Fear Factory: Rock & Roll Ascension
An interview with Burton C. Bell
After an absence of over two years, Fear Factory's back and read to rock - refusing to let even the dreaded common cold stand in the way.
Breaking back out onto the scene as part of the Jagermeister Music Tour this past spring, Fear Factory just hit the stage with fellow tour mates Slipknot and Chimaira in Florida.
"It was the first show we played in the states for like two and a half years. And [it was] the first show we played in Florida for a long time," said vocalist Burton C. Bell in a forthright, albeit sniff-ly, conversation with Sass. "It was good though. Thank goodness we kind of had an early start."
Fear Factory performed some dates a couple months before the Jagermeister tour began in order to warm up new bassist, Byron Stroud (formerly of Strapping Young Lad) and to get re-acclimated to functioning as a unit once again after their hiatus.
"That went off really well. We all get along so we'll all be fine, just have to get back into the swing of things."
Well as the swinging ensued, audiences couldn't have been more supportive of Fear Factory.
"[The reaction has been] very positive. The crowd seemed very happy to see us, very responsive, a couple pits, and we played 10 songs in 45 minutes so I think we gave them a good show," says Bell. "We just played a lot of songs and rocked it out."
Also before the commencement of the Jager-Tour, Bell and company spent some time down under taping the video for the song "Cyberwaste."
"[In] Perth we found an abandoned, old power station there. We wanted to be constructive so we filmed a really cheap video down there. What we did was we set up like a last minute listening party at this hotel we were staying at and about 400 kids showed up to a place that only held 285. It was packed and people were coming in all night long and we were just blasting the [latest release, Archetype] for the first time."
"The fans in Perth were just like nuts. They rarely get that kind of attention from a band," explains Bell. "Bands go through there for like festivals, but rarely will an American band like do something there - spend the time, hang out with the fans."
"We had fliers there that night about the video that was being shot a few days later and directions to [the power station] and all that. About 400 fans showed up. We were in a pit in the middle of this derelict, abandoned, Art Deco building. Completely empty and just so dilapidated it was unreal. It was too perfect, the fans were surrounding us entirely and it's a live type video, we wanted to keep that energy in it. It's very different, very cool."
Archetype, Bell describes: "It has heavy metal aspects with also industrial aspects; industrial in the sense of the percussive nature. And that's what Fear Factory's always been, the metal type industrial genre. That's where we seem to get more attention from, but it's hard to classify oneself. We're artists so we just do the music we do when we're writing it, we don't classify it."
Though currently on tour in Europe, Fear Factory got to enjoy their American jaunt with old friends Slipknot before heading overseas.
"We toured with them in '99 for Ozzfest. We were both playing the side stage and they were playing right before us, it was a lot of fun. We all get along and chill out and hang."
At this point in Bell and Sass' discussion, Bell sneezed. Accrediting his feeling under the weather to a sick baby on the plane he'd just been on, Bell added: "Ah, [this cold] is killing me!" But alas, the interview went on...
Working with new band member, Stroud, the transition was a pleasantly smooth one for the band.
"The dynamics are a lot better. We're all really close friends now and it just seems a lot better. It's hard to explain, there's a breath of fresh air to it just because the dynamics are working so much better."
Now with Liquid 8 Records, the studio experience while recording Archetype went off without a hitch as well.
"It was easier, there wasn't the time restraint, there wasn't any label breathing down our necks, it was just writing music. It was just done differently, I actually had fun. It was cool - definitely a lot easier."
"[The band] writes the music and when they finished a song they would send it to me - I put lyrics to it and became familiar with it and then I'd go to the studio and put everything I had into like four songs. We started demo-ing really, just writing music everyday."
Another facet of Fear Factory is their heavy involvement in gaming.
"We have a lot of our songs in video games, some in movies, but a lot in video games. Raymond [Herrera], our drummer, he's a gamer. A serious gamer. He pursues it; he was a tester for a while. He knows people who design games and presidents of companies, he just pushes it because that's his love and he has a vision. He sees that music is perfect for video games, and just having good music up there - especially Fear Factory music, fits perfectly with a lot of those type of action games. We always said Fear Factory is like a soundtrack to an apocalyptic battle kind of thing and that's perfect for video games. It's like watching movies all the time."
Bell, however, isn't quite as into it as his band mate and pretty much only plays to pass time.
"I play them when I'm on tour, but when I'm at home I don't even have a system."
So, what can we expect from Fear Factory for the rest of this year?
"We're going to continue touring. We'll definitely go back to Australia because their record will be out [there] by then. Japan, try to go to South America. Maybe Europe again. We're making a wish list and making contacts and stuff so we're getting it together."
Fear Factory's Official Web Site
Label Site: Liquid 8 Records and Entertainment
Jagermeister Music Tour