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Dez Fafara, Miguel Rascon, Mike Cox, Rayna Foss
  Interview

When Coal Chamber emerged with their eponymously titled debut album in 1997, many critics accused the LA-based quartet of mimicking Korn. Tired of defending themselves, Coal Chamber said “just see us live.” Well, it appears many people have. The band has toured throughout 1997, giving many members of the press the opportunity to reassess the band and formulate a much higher opinion.

Singer Dez Fafara was a bit tired “from touring and a touch of the flu,” as he explained between coughs, but nevertheless he managed to divulge what’s been happening since last summer’s legendary Ozz-fest...


NY Rock:

You've won the much sought after Kerrang! Award for Best International Act of 1997. That's quite an achievementů

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

It's great. Wow, yeah, that award was so mind blowing, especially because we had such great competition. It's not that we've won. It's also that we've won against acts like Korn, Marilyn Manson and No Doubt. They're great established bands, really high class, and we came from out of nowhere and won.

NY Rock:

You sound as if you're still surprised about it. Obviously you must have deserved it...

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

I think the explanation for it is pretty simple. We're touring a lot. We're always on stage, and on stage we try to give it our all. Even if we might not feel like it. Even if we're having a low, or one of us is not in top shape.

NY Rock:

You've toured extensively in '97 and it doesn't look like you plan to slow down in '98. How do you manage?

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

We were so busy. You know sometimes it's pretty hard not to lose track. Basically, we're on stage every evening. I'm trying hard to remember when our last day off was....I can't really remember...I think we had a day off....Oh well, it doesn't matter.

You lose perspective on the road. I think every band who tours a lot can tell you about that. Last year we spent six days at home, the rest on the road. Even our "Loco" video was recorded while we were touring with Pantera.

Being on the road so much has a very surreal character, the feeling you get from it. It's pretty strange but I don't want to complain. After all we were on tour with great bands. We were touring with Pantera [at the personal request of Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul], then with Megadeth, and then Pantera again. [They've also toured with Type O Negative.] It was really fantastic because they're cool bands, you know. If you like the bands you're touring with, then it's easier to take the strain.

NY Rock:

Don't you miss home?

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

Of course I'm missing home, my friends, my dogs, everything and the others feel the same, but we made a decision and we're gonna stick to our guns. We all decided it. We all agreed on the fact that the band is going to be the most important thing, that the band comes first, that for a while the success of the band is an absolute priority. Being on tour so much and missing home and all that are the consequences, but if you make a decision you have to face the consequences. There's no way around that. Another thing is that it's going better and better. That's what we wanted in the first place and because we want it still we can't slack. We have to continue.

NY Rock:

Can you write songs while you're on the road?

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

We really wrote a hell of a lot of songs [on the road]. One of them is called "Anxiety" and we already played it a couple of times live. We have about 80 new songs as material for the new album. So, I don't think we have to worry about not being able to make a new album...

NY Rock:

80 new songs? Did I hear that right? Was it really 80 and not maybe something like 18?

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

Nope, 80 new songs. We have a lot of material to chose from... or maybe we'll record all of them and make a 5-CD box-set. Ha! Ha! Ha!

NY Rock:

So when can we expect a new album?

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

At the moment we don't really care about recording a new album. We don't even think about it yet. We just keep writing new songs. The most important thing for us right now is touring and I don't think that's going to change anytime in the near future.

NY Rock:

You left Coal Chamber for a while...

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

It was a mistake to leave Coal Chamber, but I came back, didn't I? I accepted that fact that touring and a lot of hard work is required and I'm doing my best.

NY Rock:

A lot of people compare you to Korn and even go as far as calling you imitators. How do you feel about that?

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

We like the same music. We had the same influences. We're friends with them. Big deal. The critics didn't know all that much. They just thought they knew. They heard certain similarities and that was it. When they saw us playing live, they noticed that we're not a weak copy, but that we're a good band who can hold up their own.

NY Rock:

You're still pretty close to your fan base...

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

We're not trying to play the big rock stars and pose and try to act different than we are. That's not our thing, not our cup of tea at all. We're trying to be as real and personal as possible. The whole rock star attitude makes me sick. We all hate it. You know the bodyguards and the musicians sheltered like the Queen of England.

We're playing for our fans. We want to be in touch with them. I think it's important for a band to be in touch with the audience, to have contact with the fans. We're playing for them, so it's important to interact with them. I think in that respect we're just like Korn; they're also down to earth and not stuck up. They like being close to the audience.

NY Rock:

What was the story about your bus driver? I heard he died during the tour...

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

That was something that shocked us. It was so unexpected and tragic. You know the guy just went to have a shower and died in the shower. Bang. Heart attack. It was crazy. We woke up in the morning and wondered why the bus was still in the same place as the night before, but we didn't think all that much about it. We were waiting in the bus and all of a sudden the cops showed up and told us our driver died and how it happened. We were really shocked.

NY Rock:

Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy Osbourne's wife and manager, manages you too, how did that come about?

Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber:

It was pretty easy. We used to hang out at the Ozz-fest and we met Sharon and got to know each other. She liked us and we always respected her work, so we decided to work together. It's really great. I mean she's a real force in the biz and she helps us a lot, makes contacts and all that. We visited her in London, that was cool. Ozzy and I were riding a motorbike in his garden. That was great. I loved it.

May 1998

1999 Interview with Bassist Rayna Foss



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