Jul 2021 07

An era ends, and a new one begins as Fear Factory’s sole founding member Dino Cazares carries the mantle of cybermetal forward with the band’s tenth album and encouraging fans to embrace change and not give in to fear.
 

 

An InterView with Dino Cazares of Fear Factory

By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

Over the course of 30 years, Fear Factory has become one of the most singular entities in modern music, effectively redefining the parameters of industrial/metal and carving out a niche of its own that seems virtually untouchable. Since the 2016 release of Genexus, the band had been in something of a holding pattern due to a number of well publicized legal issues instigated by past members; all the while, the core duo of Dino Cazares and Burton C. Bell had been formulating a new album. Circumstances began to unravel in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to all aspects of our daily lives, with bands and artists forced to cancel or postpone touring, and the resultant isolation of social distancing giving many an impetus to focus on studio and production work. As well, the legal battles apparently left an indelibly scarring effect on the partnership between Cazares and Bell, with the latter announcing his departure from Fear Factory to focus on Ascension of the Watchers and other future projects, leaving Cazares to carry the cybermetal torch. With longtime associates like Damien Rainaud in the producer’s seat, Andy Sneap mixing and mastering, honorary band member Rhys Fulber, and keyboardists like Giuseppe Bassi, Igor Khoroshev, Max Karon, Alex Rise, and Clément Bernard, Aggression Continuum finally took shape to become the group’s tenth studio album and the final Fear Factory album fronted by Bell’s inimitable blend of deathly roars and soaring melodies – the album signals both an end and a beginning, with Cazares in this InterView with ReGen Magazine expressing great enthusiasm for a productive and powerful future yet to come for Fear Factory, encouraging fans not to fear, but to embrace the change.

 

Fear Factory’s ongoing themes of the interdependency of man and machine, along with its longstanding ramifications of corporatism, industrialization, the mechanization of the natural world, etc., don’t seem to age, which has helped the band stay relevant in an age where such things are often brought into question, especially for a band that’s lasted as long as Fear Factory. With that in mind, and considering that Aggression Continuum was written and recorded some years ago before its ultimate release, were there any aspects of the album – lyrically or musically – that your perception had changed since the recording was completed?

Cazares: I have had four years to think about that, because sometimes, you create a record and you put it out, and then a few months later, you’re like, ‘Wow, I could have changed that’ or ‘if it did this or that.’ I already went through that with this record, which is great. Because you’re right, it was created and done in 2017. There’s a version that Burton likes to call that version Monolith. I technically never knew it was going to be called that, and it was a kind of weird situation that we were going through – I was in a legal battle with the ex–members, so I was not even really focused on all the other aspects of the record, the artwork, the album title, and all that stuff. And so, he pretty much took that took the helm and called it Monolith. But you know, three–and–a–half years later, the legal proceedings obviously turned out not exactly so great for me as well, so I was left standing alone, I had the rights trademark, so I went back to the record company and said, ‘Hey, look, you know, this record have been sitting there for three–and–a–half years. I need to hyper–charge it! I need to add some stuff that I want to add there.’ And the record company was like, ‘Yeah, go for it, but we just aren’t going to finance you anymore, because you’ve already exceeded all your finances.’ Because, you know, when you go through a lawsuit for four years or five years, it costs a lot of money. It forced me into bankruptcy. And I know Burton was as well, and these are two separate situations – I mean, the same situation, but separate bankruptcies. So, that was definitely really tough. So, the labels like, ‘Look, you can do it, but we just can’t give you any more money.’ So, I reached out to the fans, I said, ‘Hey look, I’m going to start this GoFundMe campaign,’ which is what I did to get the extra finances to go back and to add things I wanted to add. One of the first things I wanted to do was put in live drums because the previous version was all programmed drums. The 2017 Monolith version had programmed drums. And I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m going to go with that again.” We did that on The Industrialist, and a lot of people didn’t like that. The record sales flopped because people were just not into it. I don’t know why. Because, you know, you would think that Fear Factory will be able to use those kinds of elements to record, but our fans just weren’t having it.

I’ve forever been disappointed by that, because that is one of my favorite records by Fear Factory. Obviously, there’s a difference between live drums and programmed drums, but the programming was so good to my ears. I couldn’t really hear the difference, and I’d never heard people complaining about Type O Negative’s records, because a lot of people don’t know that those were programmed drums.

Cazares: Yeah, that’s the thing. We were honest, and we told people, and that’s what happened. I mean, 99.9% of bands don’t say anything. We were actually being honest and said, ‘Look, we don’t have a drummer. We just dropped programs.’ People just freaked out. Still anyways, I didn’t want to tread down that path again, so I was like, ‘Okay, let’s put live drums on the record.’ We went to the studio to record live drums and I was like, ‘Okay, I need to get my team back that worked with me on Genexus.’ So, there was Damien Rainaud, who has been an engineer for Fear Factory for a long time; he was the one who helped us program a lot of those drums on The Industrialist, but I put him in the producer seat this time. He was able to put a lot of stuff together. When we put the live drums in there, I was like, ‘Wow, these drums sounds good, but I need to beef up my tone a little bit.’ So, we went back and re–amped the guitar tone, we made it more aggressive, thicker to be just an overall a bigger sounding record. We also worked a lot on Burton’s vocals; we made them sound like a million bucks. Then it was like, ‘You know what? Now, there are some keyboards missing.’ So, we reached out to a few different people – there was Igor Khoroshev, a guy named Max Karon, and Giuseppe Bassi. I think it also added to the dynamics of the record, because everybody had a different perspective, what’s going to be heard in a song or just in certain parts. Everybody was bringing something a little bit different, and I think that also made the tracks stand out different. There’s another guy who does keep failing to get mentioned, named Alex Rise, and he’s from a band called Tyrant of Death. He did the whole outro for the record. Yeah, I reached out to other artists that I love and have worked with a little bit in the past on different stuff, people that I really respected, and so I wanted to get them on this record in one way or another. I think it’s amazing to get different guys to collaborate with; I enjoy that, and I definitely want to do that again in the future and just collaborate with different people on different songs.

I was, in fact, going to ask about the numerous keyboardists you worked with on this album and what their contributions were to Fear Factory’s sound. You’ve mentioned the fifth Beatle Rhys Fulber, and of course, we know his work from Front Line Assembly. And I know of Igor’s tenure with Yes.

Cazares: First of all, Igor is a prodigy, right? He’s one of those guys who is born with it, you know, and he’s out there. I mean, he’s definitely a character. And luckily, our characters jelled. He’s a very fun guy to be around. He’s just mega talented. So, there were a lot of elements that he brought in that we’ve never had before, but for some reason, they fucking worked. Bells! Oh, he would add those. He would add those to accent Burton’s vocals just to give a little chime when it came to clean vocals. He brought those bells in on one song in particular, which is ‘Fuel Injected Suicide Machine,’ and it’s really cool because it created a more a more extreme contrast between the heavy and the cleans – some people were like, ‘I’m not sure about how I feel, but these vocals are very uplifting and happy.’

I was going to bring that up actually, that upon my fifth or sixth listen, I felt that this album has some really – dare I say – catchy melodies. Of course, that’s never really been absent from Fear Factory, but they just felt especially pronounced on this record.

Cazares: That’s because of Igor adding certain elements, like those little bells. Also, we’ve never had a distorted flute before, but now we do thanks to fucking Igor. We have the flute going in the in the mid–section of ‘Fuel Injected Suicide Machine.’ It’s a pretty intense track, and then he gets to the midsection where he adds the flute… well, it’s all on keyboard, but with the flute sample that’s distorted. Igor, for some reason, when he was listening to our record, he wanted to add a lot of distorted parts. Everything he did was almost distorted. I was like, ‘Fuck, I love it!’ It worked out great. We had flutes, we had horns. He brought a lot of horns.

Like on the outro to ‘Aggression Continuum,’ which sounds very big and almost orchestral.

Cazares: Yes, exactly. And then he did this one little line in ‘Collapse.’ It just made it sound massive. And then, Giuseppe Bassi is kind of more modern, and he actually added some guitar cuts on the riff to ‘Monolith,’ but that’s okay – those are actually one of his ideas. The sound amazing, and they added the kind of more modern feeling keyboards on that song. And then, of course, you got Rhys bringing all the clings and clangs and those original industrial sounds; I mean, just this intense library of stuff that he’s collected over the years, and you put all those together, and you got a fucking crazy record like this. To me, the magic happened later on because it was 2020 when I actually got the rights to the trademark and all that stuff, and Burton had already quit. So, it was really in 2020 when the magic really happened – everything that all these guys added, you know, the production of it, the whole mix of it, everything just got elevated as high as you can go. When I started to hear the mixes, I was like, ‘Fuck, this is really coming out really good!’ People have asked me what would or what does the other version sound like, and here’s where I go, ‘That one expired, that’s dead and gone.’ Now, this is this is what people need to hear. That old one’s the demo.

 

 

We’d also spoken previously about Genexus and Demanufacture, with you particularly mentioning how you’d say to Andy Sneap, ‘if you have a problem, just listen to Demanufacture.’

Cazares: Yeah, if there’s any reference that you need, that record is going to be right.

Now, on that note… I was going to ask this question later, but I’ll ask it now. You’ve just said that the album really came together in 2020 with the mix and the full production. With all the changes that have happened in the years since Genexus – divorce, pandemic, the lineup changing, etc. – and with a new era beginning (hopefully) for the band with the current lineup – FF’s sound, while evolving and with its own variations, has been readily identifiable. Is there perhaps an imperative for the changes in FF to be perhaps less drastic over time, to stick to the signatures?

Cazares: I think one of the beauties of Fear Factory is that we’ve really solidified our sound, and we’ve really made our formula work.

Absolutely, and that’s been really influential in metal and music in general.

Cazares: So, we’ve already come up with our formula. Now, it’s just really about writing new songs, but at the same time, I do want to bring another note. Like I was telling you earlier, I want to collaborate with other keyboard players, and I don’t know, maybe other musicians too, and to see where that goes. Because I’m all about making a great record, a creative record, and I still do try to inspire people, and I feel like this record definitely did. It definitely is inspiring people to pick up an instrument or just the style of music. But yeah, I definitely do want to keep evolving.

You certainly have with each record in some way or another.

Cazares: But this one in particular, this one is… you know, when I wanted to redo some stuff, it was just really getting on the phone, calling people… I got this opportunity now to work with some other people, and I think that’s what helped a lot to help us evolve – working with other musicians, and being inspired by other musicians, mainly keyboard players, that’s exactly what I want to keep doing. I love Rhys Fulber. We’ve made a lot of records together – every record that I’ve been on, Rhys has been on as well, and he’s also produced a lot of records for us. But I think that it will be cool to also bring in other people; that’s what I want to do again in the future. Obviously, we’re going to be getting a new singer, and that’s going to be different as well. I’m really excited about that, just to take Fear Factory to another chapter and another era. I’m not going to say that this era or this version of Fear Factory is dead, because we have a very extensive catalog of songs, all of these weapons in our armory – collaborations, sounds, tones, productions, all the above, and it’s just really about bringing new elements into your sound. I don’t want to go too far. Because sometimes, if you go too far, you might lose somebody and you might lose fans. I don’t want to do that; I would like to stick to the formula that we have, which is bringing new elements, new melodies, new patterns, new sounds.

This is kind of the elephant in the room, but the big question that people keep asking regarding the future of Fear Factory is a new vocalist, along with touring, and I’ve seen on Twitter the numerous suggestions people have made. Obviously, you don’t want a clone of Burton, but you also want someone who can perform those songs and also bring in their own style, hopefully. That’s a very fine line to balance, so what are the qualities that you are particularly keen on with regards to a vocalist?

Cazares: You know, I’ve been thinking about that. Because like, you look at other bands that brought in different vocalists, right? For instance, Black Sabbath – you know, Ozzy and Dio are two different singers, night and day, but it worked for them. Because those Dio records were amazing. And then you look at Journey, and they went with a guy who sounded exactly, exactly like Steve Perry. And sometimes, you got to look at it as that’s what people want to hear; they want to hear those old songs, sounding like Steve Perry. But I’m kind of somewhere in between – I need a guy, like you said, who is going to be able to sing all those songs that we’ve created in the past, but also bring something new into the future of Fear Factory. I believe that that’s where our new singer can have their own identity is moving forward, but when we go tread the path, he’s going to have to be able to carry those songs as well, if not better, than Burton.
You know, Burt’s departure caused a lot of controversy, a lot of drama, but I’ve been trying to answer everybody’s questions, all the fans, all the journalists, and not sitting here talking any crap about anybody. I am just preparing everybody for change. I have to prepare them for change. And doing these interviews with you, and whoever else I speak to, I want to get them mentally prepared for it, because this is going to be a big change. You know, for some people, it’s everything. I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Oh, well, you know, Fear Factory without Burt out there, forget it!’

You know, I’ve never understood that. On the one hand, I get it, because let’s use Judas Priest’s Jugulator as an example. Of course, they found a singer in Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens who could sing somewhat like Rob Halford, but had his own style, but regardless of his qualities as a singer, the lyrics definitely seemed to change, and perhaps not for the better.

Cazares: You’re not wrong. But you know, Rob says that in his book when he was doing it.

But at the same time, being in the industrial scene, we are somewhat used to changes like that. KMFDM had different singers all the time. So, I’ve never seen what the problem is. If you can find people that can bring something interesting to the band and the sound… I don’t know, but it I guess it’s different for the metal scene, and not to sound disparaging, but they can get very precious about certain things.

Cazares: Correct! I mean, I completely understand that it’s a loss to them; it’s a loss it’s like somebody died, but you’ve got to coddle them, and you’ve got to kind of lead them to the water, lead them in a new direction. That’s exactly what I’ve tried to do, I tell people, ‘Look, I understand, but you know, I have no choice.’ Plus, he’s had a lot of struggles live, and that’s no secret. It’s not easy singing this type of what he created, and it is not easy to do when you start reaching your 50s. It’s hard. So, I am here to to try to lessen the blow and tell them all I understand, but this is inevitable that things are going to change, and don’t worry. At the end of the record, my friend Alex Rise did the whole outro and it’s the Litany of Fear, the ‘Fear is the Mind Killer’ speech from DUNE – that’s basically saying to not fear the future, telling the people listening to the record, ‘Don’t fear what’s coming, because it’s going to be just as amazing, if not better.’

It was also a callback to your Fear is the Mind Killer remix EP way back in the band’s history. That’s an almost perfect way to say, ‘Okay, that’s the end of Burton’s tenure in this band. Now, we move forward.’ And the philosophy is still there.

Cazares: Yeah, one of the best things that ever happened to us was Rhys Fulber on Fear is the Mind Killer, because when we first started out, we were very much influenced by Godflesh and a lot of the early industrial, even Throbbing Gristle. But at the same time, we were influenced by some death metal and things like that, as well as techno, and we were trying to create these types of sounds with just basic instruments. When I met Rhys back in ’92, we had this conversation, and I’m like, ‘Look, man, I need you to help me make remixes.’ I flew out to Canada, got to spend time with Bill Leeb and Rhys, and just talking about this stuff with them was really cool. If you noticed, after they finished Fear is the Mind Killer, they went and did Millennium, which is a lot more guitar-driven – I think the only record they would put out with that much guitar, isn’t it?

Well, Hard Wired also, because both of those records had Devin Townsend playing guitars, but Millennium was definitely a lot heavier metal than the next one. But yeah, you’re right.

Cazares: And Millennium was actually with their big record. Anyway, so Rhys helped me create that, and we thought, ‘That works. Let’s go make Demanufacture right away.’ And we specifically wrote the record with keyboards in mind and Rhys just fucking made that thing sound like a million bucks with all the stuff he added to it. And when it was done, Rhys and I were looking at each other, and we’re like, ‘Fuck, you know, we made a fucking masterpiece here! We are changing. We are changing metal. We are changing how people listen to production.’ I was in the studio with these two guys, Rhys and Greg Reely, and just seeing them work, I never left. I want to go take a piss in a bucket because I didn’t want to leave, because I was just learning a lot. Rhys was adding keyboards all the way to the end of the record; we were in the mixing stage, and he was still adding stuff, like, ‘Oh man, I hear this now.’ I think it also really influenced Rhys too, and we were just both bouncing ideas off each other. I have like hours of video of us making the record in the in the mixing stages and still adding stuff, and you could see all those creative things that we were doing. If anybody wants to see it, they can go to my Patreon page, three parts to it – there are like six songs that you could see us adding stuff to, it’s really cool.
But yeah, we created our formula then, and that’s what we’ve stuck with, and we’ve done different things throughout each record. When we went to Obsolete, Rhys and I were like, ‘Okay, we made this cold, calculated fucking masterpiece called Demanufacture, so let’s take it somewhere different.’ And this is what we were doing adding more natural samples, sampling our own kick drums, snares, toms, and we’re using these natural sounding types of instruments. I was even bringing in some sitar on Obsolete, and there are all these different types of stuff that we did. One of the main things about the click track is that on Demanufacture, everything, like every song was like one tempo. Whereas on Obsolete, we created a natural tempo map, so it would go up and down and sound more natural. We were trying to do a more organic record. I felt that we did take it to the next level, but a different level. Everybody was kind of expecting ‘Demanufacture Part Two,’ but we kind of wanted to go with where the climate of the music was at that time.

 

 

We now live in a society of drone warfare, we have police drones, people do music videos with drones. And it’s very striking that in the videos for ‘Disruptor‘ and ‘Recode,’ both of which were created by Riivata. the drones not only bear a resemblance to the aerial HKs from The Terminator, but they also feel like an evolution of the Securitron from Obsolete. This does seem to tie into how sci–fi not only predicts ‘advances’ in tech, but also informs them in a very circuitous manner. As well, we live in a world dominated by social media, and you’ve maintained a very strong presence on Twitter, speaking directly with fans and addressing their questions and concerns directly, and social media is very much a part of the sorts of technological themes Fear Factory has approached.
Looking at the modern world and the way we communicate and create, in what ways do you feel we’ve missed the mark – any particular predictions that we got completely wrong or that you feel should’ve happened by now, that sort of thing?

Cazares: Obviously, there are a lot of pros and cons to everything. With social media… you know, at first, we were like, ‘Wow, we could talk to each other around the world. It’s fucking amazing,’ right? And all of a sudden, it starts to become politicized, and there were a few years there where we were 100% divided with each other. Everybody was fighting, it was just pure hatred on the fucking internet – families destroyed, friends destroyed, relationships, everything. There are always pros and cons to all that, and it all depends on who’s using it and how they use it. What makes it good or bad?
Obviously, I believe that we as Americans… hell, humans have allowed government takeovers, the Securitron, we’ve allowed it. Everybody who has a handheld device is being followed as the algorithms just pick up everything that we do. That’s basically the new version of Big Brother. It’s like we’re being watched and followed. But we’ve allowed it, we’ve allowed it as humans, and that’s just how it is. You know, Boston Dynamics are getting closer and closer and closer to making essentially a robot that’s going to be able to fucking think for itself and make its own decisions; that’s where they really pretty much have it, but they just haven’t really introduced it. I really like nanotechnology in the medical sense because we’re going to be able to create cells, these little fucking electronic cells are going to be able to be put in your body and you’re going to be able to attack certain diseases like cancer and other things like that. That’s the stuff I really like, but I think that, you know, whenever there’s going to be an automaton that’s going to be used is either going to be military or for sex.

Well, we did talk about that in 2016. The Japanese had already made the robot that said, ‘I love you.’

Cazares: Well, I hope that I’m alive to see all that stuff.

You and I have spoken before about movies, specifically the Terminator series and Blade Runner, and Aggression Continuum makes direct use of samples and lines from Terminator: Salvation (‘You are the resistance’), DUNE (‘The Litany Against Fear’), Mad Max (‘Fuel Injected Suicide Machine’)…

Cazares: Wait, you’re missing one. Aggression Continuum is from the intro to a movie called Monsters of Man. I don’t know if you ever seen it. It’s a great movie, so check it out. It’s kind of like a low budget movie, but it’s amazing. It’s really good. They did really well. It’s basically this automaton actually thinks it’s human, and these military guys are basically testing these droids out – they throw them into this, like, Taiwanese camp or somewhere in the Philippines or something like that, and these robots are just fucking obliterating and killing all these people in these villages. There’s actually one guy who’s an ex–Navy Seal, who figures out what’s going on and fucking figures out how to destroy these droids. There’s one in particular scene where the military guy’s saying, ‘Hey, you’re just a robot,’ because the robot thought it was human. ‘What are you talking about?’ ‘You were made to afflict death. I’m a man, and you’re a machine.’ And then the song starts, because these robots were pretty much programmed to think that they’re human, and they’ve implanted certain memories in these robots like, you know, memories of childhood.

Like the replicants in Blade Runner.

Cazares: Yeah, correct. Exactly. And that’s where the song recoat comes from. It’s all about that, and then a similar theme kind of goes through the whole record, like the song ‘Purity’ is basically kind of like an automaton crying out, saying, ‘No, I’m human!’ You know? It doesn’t know any better.

That song is one of my favorites on the album, next to ‘Monolith.’ I love those two songs.

Cazares: It’s funny that you say that because Rhys did ‘Purity,’ and then the guy from Italy, Giuseppe Bassi did ‘Monolith.’

With ‘End of Line,’ are you specifically citing Tron? Or was it just a random term? Because whenever I hear ‘end of line,’ that’s the Master Control Program from Tron.

Cazares: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is.

Well, you just recommended Monsters of Man, and just as I asked in 2016, are there any other movies you’ve seen more recently that have interested you and address these concepts in a way that appeals to you?

Cazares: Oh yeah, there’s another one called Upgrade. You’ve got to see that one. This iOS device is implanted in this guy’s head, and it takes over; it can take over his body. It’s really, really good. You got to see that one, and Monsters of Man. Also, I Am Mother. Have you seen that one?

That is actually already on my list of new movies to watch.

Cazares: Those three movies, go check them out. Also, there’s another movie reference in the song ‘Collapse.’ The intro is from First Blood, the one with Sylvester Stallone.

What about video games? Fear Factory had a long history of being feature in such games as Test Drive 5 and 6, Carmageddon, The Terminator: Dawn of Fate, Demolition Racer (lots of racing and car games, funnily enough). Do you keep up with the gaming world?

Cazares: Not anymore, not like I used to. We haven’t been asked to do any games in a long time. I know that Cyberpunk 2077 had Rhys Fulber and a few other guys on it, but I don’t really know of too many video games having artists featured on them like they used to.

I was going to ask if you’d seen or even played Cyberpunk 2077. My girlfriend plays it, and she loves the soundtrack and found that Rhys was on there.

Cazares: I think he did three songs. He actually did a remix of ‘Disruptor’ in the style of Cyberpunk, and that’s exactly what he told me. I’m like, ‘Wow, that sounds awesome.’ So, it’s a remix that’s probably going to be released sometime, I don’t know, in the next few months or so. I was trying to get a whole remix EP put together from various guys – Blush Response, who’d done some stuff for us before… I think on Genexus.

Yes, I believe he worked on that ‘Enhanced Reality’ remix with Rhys, and Al Jourgensen did the ‘Mandatory Sacrifice’ remix.

Cazares: Yeah, and Blush Response works a lot with Rhys Fulber; they collaborate on a lot of stuff, and Rhys does a lot of collaboration with a lot of new guys, and I want to reach out to him and ask him to get these other guys to do something different.

You’d appeared on the newest Front Line Assembly album, Mechanical Soul, and all I could say was, ‘Well, what took them so long?’

Cazares: Well, let me tell you something – I was supposed to be on Millennium. But unfortunately, I had a criminal record here, and so I couldn’t get into Canada at the time. Until I got it expunged from my record, it was stupid! But in Canada, they are very strict about who they let in, and at that time in 1994, I couldn’t get into Canada. That’s why they called Devin to do it.

That makes sense, and Devin is an excellent guitar player. And Christian Olde–Wolbers was on ‘Civilization.’

Cazares: With the stand–up bass, I think it was?

No, he was credited with playing guitar, but it was during that Archetype period.

Cazares: Yeah, Rhys didn’t do very much on that Archetype record.

But at the time, he was working on FLA’s Civilization album, which I remember was being marketed as his big return to Front Line Assembly.

Cazares: Yeah, but then he was out again, and then was back in again.

It’s all one big family, everybody goes back–and–forth.

Cazares: Hey, it happens, man. It happens, and that’s life and that’s relationships. Not everything is meant to last, and it just happens. It’s unfortunate that it happened to us at this time; it’s too bad that Burton’s gone, because this record is amazing, and he’s not really going to get to see it or be a part of it. But that’s his choice.

I recall reading somewhere about plans to re–release The Industrialist with Mike Heller’s live drums in place of the programmed rhythms of the original. Is that still in the works?

Cazares: Yes, that is still going on, but we have put it on the backburner. In fact, we did record the live drums already, and we did give them to Greg Reely to mix; he’s done a mix, it sounds amazing, but we are going to hold off on that for a while. There’s a lot of stuff coming out with Fear Factory right now – we’ve got Demanufacture that came out on vinyl with bonus live tracks; we’ve got Soul of a New Machine and Fear is the Mind Killer are going to be remastered for vinyl. There’s all that stuff, getting it all together, going through all the DATs, and there’s going to be a lot of stuff. Mechanize and The Industrialist just came out a couple of months ago on Spotify and iTunes and every other place that you can stream it. We are going to release The Industrialist with the live drums – it’s going to be called Re–Industrialized, but that won’t be out until next year. There’s a lot of stuff, so you’ve got to space it out, because you can’t just release it all at once.

Switching over to gear talk, you’d mentioned that the album was recorded in 2016, but revisited the production and sound design in 2020. One Tweet that actually made me laugh was someone criticizing the guitar tone on the new album and attributing it to your new Ormsby guitar, and you corrected him that the album was recorded when you were still with Ibanez.

Cazares: Check this out, I’ve heard people say that they don’t like the vocals on the new record because they think it’s not Burton. ‘Uh, it’s Burton.’ But look, not everybody gets all the information, and that’s why sometimes you see me answering the same question over and over and over again, because I want people to know. Information goes by so fast, so not everyone gets to see it all, so you’ve got to keep putting it out there.

Ormsby is an Australian company as I understand, and Fear Factory seems to have a very solid audience there (and again, there’s the Mad Max connection). In your perception, why do you think that country has had such a strong reaction to Fear Factory’s music – what defines that relationship?

Cazares: Good fucking question! We went out there and actually did a tour in 1993 – our first tour in Australia – for Fear is the Mind Killer. It was the Fear is the Mind Killer Tour, and Australia is the only place that we did that tour. For some reason, people just fucking latched onto it, and when Demanufacture came out, we did a small tour through Australia, which was great. But then, we got asked to do this thing called The Big Day Out in 1996, because Sepultura had just broken up and we were replacing Sepultura. So, we did that tour, and that really opened doors. And then, we actually went there four times, but on the third time, we were doing a headlining tour, and it was sold out all across Australia – we’re talking 1,500 seaters. Sold out! But Burton lost his voice on the second show, and on the third show, we couldn’t play it and that was in Sydney, and the promoter didn’t tell the venue in time. There was a queue outside, and some lady comes out and puts a sign in the window, ‘Show Canceled!’ It happened to be a venue at a university, so kids got pissed off, fans got pissed off, and they started a fucking riot! They started destroying the windows, going into the venue and ripping things apart, cops came, it was a riot, and fucking kids running everywhere… it was crazy. So, we got national fucking press everywhere. We were on the Channel 5 News; we were the news for a few days. Everybody in the band flew to England, but I stayed back to do publicity to basically clean up, and say, ‘Hey, we’re sorry, it wasn’t our fault,’ all that stuff. So, I stayed back, and that was on the actual news stations, so if you didn’t know who Fear Factory was, you knew who we were now. It was in every newspaper, every television news station all across Australia, and ever since that time, the band blew the fuck up in Australia. We’ve got multiple gold records there; right now, on the iTunes chart, we’ve been #1 over there in overall music. We’ve just paid a lot of attention to Australia, we went there all the time, we’ve done all the festivals down there, we’ve just played really big shows there and people really love it. People really made a big connection during Demanufacture, and Obsolete just blew up!
But it’s not just Australia – it’s other countries, and other cities. Chicago! Chicago loves Fear Factory. New York, and all the big cities. Certain cities in Texas love Fear Factory. Go to Europe – Holland, Germany, the U.K., some of those countries are very standout countries for us that we have gold records in. Digimortal is gold in Canada. It’s really weird, different countries love different records where they’re bigger. Obsolete got us big in certain countries, and it’s kind of weird that when the music charts come out, you can see what country you’re big in. It all depends on sales and streams and things like that.

 

 

Bringing it back to the guitar, while you’d stated that things ended amicably with Ibanez, in what ways do you feel Ormsby has surpassed your needs in a guitar?

Cazares: Well, one of the things that Ibanez has not been able to master is the multi–scale guitar. They have not been able to master that. Yes, they’ve mastered the 7–string and the 8–string guitar, but not the multi–scale. For people who don’t know, the multi–scale is like a fanned fret guitar; now, there are different extremes of fanned fret that you can use. There is like a two–inch fan, but mine is a one–inch, and sometimes you can look at it and not even realize that it’s fanned fret. I like that because I wanted it somewhere in between, but what it does is that the lower, thicker strings are further away from the bridge – it extends out further – and what that does is add tension to the guitar, and it has better sustain, better tone because of the tension. Every year at NAMM, I would walk around and look at all these up–and–coming guitar companies, try their guitars out, and maybe take a couple of ideas back to Ibanez and have them make me a guitar like that. I was doing things like that, but when we were in the middle of our lawsuit, Raymond and Christian sued everybody around us – anybody that had any association with us, whatever Burton’s endorsements were, whatever my endorsements were, they all got sued. ‘We want money, we want money!’ Luckily, I was able to get my lawyer to exonerate all of these different companies, but Ibanez for some reason… they’re a Japanese–owned company, and the Japanese were really upset about it, so the ex–members were very successful. The reason why they did that was they were trying to get money, or they try to ruin things for you. That’s just a legal tactic, and most people don’t even know how that works, but what they try to destroy you in all these different ways – not just you, but everybody else associated with you when it comes to business, they’ll go after. Why? Because they can. Anybody can sue anybody. So, we got the companies exonerated, the Japanese–owned company Ibanez wasn’t too happy about it, so they discontinued my signature guitar. That year, when I went to NAMM, I went straight to Ormsby Guitars and asked them to make me a guitar, and let’s go from there. I gave them my specs, told them what I wanted, and they came out killer, so I left Ibanez. It wasn’t either’s fault, not mine or Ibanez’s; it was just something that happened. I went to Ormsby because I knew they were making some great guitars, and they were the only guitar company that was really focusing on the multi–scale.

They look beautiful, and I can’t wait to see and hear them live.

Cazares: We sold a few of them, but of course, during the COVID thing, getting wood was kind of hard. Some of the wood, actually a lot of that wood comes from China. So, it was kind of hard to get a lot of that wood, and people were putting in orders for my guitar, and they had to wait a whole year just to get it. Some of them still haven’t even gotten it; they’re still waiting. But they’re being very patient, and they understand what’s going on. And it’s the same thing with the vinyl copies of some of the records, and people are saying they’re still waiting for it to arrive, but that’s just what’s happening. The world is still catching up.

You and I talked briefly about the 7–strings and 8–strings in 2010 when Mechanize came out and how the extra bass strings create both possibilities and obstacles in terms of proper sound and mix. One method I’d heard about (from Rob Scallon – a rather prominent YouTube guitarist) is that he focuses primarily on treble and mid–range, turning the bass down and leaving that to the bass guitar.
After more than a decade of playing 8–strings now, what do you still find to be the most challenging aspects of using them effectively, especially where Fear Factory’s music is concerned?

Cazares: In some ways, it all depends on what you’re using – what guitar you’re using, what wood, what pickups, what strings – all of that plays a big factor in your tone, especially when it comes to the extremes. Of course, everybody needs to set it up to what works for them, but when I scoop out some of the low end, it’s not that much. I actually add in some cases a little bit more of the mids, and a little bit more high, just so it’ll stick out a little bit more. You can hear my tone on ‘Recode’ and ‘Collapse,’ because that’s the 8–string right there, and you can hear how fat and thick that is. That thing is sick. That’s why I think those songs are just the biggest in tone.

They crush!

Cazares: Oh yeah, but you’ve got to remember that I’m getting these custom–made guitars with certain woods. I have my own signature pickup through Seymour Duncan – one of the pickups is called the Retribution, and the other is the Machete. I designed these pickups with 7– and 8–strings in mind. That way, for instance, my Retribution still has some fatness, but you can put it in an 8–string, and it would still work out great because there’s a lot more clarity on the top–end; on the 8–string design, it has a little less body, because if you have too much body, it’ll be woody and the tone will be dark.

Yeah, you’re not aiming for the brown note.

Cazares: Yeah, so we designed it to where the mid–range is bumped up, and definitely the high end is spiked up on those pickups. Whereas my 7–string and 6–string pickups have more body to them, but it’s a tight body as well. The low end is not as scooped as on the 8–string, but it is slightly, and there’s a mid–range bump and also a high–end spike. It’s really the low end that changes from the 7–string to the 8–string.

As a side note – I love the brief but very angular guitar solo on ‘Monolith’ by Max Karon, one of the very few solos in Fear Factory, but when you have them, boy do you make them shine.

Cazares: Whatever fits, right? When we made our very first record, there were solos like all over the record. And because we were definitely very influenced by early industrial music, and we thought, ‘You know what, none of these bands have solos. Why do we need to put solos in? Let’s just take ’em out.’ So, we took them from day one, and people were like, ‘Wow, no solos? What the fuck!’ And then, that just kind of took off – KoRn, Deftones, all those nü–metal bands never had any guitar solos. I mean, I would like to think that we kind of influenced them or made it cool not to use guitar solos, but things like that come full circle. You’ve got to remember that in the ’80s, it was all about fucking ripping guitar solos; everybody had guitar solos, and of course, this came from Eddie Van Halen, right? But back when the glam era started to die out and Nirvana started to creep in, the solo died, and it was a wholly different thing back then, but we were more influenced by the industrial bands that didn’t use guitar solos. Well, MINISTRY had some slide guitar and stuff like that…

Or the sampled solo from Apocalypse Now, which Al tends to mime live.

Cazares: Yeah, so we were really influenced that way by not using guitar solos at all. But I feel like maybe there’s something that needs to be in there once in a while that will make people go, ‘Whoa,’ and people notice it. There’s only one solo on the whole record, so people notice it and focus in on it and say, ‘Wow, I think I like the song because of that solo.’

Well, hopefully, it’s only one of the reasons people like it.

Cazares: And like I said, that’s just something that we throw in there for a little spice, just to tease people a little.

You’d also participated in the Die Klute project with Jürgen and Claus; how did you come to work with them? Will there be any more to come from this collaboration?

Cazares: Well, first of all, I’ve been a Klutæ fan forever, and Leæther Strip, obviously. If you look at some really old pictures – they’re online somewhere, and I think that Jürgen put up a picture of me wearing his shirts… way back in 1991, I had a Leæther Strip shirt on when we played a show back in our early days. There’s a picture of me with that shirt on, and 30 years later, here I am doing a record with him. How it came about was through Cleopatra Records, who had asked me about doing a collab with those guys, and I said, ‘I’m in!’ Why would I pass up that opportunity? We made it work and we just pretty much did it all online. Will there be more? I mean, I hope… I really do hope, because Planet Fear was really good, and there are a lot of good songs on that record. It did okay when it came out, but I would hope to do another one, and I would almost like to get some other people involved – maybe like Greg Reely to mix the album, or maybe I could get Rhys involved in some way or another.
But you know what, that’s funny too, because now Rhys and I have been talking about doing a record together as well, and that’s going to have to happen.

Sweet! So, now that Aggression Continuum has been released, what else do you have in the pipeline that you can or would like to tell us about?

Cazares: What’s next is choosing the right singer, working with them, getting them into the studio and into the jam room… because of COVID, there are a lot of restrictions, so as soon as all of that is lifted. Every country is different, and a couple of the singers that I wanted to work with also live in Europe, so unfortunately, they can’t get here until all of that is lifted. I need to do in–person auditions, because a lot of these people sound amazing on video or recording, but I need to get them here for in–person auditions to see if I get along with the person, if the chemistry is there. Once we figure out who that’s going to be, then it’s all about getting prepared for touring, maybe do a couple of new songs or a small EP with the new singer, introduce it next year, and start touring next year. There are a lot of cool things coming up for us next year, which I can’t mention just yet, but a lot of good tours are being talked about. I’m excited.

 

 

Fear Factory
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube
Nuclear Blast
Website (Europe), Website (USA), Facebook (Europe), Facebook (USA), Twitter (Europe), Twitter (USA), YouTube
Ormsby Guitars
Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

 

Photography by Stephanie Cabral Photography – courtesy of Fear Factory
Website, Facebook, Twitter

 

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