Fear Factory. The name conjures up cold images of dark assembly lines, with huge vats of molten metal pouring into chambers of steel death! Nah! These guys are just a hard working band of L.A. musicians who take their music seriously. With their fifth record, Obsolete, due out in July, Fear Factory plan a US Tour with Speed Metal gods Slayer in the coming months and just got back from playing the huge Ozzfest in the U.K. with Pantera, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath (with Ozzy!), Slayer, and Foo Fighters. With plenty of support from its label, Roadrunner, Fear Factory has taken its heavy, semi-techno metal to the far reaches of the world, playing all over the globe. I was one of many interviews that guitarist Dino Cazares had to do this particular day, but he gave me plenty of good material and was a cool homey at dat!
Brendan Hagin: So you've been doing interviews all week?
Dino Cazares: Yep! I've been doing interviews for the last... shit... months. Doing promo interviews all over the world.
Brendan: Great! So your new album's called Obsolete; do you feel like it breaks new ground for the band?
Dino: Yes and No. I feel that we've brought certain elements into the
band that we haven't had before. We have a 15 piece chamber ensemble on
two songs, "Resurrection" and "Timelessness," which is something that we've
never done before. We bring a lot of stuff that we've done in the past,
we bring it to the forefront on this record. For instance, you know, there's
a lot more melodic vocals on this record than we have done previously.
But it's nothing out of the ordinary for Fear Factory because we've always
used melodic vocals since day one. But this is the first time that we've
done them like full length songs, you know, all the way through with melodic
vocals. It's something very new for us, so I think that we've broken new
ground that way.
Plus another thing too, this is the first time we've actually had a bass player in the band and a bass player actually wrote his parts, we as before I used to do all the bass duties and pretty much play what I play on guitar, and on this one, there's different bass parts. It sounds more like a full band.
Brendan: You had (bassist) Andy Shives before and he was kind of just there to play live?
Dino: Yeah, he was just a face.
Brendan: Just a face for the band.
Brendan: So now you have Christian (Olde Wolbers) playing bass on this record now.
Brendan: You guys formed in L.A. Did you kinda "cut your teeth" playing the Sunset Strip and the Troubadour?
Dino: (Laughs) No not really. We didn't do it at all, because the time that we came out there was that Glam Rock stuff going on, so they didn't allow heavy bands like us to play, so we played back yard parties in South Central L.A. and stuff like that.
Brendan: So you stayed away from the Strip clubs?
Dino: Yeah pretty much. But then later on, like now, we could play the strip clubs if we wanted to.
Brendan: Do you feel that the crowds in L.A. aren't that interested in bands, being most of them are in bands themselves?
Dino: No, not at all.
Brendan: You guys have a good following down there?
Dino: Oh yeah, of course. Where you from, L.A.? (Laughs abound!)
Brendan: No, I'm from Oakland.
Brendan: Actually my band Difference Engine (New Idol Son, Hand Of Dog) played with you guys.
Brendan: Around 1993 or so at The Teazser at one of those ASCAP Best Kept Secret shows.
Dino: Oh yeah. It was '93, no '92!
Brendan: Yeah, it was early on because we got signed later to Pavement Music.
Dino: That was in 1992 when our first record came out, Soul Of A New Machine. The O played too, the guys from Death Angel.
Brendan: Yeah, the Organization (Metal Blade); we knew those guys. Someone in your band said they could get stoned to our music.
Dino: Must have been the keyboard player.
Brendan: Someone with long blond hair.
Dino: Oh, that was our singer then. (laughs)
Brendan: Yeah, must have been Burton (C. Bell). So who designed the Fear Factory logo, the one that actually says the name?
Dino: The band actually came up with it, but for legal reasons we've got to put the person's name on it who put it on the computer. But the band came up with the idea and actually said when you design this logo, use this font, and stretch it out. The girl who actually did it, we have to give her credit for it. I think her name's Michelle. This was years ago.
Brendan: Yeah, I like it because it's straight to the point. It's easy to read, not like those European Death Metal bands like Emperor where you can't even read it.
Dino: Yeah, when we came out we were definitely in that Death Metal scene, but of course we broke out of that. We were one of the few that survived. You have to do something a little different in order to break that mold, and I think we've done that over the years. Even from the first record, were we had melodic vocals on there, which is pretty much different from a lot of Death Metal bands that were coming out. So it made us stand apart, and we wanted a logo that stood apart too. That's my point.
Brendan: I don't like to pigeon-hole music, but what (style) would you consider your music?
Dino: I think Fear Factory has their own "stamp of approval", their own sound. I think we've pretty much created this and that's basically what it is, Fear Factory music. I really don't know what to call it anymore, thrash, death, industrial, techno. What do you want to call it? Glam rock!?
Brendan: Just heavy music!
Dino: Yeah, there you go! Heavy music. I mean you can still call bands like Deicide death metal, but you can't really call Fear Factory death metal anymore. We've definitely grown away from that.
Brendan: You're in a lot of side projects, what's been the most satisfactory for you musically other than Fear Factory?
Brendan: What's the story with those guys? Is all the press on them true or what?
Dino: Uh, I'll let you.....
Brendan: Decide that for myself?
Brendan: Your music (Fear Factory) appears on Carmageddon, the video game.
Dino: Were also going to be on NFL Extreme, and a new game called Messiah. There's going to be four tracks from Demanufacture, four tracks from Remanufacture, and one exclusive track that we actually wrote (for Messiah) called "Messiah."
Brendan: Are you guys into playing them (video games) yourself?
Dino: Of course! Sony Playstation, brotha!
Brendan: Yeah, all right! What's your favorite old school vid?
Dino: Asteroids! That one and Defender.
Brendan: I liked Defender and Stargate.
Dino: That just reminds me of High School, Jr. High, trying to skip school, going to the fuckin' local 7-11, jammin' on games all day! You know what I mean?
Brendan: I know exactly what you mean! Do you feel that Metal is coming back, what with the Ozzfest selling out dates, and Lollapalooza going away?
Dino: No, you know what. I don't think it ever left. It's always been there. Regardless of what people say, it's always been there for me. Maybe for some it hasn't. I don't even like answering that question. Look at (our label) Roadrunner. How would a label like Roadrunner survive if Metal was gone.
Brendan: That's true. Metal Blade is still there. Maybe we'll scratch that question! (Laughs) Off the cuff, do you guys like football at all, sports? (more laughs).
Dino: San Francisco 49ers!
Brendan: Is that your team?
Dino: Just kidding! I just said that because your from Oakland, Oakland A's. No, (MLB-Los Angeles) Dodgers all the way! (NBA) Lakers too!
Brendan: Any football team?
Dino: I'm not really into football. Don't get me wrong, I like football, I just don't have a favorite team. It used to be the (Oakland-L.A.-Oakland) Raiders a while back, but they started fucking up and they moved over there to Oakland! (Laughs)
Brendan: Yeah they came home and I go see them all the time... (my favorite team BTW)... but...
Dino: They came home and they played like a bunch of... you know! They didn't follow through with what everybody expected (like winning!).
Brendan: Yeah, it's been a let down.
Dino: Soccer, I'm going for Mexico.
Brendan: Yeah, World Cup. (Now back to music talk!) You guys have covered a few songs; what are some you'd like to cover and put to wax?
Dino: Oh... (laughs)... wow... Good question. I'd love to do a song called "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2.
Brendan: It wouldn't be something people would expect.
Dino: Exactly. We did a cover song of a Gary Numan track.
Brendan: "Cars," right?
Dino: Yeah. Not something people expected from us either. It not going to be on an album, but it's going to be on a B-side of a single, something later on.
Brendan: You guys have a lot of those B-sides with covers on them?
Dino: We have two cover songs (on wax). One is a song from Jim Feotus' side band Wiseblood called "Where Evil Dwells."
Brendan: Do you guys plan on doing more in the future?
Dino: It's kinda hard to say what we're gonna do in the future, I'm just on what this record's gonna be. I can't say what FF is going to do on its next record, or what we're gonna be doing the next year from now. All I know is I'm going to be touring forever. Were doing a tour with Slayer.
Brendan: The Slayer tour has been confirmed?
Dino: I would say about 99% (certain), yeah.
Brendan: Were Slayer an early influence for FF?
Dino: Fuck yeah! On my playing yeah. I would say that it's apparent in Fear Factory's music at all, but just the aggressiveness, yeah. We're trying to work out a co-headlining tour with Ramstein.
Brendan: What was it like playing the June 20th Ozzfest in the U.K.?
Dino: It was fuckin' badass! Fuckin' heavy bill man!
Brendan: Who was on that bill?
Dino: Slayer, Pantera, Soulfly, Fear Factory, Foo Fighters, Ozzy, Sabbath. Korn are pussies! They cancelled! Where else are you gonna get Foo Fighters, FF, Slayer and Pantera all on one bill? And Sabbath!
Brendan: Are you an old school Sabbath fan?
Dino: Of course man! Since I was like 8 years old, fuckin' Masters Of Reality! That totally changed my life right there! That record.
Brendan: And how old are you?
Dino: I'm 30.
Brendan: What do you think of Neurosis? Did you see them?
Dino: I love 'em! But they didn't play! They cancelled.
Brendan: They were right next door to us (New Idol Son) at Jackson St. Studios in Oakland for many years so we got to listen to them a lot.
Dino: They got 15 minute songs!
Brendan: They've really evolved from a more hardcore band into a noisy, tribal band.
Dino: Yeah, I'm really into their music.
Brendan: What do you think of Machine Head?
Dino: It's pretty good. I like it, yeah.
Brendan: They were right next door as well. Them and some others like Skinlab.
Dino: Machine Head took some of that old school Bay Area sound and kinda made it more new school.
Brendan: Yeah, they came out of that (old school Bay Area) band Violence.
Dino: Violence, yeah.
Brendan: What are some of your actual early influences on the guitar? I'm sure there's many.
Dino: Sheeww... aw dude. Name a guitar player and I'll tell ya if it was or not.
Brendan: Johnny Winter?
Dino: No! (Laughs).
Brendan: George Benson?
Dino: Who? (more laughs) No!
Brendan: Tony Iommi?
Dino: Of course! That was an easy one!
Dino: Yep! Of course! Anything that was extreme metal in between the eras of '75 and '90 was an influence on me (as well).
Brendan: Do you use vintage gear at all?
Dino: Nope. Well I guess you could kinda say so. Vintage 25 watt Greenback Celestion speakers are in my cabinets. I have a JCM 800 Marshall head which were really popular in the '80s. But the guitar I use is an Ibanez 7 string.
Brendan: And you used to play a 6 string, but then something had to do with Korn playing them and they showed them to you?
Dino: No. Well, what happened was that I heard the seven string from Steve Vai, but we did a tour with Korn back in '95, and I asked their guitar tech to let me check it out (the seven string). Checked it out, liked it. So later on that year Ibanez had contacted me. I guess he heard from Korn's tech I tune my shit down to B. So Ibanez took it into consideration to contact me and asked me if I wanted to play Ibanez. I said sure, so on that tour I was playing an Ibanez 7 string and I just grew to like it, but I didn't like the sound of it (the pickups), 'cause it had a typical Korn-DiMarzio pickup kind of sound. So I wanted to create something that was more my own. So what I did was I took the EMG 81 pickup and had them make me a custom 7 string pickup for that guitar. I only use one pickup in my guitar. What they did was take the EMG 81 and the 85 and combined them together, and that's what my pickup is now.
Brendan: So is your new video out yet, for the song "Edgecrusher"?
Dino: No, we don't have a new video yet. Were gonna do two, one for "Resurrection," one for "Edgecrusher." Later on we're going to release a diga-pak with an extra CD-ROM in it. Maybe we can do it on DVD, surround sound DVD! (Laughs)
Brendan: I read a lot of info on FF on the internet. I saw one where a guy logged all the shows FF has done.
Dino: He's pretty close. He doesn't have them all. The shows I remember I call him back, here's some shows, e-mail him you know. Some updates of shows I remember.
Brendan: Do you think that some people spend too much time online?
Dino: Well yeah. It's either the computer or the phone. I seem to be spending a lot of time on the phone! (laughs)
Brendan: I noticed the description of your role in the band on some of these sites, you're listed as "Heavy-Duty Scarifier." It reminds me of that Venom "Black Metal" record were they give themselves (Satanic) names like "Bestial Master of Hellfire" or whatever. Any connection to that?
Dino: No... (laughs), not really. (At this point Dino asks Sophie at Roadrunner what his "Venom-type" name is on the new LP to no avail; he can't remember!) I'll e-mail ya if I remember!
Brendan: You guys formed on Halloween night?
Dino: Yeah believe it or not. That was our first rehearsal. That's when Burt, Raymond and I got together.
Brendan: Now Burt sang with (Black Sabbath bassist) Geezer Butler's
side band G/Z/R, correct?
Brendan: Did that take a lot of time away from your band?
Dino: No, we had some down time. So we didn't have a problem with that.
Brendan: Did he do live dates with Geezer?
Dino: Yeah he played live, he did a few shows with him. It was all good!
Brendan: With Remanufacture, the re-mix record, did you have a hand in the mixing or was it all up to Rhys Fulber?
Dino: No we definitely had a hand in the remixes. I was up in Canada with Rhys Fulber doing 6 tracks, mixing them and reconstructing them. We also got some of the mixes from Junkie XL and King Size (producers), I even did some of the edits after they had done it. It came out really good.
Brendan: Did you do a lot on 1993's Fear Is A Mindkiller remix LP?
Dino: Yeah, we did a lot on that ourselves as well.
Brendan: Well, I've run out of questions! Hopefully I'll catch you live in the City (S.F.) and good luck with everything!
Dino: All right, bro!