Fear Factory are working on their new album
Fear Factory have seen all sides of the music business. They had tremendous success, sold out venues around the world and released one of the most influential albums of extreme metal with ‘Demanufacture’. They have also had some rough periods in their career that ended with the falling out of founding members Burton Bell and Dino Cazares being the low point. Now that Burton and Dino cleared up their relationship five years ago the band is growing stronger again. I had the chance to talk to Burton about the work on their upcoming album and their Soundwave Festival shows in Australia in 2015.
Marc: Hi Burton, how are you?
Burton: Good. I am currently in Los Angeles working on the new Fear Factory record.
Marc: What can you tell me about the new record?
Burton: We have currently nine new tracks, still a couple more to write. They are really well-crafted songs. Expect to hear the elements of Fear Factory that you always liked. We are coming back to an old style of song writing.
I went to the studio today started doing vocals for the songs. We’ve come up with an album title finally but we are still not ready to disclose it. We’re gonna sit on it for a couple more days and see if we like it but I’m pretty happy about it.
Marc: Do you have already a time plan for the release?
Burton: It won’t be out until March. That’s the current schedule.
Marc: There is obviously still a fair bit of work to be done.
Burton: Oh yeah definitely.
Marc: How does the song writing work for you these days?
Burton: After all these years we finally know what we’re doing and we know how to expedite the process, kind of streamline it I should say. While we write we are writing with drum programs but we plan to record live drums for the album. Not every song will have live drums. There may be two or three tracks on the album that might be programmed but for the most part it will be a drummer playing the drum parts. Dino and I we know what our purpose is in the band. We know what our job is and we know what to do. We just know how to do it. It’s just like a machine. We know what we’re gotta do. And we just do it.
‘Expect to hear the elements of Fear Factory that you always liked ‘
Marc: As you said the new album will include all the trademark sounds of Fear Factory. So from your point of view, is the album a natural continuation from ‘The Industrialist’?
Burton: That’s a good way of putting it. It’s a continuation. It will have a new concept. Knowing the album title helps to develop the concept even further. As I write the lyrics for the songs we have I just create a story. I would like to write another story for this album to keep the concept going. Just keep it going, so it is the same type of element, a logical continuation of the Fear Factory concept.
Marc: Do the lyrics come first and then you create the sounds around it or does it work the other way around for you?
Burton: We write the music and as we wrote the music we come up with lyrical ideas. We come up with titles really, song titles or album titles which creates kind of a vibe and helps building the concept. Then usually when there is a title I can work out an inspiration for the lyrics that way.
Marc: You already made some plans for next year. One of the plans is you will come out to Australia again playing the Soundwave Festivals. That’s an exciting opportunity for you.
Burton: It is a great opportunity, an opportunity we haven’t had before due to time or other things. Now is the right time. We’re very excited about it. The lineup is amazing. We are friends with a lot the bands. In a lot of ways it’s gonna be like a reunion for me.
Even this year we are going to places we’ve never been before. We’re going to Shanghai at the beginning of October. We’re going to India at the end of November. And we’re doing Soundwave which we have never done. So I hope we can continue this new way of going to places.
Marc: Soundwave Festival is going to have a new format next year. It’s going to be a two-day festival. That will give you the opportunity to play in front of more fans.
Burton: I know, that exciting too. What a great idea to spread Soundwave over two days, no overlapping bands anymore. The fans have more opportunities to see different types of bands. I think it seems to get better and better.
Marc: You have played in Australia quite often, way more than other bands do. Why is that?
Burton: I don’t know but I’m not complaining about it. I think we’ve been there more than 20 times. We’ve been going to Australia since our first record. You know, maybe it’s something about the music that resonates with Australian metal fans, the fact that we did a lot of grass-roots type of touring in the early days. We played as many place as we could. You know, in a way Australia welcomed us from the very first record. And it’s been awesome.
‘Fear Factory is a strong unit again.’
Marc: I’m sure the crowds at Soundwave will welcome you as we’ll come next February and March.
Burton: The Australian festivals are always awesome. We always have a good time playing there.
Marc: You got a lot of history with Fear Factory. You had great successes. You also had your fair share of difficult situations with fallouts and breakups and legal action threatened against you. Looking back at your career and looking forward to 2015, where do you think Fear Factory stands?
Burton: Fear Factory is a strong unit again. The line-up we have right now – touring with our new drummer Mike Heller and Matt DeVries our bass player – we are playing with them for almost two years – we have a really tight unit. The songs that we play live are really precise and are just spot on. We had some high points, we had some low points, but with the returning of Dino and two records – the next record is gonna be our ninth full-length record – I see the band climbing that hill again, just to reach the high point. This is where we should be, taking our time, taking the hard steps but we still haven’t reached it. We’re still trying to get back to that point. We are close.
Marc: A question a bit out of context. How much of an influence is Nirvana for you actually? You appeared on the video of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
Burton: (Laughs) I know, I was a younger person and Nirvana was still around. I was a big fan of the band. I got to know them on the Bleach album which was their first full-length record. I remember I saw them at least three times playing small clubs in LA. They were awesome. I was working with a friend of mine in a shoe store in Santa Monica. A friend of mine played on ‘Nevermind’. He played cello on ‘Something In The Way’. So six months before the record came out we were listening to the record. By the time when the record came out I knew every song on it. Before the record came we went to see a show at the Roxy, a small venue in Los Angeles, a couple of hundred people there, it was pretty good. They were handing out flyers ‘Hey, come to our video shoot’. So me and my roommates did. Everyone who showed up was in the video. One song influenced me lyrically, ‘Territorial Pissings’.
I remember the last show I saw with Nirvana. They were blowing up. The place was packed and I thought ‘This is probably the last time I see this band’.
Marc: Unfortunately, then the events took place as they did. This is certainly a sad story. For you it’s going forward now, creating the new album. Do you have a good idea of the full lyrical concept yet? Where are you going to take Fear Factory on regards to that?
Burton: I don’t have a full grasp of the lyrical concept yet. We have song titles. When we have the song titles it inspires me to write something around it. Once there are more lyrics that create more of a story then I’m able to develop the concept further. I’d like to continue the concept from ‘The Industrialist’ to the next album.
Marc: As you said the album is going to be released in March 2015 which is actually after the Soundwave Festivals. Do you plan to play some of the new material at Soundwave?
Burton: Expect to hear at least one new song.
Marc: I am looking forward to seeing you at Soundwave.