Lyrically and thematically, the album's rampaging title track pretty much sums up where Dez is coming from on [i]Pray For Villains[/i]. Inspired by his love of Western films, the song is about "how you put all your eggs in one basket, and you bet on the hero - but it's actually the bad-ass villain who comes in and saves the day," he explains. "I love Westerns, especially the ones with Clint Eastwood; I like the anti-heroes, rather than the John Wayne kind of guys. I was thinking that in those films, just like in real life, it usually takes a fucking bad-ass to come in and do the job - and that's usually not the guy in white with the shiny gun. A lot of these songs, including ‘Resurrection Blvd.,' ‘In The Cards' and ‘Forgiveness Is A Six-Gun,' are definitely influenced by that."
Themes of self-reliance, hard work and positive energy also run through tracks like "I See Belief," "Pure Sincerity" and "Back With A Vengeance," all of which reflect both the scars and the hard-won accomplishments of DevilDriver's first half-decade. "I'm not a nihilistic dude," Dez explains. "The line,‘I see belief when no one else does' - a lot of people are so negative about things, saying, ‘Oh, that will never work,' or 'We'll never get that tour,' or ‘We'll never get to that place' but I'm just not that guy. Call it stupidity or blind luck," he laughs, "but I've got a feel for what's going to happen with this band. I believe in the motivation and upward mobility of this band, as well as the movement and the bond that we're creating between our fans and us. I want to bring that positivity through the power of metal and say to people, ‘Hey, keep your head up/Get your head out of the sand'- take a breath of fresh air, try to be positive about life, and move through it with strength, power and belief in yourself."
Of "Pure Sincerity," Dez reveals, "That's for when people ask, ‘What's DevilDriver about?' Well, listen to ‘Pure Sincerity': ‘Give ‘em what they want/Give ‘em what they need/Pure Sincerity'. That's all it's ever been, from the time we started making music - giving them what we feel is [i]our[/i] music, and not trying to follow any kind of trend."
"Back With a Vengeance" is a howl of triumph, a musical victory lap for a band that many critics discounted or disregarded, at least until DevilDriver's ever-increasing fanbase and reputation for consistently punishing live shows became simply too much to ignore. "That song's about looking yourself in the mirror and going, ‘Yep, that's right, we're kicking ass like I always knew we would be,'" Dez explains. "Don't ever count any motherfucker out in life. It may have taken a record or three to get it through everybody's heads, but now it's obvious. And on ‘Back With A Vengeance,' I'm actually giving myself a minute to step back and look at DevilDriver and go, ‘Holy shit, we all built this thing together - and it's a monstrous machine!'"
To no one's surprise, DevilDriver will be taking that monstrous machine on the road for the rest of 2009, and probably beyond. (The band's innate affinity for touring is reflected on the new tracks "I've Been Sober" and "Another Night In London.") "We need to travel," says Dez. "So we're booked through Christmas ‘09; we're going all over the world, and we're not coming home. Our schedule is so rigorous, it's unreal - sometimes even I don't know why I put myself through it - but I love the road. I love my family, but I can't sit home for more than two weeks," he laughs. "I think time for me at home is wasted right now. I'm still young enough to go out and do my thing."
"You have to love what you do," Dez concludes. "We love to play together as a band, we love to be onstage, and we love to deliver our music to people live. We've always said that's been part of the mission - and if you're gonna talk it, you've gotta walk it.