DATE OF INTERVIEW:
15th December 2012
BURTON C. BELL
METAL DISCOVERY: ‘Demanufacture’ is still talked about to this day as your seminal album and remains one of the seminal metal records of the nineties as well so do you think that will always be the benchmark against which all your subsequent material will be judged? And do you think people get caught up in the nostalgia of that album too much?
BURTON: Yeah, people do, especially fans that have been around since the beginning. I’m guilty as well for my favourite bands – you know, they were great back then but they kind of lost the plot. Like U2, they were great from ‘Boy’ all the way to ‘The Joshua Tree’ but after that, for me, they just lost the plot. But you create an album and there’s always those benchmark albums for certain bands, which is great because you set a standard for yourself and you don’t want to deviate too much from it or you’ll alienate your fans but you do want to improve upon it and maybe even better yourself. I think we did that on ‘The Industrialist’; I think it’s a record that rivals ‘Demanufacture’. If ‘Demanufacture’ wasn’t a classic, ‘The Industrialist’ would be that. If ‘The Industrialist’ was our debut album, people would be like, “whoah, fuck”! I think it definitely matches the classic element.
(Burton C. Bell on Fear Factory's latest album)
"...I think it’s a record that rivals ‘Demanufacture’... If ‘The Industrialist’ was our debut album, people would be like, “whoah, fuck”! I think it definitely matches the classic element."
Burton C. Bell backstage at the HMV Ritz, Manchester, UK, 15th December 2012
Photograph copyright © 2012 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
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FEAR FACTORY DISCOGRAPHY
Soul of a New Machine (1992)
Thanks to Mike Exley for arranging the interview.
The Industrialist (2012)
MD: I guess it’s ‘Demanufacture’ for a new generation so the kids will be talking about ‘The Industrialist’ if you’re still going in fifteen years’ time as a classic and that might become their benchmark.
BURTON: Fifteen years from now, I’ll be fifty eight…
MD: Well, that’s still kind of young… maybe not moving so fast on stage, but…
BURTON: [laughs] Yeah, all my vocals will be on tape!
BURTON: Either that or I’ll be a hologram! [laughs]
MD: And teleporters will exist then so you won’t have all the tiring travelling, so you’ll be able to tour easily! With Matt [DeVries] and Mike [Heller] in the band now, it’s been said they’re just live session players at the moment but is this like a trial period for them?
BURTON: Yeah, it’s a trial and we’ll see how it goes. Right now, they are the touring members of Fear Factory and they’re proving themselves very worthy above and beyond the call of duty. Mike Heller is a fantastic drummer and, of course, Matt is a guitar player but it’s perfect that he’s playing bass for us. The precision of this band is better than it has been in a long time.
MD: Cool. And with Gene Hoglan’s history of flitting between several different bands at any one time, was there always the feeling that he’d leave one day?
BURTON: Yeah, but I wasn’t worried about it. He’s a journeyman and he does what he does and if we brought him back here, if he has time, he’d love to play with us again… he’s between Dethklok and Testament right now, I believe.
MD: You’ve had a fair few songs used on movie soundtracks over the years so what do you regard as the best use of your music in a film?
BURTON: There was a song in the movie ‘Hideaway’ and that was okay but there was something in Mortal Kombat and that was interesting, you know, the fight between Sub-Zero and Kano… I think that’s what it was. That was pretty good as it had a lot of energy to it. A lot of our songs have been in video games as background music and it works. There’s a movie coming out that I’m trying to… there’s a song we didn’t release that we’re sitting on that I would like to offer to this movie coming out called ‘Prototype’. Have you seen the trailer for it?
MD: I haven’t yet, no.
BURTON: Ahhh, look it up. It’s up Fear Factory’s alley. But the song we have fits so perfectly with it. It’s an atypical song of Fear Factory and that’s why it would fit. It’s Fear Factory but there’s a different element about it that’s really cool and it would really work. But, when you get back home, check on YouTube the trailer for ‘Prototype’.
MD: I’ll check it out on my phone in a minute!
BURTON: The end statement is: “When man becomes machine.”
MD: Heeey, that’s Fear Factory right there!
MD: ‘Tetsuo’ is the best film I’ve seen about man becoming machine.
BURTON: Yeah, ‘Tetsuo: The Iron Man’ and ‘Tetsuo II: Body Hammer’… we stole the term ‘Body Hammer’ for our song… ‘Body Hammer’! [laughs]
MD: Simple, blatant plagiarism!
BURTON: I’ve stolen a lot of terms from movies!
MD: And why not!
BURTON: I’ve stolen a lot of terms from books as well but, you know, I’m making my own.
MD: Because there’s a very narrative essence to your lyrics, hypothetically, if you had the budget, is scoring your own movie something you’d ever want to do? Like Nightwish have just done with their 'Imaginaerum'.
BURTON: Absolutely, I would love to. If we had the budget, it’d be fantastic. I think that’s the last step for Fear Factory.
MD: And you’d make a movie better than ‘T2’!
BURTON: We’d probably just make a movie based on the stories of Fear Factory in the lyrics. I’d probably write something new but based on everything.
MD: So that’s kind of like a pipe dream then for something that could maybe happen long into the future?
BURTON: Yes, exactly.
MD: On the subject of films, Sir Christopher Lee is about to release his second metal album…
BURTON: Christopher Lee?! He’s doing a metal album?!
MD: Yeah, he had his first one out two years ago, a symphonic metal album. He’s got a great baritone operatic voice.
MD: Yeah, and he’s got a new metal album out soon. So if you could see any movie star transformed into the most unlikely of metal frontmen, who would it be?
BURTON: Oh god… a movie star to become a random metal singer… Eddie Murphy!
MD: And his metal album would probably be better than most of his movies in recent years!
MD: What subgenre of metal would you see him in?
BURTON: Black metal!
BURTON: Either him or Johnny Depp… I could see him becoming a metal frontman.
MD: Definitely, a bit of a folk metaller maybe.
MD: The final thing – in a hundred years’ time, when maybe machines have taken over, what would you want Fear Factory to be best remembered for in the annals of music history?
BURTON: Ray Kurzweil prophesises that by 2045, the singularity will be accomplished where man and machine do become one through nanotechnology. That’s his prediction so, in a hundred years’ time, how would I like Fear Factory to be remembered? Maybe as a precursor or more like sonic prophets.
MD: You’ll be the soundtrack to that eventuality.
BURTON: Absolutely… as a band that was talking about it, singing about it, writing about it and using the elements of seeing it happen in our day and age knowing that that time would be coming soon. So prophets!
MD: Good answer! Thank you so much for your time.
BURTON: You’re welcome, it’s a pleasure.