Let’s have a look into the new record. What was the mind-set when you started writing for ‘Trust No One’?
When I first started writing for 'Trust No One I was in the mindset that the music was going to be another collaboration between myself and John Boecklin, much like we did on 'Winter Kills'. I wrote a couple of songs on my own before John left the band. One of them being 'Testimony Of Truth'. Around September of 2014 both John Boecklin and Jeff Kendrick decided to quit the band leaving me as the sole writer. As much as I miss those guys, I was more than happy to write the record on my own. John and I always made things work musically but it was a hard process for us to write together. We had different visions and were very competitive. I spent all of 2015 working on the music mostly on my own. In January of 2015 we hired both Neal Tiemann and Austin D’Amond. I was a little hesitant to work with them at first but after our first meeting we almost instantly connected and became friends. Neal and Austin brought a lot to the table and were a big help in the writing process. We spend countless hours writing and rewriting about 20 songs at my studio in Torrance, CA
How does Devildriver compose a song? How do you determine whether a track is good enough for you?
I start by sitting in my studio and I jam on my guitar until I come of with a riff that I like. I’ll record it and continue writing at least three more riffs that I feel could work well together in a song. I used to write a riff, record it, and program a drum beat on top of it. I found over the years that programming drums to a single riff would lead to writer’s block. When I write four or five riffs, then program drums to all of them, I find the song would come together much more quickly. After I complete a song, which usually takes 5-7 days, I listen to it for about a week on my own until I show it to anybody. In some cases I would have Austin and Neal help me out if I hit a wall or if I was unsure about something. I second-guess myself a lot while writing. Sometimes I need someone to tell me a riff or a song is badass before I’m sure its good or not. Once I’m happy with the song I send it to Dez so he can start writing lyrics.
In the past two years a few members have left the band and you found replacements in Austin D’Aumond and Neal Tiemann. The sound on the new album is more or less in parallel with the previous albums, although a little more diverse and with a little more emphasis on melody. How do you, with new people in the band, maintain that sound? What did Austin and Neal bring on the new material?
My writing style has always been more on the melodic side than some of the older members of DevilDriver. I wrote much more on 'Trust No One' than any other record, but I always pushed to have as much input as I could in the past. John Boecklin had a lot of influence on me in the past 12 years. I spent more time writing with him than anybody else and I’m sure his writing style has rubbed off on me. I felt it was important for me to write most of the record to maintain the DevilDriver sound, but I welcomed Neal and Austin to write as well. Neal wrote a lot of leads and solos as well as the song 'Daybreak'. Austin wrote almost all of the riffs on the song 'Feeling Ungodly'. The title track 'Trust No One' was a song that we collaborated on the most.
What made Austin D’Aumond and Neal Tiemann the perfect additions for Devildriver?
Austin was recommended to us by our producer Mark Lewis. He saw him play at one of the last Chimaira shows and was absolutely blown away by his performance. When Dez asked Mark for any recommendations, he gave us one answer and it was Austin. Austin is an incredible drummer and his style is perfect for DevilDriver. Neal came into the mix because he and Dez had been friends for a few years. I was a little unsure about him before his audition because most of his previous experience was with rock bands. I asked him to learn the song ‘Dead to Rights’ and he nailed it. I was instantly convinced.
For this album you worked with Mark Lewis, as you have been doing since ‘Beast’. What makes him the perfect producer for Devildriver to work with?
Mark is a great producer and we all love working with him. He’s always helped steer us in the right direction. I felt it was important for us to go with a producer we have worked with in the past to help maintain the DevilDriver sound after losing a main songwriter.
You have released a video for ‘Daybreak’. What made you decide to pick this specific songs as a video? Is this a band decision or something in which the record company plays a big part?
I decided in the begging of the writing process that I would let Dez, our record company, and our management pick which song to use as the first single. I was very attached to this record. Much more than any other record we have done in the past. The writer sees things differently than the listener and sometimes it can be hard to acknowledge that. I wasn’t against releasing 'Daybreak' as the first single, but it would not have been the song I would have picked.
What is next for Devildriver? Can your fans expect you to see for a tour or is there a new video to be recorded first?
We are going to spend the next two to three years touring. We’re heading to Europe for festivals in August as well as five shows with Ministry in the UK. Our plans for the later part of 2016 and all of 2017 is still in the works.
The new album is your second release with Napalm Records. How has the cooperation been this far? What did the cooperation with Napalm Records bring you till now?
Napalm has been nothing but great to DevilDriver. They give us full artistic freedom to do what we do and really believe in the band.
Thank you for taking the time to go through these questions. Let’s come to a closure; if there is anything left that you’d like to mention, feel free to do so…
A big thanks to all the DevilDriver fans out there. This record cycle is by far the most important time for me personally. I worked my ass off on this record and I am beyond stoked that our fans are happy with the direction of the band and the new album.