Fear Factory have risen from humble beginnings to stadium rockers in what has been a meteoric rise.
Their latest album 'Obsolete' is the perfect fusion of rock and electronics, taking their sound into new realms whilst keeping the aggressive and barbaric delivery for which they are recognised, mostly thanks to Burton C. Bells incredibly powerful vocal style.
Barcode manages to capture a rare interview with Drummer Raymond Herrera during their recent European tour to talk about ... well ... everything !!!!
The whole concept of the Obsolete album is man Vs machine right? Well that was kind of the last record now it's more like man has become obsolete. On Demanufacture it was more like man against machine type deal, but its now like at the point where man has become obsolete and machines have been able to duplicate and fix themselves and create themselves without the help of man. So that's kind of like the whole concept.
How do you feel about the whole theme of machines in music, being a drummer do you think it will become difficult to get work with drum machines being so prominent? No I think in a way it just kicks drummers in the ass a little bit and makes them a little better. Because I'm actually for music with drum machines, I don't actually think of it as a threat because there are still things you can do on a drum machine or things that you can't do on a drum machine that a human can play on drums. I definitely don't feel threatened I think it's cool, it pushes you.
A lot of bands are going back to the live drumming aspect now, even electronic bands? Yeah, I mean it just sounds so much better and you can do so much more with it, especially in the studio. You just got so many options if you go digital as opposed to just analogue.
Could Fear Factory live without the samplers and electronics because Obsolete is much more reliant on electronics than the first album? Definitely, I don't know if the band could survive without it. It would definitely take away a little of the credibility of the stuff that we do. Everything that we do doesn't rely on digital but it definitely helps, if we were to take it out I think it would definitely hurt the band a bit.
The interesting thing about the album is not just the merging of the electronics with the guitar riffs, but also the inclusion of instruments such as violins and cello's, why addall those elements as well? We just wanted to add a few more things that we hadn't done in the past. Having the 12-piece orchestra in there and having a little bit of scratch like Edgecrusher, that just adds a different element of something that we never did in the past. I mean who knows what were gonna do next? I might get some huge fat guy farting on the record (laughs), yeah we'll just have Neil farting on the record and just pitch it, new instrument, bowel movement (crazy laughs).
It would sound good (?) I mean Edgecrusher even had a double bass, was that a real stand up? Actually yeah we was playing stand up on that. We kind of ran into a few problems trying to implement that into the live show but maybe in the future we'll be able to get that thing going as well.
You've moved quite quickly away from your first album, which wasn't really all that long ago? Yeah there is one thing that I need to stress is that we wanted Soul Of A New Machine to sound more digital than it actually came out but there was only X amount of dollars to do what we wanted to do and when we did Demanufacture we had the money to do what we wanted so that's why it came out so much more digital. But at the same time I must say that the vocals are definitely heavy on the first record. So I mean there's definitely things that made that record heavier than others.
Rhys Fulber did a pretty radical job of remixing Demanufacture, did you expect it to come out so Techno? We just wanted to do something different like for instance with the Soul Of A New Machine stuff when we did Fear Is The Mindkiller we wanted to do something a little bit different, something that nobody had really done but yet something that we were interested in doing. And once again we wanted to do it again with Demanufacture but this time a little more dancier and some stuff a little more slower almost rap style, really groovy stuff.
Do you intend to use Rhys on future Fear Factory albums? Yes we are planning to.
I spoke to Rhys and he thinks that the next Fear Factory release is gonna be a killer. Oh yeah, well of course they gotta keep getting better, that's the other thing is that we just keep pushing ourselves y'know. That's just the way we are about our music and the way we are when we write so we constantly have to keep pushing ourselves. We know that the next record is going to be even better than anything we've ever done and the next record will be better than anything else that we have ever done previously from that.
The artwork for Obsolete is cool, with the barcode in the eyes and everything? Yeah definitely, we basically tried to put an image on the cover that says it all. That when you look at it you know where this is going, it almost puts a little pressure on us to try and come up with something simple but something that says a lot.
Dave McKean did the artwork right? How did you get hold of him to do it? Actually we were speaking to a few different people and he was one of the people that we were kind of trying to get to do this and it turned out fine. I mean he did do a few different things that we at first turned down, we were like whoa we don't like this or b) we do like this but it could be better. We were going back and forth, he was starting to get a little pissed for a little while but at the end everybody was happy and it turned out good and y'know it shows in the end result.
The cover of the Cars single as well, is excellent? Yeah that came out really good too, it's basically like a blueprint of a futuristic car.
What made you wanna do it, it's a strange sort of choice of song to do? Why a Gary Numan track? (Laughs) We basically wanted to do a song that all of us knew and all of us would like and that was definitely one of them. I mean we had other ideas for other songs but that one seemed to bethe best fitting with the keyboards and all, it was perfect for us.
You're a fan of Gary Numan? Yeah, definitely. Everybody in the band definitely, when we were kids he was definitely an influence.
How's it doing down your way, do they remember the song? Oh definitely yeah they do, there isn't as much respect as there is in England. Like we had Gary come out when we did the show in Brixton in London and people gave him claps for being there and doing it and it was a really cool feeling to have him there. But had it been in LA or some other city in the states I don't think maybe, I'm not sure I could see it being a little different.
Your tour that you're embarking on now, excuse my ignorance, is this your first visit to Britain? Actually no it isn't we were here around this time last year we did a few show mid-December. Because I remember it was my birthday late last year when we were in England doing some shows.
Have you noticed a big difference to last year? Not really just a difference in crowd.
More enthusiastic? Some of the crowd are a little different, actually a lot of new fans I've noticed which is really good. We're not gonna complain about that.
How did it go in Dublin, that might be one of those dodgy places where your not quite sure how it's gonna go? No it went fine, all the shows have been fine there hasn't really been anything bad happen, the fans have been into it, no complaints yet.
"I mean who knows what were gonna do next? I might get some huge fat guy farting on the record."
I see Cubanate are supporting you, I've seen them wear out many a crowd before the main act? Yeah, well hopefully it doesn't happen with us, we enjoy the challenge (laughs).
But Fear Factory are a big touring band aren't they. Do you feel it necessary to tour a lot to keep the fanbase? Definitely, it's our style. That's just the way we do it. We're always out playing somewhere with somebody that's just the way it is. I wouldn't say I love touring but we know it's something that we have to do to get the job done to get where we wanna get. So you just close your eyes and just do it.
As a metal band, is there a limit to the amount of records you can sell being in that genre? Erm, maybe to a certain point there is but I think there is so much more with the Fear Factory stuff, so much more than just Metal. I'd love to say no there isn't a limit but maybe at one point there will be. And there's a lot of factors that have to come into that to whether it's a certain song or a certain label or a certain whatever, so many factors.
Because people want to pigeonhole bands don't they? Oh definitely, because it's easy for people to do that rather than actually go on and spend the time to say like hey! ‘these guys are different, these guys are better or doing something new’.
'Cars' might be a good move towards breaking that down somewhat? I think so too, but certain fans will say it's a mistake. But you know you can never make everybody happy you really got to make yourself happy and to a certain point make your fans happy.
I see that your doing computer game music now yeah? Yeah, we've done aaaaalot of stuff with games?
What do you do, do you all sit there playing games and then? (Laughs) It works in a few different ways, either you could a) play the game and decide what songs you wanna put on it but most of the time they already know what they want. That's the good thing, like a lot of these guys that call us up to do stuff they already know the songs they basically know the whole deal. It's become a lot easier now than like a couple of years back, a couple of years back we had to like stuff it down everybody's throat but now everybody's calling us.
So you don't write new material for a game? We have, when we were writing Obsolete record we had a couple of scabs, I guess you could call them, left over and we wrote the song called Messiah for the game Messiah. And then we went in the studio this year and wrote four songs for a game called Demolition Racer and that stuff was written especially for the game, that was a bit different for us. I think we're going to be venturing into that stuff a little more next year.
Do you tend to play the games when you're hanging around in the studio? Oh yeah definitely, it's a good way to kill time (laughs).
Ok, finally have you even started thing towards the next album yet? We have a little bit, we have been like messing around with concepts a little bit depending on if we're gonna start over with the story, maybe go back to the beginning, continue the story or start a whole new story we don't really know yet it's too early to say in terms of concept or even music. We'll kind of all get together and just jam. We jam and then we'll go with a certain riff or a certain beat or a certain melody and it kind of all just fits together.
So you've finished in the UK now? Yeah we're officially done, in fact last night it felt like it was the last show of the tour we all wanted to go home (laughs), a little homesick.
Fear Factory interview, Barcode 2000 ©
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