Fear Factory: Sustaining An Empire

"You're Metal As Fuck and I'm Busy As Fuck"

Not many bands come to mind that hold integrity, diligence and the utter fucking wow factor quite like Fear Factory. A band that have stayed true to their fans and signature industrial sound for over twenty five years. A band that has inspired 100 more bands after them. A band whose empire will forever thrive and a band who manage to keep you propelled in a constant state of 1995 (and we love you for it!).Vocalist Burton C Bell opens up to Metal As Fuck about the state of the industry and tests out his vocals with his best Steve Perry impression....    

Its uncanny actually, I found myself watching old YouTube clips of Fear Factory just last week prior to being informed of our interview; I suppose I am warming up for Soundwave... [Laughs] “I hope so; there are some great bands on next year’s line-up. It should be a good time, right now I’m just busy but I like being busy, I like being creative and I like being able to work and write music, so you’re metal as fuck and I’ve been busy as fuck”. [Laughs]

So the new record Burton, the release date is still undecided, any interesting stories behind its delay? “Well, Dino and I have finally decided on an album title but we’re not ready to release it yet, we’re still brewing on it... It suits the Fear Factory concept and vibe. This record is going to have all the elements that the Fear Factory fan really likes, the songs are well crafted and well written and we’ve really reached out maturity [Laughs] after twenty five years of being in a band, I think we’re finally doing it right [Laughs] I’m really happy with how the record is turning out”.

The Industrialist; based on the concept of Man vs. Machine, a topic which is undeniable in the music and lyrics of the Fear Factory chronicle. With this in mind; what had you set out to achieve with this latest album? “The classic Fear Factory plus a very fresh approach layered on top, so yeah we’re returning to a very familiar sound but also utilizing different sounds and ideas and capturing the Fear Factory essence”.

Having Dino, again working with the writing and recording of this album, you guys fed off the energy during the making of Industrialist being together again and collaborating, who else is working on the project? “Rhys Fulber will be with us again, Mike Heller our touring drummer will be doing live drums for the record. Well of course he’s doing live drums and we have not decided on a mixer yet – we're still considering our options on that one”.

Creativity does come with its challenges at times; have you found any during the process? “There is always a challenge, when it comes to creativity the flow can come and go, the energy has been real high, the positivity has been real high – if there is any obstacle its not from a creative stand point it’s from some outside source. Like business, business always gets in the way, but apart from that the actual creative drive is going well. I mean myself and Dino had some personal setbacks but that’s life but as soon as we had taken care of everything we were able to get back into the game. Dino is on a roll, I’m on a roll, we're on a creative high right now and it feels really good”.      

Fear Factory is an institution to fans. Tradition becomes very important over the years – so what traditions do you hold dear to the music of Fear Factory? “You know one of the traditions I’d like to keep alive – we have a really strong connection with our fan base, our fans are fiercely loyal and we respect that and honour that so we do our best to bring out a fantastic record that we believe the fans will be pleased with. Another tradition we love is to tour and tour and tour get out there and meet the fans and show them the standard of a Fear Factory show, I mean we hold ourselves at a high standard when playing live, we are perfectionists and we like to show that to our audience, we’ve never been musicians who hide from their fans, well at least I’m not, I’ll go out there and walk around and talk to people, it’s funny, I walk around an audience and people don’t believe it’s me [Laughs] so the best place to hide is in plain sight”. [Laughs]

The industry; and you guys have seen a damn lot of it, is tough, and your comments on a particular label this year have captured the attention and support of many; so which has been the biggest battle for the band; forging your empire or sustaining it? “Sustaining it.... When we were forging our empire as a young band, at the time there was still an industry to push the band forward, since the industry is basically belly up the hard part now is sustaining that empire and to do that is to stay out there, and there are a lot of people who have given up on that, either way you still want to put something out there; I for one am proud that that shows the Fear Factory standard, if you’re gonna take it fucking take it, if you’re gonna buy it, thank you but please come see us live and that’s why bands put records out now, well at least bands at our level just so we can tour, sell albums, sell merch but sustaining it now is harder than it ever was, luckily I fucking love it [Laughs] but its work, it’s a lot of fucking work”.

It was during the Industrialist tour to Australia in 2012 and I was impressed as to how many fans had already committed the album to memory and showed as much gusto for the new songs as they would for say Linchpin and Zero Signal for example “Absolutely, that’s the thing, we write songs that are familiar and to write a good song it takes a lot of work, and we are writing good songs right now! An album that has the elements of the past and the present that the fans will enjoy, songs that we’re able to connect to the audience and have the audience relate, we want fans to sing out loud, it’s like going to a Journey concert and singing “Don’t stop believin!” [Burton did sing a few bars yes] “I won’t stop believing I promise!!” [Laughs]

Fear Factory are monsters for touring; what are plans for the remainder of the year and what is in the pipeline for 2015? “Soundwave in February of course, on that tour we will be playing at least one new track from the new record, March the new record will be coming out and after that just planning the massive tour cycle, about two years worth of it, it’s basically what we’ve been doing since the first record came out in 1992, we toured for three years straight, same in 1995 with Demanufacture. It’s something we love doing, I love touring. Don’t get me wrong touring is tiring, its hard work but I love it, I love seeing the world, I’m a nomad by heart and we can’t wait to bring Fear Factory back to Australia, we are always welcomed with open arms, and we thank you intensely for that”.