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Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell Talks New Album, Lineup Changes + More

Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

Fear Factory frontman Burton C. Bell was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Bell talked all about his thoughts on the band’s new album ,‘The Industrialist,’ incorporating a fusion of elements on the new record, Fear Factory’s lineup changes and much more. If you missed Jackie’s show, check out her interview with Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory below:

Burton, ‘The Industrialist’s full on concept of man versus machine, which is classic Fear Factory — as a songwriter, what makes that such an appealing subject matter?

I’ve always been fascinated with science fiction, growing up loving industrial music and metal, it seemed like something cool to do – to add a story to it. I’ve always wanted to be a writer so it was something I’ve always wanted to incorporate and it just seemed to work out that way, more through evolution it just kind of happened that way. This record is full on concept and you said it’s man versus machine, that’s true, but this time it’s from the point of view of machines.

Could you tell us about the song ‘Recharger’?

This song, we call it a very positive sort of song. In this part of the scene, in the book – there’s a book that comes out with the special edition and this is the scene where the industrialist in an automaton and it’s talking to all of it’s own kind that are hiding away in an abandoned factory. ‘Recharger’ is like a speech to help his kind, I got to stop saying his ‘cause it’s a machine, to help it’s kind to persevere and to resist and overpower humanity.

Fear Factory incorporates facets of many different types of metal like thrash, groove, industrial which is most prevalent on the industrial list and why?

I think on this album the thrash in metal is always there, that’s always Dino [Cazares'] inspiration growing up but also Dino and I discussed in depth before we started writing this record and while we were writing it that we wanted to incorporate the industrial side in it again. To me that was something that got put on the back burner, so to speak, over the past several years with Fear Factory and the industrial sides was the part that I really enjoyed about Fear Factory – the programming, the sound scapes, the rhythms. We really took that industrial element even further into the music so now it’s a really great blend of the industrial, metal, thrash, hardcore, it’s all melting together and to me it’s probably the best Fear Factory record we’ve done in a long time, it makes sense. It’s obviously Fear Factory, you hear it and it will not be a surprise but it will surprise you ‘cause it’s like “Wow, they pulled it off.”

Lineup changes have been pretty regular since the band first got back together 10 years ago, is there a creative tension that comes from that, that’s good or is it just disruptive?

I wouldn’t say it’s disruptive nor would I say there’s a tension, it definitely inspires creativity though and it’s just the way things go. This time the lineup change was mostly because of Gene [Hoglan's] scheduling, he had prior commitments and Fear Factory waited a while and he just had to keep working.

He’s in like 19 bands.

He is, he is. Reese calls him, not the traveling man, but he definitely wants to experience everything and wants to be a part of everything and more power to him, he’s a great human being. Byron [Stroud] wanted to do something different he felt like he wanted to change and move on and I respect him for that as well. The member changes for me have been happening since this band ever got together, even before we got signed we were on our fifth bass player by the time Andrew Shives came in, he didn’t even play on the record and he was our fifth bass player and then he lasted for that tour and then Christian [Olde Wolbers] came in and he just happened to last the longest. The lineup changes to me it’s just the way things go [Laughs] I don’t really think about it, it’s strange.

You’re the one consistent throughout all the lineups; how much different is your criteria for what you want Fear Factory to be now compared to 20 years ago and ‘Soul of a New Machine’?

I think the criteria we’ve really fulfilled it on this record, we brought back the elements that always made Fear Factory stand out and interesting, and to me, a cool band. Elements of remixing, elements of industrial, elements of metal, choruses, heavy verses, high aggression, just melodies, that’s the criteria of Fear Factory. Dino was there in the beginning and this is the spark that we created and he gets it, he was part of it, him and I created Fear Factory together. The criteria now is just to do it well, be Fear Factory and to continue to evolve but I don’t want to alienate our audience but I do want to continue evolving and do the best music that we can and be professional at the same time.

I’m sure it’s tough trying to do both those things like evolve but also not scare people off.

Absolutely, evolution can be done in small steps or huge steps but you just got to know what can be right and what can’t be right. There’s a couple songs that didn’t make the record ‘cause it’s like “No, maybe it’s just not right, not for this element right now” so you just got to make the decision.

Do you feel like you’ve made changes or you ever make decisions based on feedback you’ve felt from the fans?

No, ’cause No. [Laughs] It’s our art and this is what Fear Factory is and if our fans don’t like it, some will some won’t you can’t please everybody and if you try to be in this business and please everybody then no one’s going to like you.

 

Next week, Full Metal Jackie will have Brann Dailor from Mastodon and a Nameless Ghoul from Ghost on her show. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.

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