Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares is a man of little free time, with three bands in full swing (including Divine Heresy and Asesino), the 45-year-old metal guitarist is far from slowing down.
June 2012 marks the release of Fear Factory’s new album, The Industrialist. For those familiar with the death-to-industrial metal pioneers, it’s well known they’ve had a bit of a bumpy ride with band members coming and going, and not always on amicable terms. This latest production from founding members Cazares and vocalist Burton C. Bell however, shows the classic Fear Factory style alive and well, screaming and ready to fight for robot rights before they do.
Though not quite as bloodthirsty as 2010′s Mechanize, their new concept album delivers the signature heavy machine-gun style riffing of Cazares with Bell’s alternating clean vocals and death growls, which continue to make Fear Factory an important contributor in the evolution of metal.
The Industrialist, as well as being told from the viewpoint of an automaton in a not-too-distant future, is also an analogy for the corruption of capitalist industry. Cazares explains the prophetic nihilism of Bell’s lyrics, saying “we took a lot of the concepts from Occupy Wall Street, people fighting against vast corporations. And what we’re seeing is that so many of these vast corporations are, like in the chorus of the title track, ‘above and beyond the law.’ We’re against that.”
Further inspirational material for Bell’s lyrics, as in most of his songs, comes from prophecies from ancient and modern sources alike. “Since the first day that Fear Factory was born, we were influenced by books by Isaac Asimov, writers like him, and sci-fi movies,” says Cazares. “We always were intrigued by that. Even the Mayans, you know; futuristic predictions and people talking about the possibilities of what could happen. Some of it has come true, and some of it hasn’t, but I hope I live to see a lot of stuff that’s coming.”
When asked whether doomsday prophecies hold a particular interest for him, Cazares laughs and says “ohh I’m interested in all of it. I’m especially into the technology though; how nanotechnology has grown and how much farther it can grow. Also the fun stuff, like certain weapons and shit like that – you know, like Star Wars, shooting laser beams. Childhood stuff.”
It took only five months to write and record The Industrialist, “mostly the music and lyrics came hand in hand,” says Cazares, “but it really didn’t come together until we had the title for the album…. then you can paint a picture of what you mean, and of how big the word is,” he emphasises. Then, laughing, he explains “not just because it has a lot of letters, but what it means. That’s why the intro is so epic. And so as soon as that came, everything started to come together.”
Though five months might be considered a short time to create a conceptual album from scratch to the final polished product, but seasoned musicians like Cazares and Bell are used to the demands of the music industry. In fact, Cazares laughs when asked if he felt rushed by the bigwigs to finish, “Always! You’re always rushed by the label! The label’s the one that wants to get it out because obviously the industry is dying as far as CD sales. They want to hurry up and get it out before the hype is gone,” he says, before adding, “but we’ve learned over the years to work under pressure.”
Despite a tight schedule, Cazares is excited about his latest collaboration with long-time band mate and reconciled friend Burton C. Bell. Though the prolific songwriters were joined by newly enlisted bassist Matt DeVries, of Chimaira fame, and veteran keyboardist and producer Rhys Fulber; Cazares maintains that he and Bell are – and always have been – the foundations of the band.
“We’re the ones who started the band in the beginning. It starts with Burt’s vocals. Without Burt’s vocal style, what would it be? When I was out of the band and they were continuing on without me, Christian [Olde Wolbers, bassist-turned-lead-guitarist when Cazares left the band from 2002 to 2009] copied my style, because he learned from me.”
The 45-year-old continues to elaborate on the Fear Factory-sans-Cazares-era, saying “Christian copied my style for one record, and then the next record that came out, Transgression, was a flop. He got tired of people telling him that he sounded like me so he tried to do his own thing and it just flopped. Anyway!” He stops himself to return to his point, “so classic Fear Factory style is definitely me and Burton; it’s as true as you’re going to get.”
When pressed to choose a favourite track, Cazares is so stoked with The Industrialist, he finds it difficult, “I really love the title track. I love ‘New Messiah’. I pretty much love the whole record. We haven’t been playing any of the songs live, except for ‘Recharger’, so I think that once we start playing it live, then I’ll be like “ok I love playing this song!”
Having written and recorded the album without any feedback from the fans keeps Cazares from knowing the true power of each song, and he says “you judge by the reaction of the audience. Sometimes you feel the energy of the song, that’s what makes it amazing.”
There is one new element to Fear Factory in this latest production which might concern their long-time admirers. With drummer Gene Hoglan leaving after Mechanize, Cazares decided he would take on the task of programming the drums for the new album. Fans should fear not this further ‘cyborgisation’ of the band, however, as Cazares developed the tracks, with the help of John Sankey of Devolved, in the same classic Fear Factory style.
“It wasn’t a challenge at all,” he explains, “and there are pros and cons. The pros are – it’s cost effective, and you don’t have to spend hours and hours at a rehearsal studio, rehearsing with a drummer. It doesn’t get tired, it doesn’t talk back to you and say “I can’t play that part!” he laughs.
“We’ve been talking about this a lot lately,” Cazares elaborates, “and even if we had a live drummer, it would have been the same outcome. Because technically, even if a live drummer recorded on the album, we would take his drums, run it back through ProTools, edit all the drums and change all the drum sounds to make them sound like a machine. So there’s no difference in tone that you’re going to hear.”
As for the live show, Cazares has complete confidence in live drummer Mike Heller’s ability in transposing the parts authentically. So later down the line when the industrial death metal giants are touring Australia, as Cazares assures they will, fans can expect one hell-raising, head-banging, thrashingly brutal performance.