Fear Factory hit our shores next week to play some new tracks off of last year’s Genexus album as well as tracks voted for by the fans in what was described as a ‘Choose Your Own Fear Factory Adventure’!
Wall of Sound tracked down the ‘Dry Lung Martyr’ himself, front man, Burton C.Bell straight out of rehearsals to discuss the tour, the set lists and as much as we could cram into the 15 minutes we had available about Fear Factory and Bell’s other projects.
Burton, thanks for joining Wall of Sound. Just a week to go until Fear Factory hit Australian shores and the audience are in for a treat with the fans allowed to ‘Choose Your Own Adventure”, having three picks off of your huge collection of songs to vote upon to make up the setlist. So I imagine you’ve got the data by now, how’s the rehearsals been going, and what can fans expect?
A lot of classic songs that we haven’t played in a while. From the voting point of view, a lot of fans actually picked songs that we always play, so we’ve sifted through the songs that we haven’t played in a while and we’re just putting that together at the moment.
I’m guessing you have some say in the setlist as well as the fans but if you were asked to choose three Fear Factory that you would want to sing, what tracks would you choose?
Haha, the three songs I would pick would be ‘Where Evil Dwells’ (Wiseblood cover from Obsolete digipak version), ‘School’(Archetype) and ‘Scumgrief’ (Soul of a New Machine).
Some great choices there, hopefully we may hear them in Australia. Of course, you’ve been touring the Anniversary Demanufacture shows for a while, I imagine you get into a routine with the set list, is there going to be a little more room for spontaneity for these shows. Will the set lists differ from show to show this tour?
No (haha). We like to create a set list that has a really good flow and we stick with it. But the two shows in Melbourne, we’ll be doing something a little different.
Will the staples, songs such as ‘Martyr’, ‘Self-Bias’, ‘Linchpin’ etc. still get played?
Yeah for sure, all the usual and the extras where we can but I’ll leave those songs as a surprise.
What about playing Fear Factory songs that Dino wasn’t a part of, from Archetype? Maybe fans will hear ‘Moment of Impact’ from Transgression? Any hesitation from Dino or he’s all down for this?
We’ve played ‘Archetype’ and ‘Cyberwaste’ since Dino returned to the band, but from Transgression, I don’t know, I mean ‘Moment of Impact’ is a good song. We’ll see.
So, along with the classics and a mix of selections across all your albums, can we expect to hear a bunch of songs from the latest album, Genexus?
But of course. This is the Regeneratour so we’re going to play three songs from Genexus.
Australia was first to get the Demanufacture shows in their entirety and now this ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ set list, we are very privileged. So why Australia?
Haha. Because Australia has always been good to us so we want to return the favour.
Down the track will we see Obsolete in its entirety?
Haha. We’ve discussed that. It’s definitely been discussed.
Soundwave Festival last year despite being fucked over by the promoter was awesome for the fans of Fear Factory, the band sounded killer. I made mention to Dino Cazares in an interview a few months back that you sounded great vocally and he said you had been looking after your voice and getting some vocal training? It’s clearly working.
I’m keeping up with some vocal training and coaching and taking those exercises on board and do it every day, be it rehearsals or on the road. I had to make some compromises like not drinking or smoking while on tour. I’ve got to keep cool.
What about songs like ‘Hi Tech Hate’ or ‘Freedom or Fire’, could you ever pull off the deeper screams in those songs live, or are they just too hard these days?
Yeah, I mean that was twenty years ago, I was a much younger fellow then. But I could do it, I could pull it off.
Your graphic novel came out last year, any more of these down the track and will any be for sale in Australia?
It’s funny you ask, I printed 500, I have only 10 left, and I’m bringing the rest down to Australia. So I’ll just put out a couple per show. I have been discussing with Noel Guard, the artist and we are going to be doing another one, I’ve just got to check out where the story is going.
This may be just rumour, but fans have made mention that you wrote some poetry besides your lyrics? Is that true and if so, where can find it?
I mean all the songs I write are poetry because lyrics are still poetry but I’ve never put out any poetry as such. Maybe I should put all my lyrics into one condensed book and release it for people. People might dig it; it’d be pretty cool.
I’m from the west coast of Australia, Perth, where you recorded the music video for ‘Cyberwaste’ and I believe you lived in Perth for a short time. Is that true?
For a very short time I did. Long ago, in Fremantle. I worked in a bar for little bit and then became a roadie for a local Australian band, called Painters and Dockers. I’ve probably seen more of Australia then most people have. The tour went from Perth through Fremantle all the way up to Geraldton, Port Headland, Broome all these other places. I’ve been to Kununurra, Fitzroy Crossing, Darwin, lots of places. Broome was beautiful.
Finally, I just wanted to touch on your other band, Ascension of the Watchers. Will you be recording more music with them in the future and whilst on the subject will City of Fire ever return to record anything?
Ascension of the Watchers, absolutely, hopefully this year. I have eleven new songs as a demo, we just need to get the band together and record them better. Definitely some cool music. It has evolved.
..and City of Fire?
City of Fire is done. It ran its course. We wrote a couple of good albums and it was done.
Another of your collabs was with Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler, under the title, G/Z/R. So long ago now, but the track ‘Drive Boy Shooting’ from that album Plastic Planet, it’s such a killer riff, it would transform so awesomely to a Fear Factory song. Would Fear Factory ever contemplate covering that track or playing live – just seems a shame that song never gets played. (Listen to the track here)
Haha. That is an excellent idea, that’d be fun to play!
Well, get back into rehearsals and play it for Australia! (jokingly said)
Haha, that’d be fun, that’d be funny to do.
Back to the album, Genexus, it’s such a solid album, no fillers, a very strong collection of songs. Have you been pleased with its reception and what about the new label, Nuclear Blast, how’s that been going?
The new label is great, behind us 100%. Monte Connor signed us a fledgling band for Roadrunner originally and he wants us to return to where we should be, and so far it’s going very well. We’re very pleased.
The name of the band, the concept man v machine, the logo it was an important part creating your band would you say?
You know, yea it’s a little special. We’ve got this little concept that we’ve been going with for a long time, that pretty much defines us at this point. It’s what the fans like, it’s what the new fans like. Its out of the norm than what is out there these days, anywhere, both sonically and conceptually. It captures people’s attention and were very proud of that. Coming up with concepts, it can go weather way. I think we chose the right one.
Has there ever been a point in your career with Fear Factory where it appeared that the end was nigh for the band?
There has been some dark says, but we get through. The negative aspects, there are not many. The positives outweigh them. We always come out on top.
Now there has been a few reunions of bands recently so I have to ask, will yourself and Dino ever reconcile with Raymond Herrera and Christian Olde Wolbers in the future to reform the classic line up?
Hmm. You know, stranger things have happened.
Nothing else on that?
I’ll just put a ‘no comment’ on that one.
For more Fear Factory insight from Wall of Sound….