Fear Factory Interview

Well, we’ve fast forwarded through time, about 20 minutes actually, following the Spineshank interview. Time travel though doesn’t change destination, and so as a result, we’re still stuck in the bowels of Rock City as Dino ambles out to greet me. It emerges, to my mind at least, that he’s a man with a great deal of self-confidence. Maybe it borders on arrogance. And he also plays with his wallet chain a lot. So there’s plenty of rattle and roll going on. And for some reason, unlike the System interview, I was totally relaxed. The face stayed a natural colour, and there was even a hint of confidence running through the body. Maybe I just wasn’t bothered about it, as I like Fear Factory, but I’m not the biggest fan in the world. So, time for round 2. Don’t worry, my first statement wasn’t going to be “I’m not keen on the album.” Oh no, I’m being diplomatic this time! Going to have a crack about bloody re-issues instead. So, the how to tread on people’s toes interview technique, part 2. Hey ho, let’s go ....

Right, the questions that I’ve got, some are music based, some are industry related, some are kinda topical. The first stuff is regarding the label and the re-issues that are going on.

Re-issues as far as like what? asks Dino.

Well like Obsolete has just been re-released with 5 extra tracks on it.

Yeah yeah. A lot of people have actually asked me about that. “Why do they do that? Why do they do special edition digipacks?” That’s what digipacks are for, that’s what they’re known for. Special editions. A lot of people think “oh you’re just trying to make extra money” and so on and so on. The reason why it took us so long to release it, is that we couldn’t get the rights to the song Cars. We were going to release it the same day, but we couldn’t get the rights for at least three months, and finally we got to put it all together and we put it out like four and a half months later. So that’s the reason it took so long for that. And like, if you don’t want to buy it, don’t buy it. No-one has to. Of course people want to buy it cos they’re fans of the band and it’s 5 extra bonus tracks. But I’ve always looked at it like this, if you’re a fan of the band, like me I’m a big U2 fan. Anything U2 put out, I buy. Whether it’s a digipack, the same album with a different cover, or there’s one extra bonus track, or it’s a bootleg. Y’know, cos I’m a fan of the band. And I’ve never really questioned it. Everyone seems to be so concerned with money out here. And in some ways it’s cool, but in some ways it gets kind of annoying.

Well I think partly it’s like RoadRunner have re-released Sepultura’s back catalogue so many times.

Well put it this way. We have the choice as to whether we want to do a digipack or not. And we said “yes we want to do a digipack because it’s something special for the fans.” Right. And ok “so what songs do you want on there?”. And we want all the b-sides. So ok, now we’ve got to get the rights to Where Evil Dwells, which is a cover song also, and the Gary Numan track. Everything else came through, and the Gary Numan track took three months to get the clearance for it. They’re very protective of the song because it was his biggest hit. So it wasn’t for the band to make anything extra out of it. That wasn’t the sole reason.

Yeah, like I said, it’s just the Sepultura stuff has been re-released several times. I don’t know what their reason behind that is. Yeah, but it then seems that it’s the label all the time.

Yeah but then you get bands like AC/DC or Iron Maiden where it’s getting remastered all the time. If you don’t want to buy it, then don’t buy it.

Ok, well, I have a problem with re-issues as the last issue indicated. People DO go out and buy it just because of the name of the band. I believe it is ripping people off, taking advantage of this “fans” mentality, especially when you combine it with the problem that CDs are grossly overpriced in this country anyway. People buying re-issues all the time at the current cost are not going to have the money to check out new bands. But like I say, I’ve just got an attitude problem with it all maybe. And you don’t need to own everything to be a fan. Let’s return to Rock City again shall we?

Right, you may have touched in a way there on what I wanted to discuss next. As you’re now in a band as opposed to being a fan... I’m still a fan he interrupts. As a matter of fact I’m a fan of my own stuff. If I see bootleggers out there selling shirts, I’ve been out there before “look I’m in the band”, I don’t care, I sell bootleg shirts for a living. I don’t care, I understand where the guy is coming from. Same with bootleg CDs. I’ll go out and buy a Fear Factory bootleg CD. I’ve got some from Australia, Ireland, Japan. All places. And I try to collect them and all Fear Factory stuff, Japan, Australia, Canada - all the releases. Europeans actually get more stuff than America. The singles over here, they don’t release singles in America cos they don’t do really well for us. They do well for us over here. So the English get a lot of stuff. They get the 5 extra bonus tracks, plus the limited edition screen saver. On the digipack in America, we’re not putting the screen saver on it.

Again, that’s all well and good, but bootleg tends to suggest to me that official is too expensive. Hey, call me pig-headed but that’s it. Happy with bootlegs of a show? Then allow everyone to record so that people don’t have to go and buy it. There’s simplistic solutions to most things. Like allow a trade-in for the re-issues. Plus I’ve tried to get away from the, in my opinion, misguided concept that to be a fan means you have to buy everything a band puts out. Or like it. Or agree with it. No, judge for yourself. Sorry, we’re getting away from things here. Maybe I should explain that these bits in italics are some thoughts that I’ve added in as I’m playing back the interview and transcribing it. They’re not what was said, they’re reflections after the event. Take them for what they are.

Anyway, what I was trying to get at was this. Now that you’re in the band, do you see things that are perhaps annoying as a fan, from a different perspective. Like for example, ticket prices are sometimes too high, same with merchandise prices. That’s the fan perspective. But for you now, it’s maybe a way to pay the rent. A different perspective.

A lot of it has to do with what a bands guarantee is. If you get a guarantee of $20,000 for a show, ticket prices are going to be high. If you want lower ticket prices, you have to take lesser money. This is how it is. Some bands expect more, some bands are reasonable. I think it’s very reasonable that tickets are like only £12 here. I think that Rob Zombie are like £15. And he’s having less people than we are. So it all depends on a band. Sure, I’m very aware of it, and I always try to make wherever I can, ticket prices reasonable and our guarantee reasonable. I always try to do all ages shows. Unfortunately tonight isn’t.

Ticket prices I can sometimes understand, maybe production costs, but then again, I saw Bruce Dickinson here the other week, and tickets there were only £7.

Ok, turning to the album. To me it’s a good Fear Factory album, but I was probably expecting something a bit more. Possibly with the press that had gone beforehand, and in the wake of the remix album, I was expecting something really radical. I feel like Resurrection maybe did that. I think it’s the best song on the album, and it’s a bit of a departure.

I understand what you’re saying. Fear Factory’s always been a band about taking chances. Back on Soul of a New Machine we were definitely very death metal inspired. And Burt singing melodic on a death metal album just was, it was taking a chance. Cos you had Napalm Death, Carcass, Bolthrower, all those bands doing really well. And then you had the melodic part of FF that people didn’t expect. But it stood out. And then when Fear Is the Mindkiller came out, that was extremely radical at that point. Y’know, death metal, industrial, techno and remixes. And definitely it inspired a lot of people. And Demanufacture came out that was very mechanical. Really good, solid metal record. He checks himself. No, a great metal record. Like I said, he has confidence. Then we did Remanufacture, and that kinda pissed off a lot of people. There’s a lot of people who got into Demanufacture and perhaps didn’t know about our past. Didn’t know about Fear Is The Mindkiller, or Soul. Maybe heard about them, but didn’t really KNOW about it. Didn’t really know what Fear Factory’s progress was. And so we put out Remanufacture and it upset a lot of people, because at the time Prodigy, Chemical Brothers sort of thing was really big. And people thought we were going to become the next Prodigy. So in a way, we did do the radical thing and stick to what we’re good at. Stick to what we were. Stick to what we are. And not go the typical route that everyone thought we were going to go. In other words, don’t do a Remanufacture, because a lot of people thought we were going to go that way. So, it’s more organic album, less mechanical. In a way less electronic. But it’s kind of a really ironic thing, because we used more electronics on this record than we ever have done before. We recorded everything organically, but it was all done digitally. And it is weird. Like if you record live drums on tape, put it on the computer and move it around digitally. So it was probably the most electronically used record that we’ve done, but it’s the most organic sounding record. We wanted to give this record more of a human feel.

And so do you feel that you achieved that?

Yes. Definitely. I mean a song like Resurrection. It’s not really a mechanical masterpiece, cos we had real cellos’ and violinists instead of using keyboards. We wanted it to be a challenge for us, and it worked. And like I said, that was our way of bringing a more organic sound to our music. Someone even told me, “that’s the greatest, heaviest, melodic gayest riff I’ve ever heard.”

Lynn from Snot being killed. I’ve just asked Spineshank, do you think that’s going to have any effect on the scene.

LA’s a very big city. Maybe it will affect some people, maybe it won’t. It’s kind of hard to tell being such a big city. It happens all the time. It’ll affect you for a week and then you’re back on the clock again. It’s society. The people who aren’t affected will carry on living again and forget it. That’s how it is. It’s definitely affected me, though it hasn’t really hit me yet, because I’m not home. And so to me at the moment it’s almost just like a story y’know. It’s a really sad way to die. I lost my brother in a car accident and y’know, it’s a really sad thing. Especially that the guy was young, he had gone through drug abuse, shooting up heroin, stuff like that. And he’d conquered that. And then die in a simple fucking car wreck. That’s the sad thing about it. And it seemed like his band had such a bright future. And now he doesn’t have the opportunity to see all that. It’s heartbreaking. But like I said, I think when I get home it will really hit me.

Ok, moving away from that. Any opinions on what’s going on in the Gulf at the moment?

No is the simple answer. I really don’t cos I don’t know much of what’s going on. That’s why.

Do you think it’s just a cover for what’s going on with Clinton? Well y’know, I wouldn’t put it past them. I don’t even understand why Clinton’s getting impeached. Sure the guy got a blowjob. Ok, he said he didn’t get one, and then they find out that he did. Who cares? All these lawyers and whatever. It’s just wasting tax payers dollars. I really don’t give a fuck about Monica Lewinsky. She’s just a fucking bitch who gave the president a blow job. And you know what, a lot of girls probably if they had the chance to blow the president of the United States, they probably would. I’m not trying to degrade women or anything like that, but I’ve actually seen a poll where they asked women “if you had the chance to blow the president, would you do it?” And like 65% of them says yes. And 30 something said no.

I’d hate to think what a poll would come up with if they asked about Tony Blair over here.

I mean can you imagine if they asked all these men if you could fuck Pamela Anderson, would you do it? How many guys would say yes?

One or two maybe. Yeah right, give me a break. Methinks UK humour avoided Dino there. But let’s face it, she looked better before all the plastic surgery right?

I really don’t give a fuck. What it is, is it makes America look like a joke.

That’s what I was going to ask. Do you think the rest of the world just sees America as a joke. Yeah of course. Totally. Do you think America realises that? No. Why? Because a lot of Americans don’t know what the fuck Europeans think. They don’t know the politics over here. They don’t know about over here. A lot of Americans don’t really care about what goes on in Europe. They’re only concerned about where they’re at. I’ve been lucky enough to come over to Europe for the last 5 years. And everytime I come over, I learn more and more. And it’s made me open my eyes definitely. Not to be so ignorant that I just see my own problems.

Yeah, I mean I’m closedminded I guess in that I’ve never been to the States. Yeah, you call us septic tank Yanks. I know that. You know, like a shit tank. And we call you guys limeys. Yeah I know. I’ve never been there so I only have my opinions based on what I see or read. But I’m never sure what to really expect from the music viewpoint. The way it comes over is like this “so wonderful” place. Bands play huge arenas to 25,000 and all that kind of stuff. Yet when you talk to bands, you get a totally different impression. That the places they’re playing are more comparable in size to the UK venues.

There’s a couple of clubs in LA, like the Roxy and the Whisky, that are 700 seaters. The Whisky is actually 540 people. And that’s it? See, those venues it feels to me get transformed into these mystical venues that must be wonderful. And the reality then is that they’re like Bradford Rio’s, or a smaller Rock City. If we do the Whisky then we do 4 nights sold out. And it’s kind of cool to do those small clubs. We also do places like the Palace, which are 1000 seaters or more. You can’t really believe the press. They’re always going to hype it and build it up to more than it is. Like “Marilyn Manson shat in someone’s mouth last week”, and it’s headline news. Like “oh fuck, why did he do that?” And it’s not true y’know. Some bands are successful because of their false hype. Marilyn Manson. Korn. Bands like that. Y’know I’ll give credit where credit is due. The first Korn record is a great record. But now it’s all trend and all hype. Adidas, Puma, it’s all a trend amongst kids. And they really know how to attract the kids. Do you read Metal Hammer? Yeah. And what was their success story in there? Image. Same thing with Marilyn Manson. It’s image. Some images people like, some images people don’t. Fear Factory was never so much an image band as a music band. I like to think that we become successful because we put out good records, and not blatantly follow some trend. I’ve always felt that Fear Factory are the sort of band that have stood on their own. But at the same time be able to play with bands like Deftones and Korn. Be a part of the so called scene. Y’know what I mean. Yeah, but some god damn git is hitting things again. Almost like there’s a drum soundcheck going on. I hate drum soundchecks. Always a good way to ruin a fucking interview. Bastards. Anyway, I digress.

Right, well I’ve just done an interview with Spineshank, and said that I wasn’t that keen on the album. Anyway, I asked what was the question that I should ask you, and what Tommy came up with was: Do you think that Spineshank sound like Fear Factory?

No is the somewhat predictable response. Like he was going to go “yes”. Anyway, he has more to say on the matter. I personally don’t think they sound like Fear Factory, but I think they’ve been influenced by Fear Factory. I think a lot of bands were influenced by Fear Factory, because I think we’ve shown that you shouldn’t be afraid to take that different step. And one thing I can say about Burt that he developed the trend of singing melodic then heavy, or vica versa. And he was doing it before that, and before the Deftones were screaming, then singing melodic. Same thing with Korn. I can say that Burt was one of the first guys doing that.

I don’t think Spineshank really come out of the school of Fear Factory, I think they come out of the school of the Deftones.

I think that’s why I’m struggling with the album at the moment, because it feels like the whole scene is ready to implode.

Well y’know, when your first album comes out, you’re always going to be compared to something. Then you learn from that. I mean our first record was being compared to Napalm Death, Carcass. Godflesh was actually one of the better bands that we got compared to. At the time you’re kinda pissed off by it. But when you look back you think “yeah”, it was definitely inspired by it, and we’re not afraid to admit that. But you could see the potential for us to go somewhere else. And we did with Fear Is The Mindkiller. And we did with Demanufacture. And we are with Obsolete. We’ve created our own standard for ourselves. And now it’s Fear Factory. I mean is a song like Resurrection really a metal song? For instance, I’ll give you an example. I turned on my TV at about 2 in the morning while I was in London. And I saw on Sky 1 some rock programme where they talked about the 10 top rock songs in the UK. And they showed the video of each of the 10 songs. And we’re talking Marilyn Manson. The Manic Street Preachers. Placebo. Aerosmith. Metallica. And some others. And Fear Factory was at No 7 in amongst all those. And I’m like “oh my God.” It freaked me out. And at the same time it stood out, but it also fit. It was different, but you could see that it fit there.

And with things fitting in, it’s time to draw things to an end, as although no-one has come along yet, we’ve gone over the usual 20 minutes and it’s probably time to let the man get back to preparing for the gig. And also, when I check, there was only about 30 seconds of tape left. Perfect timing.Well, I hope it was good for you he grins as he ambles off to check the washing. No really, that’s what happened. They have to get their washing done somewhere, and at the moment, Fear Factory are doing their dirty washing in Rock City. I’ll leave you to decide whether that’s an appropriate combination or not!