Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell

August 23rd, 2005
by EvilG

Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell
Interviewed in June 1999 David Lee

FEAR FACTORY is one of the most unlikely bands to be having a radio hit yet that is exactly what they have with their version of the Gary Neuman classic, “Cars.”  Their music is intelligent and brutal, both qualities that, generally, seems to be lost on radio programmers.  The amount of airplay being given to “Cars,” doesn’t signal a change in radio’s direction as much as it showcases a wonderful anomaly to a given radio station’s daily play lists.   Who knows, what FEAR FACTORY can’t change they just may be able to destroy.   With the advent of the Internet and other alternative listening options, radio just may be on its way out anyway.

In addition to the groups new Digipack release of “OBSOLETE” (complete with extra tracks and expanded artwork) there will be a CD ROM game called “Messiah” that will feature more of FEAR FACTORY’s musical madness.  Ah yes, and then there is another go at the Ozz-Fest, this time as headliners of the second stage, probably, the best spot on the entire bill short of headlining the mainstage.  Things are coming around for this LA based group who not too long ago wouldn’t have stood much of a chance of a record deal let alone a career that keeps rising with each successive CD and tour. Burton C. Bell has dropped in on us from time to time to let us know what was going on and frankly, I couldn’t have picked a better time for him to call.  These guys are happening and completely and totally on their own terms. 


Metal Rules!!
Well now, it has been about a year since I have spoken with you!

BURTON C. BELL:
Yeah, it has.  What have you been up too?

 

Metal Rules!!
Well amongst other things I think I have gone to a lot of FEAR FACTORY shows.  You must have passed through town at least five times this year?

BB: Are you sick of us yet?(laughs)

Metal Rules!!
No, no! 

BB:
You will be soon!(laughs)

 

Metal Rules!!
In fact, I will be seeing you two more times when you ride through with the Ozz-Fest.

BB:
Yeah, Pine Knob.

Metal Rules!!
Yeah. My son is a big fan and I couldn’t bring him to the Harpo’s show because that place is such a pit but the Ozz-Fest is an outdoor thing, so that is cool.

BB:
No, Harpo’s is not a good place.  I don’t even want to go to Harpo’s but that was a great show there.

Metal Rules!!
Yeah it was and a great bill too.

BB:
Yeah, everyone is passionate about what they are doing, you know?

Metal Rules!!
Yeah.  It was all heavy but not downer music, if that makes any sense.

BB:
Right, exactly.  It has  heavy overtones with uplifting beats.

 

Metal Rules!!
Perfect!  Something else that I am really into is this Digi-pack of the latest FEAR FACTORY record.

BB:
Yeah, what did you think?

Metal Rules!!
Pretty cool!  Of course, I am a real fan of “Cars” so that makes it worth it right there, at least for me.

BB:
You can hear Gary Neuman on it then, right?

Metal Rules!!
Yeah, you guys trade verses back and forth.

BB:
Right.

 

Metal Rules!!
Have you had the chance to get to do it together with him live?

BB:
No I haven’t.  Our tours never really coincided.

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you think a teaming like that would bet kinda lost on the kids going to the show?

BB:
No, I don’t think so.  Kids are just there to have fun and if they see somebody new on stage, that is cool.  We don’t lose ‘em when we just invite friends of ours on stage.  We just finished doing a video for that song last weekend.

Metal Rules!!
Where did you do that?

BB:
Vancouver and Gary is in it.

Metal Rules!!
Oh, that is cool.  What is he looking like now?

BB:
Yeah, it is very cool.  He is looking about the same only a little older.(laughs)

Metal Rules!!
Does he wear the black rubber or leather, whatever that was that he used to wear we he did the song?

BB:
He wasn’t wearing any leather but is still wearing all black.  In the video he wore this priest Cossack kind of thing and he looks really wicked in it.  In another scene he was wearing a leather jacket so, he is looking good.

 

Metal Rules!!
I am trying to remember the name of that album where he is looking
through a prism on the cover?

BB:
Oh, what was the name of that one?  “TUBEWAY ARMY” I think that is what it was called.

Metal Rules!!
I’ll have to go dig out the vinyl and see.

BB:
A couple of nights ago I recorded, I have all these old 7″ that I collect at thrift stores and they are all fucked up but there are a lot of 7″ from the seventies like AMERICA and Mac Davis and shit like that. I was just recording some old vinyl on that tape and mostly I just wanted the sound of the vinyl itself.

Metal Rules!!
Crackling and popping?

BB:
It gives a certain vibe to it, you know?

Metal Rules!!
You need the black light poster and the headphones and you are all set for a night of retro pleasure!

BB:
There you go!  Slowly but surely I am working on the whole picture.

 

Metal Rules!!
The last time we spoke you were reading about George Orwell and how he was a government stooge implicating people that he knew as Communists, what have you been reading lately?

BB:
Lately, I have been reading THE AGE OF THE SPIRITUAL MACHINE by Ray Kurzweil.   Ray Kurzweil, of course, is the inventor of the Kurzweil keyboard and he is a novelist as well.  He writes books about machines and how they relate to man and this particular one predicts that by 2010 the machines that we build will be sentient because technology is moving that quickly.  He writes about how they will be able to develop their own ability to think rationally, dealing with all of the perspectives of the problem involved.  The psychological impact of it and maybe the emotional, the financial, every aspect and be able to make a rational decision.

 

Metal Rules!!
This is a recent book?

BB:
It is a new book, yeah.  Maybe only six to eight months old.

 

Metal Rules!!
I can see that happening, eventually, but not in ten years.

BB:
You know what?  I can see it happening.  It was on TV in LA a couple of days ago that SONY has built a dog, a dog that walks, runs and if it falls over it can pick itself back up.  It is like a little terrier.  It barks, wags its tail.   That is totally BLADE RUNNER right there.  It all started with companies making pets for people and if you remember the movie, or the book, people had these animals that were lifelike but they were not real, they don’t have the mess of a real pet and that is what SONY has created.  It will evolve into humans that just don’t talk back, basically.  Creating a world of slaves.

 

Metal Rules!!
It almost seems like that would be redundant with most people willingly acting like mindless servants now.  I don’t think that SONY needs to create them, they are already here!

BB:
That is true, it’s true.

 

Metal Rules!!
O.K. we got off the track a little again.   Let me ask you more about the Digi-pack, the five new songs don’t fit in with the story line of the original CD.

BB:
No, they don’t and that is why it is a Digi-pack, to make something a little bit special.  When you release something again, you need to give something extra out and we had five bonus tracks and none of it has anything to do with the original concept.   I mean, they are FEAR FACTORY songs and they are part of the FEAR FACTORY concept as well but they are not intended to go with the story.

 

Metal Rules!!
With the exception of “Cars” they were all written at the same time though, right?

BB:
“Cars” and “Where Evil Dwells” and actually “Soulwound” is one of the first songs that we ever wrote and we just re-did it.   “Concreto,” that is an old song too.  So, the only new song was “Messiah.”

 

Metal Rules!!
So, when you had this whole “OBSOLETE” concept, where did this errant idea for “Messiah” come from?

BB:
Well, MESSIAH is a video game and they asked us to write an original track for it and so, basically, that is what we did.(laughs) We just went in the studio and wrote a quick track on it.  I just through some vocals on it, I didn’t really write any lyrics for it.  The only lyrics in it are, I say “MESSIAH” and the only other verse is “Forced down and forced
out.”  It still deals with the FEAR FACTORY.

 

Metal Rules!!
Has that game come out yet?

BB:
No, not ’till later on this year.  It keeps getting pushed back.

 

Metal Rules!!
Let’s move on to the coming Ozz-Fest gigs, you didn’t plan on doing these initially?

BB:
No but through a very good turn of events we ended up doing it.  Thanks to JUDAS PRIEST not being able to do it for some reason, I don’t know why but, we were the first band that they called up to do it and we said, “Hell yeah!”  We had no idea what we were going to do after the American tour that we had just finished and this came up.

 

Metal Rules!!
Otherwise you would be going to watch Ozz-Fest, right?(laughs)

BB:
Yeah.(laughs) Or be somewhere else.

 

Metal Rules!!
There is even more of an eclectic bill this year than the last time you played the Ozz-Fest.

BB:
Yeah, it is a little bit more eclectic but that is good, keep it different.   There was nothing like the first Ozz-Fest in ’97, that was fucking amazing!   All of those great bands!  I think there are a lot of great bands this year too and it is going to be cool.

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you have anybody that you are particularly looking forward to see?

BB:
I have never seen PRIMUS, so I will check them out.  I will definitely be watching BLACK SABBATH.  I will be checking out all of the bands, really.   STATIC X, on the side stage is a killer band.  SYSTEM OF A DOWN on the main stage is killer as well.  I have two months to see all the bands, so, I’ll be making the rounds.

 

Metal Rules!!
Does it feel a little bit different for you now, being a veteran of these Ozz-Fests?

BB:
Exactly, we are veterans.

 

Metal Rules!!
And you are headlining the second stage, much as MOTORHEAD did last year.

BB:
Yeah, and I think it is killer because I remember when we did the Ozz-Fest in ’97, we did the main stage and we were the third band on and it was early in the day and most of our fans were up on the lawn, way back.  There was a few people who could afford the seats up front but they were not FEAR FACTORY fans and this time our fans will be able to be right up front.  It will be killer.

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you know how long you get to play?

BB:
Forty minutes and it is going to be FEAR FACTORY’s greatest hits including “Cars.”

 

Metal Rules!!
That ought to be very, very cool!  What else will you have going on after this Ozz-Fest tour is done?

BB:
We just finished this video and we are just going to be touring really.  We are going to try and get on more video games and movies but that is pretty much what is going on right now.

 

Metal Rules!!
No plans for the new record yet?

BB:
(Laughing)We are planning on doing it next year, that is about it!

 

Metal Rules!!
Well, alright.  I will be hoping that it doesn’t rain. . .

BB:
No, hopefully not but if it does, who cares?

 

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