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Ascension Of The Watchers

We all know Burton C. Bell as the charismatic front man of the unique metal act Fear Factory. This month, however, Burton shows a completely different side of him. The music of his new band Ascension Of The Watchers could not be farther removed from that of Fear Factory. On the one hand this is of course extremely exciting, but on the other hand (especially once you have heard the debut record 'Numnosum') it is a bit of a disappointment. All the more because the future of the once so successful Fear Factory turns out to be quite unsure. Below a bit of Q&A with a very businesslike Burton.

By: Richard G. | Archive under industrial / ebm

band imageTo start off of course congratulations on the release of your album 'Numinosum'! Did you experience the release itself also as a moment of numinosum?
The album is not out yet, but finishing it was a great accomplishment for me. There was a point when all the artwork was coming together, that I realized that this was my dream I had back in 2000. This album is a dream come true.

How have the reactions been so far? What about the Fear Factory Fans, as the music of Ascension of the Watchers has absolutely nothing to do with FF?
There has been much positivity. I expect disapproval from certain FF fans. People who do not evolve at all will not understand. There will be fans that do like it. There will always be critics, and I can do nothing about that. We wrote the record that I am proud of, and that I love, and that is most important to me.

The idea to start Ascension Of The Watchers is already a couple of years old and you wrote your first songs back in 2005 already, right? Where did this initial idea to start this personal project come from?
We started writing and recording songs in 2002. Iconoclast was first a demo, then, I released it as a very special artistic release, only released through my website. These songs come from my heart and soul, like all music should.

At first, was it difficult to start thinking creatively outside of the Fear Factory framework? I mean, without having a Fear Factory song in mind as a final result.
I never wrote music for FF. John was a great inspiration to me, and he allowed me to feel comfortable to write the songs with him. It is a truly artistic endeavour.

How much of a 'burden' is your Fear Factory connection in promoting Ascension Of The Watchers'? The name Burton C. Bell alone obviously raises curiosity in a lot of people, but once they hear the AotW stuff it might not turn out to be what they expected from it. Do you fear this scenario?
I am proud of my FF legacy. AoTW is a something new and different, and will not ever be like FF. I am happy that I am doing the unexpected, and that people may be shocked or surprised. That means that I am unpredictable, and will always be. A great artist evolves in life and work, and that is my goal. I am moving into a new phase of my life. I do not fear this, I welcome it.

How big a part of AotW is solo and how big a part is the collaboration with John Bechdel and Edu Mussi? Is AotW basically a band or a project?
This could have never happened without John Bechdel. We are a band.

band imageYou write that lyrically you wanted to explore the true nature of your soul and that for this process you felt in someway related to a certain book from the Dead Sea Scrolls that you read. This might be a bit of a personal question, but as 'Numinosum' seems a very personal record: what have you learnt in the process of creating the songs and lyrics for Ascension Of The Watchers?
The Book Of Enoch was inspirational, however, I have always kept a personal journal. and these are the words from my journal. I have learned much about my spiritual journey writing this album. I feel I still have much to learn, however, I have come to terms with certain aspects in my life, and like art, this was also a therapeutic endeavour.

The lyrics show a whole new spiritual side of Burton C. Bell. I was positively surprised! How different does it feel writing this style of lyrics in comparison to the (usually) more science fiction story/conceptual style for Fear Factory?
It is refreshing to write about something that means a great deal to me. I blame myself for creating a concept for FF, that never seemed to end and frankly, it got old and boring.

The lyrics seem more personal and emotional as well, was it more difficult to write these feelings down and to share these maybe more intimate thoughts with the world?
It was not difficult. It is far easier to write about emotion that I am truly experiencing.

Why did you decide to include a cover of 'The Sound Of Silence' by Simon and Garfunkel? How does it fit the lyrical concept of 'Numinosum'?
I have always loved this song. There is no lyrical concept of 'Numinosum'. All the songs are real; about love and abandonment. I feel that the lyrics are pertinent to today's world, and it is a statement.

You have been playing the material live how did those shows go? How did it feel having to use just your clean voice?
Feels great. All of my favourite vocalists are singers.

What are the differences in preparing and approaching a Fear Factory show in comparison to an AotW performance?
We rehearse like any professional band would.

What kind of people come to your shows? I can imagine that the audience is not just made up of curious Fear Factory fans.
All kinds of people. There are FF fans, and NON FF fans. Mostly people who want to hear something new and special.

What are the plans for 2008? How will you be dividing your time between AotW and Fear Factory?
My plans are to continue with AoTW, and to write and record more music. There are no FF plans.

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