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Putting Fear Factory to Slave Labor: Diana DeVille's Exclusive Burton C. Bell Interview

By Diana DeVille, Rock Goddess
Friday, March 26, 2004 @ 10:00 PM

Diana DeVille chats with Fear

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Fear Factory is the bionic band of metal, having come through the firestorms of the past couple of years with a lineup change (including bassist Christian Olde Wolbersí jump over to lead guitar, with former Strapping Young Lad Byron Stroud picking up bass duties), a new record label, and a new studio release set for April 20 (Archetype). KNAC.comís Diana DeVille recently chatted with frontman Burton C. Bell at the listening party at Hollywoodís Cat Club.

KNAC.com: Your new record, Archetype, comes out on April 20th. Congratulations!

BCB: Thank you. 4/20! (laughs)

KNAC.com: How are you feeling right now after having wrapped up the record?

BCB: A little excitedÖthere is a lot of positivity. Iím really proud of the work weíve done. I think weíve done a really good job. So, itís just like thereís all this excitement building until April 20 and then...itís like Iím sitting on a big secret or something. It feels good!

KNAC.com: The past couple of years have seen you go through a lot of transition. Youíve changed record labels as well as band members. Can you talk about how these changes came about, and how they have affected you?

BCB: The change happened on a natural occurrence, and things had to happen. Doing things intentionally caused a change unintentionally, if that makes any sense. There were a lot of things going wrong with the internal workings of Fear Factory, and also the external workings were affecting us as well. We just had to make some changes, really. For a long time we had wanted to get off Roadrunner [Records] because we were just unhappy with the contract we had signed. I mean, I signed a shitty contract, what can I say? No one put a gun to my head. So I signed it, but it was bad, and we were trying to get out of it, and we were getting the best we could. So thatís a new change, and I feel really good about that. The lineup [of the band] changed, and Iím really happy about that. The dynamics of this band work really well. We get along really, really well, and Raymond and Christian are just amazing working together.

KNAC.com: How did you find Byron?

BCB: We have known Byron for a while. You know, he was in a band called Strapping Young Lad. We started really hanging out with those guys back in 1998 when we were recording in Vancouver for Obsolete, and we spent a lot of time there, so we were just hanging out with Byron. We became good friends with the guy, and heís a great bass player. In 2001, Fear Factory had Strapping Young Lad on tour with us in Europe, and we just became even better friends. When it came to the point of choosing, when Christian had decided that he would be the guitar player, the decision to find a bass player came around. We didnít want to hold open auditions, we just didnít want to deal with that, so we just sat together and just thought about people that we liked, bass players that we liked that were great bass players. The list was just three people, and Byron was at the top of the list, so we just called him first. Byron was really psyched, and Iím really jazzed to have Byron contributing his live stylings and talents to it, and weíll see how it goes.

KNAC.com: How did you hook up with Liquid 8 Records?

BCB: They really approached us. It was while we were doing the demo for Roadrunner that we started getting approached by other labels, and originally it was D3 that approached us. D3 was talking to us, but we hadnít really done anything because we were waiting to find out what Roadrunner was going to do. When Roadrunner finally made a decision, we started talking to D3 and deliberating over the contract and whatever, and during that chorus, Liquid 8 came into the picture because D3 and Liquid 8 had some business dealings, something that had nothing to do with us, and Liquid 8 bought out D3 Records. It came to the point that the owner of Liquid 8 was going through all the inventory of D3 and everything that was coming on their plate, and the owner of Liquid 8 asked his 16-year old son about us, and his son freaked! (laughs). He said, ďOh my God! That band rules!Ē They loved us, soÖ

KNAC.com: That seems to be how music decisions are made these days.

BCB: Absolutely. If you want to find out about a good band, just ask someone who likes music, whoís into heavy music, and usually itís 16 to 20 year olds Ė and his son is 16. So, it was pretty cool, and the rest is history. We started talking about the contract, and we got the best contract that we felt was good, and so did Liquid 8. Everybody compromised, but we all got what we wanted.

KNAC.com: So it was a win-win situation for everyone.

BCB: Exactly.

KNAC.com: Letís talk about Archetype, first the name of the record. Why did you choose this for the title, and what does it mean to you?

BCB: When I first heard the four tracks that Raymond and Christian sent me for the demo for Roadrunner, the first four tracks blew me away. They obviously didnít have titles, but I listened to them, I put lyrics to them. The first four tracks were Slave Labor, Corporate Cloning, Bite the Hand That Bleeds, and the track Archetype. It was when I heard that track, it just became so evident that THIS is what Fear Factory has always been about; this is pure Fear Factory. There was no question in my mind. That was the first word that popped in my head Ė archetype Ė and it was just a stream of consciousness. It couldnít have happened any other way; I knew right then that if we were going to do a record, it was going to be called Archetype because this is the definition of what we do. The pure definition of ďarchetypeĒ is, it defines a model, it defines the being. There are the archetypes of unconsciousness, but there are the archetypes of personalities, there are the archetypes of mechanisms as well, and this is THE model of which everything was defined about Fear Factory.

KNAC.com: Okay. Having said that, was there any particular theme or idea that you wanted to get across on this record?

BCB: No, writing the lyrics, I just wrote lyrics that came to me. I wasnít trying to struggle with some kind of concept. I wasnít trying to wrack my brain and stress myself out. I just did what came naturally, and that is to write what I feel, which all writers do, and thatís what Iíve always done. This time, though, I decided not to disassociate myself through a form of escapism by creating some futuristic story (which is fun), but letís try something a little different. It has a real reality sensed base to it. The lyrics are very real, very honest. I feel that everyone who reads and listens to these lyrics will understand and take a deeper meaning or a relative meaningÖyou know, they can relate it to something going on in their lives or understand what happened to us, because the story of Fear Factory over the past few years is really interesting. Thatís what Iíve been telling; this is really a testament.

KNAC.com: What influenced you when writing the record? Iím thinking that with everything youíve gone through, such a complete change of everything around youÖ

BCB: Well, exactly, and that was the biggest influence. Life is the biggest influence of any writer. Being writers, we observe and we pay attention. We take care ofÖ.thatís how we relate to our world is by writing about it, and thatís what I did, thatís my therapy.

KNAC.com: I read that your song ďArchetypeĒ was picked up to be in the Playstation game.

BCB: It was?!

KNAC.com: Yeah, I thought that was pretty cool. I think itís the NFL 2004 game. How did that come about?

BCB: Thatís the first time Iíve heard about that! Fear Factory has always been accessible for music video games, because music is a great interaction for whatís happening onscreen; itís almost like a natural soundtrack, and the music is very upbeat, at time itís aggressive, it flows and it has a very mechanical feel and it just goes with a lot of what video games do.

KNAC.com: Plus, it kind of goes along with what you were saying earlier about the 16 to 20 year olds. A lot of them play video games, and they listen to Fear Factory, so itís a natural combination.

BCB: Exactly, and this record I have a feeling is going to do a lot more for video games and soundtracks. I hope so.

KNAC.com: Your first video for the song is Cyberwaste, which you filmed recently in Australia.

BCB: Yeah.

KNAC.com: Tell me about this. Why did you decide to film in Australia?

BCB: Well, we were already in Australia. We decided to do a few shows, kind of just to announce that Fear Factory is here, so we went to Australia and did some shows with Korn, did a few big day out shows at the last minute. It was also a kind of initiation for Byron to see how he works out, but mostly it was just, letís see how this works and see how it feels, and it felt great! We had nine days off in Perth.

KNAC.com: Wow. Now thatís a vacation!

BCB: (laughs) Pretty much. During this time we tried to keep things going and try to be functional in some way or another, and we decided to film a really cheap video while we were there. So we drove around all of Perth to the west coast and up and down the Indian Ocean, and we found an abandoned power station. Itís kind of a heritage site, but it hasnít been touched Ė itís completely empty. But itís art deco, just very huge windows, beautiful structure, but so derelict inside itís amazing. We had our listening party a few days before and handed out directions to it, and whoever got directions to it could come down and participate. So we just wanted to do a live video and capture that energetic vibe of Fear Factory that you see live going to a concert, and thatís what this song is.

KNAC.com: That will be debuting sometime this month, correct?

BCB: Well, yes, it will be released with the first 100,000 copies of the record. So itís going to be a dual CD/DVD.

KNAC.com: To support the record, youíre going to be touring, and youíve been selected for this yearís Jagermeister tour along with Slipknot.

BCB: Yes, those guys are fun to watch. Obviously theyíre sick live, and a bunch of great guys. Weíve toured with them before, so Iím looking forward to that. Itís going to be a great tour. Their record is coming out five days after ours, so we are both in the same boat. We havenít had a record out in a few years, so itís gonna be sick. Weíre going to have a lot of fun.

KNAC.com: Do you think itís going to be one of those friendly competitions to see ďyeah, weíre out at the same time, letís see whoís going to do betterĒ, but not in a mean-spirited way, butÖ?

BCB: Well, not a competition, but both bands, us and Slipknot, we strive for perfection and to do the best show possible, not just for us, but also for our fans. Fans know when a band is faking it, and we are enjoying this and we want to go out and fucking rock! Thatís what this is about, so you know, competition? I watch them and they watch us, and itís all good. Weíre nothing similar, so you canít compare apples and oranges, but you can really appreciate them and basically give respect.

KNAC.com: Are you looking forward to just getting out there and playing live in front of the crowds?

BCB: Yeah. That was the best part of this Australia thing. We hadnít played out in about 24, 25 months and it was just fucking amazing. Thatís what I miss the most, just being out on stage, the performing. As an artist, thatís what I love to do. Iíve missed it so much, and the response from the crowd just felt good, so I expect itíll be much of the same.

KNAC.com: So itís not like you recorded the record and now youíre going out playing live, because you did say you had a little ramp-up there in Australia where you were actually playing a little bit, kind of as a test run.

BCB: We did nine shows, three big day out festivals, five with Korn and one headlining, so yeah, nine shows.

KNAC.com: So youíve had some time to warm up and get out there with this formation of the band.

BCB: I need some warmups again. (laughs) Thatís been a month ago!

KNAC.com: What are your hopes for the tour?

BCB: Just to be successful, come out alive, do some good shows, win some fans, and maybe sell some records while weíre out there.

KNAC.com: Are you going to be playing some places you havenít played yet while youíre out there?

BCB: No. There will be some venues we havenít played, but pretty much every city we have played. We havenít been to some of these cities in a while, so itís going to be fun.

KNAC.com: How much new material will you be doing in the set compared to the classics?

BCB: We only get like 45 minutes I believe, so weíre probably only going to do two new songs prior to the record coming out, and then when the record comes out, weíll probably do some more. Weíll be doing some headline shows, and with the headline shows weíll do a little bit more. Weíll be playing about an hour and 15 minutes so weíll play some things we havenít done in a while.

KNAC.com: That will be fun.

BCB: I hope so. (laughs) We did one headline show in Australia. It was really good. It was a lot of fun. We changed it up a little bit and did some different things, and the crowd was really responsive.

KNAC.com: Yeah, well this will be really interesting, because Christian was your bass player, so heís going to be moving over to a different instrument.

BCB: The dynamics of Raymond and Christian live are just amazing.

KNAC.com: So the tour kicks off March 30th in Orlando, Florida running through mid-MayÖ

BCB: The tour kicks off March 30th and runs through I think May 21st. Then weíre off to Europe ten days later.

KNAC.com: How long will you be there?

BCB: Probably about a month doing festivals and some headlining shows, and then weíll come back and see what we can do. Maybe a headline tour.

KNAC.com: So youíll be out touring for quite a while.

BCB: Thatís the nature of the business.

KNAC.com: Congratulations on the new record and best of luck on the Jagermeister tour Ė thatís gonna rock.

BCB: My pleasure!

For more information on Fear Factory, visit www.fearfactory.com.

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