Shannon Joy of the LA Music Blog recently conducted an interview with vocalist Burton C. Bell of Los Angeles cyber metallers FEAR FACTORY. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
LA Music Blog: “Mechanize” takes a step back to the classic FEAR FACTORY sound. Was there a conscious effort to recreate that feel with this release?
Burton: Not intentionally, I think it naturally happened. Having Dino [Cazares] back in the band obviously — Dino‘s riffing style is a major sound, it’s a major hallmark or stamp of the FEAR FACTORY sound. It’s the way he plays; he’s very inspired by repetition, rhythm, mechanical riffs and that nature, so having him back just kind of brought that back into the mix. We did sit down and talk about how there were certain aspects of FEAR FACTORY that I missed in the band, like the industrial [and] electronic edge of it. It wasn’t in the forefront, but it was a nice flavor, a nice ambient-type of thing that added to the feel of the music, and another reason why we wanted to do that. Having Rhys [Fulber] come back into the mix — he also was a big creator of that sound, you know, from “Demanufacture” and “Obsolete” — and having him, that sound came back as well. So the chemistry of all three of us working together, yeah it’s gonna have a classic sound because that’s the original sound.
LA Music Blog: How did the songwriting process change between the time that Dino left and now?
Burton: I really wanted to be more involved with it this time. There was a chemistry between Dino and I that was missing when he was not in the band. It was apparent in the first recordings of FEAR FACTORY with Dino and I working together. Having him back in the band, it was that inspiration, it was that creative force going again. So yeah, it was definitely different not having him, because I didn’t have my counterpart in the band, the one that really understood the vision we shared. When Dino and I started this band, we had a vision. Christian [Olde Wolbers; FEAR FACTORY bassist-turned-guitarist] wasn’t in the band, and Raymond [Herrera, drums] wasn’t really a visionary at that time, so it was Dino and I who created the vision of FEAR FACTORY. And having him back in — it was just there.
LA Music Blog: I’m not sure if you’re actually able to answer this one, but you had to cancel some shows late last year due to issues with the rights of the name. Obviously, you’re touring now — what’s changed?
Burton: I’ll answer it, and I’ll set the record straight. We didn’t cancel them. We postponed them because we wanted to finish the album.
LA Music Blog: So that was just something…
Burton: That was what they said. But we toured right after that, and they were still trying to put cease-and-desist letters out, and nothing stopped us. Finishing the album was more important, so we postponed it with the same promoters, and the promoters were ok. We actually just made up that tour in January or February.
LA Music Blog: So how do you guys stay inspired?
Burton: We’re having fun on stage! For me, personally, I’m having fun playing the music we’re playing. Dino and I are having a great time on stage with Byron [Stroud, bass]. We’re all having fun, we’re laughing. And Gene‘s [Hoglan, drums] like — he’s awesome. We’re having fun. And right now, I think we’re a hundred times better now than when you saw us in San Diego. We’re on fire. We’re having a good time. The crowd’s loving it, and we’re feeding off the crowd. But you know, you can’t always have a great show. That’s just the nature of the life. Everyone’s got a bad day, either due to sickness or it’s just one of those days. And yeah, we’ve had them in the past, and we still have them, but the show must go on. The crowd doesn’t care if your day is bad or whatever, they want to see the show. So you have to go on stage and put your game face on. Once you go on stage and you see the excitement of the crowd, and everyone is just jazzed up, you’re like, “OK, it’s not so bad.”
LA Music Blog: What is it like to now be playing with bands that have obviously been inspired by you?
Burton: You know what, it’s interesting (laughs). And there’s some obvious moments where it’s like, “Yeah, I wonder where they got that from.” Especially on this last European festival tour that we did, it was even more apparent. But I’ve thought about that a lot, and I’m very proud — almost like a teacher in some respects. Because something that we did creatively and artistically inspired a young artist to accomplish something in their life that’s positive. Music is positive, whether it’s metal, black metal, whatever, it’s still positive. It’s doing something creative and artistic. And if something that I did influenced this young, artistic mind — it couldn’t be that bad, you know. I offered something to this world that taught somebody something. So I think about it that way.