We got the opportunity to chat with drummer John Boecklin from DevilDriver leaded by famous Dez Fafara at Hellfest 2012, which took place at Clisson, France, 15-17 June 2012!
Hi John, glad to see you back in France at Hellfest. DevilDriver is always a special moment here, how do you feel before going on stage?
John Boecklin (drums) : Great, we haven’t played here since 2009 I believe, so we’re very excited. The bill is awesome, lots of friends are here today and we got a good slot so we can’t complain at all.
Your last album “Beast” was released last year. With all this touring, how did the different reviews about it come up?
J : I don’t know I didn’t really… Sometimes our label sends us reviews or something, and that stuff is fun to read. That record was very positively received and my thought is that we pushed ourselves quite well on that musically and Dez did vocally and lyrically, I’m very happy the way it came out.
At the beginning of this year, via Twitter, Jeff announced that you already begun working on the next album. What can we expect for your 6th album? Does Dez already listened to the demos or the writing process including him will take place later?
J : You know, it’s kind of separated, like we demo by ourselves and when we feel it’s finally where we wanted to be the song, then we give it to him, and he’s constantly writing lyrics, without music too, like you said, so he’ll see where lines can fit in. But yeah, he’s constantly writing, we’re constantly writing, kind of on our ones, and then we’ll combine.
Next year, 2013, will be the 10th anniversary of “DevilDriver”‘s release, the first ever album. Knowing that “anniversary tours” are frequent those days, do you have plans about a special tour or a DVD, something like that?
J : Not at the moment, we’ll see where that goes when the “10 years” comes up, but right now, we’re kind of focusing on writing a record, and we’ve got some more tour coming up. This summer when we get back, it’s gonna be writing and that’s our focusing at the moment.
Talking about anniversary tour, did you see Metallica’s “Black Album” set on stage?
J : Yeah, I think that works for such a nostalgic album like the “Black album”. Me personally, I would be more interested in doing something like that with the later albums than the firsts, even there is really cool songs on the firsts, but I think as a whole, our records got stronger as it their entirety on the second, third and forth. But you know if Dez wants to do something like that, and people are asking for it, we probably do it, yeah.
Some people may don’t know it, but you also played guitar, at the earliest period of the band. Choosing between drums and guitar wasn’t difficult? Or you really wanted to be a drummer?
J : I wouldn’t say it was a difficult choice because when I was either playing guitar or drums in the band, at the very beginning, it was an exciting time, to be working with Dez, so it was “I will take either slot” but no problem. I did initially want to play guitar than drums, yeah. But it worked out for the best because I believe I’m a better live drummer than a live guitar player, so you know, I’m glad.
During writing sessions, does it happen to pick up a guitar and play riffs? Or this part is only for Jeff and Mike?
J : Absolutely, yeah.
Do you ever have battles between you 3?
J : Battles? No (laugh), because when it comes to battles, it’s usually left for lead guitar, and when it comes to lead guitar playing, I’m not much of a lead guitar player.
You’re much like a rhythm guitar?
J : Yeah, I’m a rhythm guitar player and so I left the hot leaks up to these guys.
As a drummer, what’s your opinion regarding those young who only want to play drums like their idols such as hardcore or metalcore styles; they quickly want to play fast and loud, ignoring the basics.
J : Well, everyone have their own approach, to how they want to where they go. You got to find your own path. I’d say ignoring the basics isn’t smart and I kind of did that a little bit too, instead of learning a lot of rudiments. I was just focusing on playing my favorite songs, which it works, but then I found myself 10 years later, learning simpler stuff. So you got to learn the basics whether it’s first or last.
Which tips can you give to somebody who wants to start drums? First when you begun drums, were you like “Ahh I want to be like him or him” or the instrument was fascinating?
J : All you got to do is play drums. To do it for your living, it takes a lot of dedication, lot of luck, lot of; well find the good combination the guys you playing with, giving your best and make the music you want to write or write the music you want to play (laugh).
DevilDriver’s music style is kind of a great melting pot. Dez’s voice brings in a lot of possibility, how do you consider all of your influences?
J : Well when we’re writing, we are always wondering how Dez works with this, so he’s always in the back of our brains and he’s really focused on DevilDriver keeping it a certain level extreme and not getting too rock, so we’re constantly focused around him when we writes.
What’s the main secret in evolving in music? For example, when playing guitar at some point, creating new riffs or whatsoever tend to be harder. How do you all consider creating new music and avoiding making a copy of the previous album?
J : Just take your time and don’t rush anything. It takes us a long time to write an album. Music started writing shortly after we recorded one, so unconsciously, saying exactly what you just said, try not to repeat the past, but also capture some of that magic from the past. Because you don’t like when we put on a record just like “What the hell happened with this band, this isn’t them anymore”, so you don’t want to lose what you’ve done and created, also keep it fresh and interesting, that’s pretty much the goal of every band I know and tour with.
Do you listen to other styles, like pop or rock, in order to have some ideas?
J : Of course.
Which bands do you appreciate the most these days? Are there one or two bands that get your attention? Lot of people talks about Ghost for example.
J : Yeah, I like Ghost but I don’t necessarily listen to them that much. For many years, I’m a big fan of Gojira, I think I say it every time I come here (laugh), and there’s so much of metal out there, like Periphery and bands like that, doing exciting stuff too.
Today’s schedule is pretty exciting, which bands will you see on stage today?
J : Probably Ozzy & Friends, I’ve seen most of the bands, we’ve been out for a while, so I saw must of the bands already. I saw Sabbath, but Ozzy & Friends will be also interesting.
Right before concluding, which are the future plans for DevilDriver? Right after this European tour?
J : Yeah, we got home write a record. We got other tours, but we can’t announce them yet.
It is like a best of tour or continuing the Beast touring?
J : Yeah, still for the “Beast” record.
Any message to Hellfest’s attendance and to French fans?
J : Thank you for coming out to the shows. We’re doing our best and we appreciate you like our music. Thank you very much!
Website : devildriver.com