Hey Dez, how are you?
I’m fine, thank you very much for the interview. I appreciate it.
First of all, I have to say hello to you from Seb, the vocalist from Magnacult. The band from Holland which did your support recently. He is still very thankful to you for the warming up technique on vocals you’ve shown him.
Cool, tell him hello. That’s all good. I help whenever I can. I had a lot of guys that helped me. So anytime someone asks me for a warm-up or something like that, I always help them out
And of course this is all about the new records Outlaws 'Til The End: Vol. 1’. And I just love the album.
We gain a lot of great feedback. It took a lot of time to get done. So now I’m done holding my breath because a lot of people really are liking the record.
This is not a thing that you did in a few weeks. When did you got the first idea to do something like this? And when did you start with the first preparations?
No, this is almost two years in the making. Trying to get all of these guests and artists. Randy from Lamb Of God. John Carter Cash and Lee Ving from Fear. It was a very difficult thing to get done. No one has ever done these two genres like we have put them together and with these kinds of guests. So it was a very difficult thing to get it done. It was not easy.
You chose for country music. That music genre not quite big in Europe. So how great is the country scene in the States?
We chose for country because I know we are having three years between two records. I wanted something to pull out that was real cool. A lot of bands have covered Slayer. Burn The Priest has done a punk rock record. You know punk rock covers. A lot of bands covered eighties stuff and metal stuff. We wanted to do something that was never been done. It has been always in my mind to do new things that are never been done.
Artists like Willy Nelson, Johnny Cash and the Eagles we all know, just as David Allan Coe from his Rebel Meets Rebel project with Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul. But how famous are names like Hank Williams III or Johnny Paycheck? I mean, unless you’re a fan we really don’t know them here in Europe.
They are huge. I got myself explaining a lot to the Europe audience that over here when you are at a metal concert and you are barbecuing and you hear some music, you are in to Pantera, Willie Nelson, Slayer and in to Johny Cash and Johny Paycheck. That is the stuff that is gonna be played. Hank III is extremely popular with metal fans. It’s all outlaw country and it is extremely popular with metal fans here. Not pop country, not radio country. But outlaw country. That is the real deal. With Johny Cash, Willie Nelson, Whaling Jennings. These are like the Lemmy’s of country music. They are the underground, the groundbreakers.
Are all the songs on the album real classics?
Most of them are real classics. Like ‘Outlaw Man’ from The Eagles. Mostly when you see a picture from The Eagles, they are dressed in cowboy boots and bullet belts around their chest in front of a saloon. So they are looking country at least. But the songs on here are bring in from other players at well. Like ‘Dad's Gonna Kill Me’. We just want that track on here. It is an anti-war song. It is about the horrors of war and I wanted it to be on this record.
So are there also songs that you wanted to perform but where just impossible?
We wanted to do more songs. But that was impossible. Just getting these guys and bringing these songs were quite enough. We had our eye on about thirty songs. So this is what you get when we nailed it down.
And then there are the appearances from Randy Blythe, Mark Morton (Lamb Of God), Wednesday 13, Lee Ving of Fear, Brock Lindow from 36 Crazyfists and Burton C . Bell of Fear Factory. That is almost an all-round super band instead of DevilDriver.
Yes, it is very great. I’m just very humble. Every artist just gave a fully 110 percent. And we have artist from different genres. We have heavy metal with Randy, Mark and myself. You have gothic rock with Wednesday 13. You have Burton C Bell from Fear Factory as well. You have the punk guys like Lee Ving and you have the outlaw country guys like John Carter Cash and Hank Williams III. So there are different genres coming together to tackle. That is like two school buses colliding. But it came out beautiful and it sounded fantastic.
This is also the DevilDriver album with the most variation. There is the DevilDriver sound and like you mentioned also punk black, death and industrial. Would that be a way that you can follow in the future?
I don’t know. This record has so many different styles. It is just showing people what we can do. There is some darkness. There is a real black metal tune and real groovy. We just gave the songs what they needed. A song like ‘Whiskey River’ that I did myself with Randy. That is about black metal. It is a very heavy track. I think it couldn’t been done any other way like the way we did it. Very brutal. So the songs themselves, the originals. They showed us the way to go.
How happy where you when you heard the end result?
When I heard it when it was done, I almost dropped on my knees. I was so happy. This is a lot of work. I say this because other bands who will read this and want to do something like this: ‘have fun with that.‘
Did the artists you covered or their relatives heard the result and what was their reaction?
A lot of artists alive and the relatives fromthose who’ve passed away have heard these tracks. Then I mean John Carter Cash and Willie Nelson who has heard his track. John Carter is very happy with the Johny Cash songs we did. Johny didn’t write ‘Ghostriders’ but that is one of his most famous songs. He is very pleased with it. And having the stamp of approval of the Cash family, that is probably the biggest thing what could have happened to this record.
Where they hard to convince?
No, because John Carter Cash is a massive metal fan. When I was with him in Nashville, the first thing he spoke about was about his love of heavy metal. He showed me a photo when Johnny Cash was taking him to Ozzy when he was ten years old. And I went on and on about my love for outlaw country. So there was this meeting of the minds. And recording with Cash was legendary. I got to sign the fire mantle about the fire place that Johnny Cash has built with his own hands. I signed in next to Willie Nelson and Chris Cornell. That is a massive thing in my live. My grandchildren could go there and see my signing long after I am dead.
I always thought that the lyrics in country music where about horses, cowboys and how they miss their girls. But on this album I heard very serious work and sometimes very confronting problems like violence, the apocalypse, drinking problems and a very realistic anti-war song. Have you ever been inspired by country lyrics in your own music?
Absolutely. When you listen to DevilDrivers first record or if you play DevilDrivers ‘Play For Villains’. They sound like country records because that is all they are. I like to write a lot of stories like these guys do. The thing is with metal, there is a lot of metal where I just can’t relate to. I don’t relate to pirate metal, or to circus metal what is going big now. And I don’t relate to a lot of metal lyrics like all that shit about castles or dragons. I never lived in a castle or I never has seen a dragon. I sing street lyrics. I ran away from home when I was fifteen. I went to jail. I had a miserable life when growing up. I had a violence household when I was younger. I can’t sing about fucking fantasy. There is reality in my life every day. I have to touch and to sing about reality. Punk and outlaw country specifically sings about reality. And those songs are so life driven, so real, that they are about the greatest song writers in history.
So as I mentioned it before, a lot of people in Europe aren’t familiar with the country genre. So can you help me out as an absolute beginner which two or three albums I have to discover first and foremost?
Well, I don’t think you start with records. You start with artists. So the first I would take you to is Johnny Cash. And if you want to go further back, to some roots. Let’s rockabilly. Let’s go to Eddy Cochran. Let’s go to the rockabilly roots. And then you go to Cash, to Willy Nelson, to Whaling Jennings. Let’s go to David Allan Coe. Even he has some racist lyrics which I don’t approve. But as a song writer, he is unbelievable. So do we negate his songwriting? Yes you do. But he is a great songwriter, even he goes of the path where I don’t want to relate with. But these guys, the way that they write. They write from the heart. They tell you from their soul with what they are dealing. The storytelling that they do. It is pretty unbelievable that they could take you there. Like if drinking don’t kills me, her memory will. That is one of the most unbelievable lyrics of all time. I wish I wrote that. So this is why we did this. I wanted to put the lyrics from country music up to heavy metal. And once they were, that would do some fantastic and collide. And that is exactly what has happened with this record.
I am also one of your 51300 followers on Instagram. You are very open in the social media. How important is the social media for you?
They are very important. I am an extremely private person. Somebody said to my yesterday ‘I have been in the industry for about thirty years Dez, but I never have met you.’ And I say: “We obviously have been to the same festivals and the same places, why didn’t we have met?” But he said like: “You are way to private”. And it is true. I go from the bus to the stage and back to the bus. I don’t really concern myself with back stage activities or things like that. I am a family man. I have a wife for over twenty years. I have three children. So that has made me a very private person. The social media are a way for me to go on tour and talk to so many people. So I share photos of what I have done today or will do. Or laying my best friend to rest. He just died yesterday. And I share that if you have people around you that you love, tell them that you love them. This gives me the opportunity to share my life with a lot of people. And been a little more down to earth. My whole life I never wanted to be a rock star. The rock star thing. I really don’t like it. Social media gives me the opportunity to talk to people and that connection is important. I could only imagine that Ozzy or Danzig or one of my heroes responding on my Instagram when I was a kid.
You seem a very happy man. A beautiful wife, three children, go surfing in the morning with Randy Blythe. You are playing about 25 years now. Are you happy with all the things you already achieved till now?
Yes man, I’m gonna be 53 this year. I’m not looking back but I’m looking forward. When I do look back at my career it’s a fantastic life. I have been doing this for so long. It’s is very important to leave a scar. I try to leave as much art as I can. When I look to the discography’s of the people that I follow like Willie Nelson. When they die, they will leave about 70 or 80 records. I am in it for almost 25 years and I have made twelve records. So now I have said fuck it. I’m gonna leave a record every sixteen months from here off now. I never have understand whey bands only have made a record every three, four, five or six years.’
This album is called Outlaws 'Til The End: Vol. 1’. Will there ever appear a volume 2?
Well, we have put on a volume one. Because when we were going to record, I had so many phone calls from artists that had heard that we were going to do this and who wanted to do something. So we said we have to put volume one on it. There has to be a volume two because some of the bands who are signing up are about the biggest bands on the planet. But that will not be any time soon. I almost have dug my grave doing this record. This record was very hard to had it make.
And pretty soon a new tour will commence?
Yeah, we are going on tour in august. We are doing some festivals and some other shows. And then we got some shows over here. We are not doing a lot of touring this year. So we are doing records. We worked at this record. The band is also in preproduction for two weeks now. They enter the studio in June and July for the recordings of a new album what is gonna be a double record. That will be my first double record and my first concept record that I had ever done. So you are gonna get a record this year, a record next year and a record the following year.
Are we getting a DevilDriver overdose?
Here is the thing. How much years is high school in Holland in Belgium? For about four years? Six years in Europe. Well here in the States it is four years. A kid goes to his first year in high school and he’s get a record from his favourite band. So he graduates from high school and he didn’t get another record from his favourite band? That is his life. Those four years seems to be ten years to that kid. And he doesn’t get a record. That is why I start to really kick it up right now. When I was a kid, I got a record almost every year. Kiss gave me two records a year. Two records a year, a fucking year. So now we have metal bands who waits four to five years to make a record. And then we see what happened. They come out with a record that some of the fans hate. So what now, you go back to record something new or will you wait another four years. So I really want to leave a scar for my family and my sons. I really want to bring art for next ten or fifteen years.
Will you only play with DevilDriver? Not like for example Max Cavalera with three or four bands?
No, I don’t. I love Max. The Cavalera family is my family. I’m part of the tribe. Certain guys like Max playing solo, they could have 1400 bands. I could not do that. I’m really have to focus my energy to make things good. I don’t want to do five things at forty percent. I want to do one thing at 110 percent. I have a 110 percent tattooed on my knuckles. Somebody just said to me that this record could be a fine Dez solo record. So I said what am I gonna do as Dez solo? I’m gonna do DevilDriver and Coal Chamber songs. That is already what I’m doing at DevilDriver. We play DevilDriver songs but also Coal Chamber songs. So why would I start another band? We’ve seen what happened when frontman start two, three or four projects. The main project gets totally watered down. And people don’t take it seriously or have the love for it because there are so many projects just on. Plus I don’t have the time. I run The Oracle Management with my wife and two assistants. We got eight or nine bands and there are really great bands in it. Combichrist, Amigo The Devil. That is all a business on its own. I did all the management for Coal Chamber from day one and DevilDriver. I have the Suncult project. That is a lifestyle surf brand with Randy Blythe and my family. I could put all my energy only in things to succeed for a 110 percent. If you spread yourself out to thin it damages all your projects.
So with all that work, how much time is left for some R&R?
That has been the question. I just said to my wife I haven’t take a vacation for twenty five years. From now, starting at the first January 2019, I will take ten days holiday each year. In Europe you guys got all those holidays. When I am trying to contact my label (Napalm Records - Austria) I got much answers like ‘Hey, I am on a holiday’. We are Americans. We got twenty jobs and never take a day off.
In a few months, you are in touring modus again. DevilDriver doesn’t play in Holland but plays in Belgium at the Alcatraz Metal Fest. Will you play some new songs there?
I don’t know why Holland isn’t on it. It will be a very short run like I think for fourteen days or something like that. And we are playing in Belgium. So I got a great story. It’s 3 AM and I got a text from the mayor of the town with the question why we don’t play at his festival. So we are playing there. And my wife will come with me. I will have some surprises what we play. So I hope that everybody loves this record. So thank you for the interview and see you soon.’