DevilDriver's Dez Fafara: the 10 records that changed my life
"Man, there were 100 records that changed my life, so choosing 10 is real difficult," says DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara, sounding genuinely pained at having been asked to keep his list in double figures.
Over the next 30 minutes or so, MusicRadar hears Dez cover plenty of musical ground, but there's one thing in common with just about all of his picks: an authentically aggressive, punk-rock attitude.
"Aggressive music was an outlet for me," he says. "I had a rough childhood, a very violent childhood; I ran away from home at 15 and was sleeping under bridges. What took me out of my parents fighting and me getting beat by stepfathers was aggressive music. It gave me and my friends an outlet from our fucked-up lives.
"It's empowerment. The best thing for an artist is when someone comes up and tells you that your music helped them get through some shit. That's the greatest thing, not, 'Oh you were the best band on the night or you have the best look or you have the best song.'"
Having the best song might not be the absolute number one accolade, but DevilDriver have their share of crackers. Dez puts the band's rich vein of form down to the reason: the vibe.
"When the vibe is not compromised, the music is amazing and that's what is happening with this band on this album," he says. "I know a hundred bands our size or bigger that all tour together that all hate each other. You can hear it on their records, you can feel it on stage, you can feel it backstage. That's misery walking.
"This is the only business where people think you need to keep it together. If you haven't gotten along with somebody for 10 years and it's horrible touring with each other, then why would you want to do that? This band has a killer vibe. I could have put down a sleeping bag and slept at the rehearsal studio last night, I was having such a great time."
DevilDriver reissue their first five albums on 28 September on deluxe CD and coloured vinyl via BMG. They're available to preorder now.
1. X - Los Angeles (1980)
“Let's go right back to the beginning. Punk rock was a huge deal for me growing up in Orange County. The band X, the record Los Angeles was huge for me.
"The title track from that record is incredible. That painted such a picture for me as a young kid going out to punk-rock shows. The song Sex and Dying In High Society was great; every song on that record was amazing.
“That was the first time I heard a girl and a guy sing together like that as well. They had their own sound completely. That blew me away.”
2. Black Flag - The First Four Years (1983)
“My entrance into punk rock was Black Flag. I was sitting at a friend's house - I must have been 14 years old - and on the same day, he put on Too Fast For Love by Mötley Crüe and then Black Flag and then X. That was it for me. It all spiralled from there.
“The Black Flag record was The First Four Years. When you hear a song like Jealous Again or when you hear Revenge, which I don't think is even a minute long, or Wasted and you're 14 years old with Dr Martens up to your knees, you're like, 'Okay, this is everything I ever wanted and more.'
“It just had such a rebellious attitude. It was so 'fuck you' and in-your-face, especially with everything that was going on in the early '80s with dance music. They just came out and took everybody by storm.
“Then there were a bunch of bands that surrounded Black Flag for me like GBH, The Germs, Partisans from the UK; there are a lot of bands that blew me away after I started to hear that stuff."
3. Mötley Crüe - Too Fast For Love (1981)
“Like I said, on that same day that I heard Black Flag, I first heard Too Fast For Love as well. I didn't know if my friend was playing me a punk record or a metal record.
“It had so much guts to it. Live Wire, how he starts off, or Take Me To The Top, they were crucial songs. It had the heaviness, rawness and in-your-faceness, and then you look at the photos and it's like, 'Oh wow, they've got long hair.'”
4. Fear - The Record (1982)
“As soon as you hear I Don't Care About You or I Love Livin' In The City, if you're not hooked just turn the other way and don't ever listen to this band again.
"Lee Ving, for me, was the essence of the scary guy that I always wanted to meet. I always wanted to have a beer with Lee Ving.”
5. Motörhead - Ace Of Spades (1980)
“I remember the first time I heard Motörhead. A kid came over to my house and played a song called Orgasmatron. From there, I went right into the Ace of Spades record.
“The first song off that record that I heard was (We Are) The Road Crew, and then I think it was Bite The Bullet. Again, you look at the picture and you think, 'Fuck, these guys are dressed in Western gear with long hair - this is insane.'
“That was probably when me and my friends started growing our hair out. When you're a kid, you copy records and the stars that influence you, and that's what we did. We listened to them thinking they were one of the most badass punk-rock bands we had ever heard.
“We thought they were a punk-rock band until maybe an hour in when someone showed us a picture of them. You listened to that and realised that there was something else going on beyond punk rock. Lemmy was also one of the nicest guys I've ever met as well.”
6. AC/DC - Back In Black (1980)
“I was very heavily influenced by AC/DC all through my youth, especially Back In Black. I love all the early AC/DC stuff, but for some reason, Back in Black was it for me.
“I can remember going down to the beach with a bunch of friends and they were in a van listening to Back In Black. That record just hit me, Every song off that album is unbelievable. That is one of the only perfect records out there. Everything Brian Johnson did on that record was perfect.
“If you're driving and you've got Back In Black on, you're not going to put something else on when it's finished - you'll just push play again!
“It's a bummer what's going on with Brian now. This is affecting a lot of singers. I just got my first in-ears after 20 years. I never wanted to get them, because I didn't think it was punk-rock, but there's no way I'm losing my hearing. I've already got the ringing in my ears, and when my wife talks to me, my response is usually, 'Uh? What?'”
7. Metallica - Ride The Lightning (1984)
“When I was maybe 18 or 19, I found Ride The Lightning. The first song I heard off that was For Whom The Bell Tolls and that was it for me - I was like, 'Holy fuck, what is this?'
“That was my in to Metallica. From there, I had to hunt down the Metallica back catalogue and I did. I have been a fan ever since. I love bands that break genre boundaries like Metallica did.”
8. Johnny Cash - The Johnny Cash Show (1970)
“I grew up riding motorcycles in the desert with my family, and there was a lot of country music played. I still listen to a lot of outlaw country - a lot of Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, a lot of Waylon Jennings.
“I have to go with Johnny Cash. The first song I heard from him was Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down. From there, I heard Folsom Prison Blues and then Get Rhythm. I can remember my parents playing those songs.
“We had this desert house - literally in the middle of the desert - and we would have friends come over and ride motorcycles and listen to a lot of outlaw country. Johnny Cash, for some reason, I would always ask my mom to play his songs.
“I've always been a guy that has listened to a lot of different stuff. If you come onto my tour bus, you'll hear everything from outlaw country to black metal - people really trip out on it. In my early years, there was so much good music going on in the late 70s and early 80s once I started listening beyond the radio and my parent's record collection.
“I was the kid that came home, and instead of watching cartoons, I got into the record collection and sat listening to records.”
9. Zodiac Mindwarp And The Love Reaction - Tattooed Beat Messiah (1988)
“Probably around 1985 to 1987, I got turned onto Zodiac Mindwarp And The Love Reaction. I've always loved singers with low voices.
“I'm not a real high-pitched voice guy. Like, I love Iron Maiden, but that's not the vocal style that I'm massively a fan of.
“At the same time that I found Zodiac, I found a band called Circus Of Power out of New York that I loved as well. That Zodiac Mindwarp record blew me away. When he hits that line, 'I came from the sky like a 747, I'm a bad boy baby I fell out of heaven.' I was like, 'Fuck!'”
10. Black Sabbath - Master Of Reality (1971)
“I was 15 years old when I first heard that album. I was at a friend's house; there were older dudes living there. I went upstairs and they were doing bong hits and listening to Sweet Leaf, Children Of The Grave and they were also listening to Fairies Wear Boots from the Paranoid album.
“I was like, 'What is this?!' I thank that dude, I can't even remember his name, but he turned me onto Black Sabbath and marijuana on the same day, and my life changed right there and then.”
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