Fear Factory – Continuing to Disrupt the SystemSunday, 6th June 2021
After a massive, years-long battle to settle the Fear Factory name, the band’s latest release Aggression Continuum is finally going to see the light of day. Even that hasn’t been without its setbacks either, from vocalist Burton C. Bell announcing his departure from the band and criticizing the GoFundMe campaign set up by guitarist Dino Cazares. So the album has been a long time coming, and what matters in the end is the product – and it is an impressive one, to say the least. We spoke with Cazares himself to get his thoughts on the legal battle, the new album, a look back at Mechanize, as well as the way ahead and finding a new vocalist.
Dead Rhetoric: How does it feel to finally be able to get Aggression Continuum out there, after going through several years of legal challenges?
Dino Cazares: The legal challenges were very taxing on a lot of things. At some point, I didn’t think this record would come out, or my career with Fear Factory would be able to continue. Or it would turn into something different, which it did, but something even more different. But I’m 100% ecstatic that I was able to go in and improve on the record and add some elements that I thought were missing, and then go ahead and get it out to people. “Disruptor” is out there now, and unfortunately we don’t have a singer, so we had to come up with an idea for a video that didn’t include the band. So I decided to do what we had always wanted to do, which was a concept video. Something to go along with the storyline and what we have been singing about for all these years. Hopefully we will be able to continue that. When you create a video like that, it’s not that cheap! Coming up with the finances to continue with that movie-esque concept and video, we are hoping to continue with it.
Dead Rhetoric: At this point, there shouldn’t be anymore legal drama in the future with the band name now – it’s all completely solid with you?
Cazares: I would have to say, you never know what will pop up. You just never know. In America, anyone can sue anybody for anything at any time, for any reason. But let’s hope this is it! I’ll put it this way, I’m moving forward, but moving forward cautiously [laughs]. I’m watching my back.
Dead Rhetoric: Is it bittersweet at all in knowing its going to close a chapter of the band?
Cazares: Unfortunately, I have to look at it as a change that is just happening. I have to roll with the punches. At the same time, I’m curious to see what I can do. It’s not like I haven’t dealt with new singers before. I’ve started new bands with new singers, and gone on to do great things. To me, I look at it as a blessing in disguise. We could get a new singer, and the band could blow up – you never know, right? But I’m anxiously optimistic, and I think it’s going to turn out fine.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that it allows you to open up some new doorways that maybe you couldn’t have before?
Cazares: Yes. I definitely want to keep the tradition of Fear Factory alive, but I know what you are saying. When I was out of Fear Factory way back in 2002 to 2009, I was able to create a band like Divine Heresy. I was able to break free from the Fear Factory mold and create something new. So I can look at it that way too, but I don’t want to sway too far from the traditional Fear Factory and what it is. Whatever I do, it’s going to be heavy, ripping, groovy, and have all of those electronic elements, as far as Fear Factory is concerned.
Dead Rhetoric: You had the GoFundMe earlier, were you surprised at the amount of support to get the album out?
Cazares: I was definitely surprised, but not surprised at the same time. A lot of people like what we do, and they like what I do. So I was very appreciative that everyone scrapped a few dollars out of their pockets. I think a lot of people really wanted to see this record out [laughs]. People were donating $5 or $500 and I thought it was amazing. Even if there were a few setbacks while I was creating the GoFundMe campaign, with obviously Burton [C. Bell] was voicing his opinion, and it created a negative vibe with the whole campaign. But once we were past all that, we were able to reach our goal.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel stands out with Aggression Continuum?
Cazares: First of all, the struggle that it took to get the record out! But I think that there are some tracks on there that we have never really touched on. I would say, “Collapse,” that was one of the first brutal, massive groove kind of songs that just destroys you. It sounds like a building is collapsing. It sounds like a controlled demolition. We were going for that. The closest would be “God Eater,” it’s that type of track. I really felt like we did something a little different. “Purity” really stands out on the record. That shows the more accessible sides of Fear Factory. But then you get a song like “Fuel Injected Suicide Machine” that’s like 230bpm and is pretty challenging to play that picking style with those drum patterns. There’s a lot of good elements on the record. “Recode” is one of those epic opening tracks, it kind of has that Mechanized vibe. There’s a beautiful melodic chorus, and I bust out with the 8-string on that song. It goes along with the storyline of what we have been talking about for years. The opening line, “Imagine your life, taken from you” that’s the first vocal line you hear from Burt. That’s kind of setting the concept of the whole record.
From the beginning of the record, you can hear the struggle. You can hear what it took, from the first line, all the way to the last song, “End of Line.” It may sound like a closure but it’s not necessarily a closure. At the end of the song, there’s a speech called “Fear is the mindkiller.” Basically, it’s telling you that fear is only in your mind and you can get past it. That’s kind of a thing saying that it may be all dark and negative right now, but in the end it will be very positive. That’s a sign of me moving forward. It’s the end of one chapter and moving into the next chapter.
There’s always that positive/negative too. You hear it between the heavy and clean vocals. The heavy vocals are so intense, and lyrically, it’s intense as well. Then there’s friction and you get to this beautiful melodic chorus. Then you feel like everything is going to be okay [laughs]. There’s always going to be that negative/positive, that push/pull between the two. The contrast between the two works really well on this record. Burt’s vocals are slightly heavy and more angry/pissed off, so the melodic parts sound more beautiful and angelic.
Dead Rhetoric: From your perspective, what’s keep Fear Factory going through the years despite turmoil and changes?
Cazares: For me, it’s just the passion and the love for the music that I love and what I created with Raymond [Herrera] nd Burton. It’s the reason why I moved to Los Angeles to make it in the music industry. It’s that same passion, that same drive. And the fact that people really get into the music. They get into the lyrics, they get into the sound, they get into the concept. The smile and happiness that we can put on people’s faces – that’s what keeps me going with Fear Factory.
Dead Rhetoric: There’s been a rumor mill for vocalists already. What’s the road ahead look like for Fear Factory, for filling out the line-up and eventually hitting the road again?
Cazares: First off all, we can’t wait to hit the road once COVID-19 gets past us. I’m hoping that it will be all next year in support of this record. We are going to find a new singer. I’m very excited. It’s not like I haven’t been in this position before. When I was out of Fear Factory, I was looking for new talent to start Divine Heresy. I think I did a great job with Tim Yeung and Tommy Vext, they were very talented musicians, but they were unknown.
So I’m really looking forward to find an unknown vocalist to fill that position. I’m very excited about it, and I’ve found some amazing people! But because of the COVID restrictions we haven’t been able to spend any time together. So now it’s all about the chemistry. I want to give a few people a shot. We have a few people in mind, they are just waiting in the wings, to come out to LA and spend some time with us and get them in the studio to see if we have that chemistry. That’s really all that is left at this point. Once that happens, boom! We can move forward. I would like to, before we hit the road, release a new single with the new vocalist. Just so people can hear what they sound like on a song. Maybe do some live in the rehearsal room recordings or streams, just so people can see what they are like and how they fit.
Dead Rhetoric: Having spent some time with other bands besides Fear Factory, what makes the band special for you?
Cazares: It was one of the first things that I started, that was serious. I mean, I started a bunch of other bands, and we had this dark humor to us. I started Brujeria before Fear Factory, and it had some dark humor in it. I just knew that it wasn’t going to be serious – how do I say it, when I started Fear Factory, I realized that it really means something and not that some of the stuff I had done before didn’t mean anything, but it was the first time I felt like I could take it around the world and be a successful musician. Like I said, to me success is when you can inspire other people to hopefully pick up a guitar and play. Or like I said about putting a smile on people’s faces and them appreciating everything you do – that to me is what made Fear Factory special. It was worldwide.
Dead Rhetoric: Mechanize is now over 10 years old now. What do you remember about the time around the release? With you coming back into the band, it was also a bit of a new chapter as well.
Cazares: It’s kind of funny, during the writing and recording process for Mechanize, I was actually writing and recording Bringer of Plagues for Divine Heresy. So I think some of my intense elements in Divine Heresy kind of transpired into some of the vibe for Mechanize. Even though they are completely different styles, the energy and aggressive [is there]. When you have guys like Gene Hoglan and Byron Stroud in the band, its going to be pretty intense. I was very hard on my ears. I was doing 12 hour days with both bands. During the day I would work on Mechanize with the guys, then after 6PM the guys from Divine Heresy would come in and we would start writing for that. It’s crazy how it worked out. That was one of the most intense moments, trying to write two records at the same time.
When it came to recording, I remember that Gene Hoglan had to leave the studio, because Dethklok called him. That was part of the agreement. If Dethklok called, he had to go. That was his big moneymaker. So he had to leave, and I was like, what If when I am recording guitar, we have to change something on the drums? He said that he was sorry, but he had to go. So when he left, I was able to call in Tim Yeung, who was playing with me at the time with Divine Heresy. He came in and added some drum elements. I also called my friend John Sankey, a guy who was also a part of Divine Heresy in the early stages, but he was from Australia. He had to leave the country because of visa reasons. When he came back, he was able to help me as well with some of the drum patterns. So one of the cool things about Mechanize is that there are three people on the record, and people don’t know that. This is probably one of the first times that people are hearing this: Gene had to leave during recording due to Dethklok, and I felt some of the things didn’t fit well while recording guitar so that’s when Tim Yeung and John Sankey came into help out.
Dead Rhetoric: That’s cool. I didn’t know that myself.
Cazares: It’s nothing against Gene – I have the utmost respect for him. But unfortunately, he had to leave. So what was I going to do? I called people who were very skilled to come in and help out. I think a lot of people think it’s just Gene, but it’s not. It’s three different guys.
Dead Rhetoric: Mechanize has always stood out to me because of how brutal it was. You saying that it was written at the same time as Divine Heresy makes a lot of sense.
Cazares: Exactly. I am one of those kind of guys who is going to do what they have to do in order to get a record made. That was one of the things I had to do.
Dead Rhetoric: Just like with this album and going back to put the live drums on it.
Cazares: Right. To me, when I first described the record, I said ‘Mechanize meets Genexus.’ Some of the melodic stuff reminds me of Genexus, but some of the intensity reminds me of Mechanize.
Dead Rhetoric: The logos are always different with each new album, which I’ve always enjoyed. Do you have a particular favorite when it comes to the FF logos over the years?
Cazares: Obviously, the original one is a classic. That’s the one we used for Soul of a New Machine and Demanufacture…but maybe a little bit different. That’s when I realized that the logo had to change with each record. It gives it a time stamp. Each of those logos represents the record. The Obsolete logo was amazing! Even Remanufacture we changed it. So every record we kept it as tradition to change the logo to be fitting for what was going on.
Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned Obsolete. One thing that was being mentioned at one point was a reunion, like you did with Demanufacture. Given the state of the band now, is that something that is off the cards?
Cazares: It was more of an Obsolete tour, not with the other ex-members no. But we were talking about doing an Obsolete anniversary tour because the record was approaching 20 years. But is that still in the works? No, not at the moment.
Dead Rhetoric: In terms of the way of the world and future, Fear Factory has always had that interaction between man and machine. What do you see as the way that the world moves forward with technology?
Cazares: Technology, how do I say it, there’s good and bad stuff and it seems like the bad stuff is sticking out. We have always known we were being watched, but now it’s completely out of control [laughs]. We have always talked about man and A.I. and the relationship between them. It’s just something that you have to deal with in life. We always talked about where it was going, and how technology and how robotics is getting closer and closer to creating these robots. I think the military already has technology right now to do all that stuff. So it’s just a matter of time before AI devices are implanted into a robot, if they haven’t done it already. That’s going to be the new thing. Have you see that movie Her? It had Joaquin Phoenix who falls in love with an iOS device. I think that’s where we are right now, because everyone has relationships with their devices.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s the immediate plans for the band, outside of the album release?
Cazares: I’m doing a lot of press for the record. The record doesn’t come out until June 18, and I can’t wait for the world to hear it. In the meantime, we will solidify a singer, release a track with them, and get back out on the road next year. I think it’s going to be a big thing when I introduce who it is going to be. Whoever it is, I hope that they are going to be strong enough to handle what is to come. At the same time, it’s going to be exciting and I can’t wait.