liveDaily Interview: Burton Bell, frontman of Fear Factory

May 25, 2001 03:45 PM
Over the last decade, the blending of corrosive metal riffs with the idea that man and machine are rapidly merging has been a linchpin for the success of Fear Factory .

Fear Factory formed in Los Angeles in 1990, and released its debut album, �Soul of a New Machine� (Roadrunner), two years later. Shortly thereafter, the band linked with remixer Rhys Fulbur on the �Fear Is the Mind Killer� EP, and Fulber has been �like the fifth member of the band� ever since, singer Burton Bell said. Other band members are Christian Olde-Wolbers (bass), Raymond Herrera (drums), and Dino Cazares (guitar).

Fear Factory is currently on the road with Spineshank, Dry Kill Logic and No One in Tow.

Bell talks about the concept behind "Digimortal" (Roadrunner)--which was released last month--his love of all things science and collaborating with Fulber.

LiveDaily: "Demanufacture," "Obsolete," and "Digimortal"--the last three Fear Factory albums--are all part of an ongoing story. Talk about that a little bit--what gave you that inspiration?

Burton Bell: It's the story of Fear Factory really. They�re all concepts. They�re not really connected like sequels, but they�re all part of the same concept. It started out with �Demanufacture.� �Demanufacture� is where it the actual concept started. This machine known as Fear Factory is producing images of this concept, this conceptual world of the future we�re talking about with every record. �Demanufacture� is a part of the future where man was against machine. Man vs. machine in a world where machines are trying to take over.

It moved forward with �Obsolete,� so far into the future that technology had become so prominent that it seemed like man was becoming obsolete himself. There was still a fight to save man from becoming obsolete completely. And [on �Digimortal�], the band is evolving and the concept is evolving as well. We had to take the concept even further because we couldn�t write about man vs. machine again without touching on the same topic. So we started to move forward ... it�s now man and machine where � technology is so prominent in our daily lives, we have no other choice but to adapt and evolve with it. Humanity and technology have become one. Take technology apart [and] humanity will fail, take humanity apart [and] technology will fail. Basically the whole world will cease to exist.

What got you started thinking about this?

I really don�t know. It kinda worked out that way. When we finished the record �Demanufacture,� and I put all the lyrics together, it seemed like it was telling a story, and I wrote it out that way afterwards. I�ve always been a fan of science and science fiction in general. I�m kind of a science buff. I�m not really good at applying my knowledge towards science, [but] I�m fascinated new developments in technology. I love sci-fi movies. I like reading journals. I like reading texts and documents of science. I�m fascinated with any facet of science, from biology, chemistry, astronomy, all of it.

Do you feel like the Internet is kind of a step in that sort of direction?

Oh, definitely--and it�s not just the Internet. It�s all sorts of technology. It�s part of our daily lives. The Internet is an evolution of the telegraph to me. Telegraph, telephone, radio--it�s all part of the same evolution. This is where we�re at right now. The Internet will probably be obsolete later on. Compared to some new technology, the Internet is going to seem like a very archaic type of technology, probably in about 10 years.

I kinda learned over the years that science fiction writers write about what they see around them, and they just put it into a futuristic perspective. A fine example is [George Orwell�s] �1984�--originally, it was titled "1948." So everything that�s written about in [Digimortal], you can see happening now.

It seems like in a span of five years, the Internet has really changed how people spend their time and how they interact with each other.

Oh, completely. You might be learning a lot surfing the web and all that stuff, but in some ways, it�s almost like creating hermits. People sitting in front of the screen, can�t live without the Internet, they have to stay online and stay indoors. I saw a commercial a couple months ago that really annoyed me. It was something about, �How are you going to spend your summer? Spend it online, get all these minutes free.� And it was like, �What?" It was kind of weird, and it�s like, that�s the way of the future.

That seems to tie in with your concept, that people have come to depend on it in their daily lives.

And not just Internet, there�s cell phones as well. But the Internet is definitely a big aspect of it. I have to admit, I got a computer about a year and a half ago and it really affected my life. I�ve definitely made changes in my life because of it, and it has changed my life. It�s pretty ironic, actually, for someone who a few years ago, I was saying, �I�ll never own a computer,� and now I have one. I�m way into it.

What are some of the other ideas that are part of the concept that became songs on this record?

The song �Invisible Wounds (Dark Bodies)�--it�s kind of weird. That was inspired by a friend of mine who had a child about a year ago. That birth made me think what would it be like inside the womb. And I, being a twin, wondering what kind of memories I would have of me and my twin inside the womb. Dark bodies floating in darkness basically. I put that into a perspective of a clone in an incubation period, and related it to being inside the womb. That�s how my mind works. It starts with something really simple and something everyone understands and can relate to. And then I put it through the perspective of the concept.

With this record you worked with Rhys Fulber again, and I wanted to see what you like about working with him or what he brings out of you?

He�s like the fifth member of the band. He�s a producer-programmer-keyboard player. He�s been with us since 1992, when he did the first remix. He understands what Fear Factory is about. He�s taken the same steps and challenges we have in advancing the music. He knows each of us individually as people. He knows how to get the best out of us. He knows how to talk to each of us. For this record, he really shined as a producer. He�s a part of our system. Part of the machine. Each cog in the Fear Factory machine has developed so well that we finally made the record we�ve been trying to make for ages.

I talked to you after a show earlier this year and you mentioned you were trying to make the record more streamlined and intense. What kind of things you try to do to make that happen?

There�s only one word we thought of to make that happen, and that was simplification. We had to go back and look at all our songs and listen to them and find out what songs worked better than others, like, live for instance. We found out the simple songs were the best songs live, and Fear Factory is very much a live band. So we wanted to concentrate on that aspect for this record. We learned that direct and to the point gets the idea across. The ideas for Fear Factory have been there, we just had to simplify it and make it exactly what the machine needed. Simplify the machine so it could run much more smoothly.�

Was there a song that dictated the direction you wanted the album to go in?

It would definitely be the single �Linchpin,� because that�s a classic Fear Factory song. It�s got everything that Fear Factory�s always been. It�s got heavy beats, it�s got groovy parts, it�s got melodic parts to it, it�s got aggressive vocals, a few riffs--it�s got everything, but all compacted into a simple little piece. That was the song. That was one of the first songs we finished. We tried to follow not the same structure, but the same idea. Keep it simple.

[Note: The following tour dates have been provided by artist and/or tour sources, who verify its accuracy as of the publication time of this story. Changes may occur before tickets go on sale. Check with official artist websites, ticketing sources and venues for late updates.]
 tour dates and tickets
Fear Factory tour dates

26 - Linclon, NE - Royal Grove
27 - Somerset, WI - Edgefest
30 - Orlando, FL - House of Blues
31 - New Orleans, LA - House of Blues

2 - Biloxi, MS - Biloxi Music Fest
3 - Tampa, FL - Masquerade
4 - Ft/ Lauderdale - Orbit Room
6 - Atlanta, GA - Masquerade
7 - Spartaburg, SC - Ground Zero
8 - Myrtle Beach, SC - House of Blues
16 - Philadelphia, PA - Electric Factory-Music Conference
18 - Nashville, TN - 328 Performance Hall
20 - Washington, DC - The Nation or 9:30 Club
21 - Norfolk, VA - Norva
22 - Scranton, PA - Voodoo Lounge
23 - Pittsburgh, PA - Metropol
24 - Old Bridge, NJ - Birch Hill Night Club
25 - Scranton, PA - Voodoo Lounge
26 - Albany, NY - Northern Lights
28 - New York, NY Hammerstein Ballroom
29 - Providence, RI Lupo`s Heartbreak Hotel
30 - Portland, ME State Theatre

1 - Northampton, MA - Pearl Street
3 - Buffalo, NY - Sideshow Music Hall
5 - Quebec City, Quebec - Capital Theatre
6 - Montreal, Quebec - Le Spectrum
7 - Toronto, Ontario - Warehouse
8 - Rochester, NY - Water Street
10 - Poughkeepsie, NY - The Chance
11 - Allentown, PA - Crocodile Rock
13 - Hartford, CT - Webster Theatre
14 - Boston, MA - WAAF Radio Show
15 - Cleveland, OH - Odeon Music Hall
17 - Toledo, OH - Main Event
18 - Madison, WI - Radio Show
21 - Omaha, NE - Ranch Bowl
24 - Spokane, WA - The Met
25 - Vancouver, British Columbia - Cottilion Ballroom
27 - Seattle, WA - Gotham
28 - Portland, OR - Roseland Ballroom
31 - San Francisco, CA - Maritime Hall

1 - Sacramento, CA - Crest Theatre
3 - Los Angeles, CA - The Palladium
4 - Anaheim, CA - House of Blues

 tour dates and tickets

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