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The Lowdown: Jeff Kendrick of Devildriver

The Lowdown: Jeff Kendrick of Devildriver

"Download 2009 was definitely the best gig we ever played. It was awesome and I hope we can do it again soon!"

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Last Edited by: Chris MUG5 Maguire December 23rd, 2010.

Thereís only one word to sum up a band who hold the record for the largest circle pit in historyÖ Badass.

In 2002, guitarist Jeff Kendrick, bassist Jon Miller and drummer John Boecklin met with vocalist Dez Fafara with the intention of forming a band promoting a new outlook on metal. Following an eponymous dťbut album (which earned their music a brief stint in hit TV series Scrubs) and a hugely beneficial line-up change over the next year, the manic metalheads were well on their way to achieving their goal.

Their subsequent three studio efforts garnered the band a tremendous respect within the metal community. Earlier this year, word leaked that the band will be releasing their long anticipated fifth album, substantiated by further news that the recording process had already been finished. Are such rumours true? If so, what sort of sound can we expect?

We were excited to interview founding member Jeff Kendrick to find out about the upcoming release, exciting touring events and, of course, eating commercial jets..

AltSounds: Hey man!
Jeff Kendrick: Hey there, howíre you doing?

AltSounds: Iím good thanks! And yourself?
Jeff Kendrick: Yeah man, Iíve just been getting ready for the show tonight.

AltSounds: Sweet! Has the rest of your day been good so far?
Jeff Kendrick: Oh yeah, Iíve had a great day so far Ė and a great tour so far too. I definitely canít complain, everythingís fantastic.

AltSounds: Glad to hear it! Like you said, you guys are currently out on tour with 36 Crazyfists. How is that going for you?
Jeff Kendrick: Itís great! Theyíre just fantastic friends of ours, theyíre a really great band. Theyíre our bros man. Weíve toured with a lot of bands, but there are a couple up there that are just our best friends Ė the ones you always wanna tour with. Itís just great.

AltSounds: So would you say the two bands compliment each other sound-wise on this tour?
Jeff Kendrick: Yes, absolutely. These days itís all about putting together a diverse bill Ė weíre obviously both heavy bands, in fact all four bands are very heavy, and very different. Theyíve had great success over here, and they bring a great flavour of fans to the shows, just like we bring a great flavour of fans to them. It works out perfectly.

AltSounds: Do you like being out on the road? Or do you prefer the comforts of your own home?
Jeff Kendrick: I like both. I think I prefer not too much of oneÖ if that makes sense [laughs] Weíve been doing this for a few years, and weíve always had a pretty hefty schedule in terms of touring. But Iím used to it Ė itís just what my life is, and Iím more than happy about it.

AltSounds: Talking of touring, whatís the craziest thing you guys have had happen on tour or on stage?
Jeff Kendrick: On stage? HmmÖ a lot more of the crazy stuff happens off stage [laughs] One time we were here in the UK and literally within the first 35 seconds of the set, this kid crowd surfed and went over the barricade. They had the barricade, but no security. Which is ridiculous. The kid went over the edge, landed on his leg and broke his femur. We stopped the show right awayÖ yeah, that was pretty brutal. Umm, Iíve tripped and fallen over stuff, Iíve almost fallen off the stage Ė Iím sure almost everyone has almost fallen off the stage [laughs] Sometimes you just miss your mark. Iíve seen people crowd surfing in wheelchairs before!

AltSounds: Oh my God, thatís awesome!
Jeff Kendrick: Haha definitely manÖ

AltSounds: So, the crazy off-stage happenings - can you give me a couple of examples?
Jeff Kendrick: Ah, we were talking about this today. We were driving, it was 2009 in Europe, and the trailer fell off of our bus.

AltSounds: Shit! With all of your equipment in?
Jeff Kendrick: Yes! The worst part about it was that the trailer had come undone, and any time the bus driver stopped anywhere, he would always check the trailer. So it wasnít like it just fell off, it was like it came off and no-one even knew it did.

AltSounds: Did you manage to get all of your stuff back?
Jeff Kendrick: Well what happened is, we drove back about 40 milesÖI donít know how many kilometres that is. About 60?

AltSounds: Yeah, I think itís around there.
Jeff Kendrick: We found it on the opposite side of the freeway, it was lodged against this curb that was about two feet high. If you watch our documentary on, it catalogues it.

AltSounds: Sweet! On this subject of insanity, you guys tried to break the world record for the largest moshpit ever twice. On the first attempt, it seemed it didnít work. Did you succeed the second time around at Download in 2009?
Jeff Kendrick: Well, we legitimately approached the Guinness Book of World Records, and there was some discretion about whether people would be there or not. There was a lot of talk about it, and obviously we were hyping it up a lot because we wanted to it. Itís one of those things thatís never really been put out, but everyone always refers to it as the biggest ever. No-one has ever attempted to do it with the Guinness Book of World Records. There was a bit of funny business too, they said that they couldnít tell the distance between one area and another, and that they couldnít count the people involved. Yet they have a guy that ate a planeÖ thatís in there.

AltSounds: He ate a plane?
Jeff Kendrick: Yeah, he was resilient to eating any kind of metal at all, he has no problem with it. Itís insane. He can digest it with no issue. But back to the moshing, it was more about the hype surrounding it all, and it became notorious because of it. They never catalogued it, but we were so involved with getting ready for the gig and all that, it was the last thing on my mind.

AltSounds: How amazing was the feeling of looking out across the crowd to see so many people going ballistic to your music?
Jeff Kendrick: It was incredible man, definitely the best gig weíve ever played. It was awesome, I hope we can do it again soon. Hopefully itís not too long away. Being here now, weíre coming up to London in a couple of days, and thatís going to be the biggest and best show of the tour. And all the shows on the tour have just been amazing. I think thatís going to be by far the biggest DevilDriver show weíve done to date on any headlining or co-headlining tour.

AltSounds: So, with you guys wanting to do Download again, do you think itís a possibility?
Jeff Kendrick: Hopefully yeah! Weíre still tryna figure everything out. Weíre gonna be on tour non-stop, I know that much! Thatís all I can say.

AltSounds: Glad to hear it man! I also read quite a while ago that you guys will be releasing Beast, your fifth album, sometime next year. Can you validate that?
Jeff Kendrick: Yep, itís basically done! Weíve submitted the final masters of the record already.

AltSounds: Awesome! Do you have any idea when it may be released by?
Jeff Kendrick: I think itíll be around February next year. For the media and all that, Iím not so sure, but Iím sure thereíll be a way for the media to review it because obviously we want that too.

AltSounds: Whatís going to be different from it in comparison to your other albums?
Jeff Kendrick: Well I think the songwriting is the best weíve ever done, I think the musicianship is the best. I think itís the best vocally, it has the best production too. I think itís got simply the best everything. As far as the songs go, hooks and things like that, thereíll definitely be there. In terms of it being straight up heavy? Itís the heaviest and most brutal record by far. Itís fucking heavy man!

AltSounds: This is good news! [laughs] Was it a smooth and easy writing process?
Jeff Kendrick: I guess it was yeah! It was great for us because everyone in the band writes, and thatís all we can do. We released Pray For Villains in July 09, and literally went into record an album in April 10. Thatís only seven or eight monthsÖ Or maybe nine? [laughs]

AltSounds: I think itís nineÖ possibly [laughs]
Jeff Kendrick: Yeah, it wasnít much time at all!

AltSounds: Iíve looked at a potential track listing for the album, and some of the titles that I saw included ďShitlist,Ē ďCold BloodedĒ and ďYou Make Me Sick.Ē Do you think that this dark and edgy feel that you guys have to your music is vital in becoming a successful metal band?
Jeff Kendrick: Honestly man, I think it just comes down to the fact that we generally care. I think it goes beyond the fact that weíre playing music, itís just the vibe in general because itís real shit. Itís not contrived, itís not fake, itís not created for any other reason than itís what comes from our hearts. I think people identify with that. As far as being successful goes, I think a lot of our success comes from the fact that we never go home from touring [laughs] Weíre still on an upward climb, and Iím just grateful for everything thatís happened to us. Weíve got a long way to go, but weíre certainly not going anywhere.

AltSounds: Thatís great dude! So, as a guitarist, who do you take your inspiration from?
Jeff Kendrick: UmmÖ a lot of people. Growing up, it was Hetfield and Hammett, and Dimebag obviously. And my people like Robb Flynn and Logan Mader from Machine Head and Dino from Fear Factory too. They were my big influences, I was really into all of those players. I used to learn all of the songs and all that. Itís still that, but there are so many bands Ė all my peers today. There are so many good musicians in metal. Itís changed as Iíve become older too, I love The Edge. I love his effects. Muse, stuff like that.

In our band, we donít just write straight heavy stuff, we incorporate clean sections too, harmonies, things like that. The more classic kinda shit. We were playing a song last night with a harmony in that our sound guy said reminded him of Boston. Thereís a lot of influence Ė movies too. But it all comes down to my love of guitar. Iíve even started to teach kids too, which is great. Itís been amazing for me, and Iíve taken inspiration from them, to be honest. Itís been a totally new thing. Sorry man, Iíve just been blabbing away for ages! [laughs]

AltSounds: Donít apologise, thatís what I want you to do! [laughs] So, what do you find yourself listening to on your iPod nowadays?
Jeff Kendrick: Everything that Iíve grown up with, like all the classic metal shit. I do like some pop music, but itís not the super popular stuff, itís more just a couple of artists. I respect Justin Timberlake and all that. Iíll listen to that occasionally but I really like listening to 50 Cent, a bit of Jay Z maybe. All kinds of stuff Ė All Shall Perish too, I love them. I like the new Deftones stuff, Machine Head, Fear Factory, Lamb of God. I have a very eclectic iPod. And then when you take everyone elseís tastes around me in the band and you have about as far reaching as it gets. We have a virtual library on our bus at the minute!

AltSounds: Do you think that massive mix influences the way that you write your music?
Jeff Kendrick: Fuck yeah it does man. It absolutely does. Everyone has such individual strengths and styles within the band, and brings something different to the table. We all can write heavy stuff and play it, and itís cool. I think thatís why it works so well in terms of writing music. When you hear the new record youíre really gonna be stoked on it if youíve been a fan of previous shit.

AltSounds: Iím really excited! Pray For Villains kicked ass!
Jeff Kendrick: Thanks man!

AltSounds: Finally, can you tell us something interesting about yourself that our readers may be surprised to find out about you?
Jeff Kendrick: Well, I like to read a lot. I guess thatís pretty interestingÖ is it? [laughs] Hmm. I donít wanna get too personal! [laughs] Yeah, I like reading!

AltSounds: Good stuff man! And I think thatís everything, thank you very much for your time!
Jeff Kendrick: Hey, no problem man, it was nice chatting with you.

AltSounds: Take care, have a great tour!
Jeff Kendrick: Thanks man, I will! Iíll make sure to check this out on AltSounds when itís up!

AltSounds: Nice one man! Iíll speak to you later then!
Jeff Kendrick: Yeah dude, see ya!

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