Latest release: The Industrialist (Riot!/Sony)

Cyber-metal pioneers are heading back to Australia this month for the first time as headliners in many years. Calling from Alberqueque, New Mexico in the middle of another US tour, we caught up with band founder and guitarist Dino Cazares.

Dino, you’ve toured Australia with Fear Factory quite often in the past, but this will be the first time for a long time that you will be doing a full headlining tour.
We’ve been going there a lotta years, basically since Soul of a New Machine. We’ve pretty much gone down there consecutively every record. But Mechanize we didn’t get down there in support of that record. The closest thing we got was supporting Metallica a couple of years ago, but we didn’t do a headlining tour. But this time, we’re coming back and we’re real excited.

Mechanize was the reunion of souls between you and Burton. That was quite different from The Industrialist, which goes back to the roots of your sound.
That was something that me and Burton discussed. With this record, I think we need to make it a classic Fear Factory record. I think we need to bring back some of the aspects of the songs that were getting lost on the last records. You hear hints of Demanufacture and there’s hints of Obsolete in there. But overall we just wanted to make a great record, make a classic Fear Factory record, and we believe that we did.

I spoke to you many years ago when we were here promoting Obsolete and you told me that you always emphasise rhythm guitar over leads. This album has no leads at all, but on Mechanize you did squirt a few in there.
Well yes, I definitely wanted to put a couple of leads on that. I just… I don’t know, it depends on if the music it calls for it or not. A lot of stuff we were writing on Mechanize was a little bit different, so I was thinking, How about a solo? A solo would be great here! It didn’t really feel out of place. It felt like it belonged there. We worked a little bit different on Mechanize. On The Industrialist, we went more classic, so it didn’t have solos. A lot of the classic records didn’t have any solos. So ‘The Industrialist’ was the closest thing I got to having a solo on there.

There was a bit of controversy this time about you not using a drummer on this album. That didn’t surprise me at all, actually.
It didn’t surprise you?

No, not at all.
Well a lot of people don’t realise that we’ve [always] used drum programming. Back in the early 90s we used a drum machine on all our records. We did our first demo pretty much on a drum machine. Obviously the technology’s got better and people have come up with great drum programs. Mechanize had some drum programming on it, all the way back to Demanufacture. Song called “New Breed”, that’s all drum programming. It’s definitely nothing new for us. We didn’t talk about it that much, and I think that because we had a drummer, people thought that was how we worked.

You worked with John Sankey on a lot of the programming there. John is from Australia of course, and you’ve worked with him before on a few things too.
John has been helping me write stuff for quite a long time. He was the original drummer of my other band called Divine Heresy. But unfortunately John is not legal in the US, so it’s hard for him to come and go. If he leaves, he can’t come back for a while – a year! As a matter of fact, that’s what happened. He had to go home. He got kicked out of the country, and he couldn’t come back for a couple of years. He’s in the US now, and he definitely helped me with a lot of the process on the new album. And also on Mechanize, as well. We actually lost the drummer – Gene Hoglan, who was playing with us was busy with something else – at the time we wanted to write the record. So we went with drum programming on the computer to do all the parts.

It must help a lot to be able to work on those programs with someone who is actually a drummer.
I’ll put a cymbal, maybe a china and a hi-hat, all playing at the same time. It doesn’t make sense. So you definitely need a drummer’s perspective. It’s kinda hard to explain really, unless you’re a drummer, but just the way he laid things out and the way he explained certain things. We don’t write a record that’s not going to be humanly possible to play.

The Industrialist follows the same basic concept of all your albums, but takes a slightly different perspective.
It’s from the perspective of the automatons, the perspective of the machine. It’s the perspective of the actual robots.

It’s almost like complete reversal of the storyline from Obsolete. What was the thinking behind that?
Burt wanted to change the concept around to make it [about] what the robot’s going through, and not what man was seeing. That’s pretty much it! The thing about it is that Fear Factory is an actual conceptual name. It’s a name that we wanted to use… we wanted to come up with a name for the band that meant something. And what’s fear factory? Fear factory is a thing that manufactures fear. All of our records we’ve talked about religion. Everyone thinks it’s all about technology, it’s not! A lot of our themes are about that, we use a lot of words that represent that, but it’s about social politics, it’s about government, conspiracy theories, it’s about everyday life: it’s about drama, it’s about love, murder. The song “Replica” isn’t about anything technology related. It’s just about what this person is feeling. With the new record, we’ve put it in the concept of what the machine is feeling. If that makes sense?

It’s almost like your albums are like a Paul Verhoeven film – you have the over-riding concept, but underneath are all these socio-political themes that sometimes people overlook.
Yes, totally like that. And by the way, we’re fans of all his movies. We love them. We grew up watching his movies and we love those kinds of ideas. Obviously.

There’s so much more you could explore with that. Obviously too, you must see parallels in reality with what you’re writing about.
Of course! Of course there’s total parallels with society. Look what we have today. Everybody has a smart phone. I hate ’em, but no one can live with a smart phone. Everyone’s on the Internet, tweeting, whatever the fuck you wanna call it, every little app you can think of. That’s totally how we live. My life is on this phone. We are slaves to this machine now. To this fucking phone! I can’t live without it. If you forget your phone… let’s say I left my house, I forgot my phone. I’m like, “Oh shit!” I’m in the car, driving to practice… I’m turning around to get that phone! That’s my life, on my phone.

Technology is doing a lot of bad things in the entertainment industry. It’s making a lot of people’s jobs obsolete. Music and movie entertainment, it’s pretty much destroyed it. DVD sales, CD sales don’t even exist anymore. Everything’s free now. You can download anything for free. So it’s pretty much cheapened the industry. Technology has cheapened the industry to the point where no one wants to pay for anything anymore, because they don’t have to. Because all that has become pretty much obsolete, all the people who are manufacturing the DVDs and the CDs and the album covers and the booklets – they’re all becoming obsolete. Their jobs are gone. They’re getting fired because no one’s buying them anymore. I don’t think anyone understands that. Even getting people to downloads my songs from iTunes is difficult when they can go get them for free. Even if it only costs a dollar a song. No one wants to spend a buck anymore. Why should they? What I’m trying to say is, the good side of it is that you can get it right now, for free! The bad side about it is that the artists aren’t making any money. They’re not making a living off of it anymore.

Where does that leave a band like Fear Factory. Where does that leave you, as a professional musician?
We just have to keep touring the world over and over again in make some money to live. I’m not complaining about it, because we’ve been singing about this shit for years (laughs)! A record called Obsolete, made in 1997 – released in ’98, recorded in late ’97 – we were talking about this stuff a long time. We knew were technology was going. We knew the pros and cons of what was going to happen. We weren’t predicting the future of course, but we knew what was going to happen. Every form of recorded music has become obsolete: eight track tape, the cassette. Vinyl kinda made a comeback as everyone’s collecting vinyl now. CDs are pretty much replaced by iTunes, but even iTunes is gonna become obsolete one day. Eventually it’s gonna come full circle and someone’s gonna go, “You gotta pay for this shit if you want it!” Even journalists, magazines, record stores. Mom and pop record stores don’t exist anymore. A lot of the chain music stores don’t exist anymore. The guy who had a magazine. They’re gone now. It’s all gone. It’s all obsolete. Listen to a record called Obsolete. It tells you everything that happens (laughs).

Fear Factory plays Australia on these dates:
26/9: HiFi Bar, Brisbane QLD
27/9: HiFi Bar, Sydney NSW
28/9: HiFi Bar, Melbourne VIC
29/9: UniBar, Adelaide SA
30/9: Capitol, Perth WA