Few bands can create groove metal like SoCal heavy weights DevilDriver. The band is back from an extended break with its seventh studio album, Trust No One. The record reflects a new line-up, and some of the band’s heaviest and most powerful material to date. After completing the tour cycle for the band’s critically-acclaimed 2013 release,Winter Kills, DevilDriver decided to take some time off to get re-energized. Frontman Dez Fafara spent time reuniting with his former band, Coal Chamber for a new album and tour, while guitarist Mike Spreitzer built a home recording studio. When it was time to reconvene, both were primed and mentally rejuvenated, but the guys had to re-build the band. They brought in former Chimaira drummer Austin D’Amond and noted guitarist Neal Tiemann (David Cook, Burn Halo) to firm things up. This week, Metalholic caught up with Fafara to talk about the band’s latest additions, as well as the new album, Trust No One.
Every DevilDriver record is different and they never write or create the same album twice; Trust No One, while very much in keeping with the band’s signature sound, is also notably distinct. Fafara talked about what sets the new record apart, from his perspective, from the band’s previous efforts:
“There seems to be a real fire in the band. We really concentrated on different tempos within the record. We wanted to make sure we were distancing ourselves from anyone else on the metal scene with what we were doing. I think what really makes this record different is that you can feel the fire in it. We had written so many songs. We had 22 songs. So narrowing that down to like nine or 10 to put on the record, keeping it under like 38, 39 minutes–that was a difficult thing, but it was absolutely magical because each song is a complete banger. There’s no fluff. It’s all just killer tunes.”
Another difference with this record is Spreitzer’s and Tiemann’s contributions to the new album. Speitzer, who has been with the band for all but the debut record, has long contributed to DevilDriver’s songwriting, but for the first time, he got to open up and create a majority of the record. Something he had been wanting to do for many years.
“It started to come to my attention that a lot of Mike’s stuff throughout the years wasn’t getting to me through other members, and that’s very sad, cause he’s an incredible writer,” offered Fafara. “And one of the only guys in the band at the time that was trained. When I met Mike, he only had like a year until his Bachelors or Masters degree in music. He’s an unbelievable player. Letting Mike cut loose like this—his comment on the record when they asked him for a statement about the record—I was waiting for this paragraph, but it was one line: ‘This is the record I have been wanting to make for 12 years.’ So you can only imagine being in a band this long, and then all of the sudden he gets to really go for it. And he did. He came through with some amazing songs.”
Conversely, Tiemann came in as the new kid on the block. Dez met the guitarist when both of their wives became friends and they were sort of pushed together. Neal brings a different background and dynamic to the group, but had always wanted to be in a metal band.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but I was writing music with Neal for about two years,” confided Fafara. “He and I were working on different side projects and stuff, so we had already started to vibe and when the slot became open it was a no-brainer to put him in. A lot of the times you have to have guys kind of stand down, like ‘Look, we’ve been around a long time. This is your first time in this band, so stand down for like a year and let us do our thing.’ But it really wasn’t like that. Look at ‘Daybreak’. ‘Daybreak’ is primarily a Neal song and it’s our first release. So these guys came in, really knowing what we do. I think that was a really incredible thing.”
DevilDriver is currently out on tour. With seven albums under its belt, and being long-noted as a powerful live band, we asked Dez if he sees a live record in the band’s future or if he feels that concert albums are dead at this point. His response offered a couple of surprises:
“Oh my God, I wanna do one so bad. And I want to do a cover record. That’s gonna definitely happen. Punk tunes. Now watch that I put that out there someone’s probably gonna jump on it. I’m watching all sorts of metal dudes wearing punk rock t-shirts too and I’m like, ‘Really? Name me a song.’ (Laughs) So I definitely wanna do that. It would be fun, and it would be really no stress. It’s just covers. And a live record, of course. I don’t think the live record thing is dead yet. I think if you can’t come to one of our shows then you need to hear it live or you need to see it live, so a live DVD—a live record, I think that’s a must.”
Check out the full interview below as Fafara tells the stories behind how Neal and Austin came to the band, his connection with producer Mark Lewis, and learn the backstory on the first DevilDriver love song. Check out our review of Trust No One here, and get a look at the band’s behind-the-scenes webisodes here.