Philadelphia-hailing rockers Mannequin Pussy have been conjuring music that moves, both physically and mentally, since …
Coal Chamber’s Dez Fafara is in a really good place. If you could see his eyes behind the huge sunglasses he’s wearing as he looks down the camera, they’d be beaming as he talks about his sons, one of whom has helped him set up the Zoom call, and how positive he is about the reformation of the band.
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It’s been just over a year and this time things are going much better compared to the last go-around, that ended somewhat ignominiously following the release of 2015’s Rivals.
“I’m in a great headspace,” he says with a huge grin, “the band’s in a great headspace. It’s never been this tight. The things that went on … the things that go on inside a band can break up a band – alcohol, drugs … Yoko Ono can pop her head in once in a while – that’s what breaks up bands. None of that is going on in Coal Chamber. They have their shit together … I haven’t had a drop of alcohol since 2016.”
It wasn’t always that way. Constant fighting between Fafara, Meegs Rascon and Mickey Cox tore them apart during touring for their third album Dark Days in 2002. Rascon famously hit Fafara with his guitar on stage in Texas, causing the vocalist to storm off and Cox to trash his kit. They eventually limped through one more tour, but the band was essentially done. Finally getting back together in 2011 at the behest of Fafara’s friend AJ Maddah to play at Soundwave, the singer admits now they weren’t really ready.
“Looking back now,” he says, “I’m glad we reformed, but we probably shouldn’t have. We all had demons we were going through, and it drove us apart again.”
At the time, Fafara said it was something they had to do. He doesn’t go back on that, even now.
There’s a whole new thing there, waiting to be created. We’ve only just started. We’re just getting ready to kick off the next 15 years of badass touring.
[ Dez Fafara, Coal Chamber ]
“We had the songs in us. If you go back and listen to Rivals, it’s one of my favourite Coal Chamber records. I said this the other day, but Rivals, had that album come out now, would have made a huge mark. I don’t think any part of the genre was back in full swing then, so it’s good to see what’s happening now with a lot of the bands from the genre.”
If there was a time for Fafara and his band to return, it is certainly now. Twenty years on from Dark Days, and the genre Coal Chamber helped to define is back to full strength.
“The biggest bands in the world are from the genre that we were instrumental in helping to create. Bands like Mudvayne and Disturbed were later on from Coal Chamber, Korn, Deftones. System [of a Down] was later on, Static [X] was later on. It’s going to be real interesting to see what the next ten years has to offer now that our band has got their shit together.”
The first steps to another Coal Chamber reunion came about three years ago when Fafara announced that the band were all once again on speaking terms. Fearing he was about to die from a bout of COVID-19, his wife got in touch with the other band members, and in the months that followed they all reconnected and realised that they had changed enough as people to work together again.
Their first show back was Sick New World in Las Vegas and since then they’ve been out on tour in America with Mudvayne, with whom they will soon be in Australia. It was their first time out with them and the reception, Fafara says, was “immense.”
“We were out for 35, 40 shows, almost seven, eight weeks. Every time we walked on stage it was deafening! That kind of thing, in an arena, after so long … we would have these talks in the dressing room after the shows and we would be just hugging and going, ‘Holy shit!’ The thing is, now, as individuals, even me – we’re different. I’ve been sober off alcohol since 2016, those guys don’t do hard drugs anymore.”
To that end, he promises that this is merely the beginning for the revamped band.
“There’s a whole new thing there, waiting to be created. We’ve only just started. We’re just getting ready to kick off the next 15 years of badass touring.”
After two previous incarnations that both ended badly, it’s easy to be cynical about Coal Chamber’s chances this time. But Dez Fafara is confident that with all the substances out of the way, things are so much better now.
“We’re at such a level together as friends and a band, it’s just getting ready to spark off so hard … the creative spark is still there, and the people are still there for that creative spark. Offers are coming in, tours are coming in, we’re taking and choosing what we do, everybody’s got families and other things going on.”
He and the band are also beyond caring about trying to make it as huge rock stars. From now on, he says, it’s all going to be about enjoying themselves.
“We’re at the point of our lives where we’re not in this for the money. We’re in this for the good time, to help other people and see what we can do. Show people our music, get on stage and smile and have a good time.”
MUDVAYNE & COAL CHAMBER AUSTRALIAN TOUR:
February 14: Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane
February 16: Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
February 17: Festival Hall, Melbourne
February 19: Hindley Street Music Hall, Adelaide
February 21: Metro City, Perth