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Fear Factory

That the 'new' Fear Factory with its special composition, think of the reconciliation of Bell and Cazares and hence the return of the latter and the arrival of Gene Hoglan, will make loads of people curious, should not be a surprise at all. With the arrival of the new, impressive, album 'Mechanize' an interview with the band should not be missing. Late December 2009, just before Christmas, I spoke with singer Burton C. Bell, including the musical and lyrical content of the new album as well as about the legal dispute(s) over the rights to the group's name.

By: Patrick | Archive under industrial / ebm

band imageOh my, Burton… what a hammer of an album have you guys created…
Well, thank you very much! I am very proud of the result and we have worked really hard on it. We created a lot of energy throughout the whole process. And it was real fun.

And it shows, as the machine seems to be back… and in full overdrive!
Ha-ha! Well, the machine is back. I think it has the sound and tradition of the old Fear Factory without repeating itself. I am fine with people comparing it with 'Soul Of A New Machine, 'Demanufacture' and 'Obsolete', those are all great records in itself, and our new one has a likewise sound but I feel 'Mechanize' will stand out on its own. That definitely has to do with having Gene Hoglan on drums. He is one of the best drummers in modern metal today. He is consistent, he is technical but he also has certain flair to his style that has never been in Fear Factory's rhythm section before. And Dino's guitar playing… he has developed his style over 20 years of guitar playing and he really shines out on this album. He got even more confident about his playing and is defining about the style. Somehow, I think there is a sense of maturity to this album that… well, just took 20 years to get.

You can imagine people will be, especially with Dino's return and the arrival of Gene Hoglan, curious after the sound…
I hope the fans realise that this is without a doubt a Fear Factory album. It is metallic, it is strong, mature but it is also focused in the sense that it has a purpose. Every song has a purpose, every song has its direction and every song has its own definitive sound.

I especially asked for I think it is safe to say that 'Transgression' could be described as a more experimental and somewhat atypical Fear Factory album. With that in mind, where does 'Mechanize' stand in your catalogue?
Just look at the title of that album itself: 'Transgression'. It is a transgression of the Fear Factory sound. We tried to do something else with a different sound. Christian (Olde Wolbers) was trying to bring his guitar playing style into the foreground and that wasn't really the Fear Factory sound. Where on 'Archetype', Christian was copying the Fear Factory sound that was created by Dino from the beginning. Again; the title tells it all. The titles of those two albums really stated what they were. And 'Mechanize'… well, Dino and I are the founding members of Fear Factory. And Dino's guitar playing stated and institutionalised the Fear Factory sound. His riffs, the way he wrote the music, for the drums to follow the riffs, that is the sound that he created for Fear Factory. And this is the return to the sound that really is Fear Factory. But, like I said, it really has a certain maturity which makes it stand from the other albums.

The 'man vs. machine' theme seems to be an important lyrical theme for Fear Factory, with this album ('Mechanize', 'Industrial Discipline', 'Designing The Enemy') being no exception. Where is the love for this theme coming from?
I was reading a couple of books of which one was 'The Third Wave', which is a psychological account of the history of society: from agriculture to industrial to the new, information society we now live. It is non-fiction and not science-fiction; it opened my eyes even more for the world around me. And even though the book was written in 1980; what he was writing about, is happening now. So when it came to the lyrics I did not mean to create a science-fiction, apocalyptic world where men is battling the machine as we are having that right now. I see it around me and I see it around everyone. This is the true sound of where we are in the world today and I feel this is the soundtrack of today's world. Another book I read was 'The God Delusion' which definitely opened my mind to a lot of things. Well… hmm…you could say the world is a strange place. It is a very frightening place and if you see how the institutions of government and religion lie to us. If you can open your eyes and see the truth behind the lie and see what they actually are, you can see the fear campaign in everything and in everyone.

But with that fear campaign and all those people living a lie in mind, you are a parent as well: you have three kids. Is it something which is to be found back in the music and/or the lyrics?
Being a parent has helped me grow as a person. They say 'having children changes you'. And I believe it does and it is not a bad change. It made me more aware of the world around me. I do think about the world that my children grow up in. I try not to worry about it because worrying about the future is pointless. The future is going to happen no matter what we are trying to do. All I can do as a parent is teach my children a good way to live, to be a good person and to be the best that they can be in a world that is going to be a very hard place to live in. So now I am a parent I am also a teacher as well. If I can put that type of learning into my lyrics, I feel I can not only help my children but I feel I can help other people as well; just to open their eyes, to see the world how it is.

You want to make people aware and have them come into action…
Well, there is always a cause to our action, there is always an effect. No matter what you do, there is going to be a certain effect. Even not responding causes an effect…

You are working on or have already recorded a video for 'Fear Campaign'... many people had expected 'Powershifter' to be the one doing the video for. What is it that made you go for 'Fear Campaign'?
We did not want to do 'Powershifter' because by the time the video comes out the song will be old and we want to show a new song from the album. 'Powershifter' is a very good song with a classic Fear Factory sound and we used that song to introduce ourselves again; almost like saying “Hey, here is the old Fear factory again”. But the rest of the album is a bit more adventurous in each song. It is more than just the basic Fear Factory sound. I feel it takes it even further and I feel that 'Fear Campaign' is an ambitious song. It sounds like Fear Factory, but a Fear Factory in the twenty-first century. And lyrically it is a perfect song for a video. We try to make it the most ambitious Fear Factory video ever. The idea is to intimidate the viewer. And it is going to be very recognisable. Here in the States we just went through a presidential campaign for the past two years and we went through a terror campaign for the past eight years… this is a combination of all that, this is our 'Fear Campaign'. This is what Americans, this is what the world have been exposed to for several years now. This is the result and this is what we are going to show you and it is all going to be there in three minutes or less.

You're making me curious. When can we expect the video?
We just (December 2009) finished shooting it and the editors are working on it now. It should be done by mid January and I think it is going to air the first week of February or the last week of January; just before the album is dropped.

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The album will be released through Candlelight Records (US) and AFM Records (Europe). What made you decide to go for these labels for I assume they were not the only ones being interested in signing Fear Factory?
True, they were not the only labels. I have been in this industry for over 20 years now and Fear Factory, before we signed a contract, we were an independent agent. And one of the things I have learned over the years is that I should sign a contract that I want and I should not sign one I don't want. And I was able to do that… I had in mind what type of contract I wanted to sign and these are the labels that stepped up to the plate, so to say, and were able to give me that contract. And they are good labels and do very well on their promotion and part of our contract is that we wanted to make sure that they do that. They are behind Fear Factory for a 100 percent, they promised us to be their priority.

For how many albums did you sign a deal? Is it just for one album and did you decide to see from there where it goes…
I did not want to sign a long term deal, just a one record deal. If the cooperation with the record companies works well, if they prove themselves… maybe we can do another one. It gives both parties an opportunity to see how things will work out.

With all the legal dispute(s) over the rights to the group's name involving Christian (Olde Wolbers) and Raymond (Herrera) on one side and Dino (Cazares) and you on the other, you must be feeling real strong to put out the new album under the name Fear Factory…
People are not to worry about the name Fear Factory: we will put out a new record, we already toured Brazil as a band and we are going to tour Australia and Europe… Fear Factory is moving forward. And Dino and I are the founding members of Fear Factory and we have every right to use that name; and that is all there is to know.

So the lawsuit has nothing to do with the name but it probably more about royalties or something like that?
No, it is about thought control. To tell you the truth, we even had the opportunity to work things out but I never heard from Christian. What it all comes down to is this: they decided to keep a poor management - Christy Priske (Christian's wife) – and they decided to keep her over me. So I decided to move on, without them. I made a choice to move forward and they had their cause and this is their effect.

Thumbs up. It must have been a hard decision but I like it when people take their responsibility and make decisions to take their future in their hands…
Thank you very much! I think one has to stand for its problems and with that said: this new one for sure is a Fear Factory album. There is no question about that. I challenge anyone to say otherwise.

Well, Christian and Raymond probably will state that the Arkaea album sounds like Fear Factory. Did they not say that about 50 percent of the Arkaea album was to be on the new Fear Factory album?
The fact that they are saying that the Arkaea one is close to the Fear Factory sound, well…. Ha-ha. Sorry, but all I can do is laugh about it. From what I heard it sounds somewhat like 'Transgression' and that certainly is Christian's guitar style. But the Fear factory sound is created by Dino. His guitar playing is so recognisable, there can be no mistake at all.

That is so true. With that in mind… does the return of Dino in the band mean that you will only play songs live which were recorded with Dino or do you feel such a thing is not possible within Fear Factory?
Dino and I have discussed that and Dino does not want to play songs he did not write. And I respect that and I understand it. So we will be playing live from the albums he was on. We're sorry for the fans who would like to hear anything from 'Archetype' or 'Transgression' but that is not going to happen. Fear Factory has a lot of songs to play and we have many to choose from. We will be playing songs from the new album, but also from 'Soul Of…', 'Demanufacture', 'Obsolete' and 'Digimortal' as well, which will make a total of 90 minutes of great music.

You are active in three bands (Ascension Of The Watchers, City Of Fire and Fear Factory). Could you say having several bands is a necessity in the current music industry as it gives you a broad base to support oneself as well as it offers the possibility to have an outlet for your creativity?
For me it is necessary and it is necessary into this world, especially in the music industry. You yourself probably don't write for just one magazine or you may have another job as well…

True.
It is more or less the same for me. I have several bands so I am capable of keeping myself standing, so to speak. And I am able to explore different anatomies of music with each band. With Ascension I have a more intimate, personal side and it is more melodic as well. With City if Fire it is more straight-up, groovy music and lyrically it is both more loose as well as personal. And Fear Factory is more aggressive, angry and a more social content on the lyrics. So it gives me three avenues to go on. In the past I tried to put some elements of all these in Fear Factory which probably should not have been there. But now I have three different, creative outlets for myself. I am juts not about one style of music. I am very thankful for my three bands as I am able to survive, to keep myself and my career alive. But well, I am nothing compared to a certain Gene Hoglan. Ha-ha. He plays in so many bands…he is a busy man!

Special people and their special skills are sought for and very popular…
Right! And he definitely is a great man and I am glad he is working with us and wants to spread the word of Fear Factory with us.

And that probably goes the same around as well with Gene being content to work with you, Dino and Byron as you all are really gifted musicians making the new line-up all most like 'the Dream team' of metal…
To be honest, this is a dream line-up. We just toured South America, the fans are excited, the band is sounding great and as we get to Europe the band will be even sounding better. The band seriously is a strong band right now: the power and intensity is enormous. What you hear on the record, is what you will hear live!

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