Interview with Jeff Kendrick of DEVILDRIVER September 24, 2011

September 26, 2011 by: admin

September 24, 2011


Roadrunner Records

Jeff Kendrick (Guitar)

Santa Barbara, Ca

By: Shauna O’Donnell

Hi Jeff thanks for talking with me today. How are you?

I’m good, how are you doing?

I’m doing really good. It seems like forever since I have seen a Devildriver show. How long has it been since you have been to L.A?

It has been a bit because we did the Danzig tour. I think it has been since last Winter. We didn’t play in L.A. on the Danzig tour, so it has been quite a bit. We are really excited for it.

Yeah, you will be here next week. That is a big venue you are playing.

Yeah it should be great and then I live down the road in Santa Monica, so I’m home and pretty excited about that. It will be good. We have a day off afterwards, so we are all excited.

You guys are on tour with Arch Enemy right now. How is the tour going?

It is going really well and the shows have been great. Arch Enemy and all the other bands have been great, but I am a really big fan of Michael Amott and Chris Amott as guitar players. I have been listening to them for years, so I’m really excited to see them play every night and hopefully I’ll be able to pick up a few tips from them.

How have the crowds been? Have the shows been selling out?

A lot of the shows have been really well attended. I’m not sure about sell-outs and things like that. I just kind of get up, play, do my thing and not worry about it. I’m cruisin is what I call that.

In November you go out with MachineHead. You’ve been friends with them forever haven’t you?

We’ve known them for a bunch of years. We have toured with them. I grew up idolizing that band. I was a huge fan of them as a kid. It is pretty awesome to come full circle and know all those guys and have them as friends. We will hang out and it is going to be a really fun time. I have the utmost respect for them as a band. They are pretty much at the top of the top for heavy metal. It will be fantastic to see them play every night. That is a band I will watch everyday without a doubt.

Do you find it better when you go out with bands that you know?

It all depends, but I think yeah it helps a lot. It breaks up the monotony of touring and stuff like that. It depends on who the band is because some bands act more mellow than others and it depends on the mindset of that tour as to whether I’m mellow or want to rage. It’s all good all around, but it all depends on what I’m trying to get accomplished on that tour.

You guys have pretty much toured everywhere by now. Is there anywhere that you haven’t been that you’d like to go?

Yeah we haven’t been to Japan and I’d really like to go there. It would be great. We haven’t been to the Asian countries. I would love to go to South Africa. We were supposed to go there, but it got cancelled. I don’t know, some obscure place like a couple bands got to go to Maldives, which is a sinking island in the Indian Ocean just south of India. It is actually sinking and is considered the #1 beach destination in the world. I’d really like to go there because they are having bands come and it will be a vacation/show.

That sounds nice, although it is sinking, which is not good.

Yeah, it’s not rapidly, it’s over time.

How did you like Australia?

I loved it; we have been there five times. It has been great every time and continually getting better. It is a very interesting thing. You can only go once a year, so the people get really excited. They love their music. Their organization and their promotions are fantastic. Everyone is a complete professional.

In February you released your fifth album titled Beast. You titled the album Beast because that is what you have become as a band and as people. What was the mindset of Devildriver when writing this album?

I think it was the same as all records. We are continually wanting to do the best job we can. We really spend a lot of time. We write months and months and months in advance. We are always writing. We push ourselves to the boundaries and we are very involved sonically with everything. We always try to approach it with doing the best work and make it heavy because that is really what we want to hear.

Do you find that it gets easier or harder to write an album after all this time?

It’s definitely harder. If it is getting easier then you are probably not doing your best work.

I have always thought your album covers were beautiful, but this last one is my favorite. I love the color scheme that you used.

Okay, cool!

Does the same person design all of them?

No, it’s been different. I’m not sure, I think there was a couple of them that were designed by the same person, but it seems to be different every record, just like we use a different producer every album. I don’t know what is going to happen the next time around, but we continually change it up in many different ways each time around.

There is a DVD available also called You May Know Us from the Stage. What is on the DVD?

It’s a whole history of the band plus a lot of the years of touring. We filmed a lot of stuff. The band has been touring and recording since 2002/2003. We have a ton of footage from that experience.

Does it include footage that you shot yourself, like home video type footage?

Yeah, we have had videographers and stuff that have not been professional, but have been friends. We have filmed stuff forever. It was years in the making and it finally came out. It is great.

Let’s talk about You and Mike, you’re fellow Devildriver guitarist, have decided to re-launch the site. Why did you two decide to put up a site like this?

Guitar playing is my life and it is Mike’s life too. I’ve always wanted a site since I was a kid to basically tie in everything with guitar playing. It’s basically that we want to create a community and make it the largest community on the web for guitar playing. I also want to show a different side of us and show that we are entrepreneurial. We want to take the business as far as we can go and show a lot of these musicians and people in the business that there are outlets in music. There are a lot of people who are in bands and they are in bands for so many years and then it’s over. We want to put something out there that is going to leave a mark just like the band we have been in left a mark. It is going to bridge the gap between professional musician and fan alike. We are going to have a ton of great stuff coming in the future.

The site is really cool. A lot of band members are doing things like writing books, producing and stuff like that. This is really different. You don’t hear of many people doing something like this. I think it is really awesome.

Well thank you, we really think it is going to go far and we have a great scenario set up with it. We are excited to see what the future brings with it as well as the band. There is a lot of good stuff going on right now. I like to stay busy and I am very motivated and driven, so this is perfect for Mike and myself.

Do you run the site personally?

We have a business set up with another partner and it’s like a small bureaucracy with a small infrastructure. It’s going really well. We do a lot of stuff ourselves. We film a lot of videos ourselves, but we have the right people in place to handle a lot of the technological things while we are traveling around on a bus.

Do you guys do interviews on there with guitarists?

Yeah, we do interviews with guitarists. Eventually we are going to phase something into the scenario where we are going to start interviewing people that are not necessarily known for being famous for playing guitar, but happen to do so in addition to being a sports star or actor. I would love to get someone like Jeff Bridges to come in, interview him and talk to him about his guitar playing, nothing to do with the movies. I want it to be a total entertainment related guitar community. We have tons of stuff going on. We are going to be hosting websites for guitar players. You will see updates about it very soon, but I don’t want to speak about it too much until they are out.

It’s really cool because you offer guitar lessons from the actual guitar player who wrote the song. That way the viewer is learning it the right way. Did all this start because you saw a video of someone trying to teach one of your songs that wasn’t done correctly?

Yes! (Laughing) That is very astute and correct. Yeah, we totally did. It also stemmed from the fact that I give online lessons on Skype to people all over the world. We decided to change it into a business because I was doing very well when I was home. As far as a lot of the generalities that we saw, it was definitely not a video we wanted to see of some stranger playing online, we want people to come to the source. That is something that we really pride ourselves on. It is from a professional stand point that we really try and go to as far as the clientele that we have involved playing the songs that we have. It’s not just some random person saying “Here is Eruption by Van Halen.” We would like to get Eddie Van Halen if we could one day. It would be great.

Talking about you personally, how did you learn to play guitar? Did you take lessons or did you learn on your own?

I did both, I took lessons and I am also very self taught. I put years into this, so I have had an interesting experience with guitars as far as being taught, learning certain things myself, discovering certain things just by playing and learning from other people too. It has been pretty well rounded.

You have been playing since an early age then I would assume.

I was like thirteen or fourteen. I was still playing sports and then I got more into guitar playing as time went on.

Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be in a band and tour the world?

Yeah, I was pretty sure I wanted to do that. It definitely worked out, so I am very grateful.

Getting back to the site. You also offer gear reviews. Who is reviewing the gear?

We are doing a segment called Gear Geek where basically we do gear run downs, we do equipment shoot outs, comparisons and sole reviews of a piece of gear. It all depends. It is Mike who is actually hosting that segment. I’m filming him and what we do is discuss guitars, amps and we have oodles and oodles of gear. It is cool too because you don’t see a lot of professional musicians who are known for recording and touring getting out and doing stuff like that. You see more from usually an industry person particularly like a guitar company revealing their own guitar. It’s a different angle being a musician. You can say “Listen kids, you like these songs, this is what we do and this is how it works.” That is huge because when I was a kid I listened to records and I wished I could look at the guitar amp set up for Master of Puppets, be there and check it out. That would have been the most amazing thing for me, so that is where some of the stuff stems from too.

You have your own signature ESP guitar don’t you?

I do and Mike does as well. It is the ESP JK-1 and Mike’s is the ESP MS-1. ESP has been great. I have been with them since 2003 and the guitar is amazing. It is doing very well and so is Mikes. We are very grateful.

How much input do you get when you get a signature guitar?

It all depends. Usually how it works is you have to get to the point with the company where you get a custom made guitar, they give you the guitar and then you go out on tour. The issue comes up later as to whether you are going to get a signature series guitar or not. As far as the design, I designed my guitar myself with the color and some specifics, but I took it from a shape that they offer that sold on a regular basis. They have many models that are the same shape. I picked the shape and then customized the paint job, inlays and all that stuff. It’s great; I’m really excited about it.

I go to a lot of shows and I am seeing a lot more people with the Cross of Confusion tattoos on them.

It is very popular, I have one too.

Well it is your logo. That has to be an amazing feeling to see that.

Yeah it is really great. I am really happy with the success we have had with the band.

What would you like to say to the fans who have stuck by you for so long?

Thank you for all your help and support. We are here for you guys as long as you are here for us. We are really grateful and we love all the fans. We are glad that they actually like our music enough to let us have a career.

Alright Jeff, I want to thank you so much for the interview. It was great talking with you. Would you like to add or say anything else?

Thanks to all the media too who support us. Thanks for your time, I really appreciate it.

No problem! Be careful out on the road.

Okay, take care.

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