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Fear Factory: heavy trans-evolutionary express

The erstwhile frontman of Fear Factory Burton C. Bell’s few thoughts on the new album, ‘Transgression’: “I wanted to tell stories on this record, and the stories I ended up telling were of… going beyond. 'Transgression' is about stepping over boundaries. As a band, we transgressed our fears and made the record we have all been waiting to make.”

Fear Factory’s upward trajectory started in 1992 but got interrupted for a couple of years whilst the band found itself in a turmoil with their guitarist and officially split up. The band regrouped with a change of two players: Byron Stroud came in on the bass so that Christian Olde Walbers could take over six-string duty from Dino Cazarres, the ousted member. The re-introduction album ‘Archetype’ was a rawer, plainer, more direct, a different [m]animal for this emotionally and spiritually bankrupt time…

“The times are changing,” our partner-in-talk Olde Walbershe sighs, “but we are changing, or have done so… This Fear Factory is different than the earlier version and although we try to keep it as close as possible to the old one, different influences have crept in, we’ve opened up to different possibilities and we are exploring them.”

“It was very refreshing to work in such environment, and ‘Alchemy’ was a good record considering that what we were going through at the time, we were under a lot of pressure from the label, we weren’t sure whether we could continue with the name… Against it all we’d just kept on writing and succeeded in making a decent album. But, it was only paving the way to the future ones…”

21 electro-grams

“The atmosphere in the band is so positive now and we can write with such ease… We always have several [new] songs ready for the next disc and when we can get back into a studio, plus do a couple of covers, as usual… We’ll be trying to cut albums quicker because we make music for younger kids and they tend to forget [you] if you are on a three-year-album-cycle… There is so much music out there that kids simply move onto the next thing.”

And the situation is not being helped with downloading/iPod brigade bringing back focus on individual songs rather than albums of songs?

“One thing that really bothers we with cyber-consumption is the quality of recording has dropped, people don’t spend great money on studios but create in their bedrooms… They may go to a studio to record some drums because it is waste… Korn spent $5 million on an album and that gets onto a CD as 16-bytes and by the time it becomes an MP3, it is 128k! There is no point spending all that money for your music to become an MP3.”

“We made ‘Archetype’ to sound more raw than before… The new one is a bit more polished… ‘Archetype’ was basic, on purpose; everything was very simple, simple riffs and easy-to-understand parts, and this time - it had to be more technical.”

Mechanicial ghosts

If you log onto the Fear Factory site, you’ll find a message from Christian about 21 November 2003 being “the greatest moment in my life”.

“Oh, yeah, that‘s me playing with Ozzy (Osbourne); they invited me to jam, with a view of joining the band… They called me up and talked to me as if I was already in the band; after a while I realised I couldn’t do that because there was a lot of work to do with FF and it was a tough decision to reject the offer. Still, they insisted that I go for a jam and played with Ozzy… I also met Zack Wylde for the first time and it was a jam of a lifetime but I had to turn the gig down because I had already invested a year in Fear Factory. A week later, Ozzy had the accident and the tour was off. Mike (Brodin, drummer), who is a friend of mine, called me and said how fortunate it was that I’d turned that gig down as I was still the only one touring and they all were out of the job.”

“That was the highlight of a lifetime until I met [former Prez] Bill Clinton in Little Rock, Arkansas, eating at his favourite Mexican restaurant, next door to where we were playing. When he came out we managed to get a picture with him… One of the most famous man I’ve ever meet.”

Few years ago you talked about an album by Kush, consisting of two FF members [COW and Herrera], one of Cypress Hill and one Deftone…

“The biggest problem we’ve had with Kush is that we all were on different labels and couldn’t get clearance to release artists… B-Real was with Sony, he’s no more and Stephen Carpenter [of Deftones] is on Warner Brothers… We can now go to WB for a deal and we‘ve got about 30 songs sitting around.”

“I’m actually going to move to second guitar as Fieldy [from Korn] is coming in to play bass. Switch things around to make it a little bit more interesting and record for a quick release soon afterwards.”

The last time FF played London it was in the shadow of Damageplan/x-Pantera’s guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott killing.

“It was very strange to play that night because we all were thinking about it. I had ‘R.I.P. DBD’ on my cabinets, it was pretty emotional… Whether that will have an impact on shows in America, I don’t know but it looks like we’ll all have to keep our eyes open on fans, watch out for a sudden and strange movement… There are stalkers and fanatics out there, man…”

Tour dates - 2006:

Sat 14 Jan – Academy 2. Manchester
Sun 15 Jan – Rock City, Nottingham
Mon 16 Jan – Academy, Newcastle
Tue 17 Jan – Barrowlands, Glasgow
Thu 19 Jan – Metropolitan University, Leeds
Fri 20 Jan – Academy, Birmingham
Sat 21 Jan – Anson Rooms, Bristol
Mon 23 Jan – UEA, Norwich
Tue 24 Jan – Pyramids, Portsmouth
Wed 25 Jan – Astoria, London


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