Interviews

Published on June 10th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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DevilDriver’s Dez Fafara & Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe On The Birth & Success Of SunCult

In 2014, DevilDriver and Coal Chamber frontman Dez Fafara peeled off his wetsuit and sat down next to his wife Anahstasia to watch the sun disappear into the Pacific. Fresh off yet another grueling tour, Fafara had gone to the beach to wash the road off with a surf session. As the sun sank into the sea, Anahstasia remarked how much it looked like a logo. Dez turned to his wife and told her he had an idea for a new family business, and thus, the brand now known as SunCult was born.

At the same time, across the country on a North Carolina sea island, Randy Blythe was on a touring break from his band, Lamb of God. A lifelong skateboarder, Blythe had just begun surfing. Within 2 years, he would ride waves in Asia, South America, Australia, and both coasts of the United States. Surfing had become an obsession, matched only by his passion for underground music.

Fafara and Blythe had already been friends for over a decade, putting literally thousands of miles of road beneath their boots as their bands toured the world together. Once Fafara found out Blythe had started surfing, it was only a matter of time before they would ride waves together. A few years later, a friendship born of music was sealed in saltwater. After several epic sessions, in 2018, the Fafaras invited Blythe to become a partner in their growing family business, and “the cult” expanded.

I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with both Dez Fafara and Randy Blythe about SunCult and their other artistic pursuits. More on SunCult can be found online at www.suncult.com.

How and/or when did you first two meet?

Dez Fafara: We met the summer of 2004 at Ozzfest. It was the first time I saw Lamb Of God live, and I had become friends with his guitarist Mark Morton first. Then years later I found out Randy surfed and thus began a great friendship!

Randy Blythe: I believe we had run into each other in passing at various times over the years, but when we really met and got to know each other was touring together on Ozzfest 2004, 15 years ago. Now that was an EPIC summer.

When did you realize that you both had a passion for the outdoors?

Dez Fafara: I’ve always been a surfer, my first time in the water was age 6. When I found out Randy took up surfing I immediately reached out to him and it took a minute, but we started surfing together on the regular when we were off tour and the bond began.

Randy Blythe: After skateboarding my entire life, I started surfing about 6 years ago, in my early forties. I was posting some photos of me attempting to surf on social media, and Dez started hitting me up saying “You surf now? We gotta catch some waves together, bro!” It took a couple of years to make that happen, but we started surfing together whenever we got the chance, and we haven’t stopped since.

Have you always been an outdoors-minded person?

Dez Fafara: My family was always camping, riding dirt bikes, water-skiing, surfing… It’s the California culture; it’s been engrained in me since childhood.

Randy Blythe: Yes, absolutely. I grew up both in a rural area and at the beach, so I was always either in the woods or in the ocean.

How long was it from coming up with the Suncult concept to getting the first product out?

Dez Fafara: I would say it took a good year before we had the logo trademarked, a site up and we were doing business as SunCult. We wanted to do it right, protect the mark, and make sure the designs and apparel was just right before releasing to the public. At first it was our families’ brand, just for us to wear and surf on SunCult boards, but more and more people approached me at the beach or on social media so it kind of had a life of its own.

Do you have a favorite of the SunCult items for sale?

Dez Fafara: I love our standard logo T with “worship the sun” on the back. It’s what built the brand but Randy has brought in some great designs such as the “daywalker” and “tiki party tonight,” showing off both his and my love of everything punk rock!

Randy Blythe: Currently my favorite item is the “daywalkers” t-shirt. It’s Dracula hanging 10 on a longboard with his beautiful bikini-clad victim in his arms; the term “daywalker” refers to a vampire who can go out in the
sunlight. To me it’s a perfect combination of what we’re about. Yes, we love surfing, but we also come from the darker side of metal, punk, and goth music. It’s also pretty campy and funny. When Dez and I get together, we laugh. A LOT. It’s a reminder to lighten up and have some fun, even in this crazy word we live in. If freaking Dracula can go surfing and have a good time, anything is possible.

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Are there plans for SunCult to grow beyond selling clothing and beach accessories?

Dez Fafara: Absolutely, but first we must see the brand secure, then we will be moving into other areas I’m sure. The sky’s the limit with this brand, completely.

Randy Blythe: Well, we certainly want to give back to the community we come from. For us, that means sponsoring beach clean ups, advocating for environmental responsibility — especially as it pertains to the health of the
world’s oceans — and encouraging the younger generation who are just getting into surfing and skating. The surfing and skateboarding community has so many beautiful aspects; it can impart and teach the youth so many things– respect, physical wellbeing, helping others, even mental health. We don’t want to just take from the community. As far as the business aspect of things, when we get together, ideas tend to fly, so you never know what could happen next! I do want to do a SunCult movie. Neither of us are pro surfers, and there are more than enough films about those people, but I think it would be cool to do a road trip film about us traveling and surfing with just regular locals at different spots, learning about the individual surf cultures in different communities. Any excuse for a surf trip…

As you’re still a full-time musician, yet you have SunCult, how do you describe what do you for a living? Do you see yourself as a musician and an entrepreneur?

Dez Fafara: I’m both. I’ve been in the trenches since 1995 and received my first gold record in ’96 as well I run a very large management company The Oracle Management, also a large merch Company The Oracle Merchandise. We also are getting ready to launch a major record company alongside The Orchard, plus I run two bands, Coal Chamber and DevilDriver. One would say I’m addicted to building business from nothing and addicted to watching them become successful. I’m the kid who ran away from home at age 15, slept under bridges and gained all I have by having a very strong blue-collar work ethic and drive to succeed.

Randy Blythe: The answer to this question is pretty funny. Even before I became involved with SunCult, I usually described my job as being a glorified black t–shirt salesman. That’s how guys in bands like Dez and I are in make our money: we sell black t-shirts on tour. We certainly aren’t paying our bills from new record sales; no one is these days. So joining SunCult is really glorified-black-t-shirt-salesman-2.0. (laughs) But I’m also a writer and a photographer, so if I had to describe my overall profession, I would just say “artist.”

So SunCult aside, what is coming up for your career-wise?

Randy Blythe: Working on a new Lamb Of God album, working with the amazing Saudade music collective, working on a new book, constantly shooting new photos. Oh, and a little acting.

Do you have a favorite beach?

Dez Fafara: I grew up surfing Doheny in Dana Point, but my home is San Onofre. It will forever be special to me and my family as that’s where the SunCult brand began one cloudy day.

Randy Blythe: When I’m in Cali surfing with Dez, it’s San Onofre. It’s a classic spot, we know some locals, the waves are good, and the vibe is just super-positive there. Back home on the East Coast, I love Rodanthe on the Outer Banks and all of the sea islands that make up the Cape Fear region, both OBX and Cape Fear are in North Carolina. I grew up partially in Cape Fear, all my surf crew is there, and it will always be my home break. Shoutout to Wrightsville Beach, Topsail, Carolina Beach, OKI, Holden Beach, and Ocean Isle!

Finally, any last words for the kids?

Dez Fafara: Stick to your dreams and push yourself to succeed in all you do — always give 110%!

Randy Blythe: First of all, thanks to anyone that has supported Suncult so far — we’re just getting started! Second, don’t be afraid to be yourself. What other people think of you doesn’t really matter at all in the big picture. I know this is harder to remember in this era of social media, where everyone is trying to portray themselves as having some sort of perfect life, and people are so crappy and judgmental. If you don’t “fit in” and people want to judge you, then those people are not worth knowing. Stay true to yourself, to your values. Eventually you will meet people who view life the way you do. That’s the thing we prize the most at SunCult — being ourselves, living our lives the way we
think is fit. Not everyone digs it, but that is not our problem. We just keep on trucking, and so should you. PMA to you all!


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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He is a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.


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