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Dino Cazares Unleashes Divine Heresy

By Lisa Sharken, New York Contributor
Wednesday, November 14, 2007 @ 11:27 PM

ďWow! This is actually pretty

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As guitarist and a founding member of Fear Factory, Dino Cazares helped to forge a unique sound which blended heavy metal with industrial elements. Fear Factory were leaders of metal scene through the í90s. Cazares left the group shortly after its 2001 release and began focusing on his side projects, primarily two Latino death metal bands, Brujeria and Asesino. For the last two years, Cazares had been meticulously writing, recording, and readying his new band for its international debutóa crushing quartet heís dubbed Divine Heresy. The groupís inaugural disc, Bleed The Fifth, is full-on metal, and has been receiving positive reviews from fans and critics. Currently, Divine Heresy is preparing to embark on a highly anticipated U.S. tour, which also serves as Cazaresí comeback for many fans who havenít seen him perform live since his last round with Fear Factory. Itís clear that heís eager to get back out and ready to unveil Divine Heresy.

Before we got started, Cazares wanted to express his gratitude to KNAC.COM for its continued support of his music. "KNAC is a big part of my musical career history!" he proudly told us. "KNAC was the first radio station to ever play any of my bands, and the first radio station to have me on the air. That was back in 1993. I appreciate that they continue to support me today on KNAC.COM. Now that you can hear them on the Internet, they probably reach a lot more people that way because the Internet is global."

Cazares continues openly, bringing us up to date with details on this new band. He tells us how both the album and band came together, and also reveals his plans for touring with both Divine Heresy and Asesino.

KNAC.COM: Tell us how Divine Heresy came together.

CAZARES: Tim Yeung was the first guy who I started playing with. We met in 2003, when he was on tour with a band called Nile. Then I saw him again and he was playing with Hank Williams III. I thought it was kind of like weird going from a death metal band to playing country. Obviously, I knew he was talented then because playing a different style and doing it well is pretty impressive. But it wasnít until 2005 when he moved to Los Angeles that we got together and started writing songs. I had a lot of stuff that Iíd written previously, but some of it changed when we got here and we rearranged a lot of stuff, and we actually wrote a few songs together. Tommy Cummings didnít join the band until 2006, but we met him in 2005. He had played with a band called Vext. Robert Kampf, the owner of Century Media, had referred me to him. Robert was very interested in the project when I told him it was just me and Tim Yeung working together. He said he wanted to hear what we were doing, so I played him music and he was really impressed by it. He said he had the perfect singer, and recommended Tommy. We sent Tommy a CD of music that we recorded and told him to do what he does, and that would be his audition. So he went into the studio by himself, recorded vocals for these songs, and sent them back. I thought, "Wow! This is actually pretty good!" There were a couple of parts that could be fixed, but it was pretty fucking good. Right there, I knew he was somebody I could work with and help in his development. As I had more experience with him, we worked things out in the studio. He also has a vocal coach named Melissa Cross. Sheís very well known. Sheís been training him for three years. The guyís got an excellent vocal range and he can do it all. He can sing anything from soul music to death metal.

KNAC.COM: Tommy definitely does demonstrate his ability to go from the heavier growls to more melodic styles on this record.

CAZARES: Exactly. Before I heard him, Melissa Cross had actually emailed me and told me Tommy was an amazing singer. She said he was very talented and I needed to take him. She thought that I would regret it if I didnít take him. When I heard what he could do, I was pretty impressed. So by 2006, he moved out to Los Angeles, and we started recording. Literally, the day he got off the plane, we were working in the studio rehearsing songs. Thatís how it all started.

KNAC.COM: Why did you make the record fist, before selecting a bassist?

CAZARES: We decided to make the record first and then look for a bassist after we finished it. Tony Campos from Static-X played three songs on the record and I played bass on the others. Things were happening so fast and we didnít want to rush to find a bassist, so we focused on making the record first, and then held auditions after it was done. Itís funny, because we hadnít even played a live show when we got signed!

Joe Payne is the bass player we chose. I had met him on tour and he was playing with Nile. He was in the band for a couple of years, but he wasnít in the band at the same time as Tim was playing with them. Tim was never an official member of Nile. He just did a couple of tours with them. He was like a session drummeróa hired gun.

KNAC.COM: How would you describe the musical differences between Divine Heresy and other bands that youíve been a part of?

CAZARES: With Brujeria and Asesino, the music was a little simpler, and it was sung in all Spanish. Fear Factory was more on the cyber-metal/industrial side. This music is a lot more involved and more aggressive than what I was doing in Fear Factory. But unfortunately, a lot of people canít get away from comparing us to Fear Factory.

KNAC.COM: I think people canít help associating you with Fear Factory because you were an integral part of the band, and thatís the group youíre best known for playing with.

CAZARES: As far as the sound and the riffs, yeah, that was me. But I try to take a new approach with every project that I do. I didnít want this band to be a cyber-metal type of thing. I didnít want to be singing about robots and all the sci-fi stuff thatís going on in Fear Factory, and I didnít want to have a lot of keyboards and samples. I didnít want an industrial album. So it differs in that way, and also because there are also guitar solos on this record. Thatís a lot different than what I did when I was in Fear Factory. It wasnít that I couldnít play solos, it was just that it wasnít called for. It was a different style of band. Most people do know me from Fear Factory, and thatís why a lot of people have to compare it. But I think a lot of people get confused between then and now. The people who love Fear Factory and want to hear a little bit of Fear Factory will be turned off by it if I do too much to make it sound that way. And if I donít do enough, theyíll be turned off by it, too. So Iím kind of like a rock in a hard place.

I wanted it to have a good balance of a lot of things I do. Brujeria and Asesino are death metal bands. Divine Heresy is not a death metal band, but there are elements of death metal in the music. Thatís cool. But another thing that confuses people is that because of the musicians involved, they think that itís going to be a death metal band. Then those people may be disappointed because thereís not enough death metal in it for them. But we please ourselves first with our music. If itís true to my heart and itís true to what I do, then thatís all that matters. I think that once people get past the Fear Factory comparison and understand that this is not Fear Factory or a death metal band, then theyíll love it. Theyíll realize that this is a really good fucking metal band with a lot of versatility.

KNAC.COM: Tell us about the writing process for Bleed The Fifth and how the songs came together. You mentioned that you and Tim had written a lot of material beforehand.

CAZARES: Yes. Tim and I wrote about half the record, but a lot of the stuff was written before.

KNAC.COM: Were there any songs you had written and recorded which were left off of the album?

CAZARES: Oh, sure. There are a handful of songs that werenít used on this record. Weíll save them for special digipacks, B-sides, and stuff like that. We just wanted this to be a good solid record. We didnít want it to have too much or too little.

KNAC.COM: When you listen back to the completed album, which tracks stand out as your favorites?

CAZARES: Itís hard to choose. Every day that I listen to the record I have different favorite track. For instance, right now my favorite track is "Rise Of The Scorned," just because itís very versatile. Marc Rizzo from Soulfly played an acoustic piece with me in the beginning of it. So itís got an acoustic intro that goes into these insane blast beats, and the middle section just breaks out this beautiful melodic chorus, then it goes back into brutality, then it goes back to the cool melodic outro with acoustic guitar again. Itís a very versatile song compared to all the other ones. I think thatís the reason itís my favorite one right now.

KNAC.COM: What were the greatest challenges of putting together the band and making the record?

CAZARES: In putting the band together, the biggest challenge was finding the time. I didnít have a lot of time. I was doing too many projects. I was in two bands, Brujeria and Asesino, and then I was a team captain for the Roadrunner All Stars. So putting together the band was the greatest challenge. As far as making the record, there really wasnít much of a challenge. It was a fun record to make, and even though Tommy Vext was the new kid on the block, he was definitely not green. He knew what he was doing. He was very well prepared. Heís one of those guys who rehearsed in his bedroom every day, dreaming of this moment. So when he had his chance, he pulled his weight and did a great job.

KNAC.COM: You mentioned that for his audition, Tommy added his parts onto the demo tracks that you sent him. Did you keep any of those original vocal tracks and use them on the album?

CAZARES: We kept some of the tracks. As a matter of fact, we kept the tracks on "Savior Self," "Impossible Is Nothing," and "False Gospel." There is probably one Iím forgetting. There were about three or four songs that we kept his tracks on because they were that good. The demo sounded like the album already, and I think that impressed some people.

KNAC.COM: These days, with some decent equipment, itís a lot easier to make a good quality recording. Years ago, the best you could do at home was record onto a cassette. You had to go into a professional studio to make a quality recording of your band. But with the technology thatís available today, now you can actually make really good recordings in your bedroom.

CAZARES: In the old days, I used to be giving people tapes to check out my band. Now you can make great quality CDs recorded with Pro Tools and a drum machine that sounds like a real drummer.

KNAC.COM: Itís a huge step forward from recording your band with a boom box in the rehearsal room!

CAZARES: We used to do that! With Fear Factory, we actually did that as the demo for our second album, Demanufacture. The record label wanted to hear a demo of the album before they would send us the money to make it. They wanted us to go and make a demo first. So they sent us a few hundred dollars. We were broke and we needed the money, so we basically pocketed the money and pressed record on a boom box at our rehearsal. There you go. That was the demo we sent them. They heard it and they loved it, but they knew what it was and we got the point across because they were able to hear what was going on. I thought it was hilarious.

KNAC.COM: Will you continue to play with any other bands or will this become your sole project?

CAZARES: This is my main band, and the only other band Iím going to be playing with is Asesino. I left Brujeria because they want to tour and do a bunch of stuff that I didnít have time for. Divine Heresy is the main band and Asesino is a project.

KNAC.COM: Tell us about your upcoming tour.

CAZARES: We have a few upcoming tours. First, weíve got a tour with Static-X and Shadows Fall going through November. Then weíve got one with Chimaira that starts in November and goes through parts of December. In December, we go over to Europe for 10 to 15 shows, and then we come home for Christmas. Right after Christmas I start touring with Asesino for about three weeks. Then after that, in late January, Divine Heresy will be jumping on another tour. These are great toursógreat metal tours to be seen and heard, and weíll also be playing for people who havenít seen or heard us because this is a new band. We only recently chose a name! The band was actually going to be called Royal Blood Heresy, but we thought it was too long. Itís the name of a song on the record, but we just thought it was too long for a band name, so we came up with Divine Heresy. It totally works.

KNAC.COM: A lot of people are really looking forward to seeing you back onstage with this new band. As you said, itís been a while since youíve toured in the U.S.

CAZARES: Yeah, a lot of people are saying, "Letís see if they can pull this off." Weíve already done a couple of gigs so I think itís going to go well. The first gig was on my birthday and we played three songs. It was kind of a teaser. Then we played a full show in San Diego. The next one we did was the record release show, which was at the Whiskey. Now before we start touring with Static-X and Shadows Fall, weíre getting to play in Texas and Mexico first. The reason why weíre going to Mexico is because I happen to have a really big following there. I figured it would be great to get the band there and get a few nice headlining shows under our belt. It will be a nice warm up to let the guys get their morale up. When youíre in Mexico, youíre playing for a lot of people and youíre treated very well. It will be nice for them to see that first, before we start up with Static-X and Shadows Fall.

KNAC.COM: Are there any cities that youíre looking forward to returning to with Divine Heresy?

CAZARES: All of them! Every place! Iím just excited to get back out in the States. Iíve done a ot of tours with my other bands all through South America, but I havenít really toured in the States that much, and I look forward to going to all of the places that Iíd been with my previous band.

KNAC.COM: Since musicians are always curious about whoís using what gear, please tell us what youíll be playing onstage.

CAZARES: Iíll be playing Ibanez 7-string and 8-string guitars. Theyíre all custom made and have Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups in them. For effects, I have a Digitech Whammy pedal and an old Ibanez chorus. I also use the effects from the Line 6 Pod Pro. For amps, what Iíll be using live is a VHT power amp with the Line 6 Pod Pro as a preamp. Iím not going to bring out all of the gear that I used in the studio. I donít want to have to worry about it getting stolen.

KNAC.COM: How does this stage setup compare to what you used on the recording?

CAZARES: On the recording, I used a couple of different Marshall ampsóa 100 watt Valvestate and an MG series 100 watt head, and I also used a Peavey 5150. That was cool. I just combined all of those and it came out killer. For all the clean stuff, I used the Line 6 Pod Pro. Iím not going to bring out these heads on tour. They donít make the Valvestates or 5150 anymore. I had a bad experience in 1998, when all my gear got stolen, including my special Marshall heads that I really loved and had used on the recordings. Everything got stolen. It was pretty devastating and I donít want to go through that ever again. So now I use stuff thatís easily replaceable and keep the other stuff for the studio.

KNAC.COM: In what ways has your guitar playing style changed?

CAZARES: My style has definitely evolved. Iím doing solos and there are a lot more riffs. Thereís a lot more guitar work going on. With Fear Factory, I wasnít doing much soloing. Solos were kind of dead at that time, but now solos are huge. The main thing thatís changed about me as a player is that Iím doing more solos. One of the other things is that my speed has increased immensely because Tim Yeung plays really fast. It can be pretty difficult at times to keep up with the drums, so I definitely had to build up my picking speed. It wasnít that I couldnít play fast, but I practiced with Tim to build up the endurance. The music weíre playing has more riffs and itís much more intricate than what I was doing in Fear Factory. At times, Fear Factory was very simple and very stripped down. For me, this music has a much stronger attitude. This is my coming-back record, and I feel that I have a lot to prove. I really want people to hear what Iím doing now, and Iím just really excited to be out there again.

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