Words: Rod Yates
Promotional interviews can, at times, be mundane affairs. Same old questions met by the same old answers, usually along the lines of: “Yeah, man, our new album is the best thing we’ve ever done.” Occasionally, however, a band will surprise you with their honesty. They’ll tell you that, no, they’re not particularly happy with their new album. And on this occasion, that band is Fear Factory.
“I’ve had perspective on Transgression from the day I had it in my hands and was listening to it,” sighs guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers, hours before the band are due on stage as part of their US tour with Soilwork and Strapping Young Lad. “I’m not really the biggest fan of the album, to be honest. I like the music, but I feel like we didn’t get a chance to spend any post-production on it. To me, it’s half finished.”
It should be pointed out that it doesn’t take any probing or pushing for Olde Wolbers to admit this, but a mere two minutes of small talk before he starts making his feelings on the new release clear. And though he’ll end most of his statements with a nonchalant, “It is what it is, man, I’m not gonna cry about it”, the disappointment in his voice is palpable. His discontent seems to lie not so much with the songs, but with their choice of producer, Toby Wright, and the pressure placed on the band by their US label Liquid8 to get the album finished early.
“The label changed the fucking due date to be three months earlier,” he fumes, “so now all of a sudden we [went from having] four months [to record] down to a month and a half. We wanted to make a big, raw record, but high tech at the same time, with big keyboards and big harmonies. We’re kind of going backwards here.”
You do realise that you’re not doing a very convincing job of selling Transgression to your fans…
“It’s a good record,” he counters. “It’s just production wise, it could have been taken a lot further. I feel like it’s only half way finished. If I had time to spend on pre-production it would have been sounding a lot more movie-ish, a lot bigger and a lot more digital, more like the other records.”
Further upsetting the guitarist is the presence of two covers on the album, U2’s I Will Follow and Killing Joke’s Millennium. Initially intended to be B-sides only, they ended up being included when the band didn’t have enough original material ready to record.
“We had 20 songs, and we only had lyrics for eight by the time we had to deliver the album, so we just had to go with what we had,” explains Olde Wolbers. “We still had five or six songs sitting around that were super fucking good that we didn’t get time to finish.”
For all of Olde Wolbers’ disappointment, it would be wrong to write Transgression off completely. Songs such as the title-track and Spinal Compression still pair Fear Factory’s trademark precision typewriter riffing with gargantuan choruses, and it’s easy to see that, had time allowed, Transgression could have been something very special indeed. Perhaps more worrying for FF fans isn’t the guitarist’s unhappiness with the album, but his admission that his commitment to the band isn’t what it once was
“I try and look at it as more of a hobby now, seeing as I have so much other stuff going on, producing bands and a lot of hip-hop. I try not to make it my main focus as much as I probably used to do in the past. I know this is going to end at some point and I need to move on with my life, and I still want to do music and keep productive.”
Do you think the band will wind down any time soon?
“Ummm…. We’ll tour and stuff, but with this record maybe not as much as we did on other records. We definitely want to do a remix album, eventually a live album, maybe a covers album. There’s still a lot of things we want to do.”
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