In the early 90s, Los Angeles future-thinkers Fear Factory
were reinventing both death metal and industrial rock with an arsenal of sonic styles. After releasing four critically acclaimed albums and two industrial remix EPs, and following a gruelling tour with Machine Head
in 2002, the creative core of Fear Factory
imploded due to personal differences and sheer over-exertion. Guitarist and songwriter Dino Cazares
went on to play with Brujeria
and vocalist Burton C. Bell
took a few months off before eventually reforming the band and releasing two more records over the next few years. Without Cazares
in the mix, however, Fear Factory
was missing a key element of its sound and wound up feeling like a shadow of their former selves.
In 2008, a full six years after they had last spoken, Bell
ran into Cazares
at a Los Angeles show and reopened the lines of communication. Not long thereafter Bell
were jamming again. With the addition of bassist Byron Stroud
and drummer Gene Hoglan
(Dethklok, Strapping Young Lad), Fear Factory
was back and ready for action. The result of their union, Mechanize
, is a full-fisted blast of passion and innovation that sounds like the missing link between's 1995's caustic, groundbreaking Demanufacture and 1998's more texturally nuanced Obsolete.During the band's recent tour of Australia, Joe Matera
caught up with Dino Cazares
during the band's stopover in Melbourne on the Big Day Out
tour to discuss the new album, the newly revamped Fear Factory
's new guitar.
UG: When it came to the new album Mechanize, did the creative process differ in any way from previous efforts?
Yes, one of things that is different are the tempos. On the earlier records, a lot of the songs' tempos were around 190 to 200 bpms [beats per minute] but on this record, we bumped the tempos out to around 220, 225 bpms. The reason for that is the excitement we had just jamming together. And because of those faster tempos, it makes the record more exciting and more energetic.
Having two new members in the new revamped Fear Factory line-up, in what ways has that changed the dynamic of the music and the band's approach to the creative process?
I don't think it has changed the dynamic much, but I think that with Burton and I coming back together, it brought that dynamic back to the band. It was missing when I was gone, and sure they held themselves above water, but it wasn't enough to really blow people away. And there were other elements in the band missing as well. I was just one of those elements. The other element was the producer. Obviously Burton knew he needed those elements back and he was craving that element to be back in the band. And that's why I came back. Obviously the both of us had to just hang out together first as we hadn't seen each other for about even years. And that is a long time. But it was like we had never left off. But at the same time, it was an excitement of something new again. With that being said, having both Byron and Gene [sic]Byron was already in Fear Factory when I was gone and Gene is a legendary drummer from Strapping Young Lad who were very much influenced by Fear Factory, so Gene came in and brought in a new style. It wasn't like we had to sit there and teach somebody the parts, he already knew.
Both Christian Olde Wolbers and Raymond Herrera have tried to stop the new album coming out?
"Because of those faster tempos, it makes the record more exciting and more energetic."
That is correct and they have tried very hard but the legal issues have been almost resolved. With that being said though, Burton and I are very much in the right to release the record but they just want to stop it for whatever reasons they have. Obviously they're upset about the situation and are very bitter. Also the thing is, and I want to clear this up for the record, but when Burt asked me to come back to the band, he actually asked me to come back to the band as a whole. That is, with also the other members as well [Christian Olde Wolbers and Raymond Herrera]. But the other two turned it down because they didn't want me back in the band.
You mentioned the excitement of the band's new lineup, so do you think if Christian and Raymond had got back together with you and Burton, this new record would have come out sounding unlike how the new record sounds?
Well, the thing is I don't think I could have written another record with those two guys because their mentality of what Fear Factory should sound like is very different. And I will tell you why. The music that they're doing now with their other band Arkaea, they have been telling the press that the band's debut record Years in the Darkness (2009) was supposed to be the new Fear Factory'. But if you listen to that record, it is nothing like it at all. Yet if you listen to what Burt and I are doing now, it is the traditional Fear Factory sound of what it sound, and is sounding like.
Going back to the new record, Mechanize really bridges that gap between the Fear Factory of old, in what you have just mentioned, that traditional sound and of the Fear Factory of today.
It definitely has all those elements, and I think it has an influence from all the records we've made so far. Comparing to the older records, it has that aggressive style with the fast beats of Soul Of A New Machine, and shares similarities in the songwriting and the production of Demanufacture. The production on this record was done by Rhys Fulber who has been part of the band, like the fifth member-producer guy and he's the guy who adds all the keyboard elements. The songwriting is also very much like Obsolete with its epic songs. All the energy on this record is very much apparent. You can hear the chemistry in the band and you can hear a hunger that you normally would hear in a younger band. That was what I heard the first day we started playing together as we were all excited being in the same room together for various reasons.
Let's talk guitars, what are you currently using?
I'm using an Ibanez RGA eight-string. I first started playing that guitar five years ago. But I didn't start showcasing the guitar on songs until Divine Heresy. Actually the guitar will be available some time this year for purchase. It sounds amazing and has these EMG-808 pickups in it. I'm using this guitar with Fear Factory and especially on the new songs.
What about amplification?
Amp wise, I'm using a Line 6 Vetta II, I've been using all Line 6 products since back in the day and the reason I use the Line 6 is that I used to have a Marshall JCM 800, a modified head and it got stolen back in 1998. And the Line 6 is the only thing that comes close to replicating that original tone that I had in my Marshall. The Marshall had 6505 tubes in it which gave it more of a solid state type of tone which I was really into. And I use Mesa Boogie rectifier cabinets with the Line 6. Live, I mainly use the Line 6 with the rectifier cabs.
Did you experiment with different tunings on this album?
Yeah I'm using eight string tunings such as F sharp. On the title track Mechanize, that song is in F sharp and that is very low. But it has this really good solid tone. You'd think that being that low, F sharp would sound muddy and this and that, well not at all. And the reason is because of the length of the scale of my guitar neck which is a 28 scale neck. So it is able to handle the tension of F sharp, especially on the lower strings. Sure, if it was a 24 scale neck it would sound foggy as hell because its four more frets longer, but not with a 28 scale neck.
Do you have much of a guitar collection?
At one point I had about 25 different guitars, but now I'm down to just 18 guitars.
How many guitars do you take out with you on the road?
I normally take four guitars with me.
How do you go about capturing your guitar tones in the studio?
In the studio we stick a SM-57 in front of the cab as well as have a direct line. We sort of do a little bit of blending of the two tones together, but not much. And obviously we use a clean tone as well in case I want to re-amp later and stuff. But live, there are no mikes on the cabs, just a direct from the cab to the front of house.
In what ways, if any, do you think your style and musical interests has changed over time?
"I was just one of those elements missing in the band."
It hasn't. My style has remained the same because I still love the same things that I loved when I was growing up. That is one thing that you should never forget and never loose sight of because that has made you who you are. And that goes for everybody. I'm not one of those guys that go, oh today I love metal' or today I love you know', I'm not one of those guys. I'm a true born rocker, metal head, that's what I am.
With your other projects such as Divine Heresy are they just different outlets for you to express yourself in other ways?
Yes and no, you have to realize I was out of Fear Factory for six and half years and so it definitely had elements of Fear Factory in there. But that band Divine Heresy is more technical than Fear Factory. And doing stuff like that, not just with Divine Heresy but other projects too that I've had like the Roadrunner All-Stars record and jamming with other musicians, just being able to do all of that was a really healthy experience for me as a guitar player.
With Fear factory now full-time again, will Divine Heresy be put on the back burner?
Yes, it has to be but it will happen again when it can as we really want to be able to do shows when we can. Hopefully some time this year the band will be part of a U.S tour, Divine Heresy and Fear Factory together and with other bands in between, so hopefully that will happen.
Looking back on Fear Factory's back catalog, how do you feel about the Digimortal (2001) album today?
It had some great elements I never really hated the record but there are some things I hated about the record. But I never hated it completely because it is still one of my babies. And every band in their career has a bad record. I mean, not exactly a fan favorite record. Every one in their career has had one of those. For me it was Digimortal. It isn't exactly a fan favorite but I still like the record and it has some great songs. We still play some of the songs off that record live such as Linchpin and Acres of Skin.
Interview by Joe Matera