Last spring I had the good fortune of sitting down with Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares who reunited with vocalist Burton C. Bell for their Mechanize album. Unfortunately, no sooner did I get the interview transcribed my home was robbed, computer stolen, and interview lost for good… Or so I thought. This week I found a copy of the transcription in an old email that survived the robbery. God bless the internet.
Almost a year later, here is what Fear Factory fans missed out on…
Metalholic – Now you guys just wrapped a tour with Metallica.
Dino Cazares – We did the whole Baltic region with Metallica which is like Lithuania, Norway, Russia. Unfortunately we couldn’t do any flights because of the volcanic ash and they had closed down all of the airports. So for a little while there we worried about how we were gonna get home, but we got lucky to get a flight out of there.
MH – Was it sort of interesting playing that in-the-round atmosphere on the Metallica set?
DC- I loved it, it was like a sense of freedom for us. It was this big open space and everywhere you looked there was thousands of kids around us.
MH– How were the fans responding to the new material? I’m assume you played the stuff off the new record?
DC- Oh of course, we played a lot of stuff off the new record and it was a great response. We definitely have fans in that region. There were a lot of Fear Factory fans so it wasn’t like we went out there and heard crickets. We went out and the crowd rocked. All of those Metallica fans, they love metal, you could just hit a chord and they were gonna go crazy.
MH – You’re back home now, but you’re getting ready to hit the road later this week as sort of a headliner. Who are you taking out with you?
DC- This band called Prong. It’s an industrial metal band that has been out for awhile, and Silent Civilian which is Johnny Santos who used to be in a band called Spineshank, and a band called Thy Will Be Done.
MH- Thomas Victor from Prong, he just finished up being out on tour with Soulfly.
MH – How much of the new album will fans hear on this tour?
DC – We do a lot of new songs. We play about five or six songs. We play an hour and forty-five minute set and we play and in between all of the old songs we throw in five or six of the new songs.
MH – The new album is absolutely blistering. How did you approach the writing and recording?
DC – With Burton, it was an exciting moment, we had been writing music for so many years and he was very excited. Whenever I threw an idea at him he was like “hey man, I have this other idea,” it was like it expanded really fast. One of the cool things about it was playing with Byron (Stroud, bass). he was in the band for six, seven years prior to me coming in, so he knew the style…then Gene (Hoglan), he’s real professional. He’s one of those drummers, he went in and basically did his homework and it wasn’t like we had to sit there and teach him our style.
MH- For the new album was there a concept going in for the album name, for the lyrical content?
DC- The album was actually going to be called Fear Factory, it was going to be a self-titled album. It was going to be about things that, obviously what Fear Factory means. The things that cause fear, the things that make fear, and we’ve always been a band that has talked about technology, where technology is going, and keeping with that concept we went with the title Mechanize. The album really is about Fear Factory, so it has everything to do with church, religion, government and social issues, technology and so on and so on.
MH- So, what’s causing you fear these days?
DC- Wow, good question. You know when I was in Europe the fear for me was getting stuck there…the last show was in Russia and we weren’t sure if we were going to get a flight out and I was kind of like at fear of being stuck in Russia.
MH- With all the stuff going on these days in America with our new president, healthcare, does any of the stuff impact what you’re writing about?
DC – Yes and no, we’re definitely socially aware of whats going on and we’ve put a little of that into the music…I’m very pro-Obama and I’m ok with that…I want that new healthcare structure and I can’t wait for it to go through…all of those European countries have it, why can’t we?…I don’t get it, why do you wanna pay for healthcare? I can get it for free, why would I want to pay for it?
MH – You guys have been a major influence on metal, where do you see your place in the genre?
DC – Wow, good question. I believe that we’re still very relevant in the genre because it’s always good, we’re like the forefathers of that style, the vocals are like a staple in metal music today. This style, melodic choruses, verses, everybody has done it, and everybody’s trying to do it now so, it’s kind of good for the forefathers to come back and show everybody how it’s done.
MH – I often think that you guys don’t get near enough credit for the impact that you’ve had on heavy metal.
DC – We don’t, and it’s funny because like I think what it is, is that people kind of forget. We were kind of like that band, we were big, but we’re not really commercially big, we were underground big. And I think if we were commercially big that maybe it would have changed things around, but I think we were like the underdogs and I think a lot of people just saw a positive influence and I think some people did subconsciously as well. I think Burt’s melodic vocals made it cool to do heavy music and put melodic vocals in.
MH- What do you think of the scene now? It kind of seems like it’s sort of coming back around to an earlier style?
DC- That’s because the new generation of kids are influenced by the older style because of their parents. All these 14-15 year old kids for the past few years, all of that old stuff is back, it’s not coming back, it’s back. Now with Metallica doing that tour, The Big Four with Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth, that’s going to be huge, that’s gonna go down in Europe. Metallica is kind of running that show. Metallica could bring that here and make it work and it would be huge. They could make it into a festival and it would kill everything, it would kill all festivals. It would kill Ozzfest, it would kill Rockstar Mayhem, it would kill all that. Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Exodus on the main stage and then you put all of the other bands on the side stage, it would be big. Kirk Hammett came from Exodus.
MH – People need to know their metal history.
DC – I agree and I think a lot of people don’t know their metal history, a lot of the newer kids need to learn that because you know a lot of people don’t realize, Fear Factory has contributed to the metal scene, whenever you heard syncopated drums with guitar you know, that’s Fear Factory. Whenever you hear melodic vocals with heavy verses, that’s Fear Factory.
MH – And a lot of people just aren’t aware of that, and that’s part of why we’re here today is to raise that awareness, (laughs). So what’s the hot topic of conversation in the Fear Factory camp?
DC – Um, well we’re doing the tour. Outside the music, I’m not sure. We start the tour this Friday and then we go over to Europe and then we come back and play some Canadian dates and then we go back to Europe again in August for more summer festivals. And I believe September is going to be Australia and Japan and then we’re just not gonna stop all year.
MH- Are you guys doing any filming for this tour?
DC – We’ve been talking about it and I’m hoping that it goes through.
MH – Are you guys sports fans at all, are you guys watching any of the playoffs stuff?
DC- Of course, I’m watching the Lakers, of course. (laughs)