Vocalist Burton C. Bell of Los Angeles cyber metallers FEAR FACTORY was interviewed on the April 27-29 edition of Full Metal Jackie‘s nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
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Burton: I’ve always been fascinated with science fiction, growing up loving industrial music and metal, it seemed like something cool to do — to add a story to it. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so it was something I’ve always wanted to incorporate and it just seemed to work out that way, more through evolution it just kind of happened that way. This record is a full-on concept and you said it’s man versus machine, that’s true, but this time it’s from the point of view of machines.
Full Metal Jackie: Could you tell us about the song “Recharger”?
Burton: This song, we call it a very positive sort of song. In this part of the scene, in the book — there’s a book that comes out with the special edition and this is the scene where the industrialist in an automaton and it’s talking to all of its own kind that are hiding away in an abandoned factory. “Recharger” is like a speech to help his kind, I got to stop saying his ’cause it’s a machine, to help its kind to persevere and to resist and overpower humanity.
Full Metal Jackie: FEAR FACTORY incorporates facets of many different types of metal like thrash, groove, industrial. Which is most prevalent on “The Industrialist” and why?
Burton: I think on this album the thrash in metal is always there, that’s always Dino‘s [Cazares, guitar] inspiration growing up but also Dino and I discussed in depth before we started writing this record and while we were writing it that we wanted to incorporate the industrial side in it again. To me, that was something that got put on the backburner, so to speak, over the past several years with FEAR FACTORY and the industrial sides was the part that I really enjoyed about FEAR FACTORY — the programming, the sound scapes, the rhythms. We really took that industrial element even further into the music so now it’s a really great blend of the industrial, metal, thrash, hardcore, it’s all melting together and to me it’s probably the best FEAR FACTORY record we’ve done in a long time, it makes sense. It’s obviously FEAR FACTORY, you hear it and it will not be a surprise but it will surprise you, ’cause it’s like, “Wow, they pulled it off.”
Full Metal Jackie: Lineup changes have been pretty regular since the band first got back together 10 years ago. Is there a creative tension that comes from that that’s good or is it just disruptive?
Burton: I wouldn’t say it’s disruptive nor would I say there’s a tension. It definitely inspires creativity, though, and it’s just the way things go. This time the lineup change was mostly because of Gene‘s [Hoglan, drums] scheduling; he had prior commitments and FEAR FACTORY waited a while and he just had to keep working.
Full Metal Jackie: He’s in like 19 bands.
Burton: He is, he is. Rhys [Fulber, producer] calls him, not the traveling man, but he definitely wants to experience everything and wants to be a part of everything and more power to him; he’s a great human being. Byron [Stroud, bass] wanted to do something different. He felt like he wanted to change and move on and I respect him for that as well. The member changes, for me, have been happening since this band ever got together — even before we got signed we were on our fifth bass player. By the time Andrew Shives came in, he didn’t even play on the record and he was our fifth bass player and then he lasted for that tour and then Christian [Olde Wolbers] came in and he just happened to last the longest. The lineup changes, to me, it’s just the way things go. [Laughs] I don’t really think about it. It’s strange.
Full Metal Jackie: You’re the one consistent throughout all the lineups. How much different is your criteria for what you want FEAR FACTORY to be now compared to 20 years ago and “Soul Of A New Machine”?
Burton: I think the criteria we’ve really fulfilled it on this record, we brought back the elements that always made FEAR FACTORY stand out and interesting, and, to me, a cool band. Elements of remixing, elements of industrial, elements of metal, choruses, heavy verses, high aggression, just melodies, that’s the criteria of FEAR FACTORY. Dino was there in the beginning and this is the spark that we created and he gets it, he was part of it; him and I created FEAR FACTORY together. The criteria now is just to do it well, be FEAR FACTORY and to continue to evolve but I don’t want to alienate our audience but I do want to continue evolving and do the best music that we can and be professional at the same time.
Full Metal Jackie: I’m sure it’s tough trying to do both those things like evolve but also not scare people off.
Burton: Absolutely. Evolution can be done in small steps or huge steps, but you just got to know what can be right and what can’t be right. There’s a couple songs that didn’t make the record ’cause it’s like, “No, maybe it’s just not right, not for this element right now,” so you just got to make the decision.
Full Metal Jackie: Do you feel like you’ve made changes or you ever make decisions based on feedback you’ve felt from the fans?
Burton: No, ’cause… no. [Laughs] It’s our art and this is what FEAR FACTORY is and if our fans don’t like it… Some will, some won’t. You can’t please everybody, and if you try to be in this business and please everybody, then no one’s going to like you.
“Recharger” audio stream: