Interview: Coal Chamber – Dez talks “Rivals”, reunion and Nu Metal snobs

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 2:35 PM (PST)


“You may not know what this flavor is now, because it’s a whole different ball
game.” – Dez Fafara

Coal Chamber are back in 2015 with 4th long player Rivals, an imaginative plunge through their signature dark grooves, spastic screams and oddball twists and turns that is an exciting return to the scene. Arguably their heaviest record yet, Rivals finds the once splintered band conquering demons, looking forward instead of back and all about kicking ass. Pre order HERE.

It was great to talk to workaholic Dez Fafara, fresh back from Mexico City, about his career, nu metal haters, the B52′s, falling in love with music and much more.

Check it out below and get Loco!


How’s it going, man?

Dez: I’m doing fine, how about yourself?

Awesome, man. Looks like you guys had a great time at Monsters Of Rock and in
Mexico City. Huge crowds, huh? I saw your Instagram shots.

Yeah, we did. As a kid I loved Monsters Of Rock and to be able to do it on the
same stage, Ozzy, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Coal Chamber…I love it. Back in
the day those were the kind of bands we’d tour with. Pantera, Megadeth. It’s
good to see us on that big stage with those bands.

Did you get to showboat any new material?

We did. We played “I.O.U. Nothing” and “Rivals”. It went over so killer. I
think people are hearing some of them online now, also. People recognize them
and are automatically starting to sing. That’s always a great thing before the
record comes out, right?

I feel like some of the sites that weren’t supporting of the reunion or anti-
nu metal judged you guys before they even heard this record. Poor journalism.

For me, I’ve never shy about the term. Most of the bands out there that are
huge come from our scene. Slipknot, System of a Down, Deftones, Korn. Those
are nu metal bands. Large bands doing their thing and influencing musicians
all over the world. This record for us is not a nostalgic throwback. I moved
forward over 13 years.They did as well. The arrangements and writing are more
mature. The thought process, sounds and textures. I just really wanted to be
part of it. Vocally, Coal Chamber let’s me use any part of my vocal pallette.
There’s rooms to check out and places to go. We hope everybody digs it. As an
artist you live in a bubble until you start hearing back from people.

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It still has the groove of the early stuff. You came on the scene and people
thought ,”oh, wow.they’re doing their own thing.” Less melody than Korn and
heavier with a gothier feel. Chamber Music was a bit bigger with production
and arrangements. Dark Days was raw and great. Incidentally, my half sister’s
uncle produced that with you guys, Ross Hogarth.

I Love Ross, man! That’s one of my favorite guys on the planet.

I was a little nervous to mention that because I know it was a hard time for
the band getting along.

Yeah, you can talk about that. I loved working with Ross. He wasn’t giving us
a hard time. The hard time was with the band members. All doing stuff taking
their lives down. Ross was the saving grace through that.

Cool. I always thought that was your heaviest record with “Rowboat” or
“Fiend”. It was interesting because before that Ross had done stuff like
Motley or Jewel or Ziggy Marley. It wasn’t his field as much to do a heavy
record. But now you’re back with Rivals with Mark Lewis producing and I think
this is perhaps your new heaviest moment as a band to date. But it sounds like
it wasn’t forced.

Thanks, man. We went with Mark because he can record ten heavy metal bands and
make them all sound different. I really love that about the guy. You can
usually hear a producers signature sound on it. Working with Mark is a joy,
y’know? I worked with him in Devildriver many a time. He knows I like to catch
things vocally in the vibe, hit the song in a few takes vocally and not suck
the life out of it. Him and I were very much thinking the same thing along the
lines of not playing to a click and letting the record ebb and flow. I
couldn’t cut or paste choruses. You have to sing everything and know it well
like you’ve played it live before.

It’s an important record after 13 years.

Yeah, and he understands we were the dark kinda gothic band out of all those
bands that came out then. We liked everything from black metal to Bauhaus and
he got that. He understood when we want to do certain things in a song or
vocally. The production is massive. This guy is gonna be one of the great
producers down the line, especially in heavy music, for sure. Any guy that
takes six days just to get a drum tone is trying to magnify  things to a high

We need these ambitious bands. It’s not for everyone but you do what you want
to do. You’ve worked hard. Every record you’ve been a part of has something
special about it.

My wife wants to make me a shirt that says “fuck the purists.” I’m the kind of
guy who I’ll wake up and be waking to Howlin’ Wolf then VH. Hald an hour ago I
was listening to Satyricon back to back with Black Flag. Hank Sr came on and I
wanted to hear Hank III. Then outside in my back yard, Hawaiin string music.
It’s a running joke in my band that even in the shower on tour I’m listening
to music with a speaker. I’m not a tv guy but I’m really an audio guy. All of
those different styles and eras I’ll listen to. You combine all that and it’s
what art should be. I try to come up with a different sound for my music.

I feel like people are quick to rip bands down once they get popular. How is
metal going to survive beyond people on some troll threads or mom’s basement
if it’s not ok to be a bigger band? Bigger bands take new bands on tour!

By all means. And there’s tiers and tiers above me! I exist in a place like a
lot of blues, punk rock, metal. In a window of blue collar musicians in a work
force. I love my job and tour harder than probably anybody. In the last five
years I know I’ve toured harder than about any musician on the planet. But I
love it! When I was younger music saved my life. Literally my childhood was
pretty shitty. Music was the only thing I could turn to. Now I can help other
people out for a living and I love it.

You can see the difference it can have on someone’s life. I get it. Sometimes
I’ll talk to a band who are unknown and give them a tiny bit of press and they
are so grateful because it allows them to build on their dream. I get so
pissed when people dismiss metal bands or metal journalism. Without music
there would be so much worse shitty war and lack of communication than we
already have! (laughing) Know what I mean?

You’re so right. Listen to me, man. A lot of people can communicate through
music. Look what music did in the 60′s. Now, we’re at war in multiple
countries. People are protesting. Burning cities. We’re in the same place.
Music can start a conversation or just unite for a good time. I’m glad to be a
part of it. If you put down metal you might as well put down punk rock or the
blues or Motown. We’re not skewing this to a media outlet to make money. I do
art for the fact of what kind I wanna do. If someone picks up on it be it a tv
station or a show, fine. You picked up on it cuz you felt it, not because I
skewed it to you and our fans. You can plainly see when a band is fake. The
emperor has no clothes. After 20 years I’ve maintained integrity and now am
bringing back Coal Chamber with a fresh sound. It’s another part of me
speaking out to peers and others saying you don’t have to go the course of
skewing music for a media outlet. If you want to go heavier and t feels good,
do it, man! It does feel good to go heavier when you want to.

And on the Nu Metal note, one of the most important concerts I’e ever seen was
just the other day when System Of A Down played a massive show in Armenia for
the first time. A massive, important event. I mean, people didn’t like Limp
Bizkit for long because of all the jocks that came into things, but…

Look, Nu metal became an ugly word when some bands started coming into it or
copying it. When I started it was Coal Chamber, Deftones from California
drawing 5-700 people a night and getting ready to be signed to Madonna’s
label. Coal Chamber was unsigned. Selling out The Roxy, The Whiskey. Korn was
from Orange County an hour and half from L.A. and they were bussing people
from L.A. to their shows to make sure they were packed. L.A. was a dead zone
that had been killed by the hair bands. We were “new” metal with different
influences. System of a Down played a lot of shows with Coal Chamber. I
personally am the one that found Static-X and turned them on to the guy who
got them on a label. A few others, maybe. Then a second wave came in and it
got uglier. Meegs from Coal Chamber on a Rivals webisode talked about it and
said how the second wave of bands came and we were like ,”who are these guys?”
But there were still good bands too. We took Slipknot out and they kicked our
ass everynight and were good guys, but one of the last bands that came into
it. Much respect to those guys and they are at the top of their game still
right now. So if you dis nu metal you have to dis a lot of bands with a huge
fan base.

People bash At The Gates becasue they say Slaughter Of The Soul is metalcore
without breakdowns. Why are they to blame for pale imitations?

You start talking to me about music, I can go all day. I’m familiar with At
The Gates. Very familiar. That band, holy shit. Like Meshuggah. Certain bands
come out and rightly so, people say ,”Holy shit.” The fact they are
progenitors of scenes that come after it, don’t hate the monster. Don’t even
hate ALL the spin-offs. Somewhere in there will still be good music. I was
never the guy who hated other scenes. Keep in mind I grew up kind of a
psychobilly, punk rock kid. A lot of my friends were like “If it’s not the
Germs or Black Flag fuck you.” I’d go home and listen to Neil Diamond with my
mom and be like ,”Neil writes a good song!” (laughing) I wouldn’t care when Iw
as a kid. I listen to all music. Al Jourgensen was on the new record and he
comes in my house. We barbecue. We’re drinking wine.This is the perfect
analogy. Someone puts an iPod on shuffle and The B52′s comes on. Al jumps up
and freaks out and says ,” I love this band! This is my favorite band.” The
guy who created his own sound in the industrial scene. You wouldn’t even have
Nine Inch Nails if it weren’t for Al’s work in Ministry. It shows to love all
music cuz you never know who loves what. Let all styles affect you.

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I love the new song “Light In The Shadows”.

That was the second song I did. I asked the band to send it all to me in a
bulk. I took the first ten months off I’ve taken in 20 years from touring.
There was one day I got up really early at like 4a.m. with my great dane and
doberman. I went into my studio. Lit a bunch of candles. Had some good herb. I
started to write. My wife comes down at 2 a.m. the next day after me coming
out for lunch only. She says to me ,” you’ve gotta come to bed. You were in
here all day long.” I sang six songs to her. “Let me show you something,
honey.” I sang her “Rivals”, “Bad Blood…”, parts of “Orion”. She was like ,”What happened to you in here today?!!”


I said ,”What happened in here is I fell in love with music.” Usually it takes
a good two months to really craft it but sometimes words just pour out of you.
You know what? After all these years not to mention Devil Driver’s success
with Winter Kills as our highest selling record just happening revently, I
didn’t want to be part of anything that wasn’t up to par. Musically or the
artistic reasons behind it. But the band had great material. Listen to this
to, man. This is a life lesson. Any band that reunites and just stays together for a year, that
probably is bullshit. We started talking in 2006 and are just releasing the
record in 2013. That is legitimately how long it took to get everyone up to
par and heal and mend wounds. We had to know no one would go off the richtors
again or get messed up on vices.


A lot of bands don’t care and will do an insincere reunion for cash, I bet.
There’s plenty of chances you had to do this before now.

How many times do you get to make up with an ex job or girlfriend or someone
you said some bullshit to at a party one night? You’re friends for ten years
and don’t talk over something. Then you run into them one day finally.

It just happened to me, dude. With the former Coheed and Cambria bassist Mic
Todd. We were great friends for years and didn’t talk for nine years til a few
weeks ago. And it feels really good to bury a big bunch of quarrels we had.

Yeah. And that’s life. That’s truly living. What and where the human soul
should be.

Yeah, I could see we had grown and were both trying to fix our lives. 

Yeah. And we’ve grown in our band. Mikey is sober. I don’t think we’d be
together if he wasn’t. Meegs is married. To see the maturity level in their
lives and the writing, I’m in! But then again, I’m the guy where seven friends
are standing on a cliff looking at the water and by the time they’ve decided
to jump I’m already down there. That’s the kind of personality traits we’re
dealing with (laughs). I had no problem saying ,”let’s fuckin’ do this.”
Especially when I knew we were emotioanlly ready for it. There’s a lot of
emotion invested into this record.

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