THE WALK­ING DEAD

AF­TER A BIT­TER BREAK-UP MORE THAN A DECADE AGO, COAL CHAM­BER HAVE MAN­AGED TO SHIRK BAD BLOOD, AV­ER­AGE SONGS AND MOD­ERN RECORD­ING TECH­NIQUES TO CRE­ATE A POW­ER­FUL NEW EN­TRY TO THEIR CANON: RI­VALS.

Blunt - - Feature - WORDS BY LACH­LAN MARKS.

It’s 2003. You’re the singer in a world-beat­ing al­ter­na­tive metal band. You’re 10 years and three al­bums deep into your ca­reer but the rest of your band is barely func­tional and strung out on hard drugs. What do you do? If you’re Coal Cham­ber front­man Dez Fa­fara, you turn around and start all over again at age 37. You kick­start a lit­tle metal band called DevilDriver and go back to cramped vans and gru­el­ing tours. Many suc­cess­ful al­bums later and now a ma­jor force in mod­ern metal, your old band starts call­ing. They want to get back to­gether. Do you an­swer their call to ac­tion? Well, not at first, as Fa­fara ex­plains. “Not a lot of peo­ple know, but we were talk­ing back in 2006 about get­ting back to­gether. In 2009 they gave me two demo songs. I laid some vo­cals on them and stuff, but when I lis­tened back to it, it re­ally sounded like older Coal Cham­ber and I re­ally didn’t want to be a part of it. And I don’t think they did ei­ther.” And just like that, one of the big­gest re­for­ma­tions from the hey­day of nu metal was put on ice. It took a call from Australia’s Sound­wave Fes­ti­val for Fa­fara to even con­sider re-en­ter­ing a room with his for­mer band­mates. “I said, ‘Okay, let’s not even talk about mu­sic; let’s just get out on the road’,” he re­mem­bers. Stum­bling across gui­tarist Miguel “Meegs” Rascón toy­ing with some new riffs on the tour bus, Fa­fara re­alised what it would take to get a new Coal Cham­ber al­bum into ac­tion. “What he was writ­ing was fuck­ing good. He said, ‘I’m just writ­ing mu­sic for me, I’m not re­ally sure what it’s for’. I said, ‘If you have to not think about Coal Cham­ber at all and just write mu­sic to come up with mu­sic like this, then do that; don’t even think about Coal Cham­ber’.” In 2003 when record­ing wrapped on Dark Days, band mem­bers weren’t even talk­ing to each other and the mu­tual ha­tred was strong. How does it come full cir­cle to the point where Fa­fara, the man who had to go out and build a new ca­reer on his own, is ac­tively en­cour­ag­ing the record­ing of a new Coal Cham­ber al­bum? “Well they haven’t done hard drugs or the things that’ll take us down in a long time. We were hang­ing out one night af­ter a tour, I think af­ter Sound­wave, and I was look­ing at th­ese guys in a to­tally dif­fer­ent light. Th­ese guys were ma­ture, writ­ing ma­ture mu­sic. They’re han­dling them­selves like pros. All we do is laugh and carry on like kids – we could barely get things done in re­hearsals. We were just laugh­ing and crack­ing jokes just like the old days. It felt good. “Some­body said to me, ‘Why did you do it? Why did you get back to­gether?’ and I said be­cause oth­er­wise I’d have re­gret. I know you’ve seen that ex-girl­friend or that ex-best friend at a club, or that ex-boss walk by you at a lunch ta­ble, and you know you just wanted to say sorry or get up and say some­thing but you just didn’t, you’ll have to live with that re­gret for the rest of your life and I wasn’t will­ing to do that.” Be­ing a front­man for two metal bands might seem a touch re­dun­dant, that is un­til you hear how vastly dif­fer­ent the two projects are in 2015. Un­like DevilDriver’s pre­ci­sion met­al­core sound, Coal Cham­ber’s new Ri­vals al­bum is loose and raw, and strangely for a res­ur­rected vet­eran band, re­fresh­ing. They did what for many metal play­ers would be un­think­able and ditched the click track, an in­dus­try stan­dard for mak­ing sure the mu­sic aligns per­fectly. “I can’t spend two hours cre­at­ing the per­fect cho­rus, then cut and paste it through­out the song. I’ve got to

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