DevilDrive Dez is glad he lied about reason for leaving Coal Chamber – because they’re still around to tour again

Dez Fafara

Dez Fafara: Still around to tell tale

Dez Fafara is glad he didn’t give the real reason for quitting Coal Chamber in 2003 – because he’s sure it would have killed his bandmates.

He decided to walk away and start again because guitarist Meegs Rascon, drummer Mikey Cox and original bassist Rayna Foss had developed serious drug issues.

It meant killing his own career, but he believes it saved his friends’ lives.

Since then Fafara has found success with DevilDriver and Racon and Cox have come off drugs, which is why Coal Chamber will play a series of shows at Australia’s travelling Soundwave festival next year.

The singer tells Alternative Music Hub: “When I left I told the press I was leaving because I wanted to go a different musical direction. But what I did was take the high road and not say in front of their wives, parents and families: ‘Hey, they are so strung out on drugs they are going to be dead’.

“That was good because I never went against them in the press. It allowed them to get clean and allowed us to be friends.

“I realised that every night I was on stage with a microphone in my hand, I was putting money in their pockets, which led to putting drugs in their hands.

“Once we stopped going on stage as Coal Chamber their money ran out, their fame ran out and they eventually had to get clean.

“Now that they’re alive, what more do you need to say apart from: ‘My friends are alive and want to play music’?”

Fafara admits it’s been a slow progression which started when Rascon and Coz attended a DevilDriver show in 2005.

He says: “Meegs pulled my wife aside and apologised to her about everything that caused my family to move to a one-berfroom apartment and start all over again. I thought that was rather big-hearted of him.”

He reports they’ve been off hard drugs for some time now and they can play at full power again – but the same can’t be said for Foss and Nadja Puelen, the bassist who replaced her twice.

“Rayna was far gone, way in the beginning,” says Fafara. “She has some stuff she is dealing with internally which I don’t think will bring her back to music.

“Nadja – we had talks with her. We needed the enthusiasm as well. It was in the best interest of the original members to go find someone with the same interest and enthusiasm.”

The result is new member Chela Harper, described by the singer as “an amazing-looking girl with a great stage presence.”

The band have offers to tour after their Soundwave shows, but Fafara says no plans have been discussed. In the meantime he’s looking forward to catching up with old friends when Coal Chamber play in Australia.

“Coal Chamber took Slipknot out for their first tour,” he explains. “Coal Chamber took Machine Head out on tour. Then Machine Head took Coal Chamber overseas. System Of A Down opened almost all of our shows in LA when we were both unsigned. We’re friends with Limp Bizkit – Fred Durst tattooed my mum’s nickname, Peanut, on my neck backstage at Ozzfest.

“So look at us ten years later. Oh boy – to be a fly on the wall…”

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