Coal Chamber

Coal Chamber

Chamber Music…and Lullabies

To his credit, Dez Fafara finally has a girlfriend who understands his lifestyle, and a new album he truly believes in.

“We experimented with a lot of sounds,” says Fafara. “I put myself through the hard-core regimen of seeing a vocal coach, and learning what I could–and couldn’t–do. Really, in essence, I was finding myself and being comfortable with what I could do that, I think, no one can do–essentially what every singer has to go through.”

He has left behind his family in Capistrano Valley to spend the night at A&M Studios in L.A. to finish mixing Chamber Music . He needs to put in the overtime. Currently, with Randy Staub (Monster Magnet, Metallica) mixing and Josh Abraham (Orgy, Deadzy, Korn) at the production helm, the album, now slated for an August 10th release, had been pushed back twice due to the death of Chad Frederici in an automobile accident just three days before Frederici was to begin mixing, and the firing of a famous producer the band refuses to mention.

Mum is also the word on who will replace the five-months pregnant Rayna, whose maternity leave begins on August 15, which is also one of a pair of dates Coal Chamber will open for Black Sabbath in London on Sabbath’s supposed last tour dates ever. (I’ve learned to never say never in this business.)

Coal Chamber is one of those bands where incessant touring is not only legend, it’s dead truth–two years’ worth of a hectic schedule that only allowed them to write one song while on the road: “Not Living”, which appeared on the Strangeland soundtrack. “It’s a song about not living without the fans. We wrote that on the road because we had to. We owed it to them. We really believe in that whole thing,” explains Dez.

The six months they spent writing this album (compared to the three years with their first album) was the longest break they had since releasing their self-titled debut in early ’97. As the band prepares to hit the road again, co-headlining with the “craziest motherfuckers on earth,” the Insane Clown Posse, Dez promises “one mad, mad, mad gig,” and a smoker of a new album.

“If, by God’s grace, this album does what we think it’s going to do — if someone were to say to say to me in the down-tuned genre of music that we were going to come up with a new sound, I would tell them to go screw themselves, but I think we’ve done it: We’ve defined a new sound. We’ve done a brave thing by stepping away from all these other bands that have gladly lumped themselves into the same thing. We’ve been lumped into it with them, but we’re making our move. We’ll see what the future holds.”

Their mantra for the new millennium: “Here come the underdogs.”

••

So, how many songs will be on the new album?

Dez Fafara : Well, we wrote thirty two, and we’re going to record thirty two. We’re going to put seventeen on the album. We feel the fans deserve it, to tell you the truth. And, in order to define Chamber Music and define ourselves, we wanted to make the brave move of stepping away from our hip-hop core. I think we needed to give them 17 songs in order to define ourselves.

What are you going to do with the other songs not on the album?

We kept them as little goodies for later, for certain releases and soundtracks.

What’s going on with you and Ozzy doing “Shock the Monkey”?

Ozzy’s definitely on it with me. He’s splitting the vocals with me 50/50. That came about after hearing that he was a big Peter Gabriel fan. He listens to Peter Gabriel before going on stage. And they sound a lot alike. I had reservations about doing a cover. Getting huge, and making your career, off of a cover is really a cheesy move, especially if you make the cover exactly like the cover, but we’ve “Chamberized” it, I like to say. It’s down-tuned and heavy. I do vocal ad-libs. We really lent ourselves to the song. I really feel strongly about it. It’s a great tune.

When is the song finally coming out?

Everything should be released in late July–near August. I think we’re going to release “Tyler’s Song” first. It’s a great song for our new signature sound. And we want to release that first so we don’t just go into the cover “thing” with Ozzy. It’s too predictable, as well as us doing the Ozzfest this year would be predictable. We’re doing a bunch of brave moves. We’re also not doing the hip-hop core thing anymore. We’re trying to jump out into the dark, and lend ourselves out to ourselves a little bit.

What’s going to be the dissimilarity of your music?

Well, the similarity is going to be that it’s definitely Coal Chamber. The dissimilarity is that it will be much more three-dimensional, much more textured, dealing with many more emotions rather than just hate. It’s going to give the listener something to listen to. This is a fan’s album. We owe it the people that we’ve toured so long for to give this many tracks, and these kinds of tracks. It’s very melodic, as well as much heavier than the first album.

Do you still live up to the term “spooky-core”?

I say that “spooky-core” is definitely what the music is called now because it’s more defined than ever. With this album, you’re going to hear what “spooky-core” is. You’ll see it in the fans’ eyes more than anything.

Tell about some of the songs on the album.

“Cucu” is Spanish for “bogeyman.” It’s about going out on tour and becoming the bogeyman. There’s something in the Mexican culture you used to say to your children like, “Cucu is going to come get you if you’re not good.” And the chorus is, “Kill the man, become the monster.” Basically, it means to forget about yourself and put yourself out on tour no matter how much you like things at home. “My Mercy” is a song we wrote five years ago, the second song we wrote after “Loco.” We didn’t put it on the first album because we weren’t ready yet. It has an orchestra section to give it a certain feel. Amy Echo, who used to be in Human Waste Project, and is now in Hero, did very eerie back-up singing on it. It’s a really good song.

Is “Tyler’s Song” about your son?

Yes. He’s eight years old. He called me one day when he was getting beaten up at school. And I told him, “Raise your guard again,” and that ended up being the chorus. I said some really cool, blatant things to him: “Respect your mom, and always think of her first,” and “Remember, when daddy says he loves you, he’s out in the real world again–I’m trying…” things like that.

How many kids do you have?

Well, the lady that I live with now has a two year old boy, and four year old boy, so I’m pretty much packed with kids. And I respect the fact that they’re honest with integrity. Most people manipulate you, and most kids don’t do that. When they look up at you and want a hug, they mean it. I like being around them. I’m not too social, anyway. I don’t do the nightclub thing, so I think it’s a cool deal to have a family life.

How did becoming a father change your life?

Well it made me say–if I have a platform at all– I’d say, “be yourself and be good to other people.” I’m not going to preach anything else other than that. “Rock and roll, be yourself, and be good to other people.” But I do realize that, in itself, is more than most people are saying nowadays. People are just expressing anger in their music, which I’m not going to do anymore. I have other things to say.

So are you going to be “uncle Dez” when Rayna has her baby?

I’m uncle Dez, Daddy Dez–I’m a lot of Dezes right now.

What advice do you have for Rayna on becoming a parent?

[Laughs] Be ready.

••

It’s eerie how bassist and mommy-to-be describes the new Coal Chamber album. Although she’s relocated to Atlanta to be with her new husband (Sevendust drummer Morgan Rose), she’s not very far away from the band, if only in spirit. She’s almost reiterating what Dez had stated a couple days before: “This record definitely defines Coal Chamber,” she starts. “It sets us apart from anything we’ve done in the past. We’ve definitely matured. It’s much more dimensional. It’s still the Coal Chamber sound. The heaviness is still there, but it’s also extremely emotional, and it’s still got the dark side.”

Her voice quiets almost to a whisper when speaking about her favorite songs (“Untrue,” “My Mercy”) on the new album. Even as she describes the chaotic instrumentation (comparable to “Loco” on the first album) that comprises “Tragedy,” there is contentment and happiness of anticipating motherhood lingering in her voice. She’s definitely not in the entranced state that I’m used to seeing her in on-stage, her eyes rolling to the back of her head. She’s sweet, demure, and full of giggles.

The day I talked to Rayna she had just come back from buying furniture. Baby furniture, I assumed; but she clarified that it was living room furniture. “Not yet.” She’s giggling again. “We don’t know what it is yet, so we’re going to wait to find out. I’ll know Tuesday.”

••

When you planned all of this, when did you know that you were pregnant?

Rayna Foss-Rose : Well, we didn’t really plan it, but I found out three months ago.

Were you ecstatic?

Yeah, we were happy, and a little bit surprised.

Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?

It doesn’t really matter to me, as long as the baby’s healthy, I’ll be happy with either. I think Morgan wants a boy, though.

Will he be named after Morgan?

Maybe his middle name will be. I think we’re going to name him Jake.

And if it’s a girl?

Kayla Marie.

I heard you guys were supposed to get married in February (1999)?

Yeah, we were, but we got married September 23rd (1998) in Atlanta, and the baby’s due on September 25th. So, we’re hoping the baby’s not going to be born on our wedding anniversary.

And you’ve relocated to be with Morgan in Atlanta?

Yeah. Well, I grew up in the south, in South Carolina, so I’m closer to my family, too. So everything worked out fine.

Did you have a big wedding?

It was actually a small wedding because we only had three days to plan it. We were going to do a big thing in Las Vegas, but we decided that we didn’t want to wait because our schedules might not permit. I was still recording the new record. We decided to go ahead because we had only four days off together before he went back out on the road.

When did you meet?

A lot of people think we met on Ozzfest, but we actually toured with [Sevendust] four times together in the previous years. We actually met a year before then.

So about two years. Who asked who out?

I think he asked me out (giggles).

Where did you go on your first date?

We went on a walk to Dunkin Donuts (giggles again). It was something like that.

Oh, so you guys were on tour?

Yeah, in Philadelphia.

So, what are you going to wear on stage now that you’re with child?

I haven’t decided. I haven’t been on-stage pregnant yet.

So, when do you finally make your debut, tummy and all?

Our tour starts July 10th [with Insane Clown Posse].

When are you coming back from maternity leave?

As soon as I can. It won’t be long.

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