seen us. And maybe if you’re 18, 19, 20 years old, and you’re coming out to the gig, and you want to see what this you know, what’s this new metal thing all about? Like, come on out, get ready to get your ass handed to you, because we’re ready to go.

Adelaide show
Monday 19 February 2024 – Hindley St Music Hall

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