Old Daily Music Guide Interviews; Dez Fafara (Devildriver/Coal Chamber)

This is from an interview I did a few years ago for the music site Daily Music Guide. They still have it up there but you never know when these things could get deleted and what not. 

Dez Fafara sits lacing up his trainers in his trademark Black Flag T Shirt on the bands tour bus. Devildriver have just arrived in the UK and are ready for a week of headline dates with 36 Crazyfist’s and Idiom in support. From Coal Chamber to Drug Addiction, Devildriver to Owls, Fafara has had a long and turbulent history in the Metal world.

With little introduction the questions begin.

Dez, good to see you, how’s life? First night of the tour, do you have any opening night jitters?

Um, opening night, well we’ve been off the road now about four to six weeks so sure, we have some jitters, but anytime you’re not nervous means you’re not going to have a good show. Tonight the tour is starting, we came over here yesterday, we beat jet lag by just staying up until 10.30, 11 and I slept 12 hours and I couldn’t be more than ready!

Devildriver has been described as the hardest working band in show business, you yourself have been called the hardest working frontman in Metal, where does that passion to tour come from?

I think it’s either in you or it’s not. The road suits me well – I sleep better on the road. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, I have a beautiful wife and children. But in order to break an album, in order to do what we do, we have to work harder than anyone else to bring something to fruition. And we’re finally seeing that starting to work with people coming to the shows. That’s just how that goes.

Tell us about your latest album, Pray For Villains, obviously been out for well over a year now but tell us a little about the background to this release and what this album means to you?

It’s a step, a different step for Devildriver, and me personally (lyrically) it’s coming from the standpoint of story telling. And it debuted well in the United States and its doing really well overseas and we couldn’t be happier with the way its going in that respect. I always managed to make different music, you know its Devildriver, but it sounds different – and we try to do that, we never try to make the same album twice. It’s just good to give the bands a different side to us.

Pray For Villains was, in your own words, a less aggressive for the sake of being aggressive album and more an album to explore lyrics, song writing and musical composition. Would you still agree with that?

Yeah, we had these songs in us, and we just wanted to let them out. I like the way that we did and it’s just another step in the development of Devildriver. We have another record, and that’s in the can right now, and it’s out next February. I think it’s important to change and yet keep your identity. I think we shouldn’t make the same record twice. I have a lot of bands that I’m a huge fan of but every record sounds the same. They stick to a formula that works. We don’t tend to do that; we tend to be that little more daring.


So tell us about the concept of Pray For Villains, especially the relationship to Owls, with people saying Devildriver have made Owls “metal”?

I see a lot of people using the Owl recently; I seen Deftones use it on their cover, which is crazy. I’ve seen it in a lot of places since.

The way I got that is that my grandfather collected Owls and when he passed I was given his collection – I’m talking antique Owls from the 40’s and the 50’s and these beautiful pieces of artwork, and I started collecting myself. The Owl represents either good or evil wherever you go about in the world and with the concept of Pray For Villains it just works perfectly. The underdog theme is prevalent there.

First night of the tour, with 36 Crazyfists, what’s it like to be touring with these guys?

We have toured with them a couple of times, so much so that almost everyone in the band has a little tattoo called the Bro Ship, with is like a little pirate ship to commemorate our antics together. And you would put where you’re from on it, for example CA or UK and your area code – and love them as a band – they do their own thing in a time when many people don’t.

As a band do you see yourself stopping?

No, I mean I’ll eventually take a year off, but I don’t see that happening for at least another ten or fifteen year’s maybe. We run, if I’m not here then I’m playing in the States, or we’re going overseas to Japan or Australia. So it’s almost hard to cover the world in two years. And then you release another record and you have to go and tour another cycle to promote that one.

So looking at Coal Chamber, your previous band of course, you were once quoted in an interview as saying a return to Coal Chamber would be like “repeating the fourth grade” – do you still feel that way, will something ever present itself in terms of a reunion?

Em, you know, going backwards is a hard thing. Would it be a step forward? Don’t know. Is it still enviable, real, to the point where people would come out? Don’t know. Me personally, I’m friends with them again, which is a great thing. They are all off drugs.

I quit Coal Chamber because they were all on meth and amphetamines. And when I say on meth, I mean days and days up and just going insane, and when I looked at the idea of generating income to support my friends and family killing themselves I couldn’t live with that. It was horrible. And I thought, maybe if I put a stop to it they would live, and I put a stop to it and they’re alive now because I put a stop to it. And they’re sober. And that’s a wonderful thing! Will it ever happen again?

I don’t want to say never, but I don’t see it right now, at any time. For me it’s just great to be friends with them right now, Miguel came out to our last show in LA. And previous to that actually came out to my wife and children and apologised for the way he had acted in Coal Chamber and it was such a pleasure, to see that kind of humility in him. But that’s that, what I did with Coal Chamber is what I did, and what I do with Devildriver is what I do.


So in terms of what you did in Coal Chamber, being a Nu Metal band, what do you think looking back on that genre?

Well eventually being in a Nu Metal band you’re going to get a label. If you’re on there for 10 years and you get a label, if it works it works, there are labels put on it so it just helps explain to people what we represented in a time or place. I think what we were in Coal Chamber were a young, ambitious, breed and doing something different.

Eventually we got lumped in with Korn, who we sounded nothing like, and had nothing in common with – except maybe a down tuned sound – and that sound didn’t even come from Korn, it came from LA, where Korn weren’t even from! It came from Fear Factory. Not Korn. Korn got that with Fear Factory. Who I’m great friends with as well, I have a lot of respect for those guys. It was a great time and a great genre and when I look back I see a lot of great bands like System Of A Down. Where are they? I wish they would come back out with something.

But so many killer bands came out of that time period it’s just interesting to see who is still around and who is doing what.

So in terms of this tour, Devildriver are offering a Meet and Greet package, a chance for you guys to mingle with some fans backstage, can you tell us a bit more about that?

Yeah. They come in and pay a certain amount of money, they get a picture and a laminate and meet us at the bus, and they get to hear two new songs from the album that have yet to be released – this is the new album coming in February. And with the economy in the US being the way it is, it’s necessary to generate some extra revenue from sources without segregating everyone, to make sure we can keep travelling. And to give them something extremely special and unique.

Finally, one question on my mind, I know that you were persuaded this year to come back on the road – wanting to take your first major break in years – by Sharon Osbourne and play the Ozzfest. Sharon is a persuasive woman?

She’s the greatest. She’s my mother in Metal. For those who don’t know, I would hardly have a career if it wasn’t for Sharon, she managed Coal Chamber and myself to the point at where we got. And she was the one who told me that I was going to have to leave Coal Chamber because they’re going down the tubes with drugs.

And she probably maybe was behind Ozzy at that point in his life and had had a similar situation there too. She’s a wonderful lady, and if you’ve ever met her, she’s wonderful and caring a witty and just a genuine pleasure. And all the things that you wish to be around. I love that woman and I love that family.

Dez, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks.

Old Daily Music Guide Interviews; Ritchie Ranno (Starz)

This is from an interview I did a few years ago for the music site Daily Music Guide. They still have it up there but you never know when these things could get deleted and what not. 

There are many guitarists you meet and it doesn’t phase you, but Richie Ranno is credited by so many of my musicial idols as an influence, it was an interview I had to do. Those who don’t know the name Starz need to look them up, their first two albums were recently citied by Kerrang as the inspirations they were always meant to be, and as the band head for their 35th Anniversary it’s truly a pleasure to present a rare interview with their guitarist here for DMG.


First of all Richie, thanks for speaking to us here at Daily Music Guide, it’s great to speak to a musician as talented as yourself. You joined Starz in 1975, can you take us back to that time and how you got involved with them?

Well, let’s see – When I was in Stories, we had Kerner/Wise as producers – same guys who produced Kiss. So, when we were in L.A., we hung out with Kiss and met Bill Aucoin (Bill passed away this past summer – R.I.P. to a great friend). The guys (Kiss) were trying to get me to start a new band and bring it over to Bill. I never did though. Couldn’t find the right people. So, a friend of mine who knew what I was trying to do said that he saw an ad in The Village Voice that a band managed by Bill was looking for a guitarist. I went and auditioned & got it. They had been auditioning for a couple of weeks and couldn’t find the right guitarist. They were called The Fallen Angels and had a keyboard player. After a month or so, we got rid of the keyboardist and changed the name to Starz.

2011 sees Starz celebrate their 35th anniversary, a big milestone for any band, do you have plans in the making to commemorate this?

You’re right, hadn’t thought about it. Any suggestions?

Your 1976 debut was a classic album, in many ways the most fundamentally important album of that decade; looking back did you suspect there would still be an influence present 34 years later?

Well, certainly never thought about anything back then but the moment I was living in. It was more fun that way!

Songs like “Detroit Girls” and “Tear It Down” sound a lot like KISS and Billion Dollar Babies, was there ever an influence there, I know KISS was recording Destroyer when you were recording yours?

Certainly Alice and yes, a bit of that 1st Kiss album. Lots of great songs on that album.


The tour for that album also saw you touring with Aerosmith, what were those days like, and do you have any fond memories of that?

I’m not sure I have any memories of that tour! Things were moving fast. It was certainly a lot of fun. Jeff Beck was on a few dates. That was a treat. I remember that the crowds instantly took to us. We got encores every night. I remember that Aerosmith didn’t like that much.

Some of the songs from that album – such as “Live Wire” and “Monkey Business” – have titles used by bands that have citied Starz as an influence, namely Motley Crue, Danger Danger and Skid Row – do you think there’s a suitable tribute there?

I guess. I’ve become friends with most of those bands. Bruno, Steve and Rob are real good friends. I was friends with Bruno before Danger Danger even existed. I think it’s nice that some of these bands used our song titles – don’t forget Poison doing a Fallen Angel – but, wouldn’t it have been nice if one of them covered one of our songs during their heyday? Oh well, that’s a worthless question because the past is just that – the past.

Who came up with the band’s name Starz, and why this name?

The great, late Sean Delaney did. We didn’t like it but he went and got a logo designed anyway. When we saw the logo, we changed our minds quick!

You also worked on the Gene Simmons solo album and, knowing you are a fan of KISS, can you tell us a bit about your experiences?

Sure, Sean was co-producing it and they finished it up and went to England to mix. When they got back they called me and said that Skunk Baxter and Joe Perry had played on Tunnel of Love but for one reason or another, the parts didn’t work. So, they asked me to come in and do it. Gene listened to me play the solo and asked me to try a couple of different things but, basically I just played and they liked it and used it. Interestingly, both those guys are credited with playing on that cut.

Richie Ranno

Your follow up ‘Violation’ also shone through as another album to be respected and listened to, again, how does it feel looking back?

I like listening to it. I don’t listen to our albums much but when I do put them on I’m always surprised at how great they sound all these years later.

You once said you had a live broadcast from 1977 in the Vaults, materials that remain unreleased, do you think this might change?

I think it’s a bit late for that. CD’s don’t sell these days. We still have it though!

So fast forwarding to 2003, your reunion came out through an ultimately failed UK Club Tour, do you think you might come back to the UK?

You’re right – we would love to but it’s not up to us. There doesn’t seem to be a promoter who would actually agree to pay us to come to the U.K. Go figure. ???

You’ve also re-released some of your classic albums through your website recently, what can you tell us about these?

They all sound great – Back in the Day is a collection of demo recordings we did before the 1st album. Those songs sound almost as good as the album itself. There are songs that never made it past that point. Interesting to any Starz fan.

So, looking at the future, do Starz intend on releasing new studio material?

I really don’t know. We’re talking about it but I think the music/CD biz is actually over. There are very few stores here. Everyone downloads songs now – 90% illegally and about 10% of the people are honest enough to pay for them. Imagine if that happened in another industry. Amazing how musicians get shit on, isn’t it?

I don’t want to end on that negative note – I don’t expect that we would sell many CD’s even in a great business atmosphere, at this point in time. Just one of those things.

We’re happy to be playing together and still have people who remember us & want to hear us. We truly do it now for the same reason we did it when we started playing music as teenagers – for the fun of it and for the love of music!!

We just played in Texas this past weekend. It’s like a high school reunion except with music. We all love to hang out with each other and to play music with each other onstage. Michael Lee, Joe Dube, Bobby Messano and our new brother in arms, Insane George DiAna & I are rockin’ ’til the end of time!!!

Virtual Imprint (Documentary Treatment Idea)


Documentary Treatment

Virtual Imprint
Director: Wayne Madden
Estimated Running Time: 90 Minutes

“It is estimated that by 2015 over 50 Million Users with Facebook Accounts worldwide will have passed away”

What is the fastest growing group on Facebook?

One of the most surprising phenomena of recent times has been the encroaching of mortality upon Social Media Networks like Facebook and Twitter. In 2010 alone it was estimated that over 1 Million Americans (with Facebook accounts) passed away. Although not perhaps “the norm” in our society yet, it is becoming increasingly common to leave digital estates in a person’s will, giving explicit instructions how to deal with their digital possessions as well as their physical ones. However, beyond a few anecdotes about an awkward experience or two, is this an occasional curiosity or looming tidal wave that social media just doesn’t know yet know how to deal with?

The objective of this documentary is to examine how death is perceived in the digital world. In a world where mobile phones and social media accounts are normality, what happens when a person dies and their “virtual footprint” is left untouched? How does it affect the grieving process when someone is still being tagged on Facebook, posting in Twitter or even sending text messages? What problems might it pose for those left behind? The film will be wholly objective and attempt to focus on as many digital outlets as possible, discussing the story with people from all walks of life, through as many income brackets and backgrounds and possible.

We look to examine the mobile phone and its impact on those who have died, including deleting text messages and personal voicemail from loved ones or taking a cherished family member out of your contacts list.

We acknowledge that the Internet has been around for almost 20 years in the public consciousness, but this documentary wants to examine a digital age in which we’ve become more personal about our private affairs online then we’ve ever been, more willing to accept the Internet for a tool to help us meet that special someone, get that great job, book that fantastic holiday and even declare all these things in a statement of individuality on a generic corporate platform. When a younger person dies, its common place that their photos or videos might exist in the profile of a friend, who can hardly be expected to remove them from their own profile – thus that person is still tagged and living in those photographs or videos.


The initial focus of the film will be documenting the history, current state and future of this phenomenon. We’ll speak with representatives from Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter – looking at their own response and observation of this issue – we’ll also talk to traditional print media, such as Newspapers, about their own statistics. We’ll also speak too learned members of the community to hear the opinions of physiologists, cultural observers and traditional practitioners of death on the impact this has on a personal level. Finally, we’ll look at case histories and examples from individuals who have allowed us to share their experiences and grieve in their own loss with them, telling us about the process they experienced.

While the actions and opinions of physiologists, cultural observers and traditional practitioners of death (such as Funeral Directors and Crematorium workers) are likely to prove extremely insightful and informative, we’d also like to talk to the digital age – young people affected by the untimely death of a friend or relative, family members coping with loss and even the employees of digital forums and networks that have dealt with this phenomenon. What is Facebook, for example, doing about the accounts of people who have died – is there a due process? In the distant future, will relatives of those who held such personal accounts (with photographs, blogs and interests) find information – in the same way we might use a genealogy study – by looking at the archives of Facebook? And will the corporation own the rights to, and charge for access to, that content?

The secondary focus of the film will be on the world we inhabit. We’ll discuss the new technologies and advances that companies are making in the Digital Age to improve upon the task of documenting where every living person is at any one time. Asking whether it’s such a “small world after all” and looking at the positive impacts of, what some might argue, is being under “the watchful eye of Big Brother” – with over 500 Million Users, Facebook would be the 3rd Largest Country in the World (Twitter would be the 5th) and we want to see if the 80% of Americans between 20 and 29 that use Facebook are thankful they’re movements are able to be documented so well.

If nothing else, Virtual Imprint will give you something to think about, something you may never have considered before.