Apr 2016 29

The singularity has come and gone, and Fear Factory is the soundtrack to a brave new world where the lines between man and machine no longer apply. Read on as guitarist Dino Cazares touches on the band’s history during the Demanufacture 20th Anniversary tour!
 
Fear Factory

 

An InterView with Dino Cazares of Fear Factory

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

For over 25 years, Fear Factory has been one of the most dynamic and most original musical entities in existence. Stemming from roots in extreme metal and infusing industrial sound design and technology, topped off with a melodic song-based approach that blends lyrical poignancy with all-out aggression, vocalist Burton C. Bell and guitarist Dino Cazares have fashioned a sound that to this day has spawned numerous imitators and disciples, yet has never been adequately replicated. Put simply, Fear Factory is a band that sounds like no other, and after two-and-a-half decades, that is quite an accomplishment. The 1995 album Demanufacture remains a benchmark in industrial/metal, setting a standard in production and precision that is still unparalleled; so much is this the case that the band embarked on a 20th anniversary tour to perform the album in its entirety, demonstrating both the album’s and the band’s longevity and significance in modern music. During the tour, Cazares was kind enough to speak with ReGen about the thematic connections between that classic album and the band’s latest offering, 2015’s Genexus, touching on the advancement of technology, the singularity, and the evolution of mankind’s military, medical, and sexual paradigms. But just in case those concepts are too cerebral for some to grasp, Cazares also touches on movies like Blade Runner and the Terminator franchise, especially on the mediocre Terminator: Genisys, the band’s rhythm section Mike Heller and Tony Campos, and Fear Factory’s continuing tour and production schedule for 2016 and beyond!

 

Fear Factory has carved a really particular niche for itself since the band’s beginnings, one that nobody else seems to fill, and even after 25 years, it seems like many still don’t seem to understand your modus operandi. How has the band dealt with that over the years?

Cazares: We just keep trying to spread our message and the word about what we are about. It seems like every time we put a record out, we have to explain ourselves; as opposed to most other bands that say, ‘Hey, we have a new record out!’ What’s it about? ‘Oh, you know… whatever.’ But with Fear Factory…

Man and machine.

Cazares: Exactly! There is always a concept, whether it’s political, whether it’s about conspiracy theories, or the evolution of technology or where man is going; we’ve always been about these conceptual things. We’ve always wanted something a little bit more than just music. Plus, Burton is a really good storywriter. He wants to write a story, something that has meaning. I’m not here to talk about a girlfriend who broke up with me and broke my heart… although, we do have one song like that – on our first record, called ‘Leechmaster.’ But after that, we moved on away from that.

Regarding the title, Genexus, there does inherently seem to be more of an emphasis on the genetic factor, or the biological factor, which seems to be overlooked in stories about cyborg technology and the integration of man and machine.

Cazares: There are some people who don’t really know about it, and they don’t really keep up with that kind of stuff, even though those are topics that interest us and that we like to touch on all the time – Stephen Hawking and Ray Kurzweil and other scientists talking about the evolution of man and the process of the singularity. That is becoming more and more imminent, and some people don’t really want to pay attention to it. We just feel that this is what Fear Factory is about; what are we going to sing about next? We sing about the breakdown between man and machine. We sing about man becoming obsolete, which became true. Evolution proves that all things eventually become obsolete, and it’s present in our technology – jobs, magazines, everything…

There’s a reason ReGen never became a print publication.

Cazares: (Laughter) Exactly! For what? I mean, I remember going to the racks of magazines, and now, who’s going to buy it? It’s the same thing with CDs, and it’s always the consideration of what is the next wave of technology going to be, because it’s coming. Things change and that’s evolution and that’s what Fear Factory has been talking about forever.

Are there any new technologies that have sparked your interest or that have really excited you – either musical or just in general?

Cazares: Not necessarily – we feel that the singularity process, when that technology really comes into effect, there will be at least a handful of things that are going to go first. One is military, the next is medical, and the next will be sexual. (Laughter) I mean, we laugh… everybody laughs every time I say ‘sexual,’ but…

Japan has built an android that says ‘I love you.’

Cazares: Yeah, and why? Because we are fucking sexual beings, and we want to destroy each other, and at the same time, we want to save each other. Therefore, the three things that are going to evolve – war, medicine, and sex. I think those are the top three things that we really want to talk about, and that we have talked about in Genexus. Obviously, the singularity is upon us, it’s already happened and man and machine have become one; they’re all kind of like repilcants, just trying to survive in a world where they’re being hunted.

That’s interesting that you mention replicants, because samples and lines from Blade Runner – while overused in industrial music – feature prominently in Genexus, and who better than a band like Fear Factory to still utilize them in a meaningful way?

Cazares: Well, an example is the song ‘Expiration Date.’ Obviously, everything and everybody has an expiration date. Every product that you buy has an expiration date, and so will androids. So, who better to quote than Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner? That’s why it fit so perfectly in that song.

 

 

On this note and on a more pop cultural level, are there any movies that you’ve seen that have interested you and address these concepts in a way that appeals to you?

Cazares: Recently? I like the concept of the new Terminator (Genisys), but I hated the movie! I like the idea and the concepts that were presented, but I just hated the movie. If you haven’t seen it, you’re not going to like it. (Laughter) The acting is bad, and the actors they chose for it are bad, but the concepts in it are really cool. The way they conveyed them, though… I mean, it was one of those things that looked better on paper than it did on film.

I actually recently did an InterView with Brad Fiedel.

Cazares: What did he say about it?

We… didn’t talk about the new movie.

Cazares: (Laughter)

We did discuss technology, particularly how the original Terminator score was produced on analog synthesizers and drum machines and how music technology has evolved.

Cazares: Oh, some people love those old analog synths. I do! They gave you such a gritty tone that fit really well with metal. That’s really one of the main reasons our past albums like Demanufacture, Obsolete, and even Soul of a New Machine and Fear is the Mind Killer were done with analog synthesizers and gear. Analog just has this gritty quality… and it’s similar to the arguments people have about vinyl versus digital, organic versus synthetic, and the analog synths really had this really ‘bad’ quality that worked really well with what we were doing.

That’s interesting because Fear Factory has often been equated with what many have called a ‘cold digital sound,’ and yet knowing Rhys Fulber’s production abilities…

Cazares: Oh, Rhys still creates all of his own sounds on analog equipment. But of course, he still samples it into the computer, and then he can manipulate it from there. It’s just the right merger of the two worlds. That’s another one of the reasons we have gone back to using the organic element on the drums with Genexus. On The Industrialist, some people just didn’t get it, they just didn’t understand it…

I felt it in terms of the playing, but it didn’t sound any different to me.

Cazares: Correct! Our drummer, Mike Heller even said, ‘Why don’t I just go back in and record it on live drums?’ I mean, it’s going to sound the same, save for a few cymbal crashes here or there, but we needed that and as you said, you can feel it.

How has Mike Heller worked out as Fear Factory’s drummer?

Cazares: Oh, awesome! He really is a great drummer, and it’s great working with him!

And you’ve worked with Tony Campos in Asesino and now he’s Fear Factory’s live bassist.

Cazares: Tony is a pro! He’s been in a lot of bands like MINISTRY, PRONG, Soulfly, Static-X… he’s been in a lot of bands, and it just worked out at the right time for us. He was in the process of leaving Soulfly, and Matt DeVries – the previous player – had decided to stay home and stop touring so that he could spend more time with his kids. It just worked out perfectly that Tony was available at that time. Boom! We didn’t have to audition anybody or put anybody through the process. I didn’t really have to teach him anything because he’s a pro; he already knew pretty much how to play everything.

You mentioned Tony’s association with MINISTRY, and I recall speaking with Sin Quirin about how playing in MINISTRY required more precision and tightness than playing in RevCo, which had by nature a looser feel. Is it fair to say that it’s a similar dynamic for you and Tony with Asesino being more straightforward metal and having a looser feel than Fear Factory’s mechanical precision?

Cazares: Oh yeah, Asesino is definitely looser, and we did that on purpose. We play badly on purpose. (Laughter)

Keeping up with Fear Factory’s precision, the band has been around for over 25 years, and you’re touring now for Demanufacture‘s 20th anniversary, what kind of physical regiment do you go through to keep up with it?

Cazares: Well, have you ever heard the phrase, ‘it gets better with age’? There you go! (Laughter) I think that when we were young and we were not using click tracks onstage and just going natural, it was all over the place! The songs, the music, the tempos – I go back and listen to the old recordings, my old recordings, and I just think, ‘Oh my god! This sounds horrible! What were we doing? What were we thinking back then?’ When I listen to us doing Demanufacture now, it’s tight! It sounds like the record! We’ve got everything on click track, we have all of the samples on the computer, we’ve got the computer doing the light show, and we’ve got the computer pretty much running the entire show. These are the exact tempos of the original record, the exact samples, and I think it sounds better now than it did back then. As far as a physical regiment, I used to be able to go onstage and just play it without a problem. Now, I’ve got to warm up and it takes a good half hour to get warmed up properly for a show like that. You’ve got to do your stretches, and especially for a guy my size and the way I move onstage and the way I play, you have to stretch your neck, your back, your fingers, your arms… it’s very important.

As far as the simplicity of the live show, and I’ve spoken with Burton about this before, Fear Factory hasn’t had a lot of visuals beyond the band being onstage…

Cazares: I wish we had the money for it! It’s coming out of the budget – we have 15 dudes on one bus, man! We have two bands on one bus, and you saw that when we were on tour with Shadows Fall. It’s a similar thing now. It always comes down to money. But we totally want to, man. We want to have projections. We want a movie playing… hell, we’d want Blade Runner playing in the background, from beginning to end.

Some bands do that, recording their own soundtracks to movies they enjoy. Is that something Fear Factory might be interested in doing?

Cazares: Oh, of course! Totally! We’d love to take the futuristic war sequences from Terminator: Salvation, or any of the Terminator movies, because you could take any of those, or similar images from a bunch of other movies, and splice in Fear Factory’s music, and it’d fit. Actually, when we had the listening party for Genexus, we had Blade Runner playing while people were listening to Genexus, and people were telling us it totally fit!

Regarding Demanufacture, whether in terms of the lyrics or the music or the production, is there anything if you had the opportunity that you would change?

Cazares: I’ve heard a couple of little mistakes, but those are just the nuances that made it what it is. It used to bother me way back, but I’ve learned just to live with it. It is what it is and sometimes it’s better not to change it. For instance, Megadeth remixed one of the past albums, and some people said that it was totally ruined! I know that a lot of people remaster stuff, and that’s cool – we remastered Demanufacture, but all that involved was adding a little more of the low end just to give it a little more body.

That’s interesting because listening to Demanufacture back-to-back with Genexus

Cazares: There are similarities, right! And that’s true of the production, and that’s one of the reasons we worked with Andy Sneap. Obviously, he really knows guitars and drums very well, and that was one of the things that… I don’t want to use the wrong word, but it was something that seemed to be getting a little stale having worked with Greg Reely on so many records. We just said, ‘Okay, we’re going to try something different.’ So when we went to Andy, we just had a few phone calls and then he just dived in, and we said, ‘Hey man, if you have a problem, just listen to Demanufacture.’ (Laughter)

What’s next in the pipeline for Fear Factory?

Cazares: What’s next is obviously more touring – right after this tour, we’re going to Australia and then to South Africa. We’re then going to go to South America, and then Europe, and hopefully another tour of the U.S. So, we’ll see. Next year, obviously we’ll be working on a new record, and then perhaps an Obsolete tour – something similar to what we’ve done with this Demanufacture tour.

Is there anything you want to say to close out?

Cazares: I want to say thank you for being you and understanding what we’re about and helping your readers to understand what we’re about! I also want to say thank you to everybody who has supported us over the years, over the past 25 years that Burton and I have been together. Oh, we’re also going to be doing an appearance at Comic-Palooza in Houston, and it’s really cool because it’s going to feature a panel of the original cast of Aliens, and we’re going to be sitting on panels with them. That will be from June 17-19, so that’s Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Burton will be signing copies of his comic book The Industrialist. It’s going to be a very busy year for us, which is great! We couldn’t ask for anything more!

 

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Photography by Tabetha Patton (MizTabby)

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