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Interview with Death by Metal STL

Noah “Shark” interviews Wayne Static

Interview with Wayne Static

Interview by: Noah “Shark” Robertson

 
*There have been a lot of bands from your era that aren’t around anymore. Static X has been around for 18 years or so, how does it feel to know that you’re relevant today and still have a strong following?
 
It’s cool man, it’s awesome! Seriously, that’s why I give a shout-out every night to the fans. I never expected to get signed, or put out a record, or tour, or do anything really. I started this band just for fun, just to have a good time. I had given up on all that gettin’ signed crap. I got signed when I was 32 years old, I had already given up. I lied about my age, because I was afraid they wouldn’t sign an old guy, you know? 
 
*Wow! When you first got signed you looked really young! I thought you were 22 years old!
 
Yeah, I’m 46 now so I guess it really doesn’t matter…but, yeah I guess it’s a testament to the fact that I created something new. It was not following any trends at the time. You look at some of the other so called “new metal” bands that came out, and Static got bumped in with that in the 90’s…we don’t sound anything like that, never have.
 
*Definitely not! I think your music is a little more timeless than a lot of the other bands that were out around that time.
 
Absolutely, absolutely. I always thought we were more like a Ministry, Skinny Puppy kind of thing.
 
*I think a lot of your fans would consider you more of an industrial band, than a new metal band.
 
Yeah, but even that doesn’t work for me, because a lot of those bands don’t capture the same energy live. They’re really stiff sounding, and I think first and foremost Static X has always been a live band. I think I come at it a different way than most industrial bands would.
 
*I’ve always wanted to ask if there was any special meaning or story behind the band name, Static X?
 
Actually, I wanted to call the band Wisconsin Death Trip. That was gonna be the name of the band. Our manager thought that was too long, which is probably right, it is kind of a long name…better as an album title. I’m a big Star Trek fan and they create a big static warp field to make the ship go into warp speed. (laughs) So then I was like “Static Warp Field!” But I was like “No, that sounds gay.”  So then it was just Static for a long time. When we went to put out Wisconsin Death Trip our legal department came across all these Static this and Static that bands and they were like “You better change your name, or you’re gonna get sued.” So, then we added an X to it just to kind of make it different, and it actually turned out really cool. The funny thing is, in the beginning, I didn’t like the X…I hated it. I would say “The X is silent!” I was so pissed off that we had to change our name, because we had already toured under the name Static. Anyways, that’s the story of how the whole Static X thing came about.
 
*Do you get a really big response overseas? Or is your biggest following mainly here in the States?
 
It’s all in the US. We do okay in Australia too, but it’s primarily the US. There’s so many bands that go to Europe and say they do really great there, but I never have. I’ve been there so many times and I can’t make money there. I missed the opportunity because of 9/11. We were set to go over and do a tour with Pantera, Slayer, Static X…the day before we were supposed to leave, the towers came down. Everybody got canceled except for Slayer, because they were already in Europe. Us and Pantera, we were in the US and couldn’t even get a flight to Europe because they grounded all the flights for over a week. So Slayer went and did the tour without us, and everyone thought that we were pussies or something because we couldn’t do the tour. The truth is we couldn’t even get there to do it. I think if we would have done that tour, things would have taken off for Static X in Europe…we never really recovered from that.
 
*I know you toured with Pantera here in the states, back in the day. How was it touring with them?
 
It was badass! I did two tours with them. We did an Ozzfest and then we did the Extreme Steel Tour with Pantera, Slayer, Static X, Morbid Angel, Skrape…that was badass man! Good times. I couldn’t hang with them every night though, it got to be too much! 
 
*Do you have a favorite Static X song and/or album? Anything that really stands out for you?
 
I like a lot of the more obscure songs… like on this tour we’re doing the song “Just In Case”, which is kind of a slower, darker kind of song. Those tend to be my favorite songs off the record. Maybe because we never get to play ’em. I tend to like all of the songs toward the end of the record. 
 
*I noticed you’re doing a lot of the classic, “Static X hits” I guess you would say, on this tour. I like how you guys please the fans by playing what they want to hear. Was that a conscious decision, to do that on this tour?
 
I’ve always wanted to do that. I use Korn as a really good example, they’ve been around forever. They always play a few things off their new record, but they always go back to their first couple of records and really just kill the crowd towards the end of the show. People really dig that. I really hate when you go to see a band and all they play is new shit.
 
*Do you have any pre-show rituals? Anything you do right before you go on stage every night?
 
Um…I like to brush my teeth. I like to pee. (laughs) I’ll stretch out a little bit, but that’s about it. 
 
*I know you get asked this question a lot, so I’m not going to actually ask the question…but, do you get asked about your hair a lot?
 
A lot of people ask about it, but it’s fine. Everybody always asks me about my hair. To me it’s just really easy. I just woke up. (points to his hair) Here I am! 
 
*Holy shit! That’s awesome!
 
It’s the most low maintenance hair-do ever. I hardly have to do anything to it. 
 
*I won’t ask you to give away any secrets, but there are a lot of different rumors out there as to how you do your hair standing straight up like that. I’ve heard Elmer’s Glue, Egg Whites, and just Hair Spray with a Blow Dryer.
 
Yeah, it’s just hair spray with a blow dryer. I did a video on how I do my hair! It was the special edition of the ‘Shadow Zone’ record…there was a DVD and I actually showed how I do my hair. I thought that would be the end of it.
 
Are there any styles of music or any bands that you’ve gotten into recently?
 
I’m kind of an old dude, man. I listen to classic rock. I listen to what I listened to in High School. Doors, Zeppelin…One of my favorite bands is Journey. I love great singers, because I can’t sing like that.  I love Sound Garden and what Chris Cornell has done with Audio Slave. I just like really great singers. 
 
*This is kind of wild card question…How do you feel about Dub Step?
 
I think it’s cool that people are mixing genres again, because that was big in the 90’s when Static X started. Everyone was mixing the whole electronica thing…rap with metal…and I’m really happy to see that happening. Honestly, I think it’s probably just a phase that’s probably gonna die out again, because there’s only so much you can do with that kind of stuff. I hope that it’s not just a phase. I hope people keep experimenting with mixing different styles. I think it’s cool.
 
*How was it recording and touring with your solo project? Was it an enjoyable experience for you?
 
I enjoyed making the record immensely. I’ve written and produced everything Static X has ever done, but in the past I’ve had to argue with the band about arrangements and whether the bass guitar’s too loud or whether the drum fill should be there or not. For Pig Hammer, I did it all myself. I didn’t have to argue with anyone. It was completely my vision. It was very gratifying in a selfish kind of way. I got some great players to go on the tour with me. Ultimately the players from that tour ended up being in Static X, because the old guys didn’t want to do it anymore. They all had other things they wanted to do.
 
*What is a Pig Hammer exactly?
 
The Pig Hammer is a surgical tool. It’s the one I’m holding on the album cover. It’s made from a pig’s leg. It’s a surgical tool that I use to transform beautiful women into pigs. I like the word Pig Hammer. It’s been in my head and I’ve wanted to use it for over ten years. So, I’m like “We’re gonna use this word. We’ll figure out what it means later.” It’s just something I made up. 
 
*What does the future hold for Static X?
 
We’re definitely gonna keep touring. We’re going to do something special for the fans next year. As far as albums, I don’t really know right now. I’m always working on new material. Whether I do another band thing or another solo thing next…I don’t really know. We’ll see how it goes.

Noah “Shark” interviews Aaron Nordstrom from Gemini Syndrome

Interview with Aaron Nordstrom – vocalist for Gemini Syndrome

Interview by Noah “Shark” Robertson

 
There is a buzz surrounding the band Gemini Syndrome lately, and I wanted to see first hand what all the fuss was about. I attended their show at the Granada Theater in Lawrence, Kansas on Monday Feb. 11th and was pleasantly surprised! If you’re a fan of bands like Sevendust, Mudvayne, and other nu-metal-esque bands, then you must check out this band immediately. The band is receiving a lot of attention lately due to some serious satellite radio play through stations like Octane XM and  is currently on tour with Mushroomhead, Final Trigger, and Society’s Plague. The band certainly seems to be doing well for themselves, and the crowd on this particular night was definitely into them. I got a chance to meet up with vocalist Aaron Nordstrom after the show to find out a little more about this up and coming hard rock power-house. This is what went down:
 
(interview)
 
*How long has Gemini Syndrome been around and where are you from?
 
Three years. Actually, three years this month. We’re based out of Los Angeles. None of us are from there, but… Los Angeles. 
 
*How’s the tour with Mushroomhead going so far? How has the crowd response been for you guys?
 
It’s going great! We had the opportunity to come out and we did. It’s been insanely good! We got mosh pits every night, people dancing, crowd surfing, headbanging, shaking their fists, and just feelin’ it so… it’s been an incredible energy coming from most people. 
 
*What can you tell us about your latest recording?
 
We finished a record last year in August with Kevin Churko out of Vegas. He’s done Ozzy Osbourne, Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment… Shania Twain (laughs). He’s done a ton of stuff. He’s an incredible producer. We finished that album last year. We’ve just been finalizing artwork and trying to get together a good strategy for release dates and all that. It should come out in the next couple months. It’s done, it’s ready. 
 
*Are you currently on a label?
 
We are on Warner Bros. Records. They’ve treated us great. They’ve treated us like family. It’s not so much the corporate b.s. like you think it would be like. There’s so many people that I’ve met there, that have become really close. They are really cool to us. 
 
*Do you have any tips for bands who haven’t toured yet, or are just starting to tour?
 
Work your ass off. We’ve been a band for about three years, we’ve been signed for about a year. In the two years before that, we’ve been on our own dime… honestly, just like… suffering. Just dealing with the troubles of the road. It’s not the glory that people think it is. It’s not cocaine and strippers (laughs). Not even that I want that, but… the idea that people have about what it’s like to be in a touring band. This is a job. We drive every night, wake up, we go to the venue, load in, we play a show, pack up, load out, we drive… rinse and repeat, you know? I remember something I read in a Guitar World Magazine when I was a kid. It was from Dave Mustaine. Somebody asked him the same question and his response was “Play, play, play, play, play… and then play some more!” Just work man! Get out there! That’s the whole point of music! It’s not about being rock stars. It’s not about trying to have chicks, drugs, and booze. If you really want to do this for a living… you’re doing this for the music… the songs that you create… the message that you’re trying to send to people. That comes with work. No body’s going to hand it to you. 
 
*How would you describe your music to somebody who’s never heard Gemini Syndrome before?
 
(Thinks for a moment) We’re hard rock… for sure. We’re definitely aggressive on some levels. I think there’s definitely a spiritual end to it. As far as the way I write lyrics, I write about things that I’ve experienced in my life… or things that I’ve seen. It’s heavy at times… it’s more heavy emotionally than musically. 
 
*Do a lot of people bring up your white hair and beard? Do you get asked about it a lot? 
 
Sometimes… I have albinism. I’m an albino, which is a genetic disorder. It means that I don’t have any pigment. My hair is white, my skin is white. All the things that let you get a tan… I don’t have. Sometimes people are like, “How old are you? Are you like 65 years old?” And I’m like, “No man! I’m thirty!” I’m a young guy still, but it just comes with the territory. It’s all genes. 
 
*What’s coming up next for Gemini Syndrome?
 
We’re gonna do this Mushroomhead tour. We got another four-ish weeks left with them. It’s been going great, they’re all a bunch of sweet hearts. They’re all great to us. We have another tour that we’re trying to lock down, but I can’t say what it is. “Shhhhhh!” Then we have some radio shows coming up… we’re playing with Stone Sour, Lamb of God, Smashing Pumpkins, Bush… we got to play with Bush on the Aftershock Festival in Sacramento last year. We got to play with them and Deftones… we’ve got some festivals coming up. We’re gonna be busy the whole rest of the year. The record’s gonna drop in the next couple months. The record will come out by summer, for sure. We’re gettin’ a sampler CD, a three song thing, that we’ll sell at shows… so people have something to take home. All in the next sixth months, it’s all gonna culminate to some sort of bigger thing. The support from everybody we’ve gotten… I don’t have the words for it. We’re number 5 on Octane XM Radio right now and climbing! I’m speechless…

Noah “Shark” interviews Trey Williams from Dying Fetus

Interview with Trey Williams – Drummer of Dying Fetus

Interview by Noah “Shark” Robertson

It’s been roughly three years since we’ve seen a new album from the Dying Fetus camp, but if you’re a die-hard Fetus fan like me then you know what I mean when I say it felt like an eternity. I had a chance to preview their new album ‘Reign Supreme’ and I can assure you that it was well worth the wait. Their latest effort is chocked full of death metal goodness, and old-school fans will be thrilled to find that the band has returned to their roots and have managed to capture the hardcore-influenced, groove-laden essence of the early Dying Fetus sound. I had an opportunity to catch up with Dying Fetus drummer, Trey Williams, and pick his brain about the new album, touring, and more.

I had a chance to check out ‘Reign Supreme’ and it blew me away. Can you give us some insight into ‘Reign Supreme’ and the band’s thought process in creating this newest release?

Well, the one difference between ‘Reign Supreme’ and ‘Descend Into Depravity’ is that we wanted to slow down the album and bring back some of the grooves that were present in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Albums like ‘Killing on Adrenaline’ and ‘Destroy The Opposition’, we really wanted to bring back those hardcore influenced grooves and bring them to the forefront of the new album. That’s what we aimed to do and that’s what we did.

The cover art for ‘Reign Supreme’ features a sinister figure sitting on what appears to be a throne, surrounded by a grotesque pile of corpses and skeletons. Upon further inspection I noticed machine guns spread throughout and tanks in the background. How did the concept for the artwork come about and does it have anything to do with a lyric or theme from the album?

When we came up with the album title that’s when we came up with a lot of the concepts for the album artwork. I didn’t personally give input to the art director at Relapse Records, Orian Landau. John Galligher kind of gave him some ideas of what he thought would be a cool looking album cover and it’s what ended up being generated. That was the process of creating the album cover.

I recently saw Dying Fetus live twice, once in Peoria, Illinois with Goatwhore and once in Dallas, Texas on the Metal Alliance Tour. Your crowd reaction seems to be really strong here in the states and you still have a pretty strong following. Is it like that for you guys in other countries as well?

Oh yeah, we’ve got die-hard fans all over the place. I would say Germany is one of the great markets for us. The UK is really strong. Actually, when we went to Southeast Asia that was unbelievable, those people are really about their metal. I
would say Southeast Asia is probably one of the strongest and the most grateful that you’re there. South America as well, we’ve got little enclaves of supporters all over the place.

How was the Metal Alliance tour for Dying Fetus, with such a diverse line-up of bands such as Devildriver, The Faceless, Job For A Cowboy, Dying Fetus, 3 Inches Of Blood, and Impending Doom?

It was a lot of fun. A very successful tour for us. One thing that I think that tour allowed a lot of the bands to do was to play for audiences that they would have never played to before. It was such a diverse tour package and line-up that brought a lot of different metal fans out. It was a very successful tour for metal fans and for Dying Fetus as well.

Do you have any crazy tour experiences or stories from the road that stand out in your head?

Let me think. (pauses) You know, actually we’re pretty boring. (pauses) I guess one cool story for me was…I’m in Czech Republic at Brutal Assault and I ran out of toilet paper, so I had to sacrifice a sock. There you go. That’s what the sock got covered in, it was a “brutal assault”. There’s a story for ya! Another cool one was when we were in Buenos Aires and the fans were singing the melody of “Homicidal Retribution” out loud, in time with the band. That was pretty cool.

Do you have any pre-show rituals? Anything you do to prepare for the stage?

I just stretch and do some minor drum warm-ups. I don’t do anything too crazy, because you’ve got to save it for the show. I used to drink energy drinks before I played but I don’t do that anymore. They make me really jittery and that’s great for when you’re just blasting all over the place, but not when you have to play something with control and care for musicality. Ultimately, I think it started to hurt me. I also found that I started to rush the tempo of songs when I drank energy drinks and lost the original feel of the song. Now I just stretch and do some minor warm-ups, that’s it.

You obviously have a huge following of mainstream metal fans and underground metal fans, but I’ve always wondered if a death metal band such as yours, with a name like Dying Fetus, ever gets any hate mail or crazy protesters at shows or
anything like that?

No actual protesters at shows, but we have gotten actual death threats. One in the UK, we had some lady who obviously didn’t approve of our name. She wrote some letter that said we should basically be bound, gagged, and executed. That we should be killed. That was pretty enlightening. We still played the show, because we knew she wouldn’t come out.

What do you guys do when you’re not touring? Do you have any jobs or hobbies outside of being in a band?

I’m actually doing my job right now. I’m the only one that has a job in the band, everyone else just kind of does their own thing. I work in the Audio Visual Installation Industry and I’m currently installing a network system as I talk to you.

If I’m correct, Dying Fetus started around 1991. How does it feel to know you’re still relevant today (roughly 20 years later) and to know that you still have a die-hard, rabid fan base in 2012?

We’re very thankful. We’re very grateful for every body’s interest. We couldn’t do this successfully without the interest of the fans. We owe all of our success, any of our success, to our dedicated following. It’s very flattering to have people
pay an interest in your band. We are very grateful for that.

Do you have anything planned for your 20 year anniversary?

(laughs) No. We just plan on doing a lot of touring. That’s all. We don’t have any plans, except to do what Dying Fetus does and put out albums and play a lot of shows.

You guys went threw a few Record Labels before calling Relapse Records home. What can you tell us about your relationship with Relapse Records?

It’s been very enjoyable. Obviously, we’ve been with Relapse Records for over ten years and we enjoy working with those people. They are very nice to us. We’d be interested to see if THEY are still interested in working with US in the future, because ‘Reign Supreme’ is actually the last album that we’re signed to Relapse for. So, we’re kind of free agents at the moment…but we couldn’t be happier with Relapse. They treat us very good and we have enjoyed our time with them.

I know you’ve probably answered this question a thousand times, but how did the name for the band come about?

Well, I think John Galligher and Jason Netherton are the guys that came up with the name. I can’t recall who exactly did it. They were just going for the most despicable thing possible. I think they did a pretty good job. They hit the nail on the head. At that point in time, and still nowadays, you gotta choose a name that’s gonna make people go “Whoa, what the hell?!” I think they did a good job.

Are there any modern bands or types of music that you guys have gotten into? How do you feel about the emergence of Death-core?

Death-core is cool…I mean, there are some bands in the genre that I enjoy. White Chapel are pretty good. We did a tour with Impending Doom and I thought those guys played well. They were a very good band. I know some people dog on death-core, but it has it’s place in the scene. It wouldn’t exist and it wouldn’t be popular if it didn’t carry some sort of merit.
People used to dog on Dying Fetus, all the old thrash dudes…we’ve been on that end of it too. Some bands I’ve been listening to are Defeat Insanity and Worm Rot, a Grind band from Singapore. I’ve actually been diving back into my old CD
collection…

What do you think about Dub-Step?

(laughs) Because of my roommate I end up listening to quite a bit of it. It’s cool…it’s the dance music for this generation. I hear it sometimes when my roommates having a party and I say “Hey, that’s kind of cool.” I don’t mind it. I
would like to keep Dubstep out of my Metal though. I don’t really care for Dubstep-Metal. I know The Browning does stuff with keyboards and all that stuff, but they do it well. That’s cool. There was that one Korn album recently with Skrillex on it and I heard a couple songs from that album…you know, that’s cool. You gotta do what you gotta do to stay relevant, moving into the future. I don’t blame them for bringing those elements into their music, and I don’t blame other bands for doing it. You gotta find ways to stand out.

Dying Fetus is known for having some grotesque imagery and lyrics, however you are well-known for your politically driven lyrical content as well. What can you tell us about your stances regarding government and politics?

Well…(Pauses) We have actually been trying to get away from writing only politically driven content in our lyrics. We have been trying to get more ambiguous with our lyrics and kind of let the public come to terms with what is being said and view the subjects in their own way. Everyone in the band has their own different political views. Some guys are left, some guys are right, some are in the middle. I’m kind of in the middle and I consider myself a fiscal conservative, but a social liberal. I want people to spend money in a mature and logical way, but I want to be able to do what I want with my own life. I would hope that other people in the country would want to do the same thing.

What is coming up for Dying Fetus in the near future?

Hopefully a lot more albums and a shit-ton more touring. As long as our fans want to keep seeing us and keep hearing from
us, we will keep doing our thing.

Noah “Shark” interviews Dino Cazares from Fear Factory

My recent Interview with Dino Cazares, Guitarist and Founding Member of Fear Factory… as seen in Issue 26 of Hails and Horns Magazine:

Tell us a little bit about Fear Factory’s upcoming album ‘The Industrialist’ and what we can all expect to hear.

I think that ever since I’ve been back in the band, me and Burton have been gelling really well. When we first started the band around 1990, me and him were roommates and we really shared a lot of different types of music. He was really into more of the industrial side, I was really more into the death-metal side. You know, Earache Records shit, all the grind-core and all the death-metal stuff; Godflesh, Napalm Death, Carcass, all that shit…and then somewhere when we became friends we decided to combine all that together and so I think on this record, The Industrialist, you kind of hear where the band first came from. Obviously we’ve progressed since then, but you kind of hear more of the elements that made Fear Factory who we were back in the day, like ‘Soul of a New Machine’/’Demanufacture’ era, where the riffs were really tight and locked in with the kick drum and just a lot more of the industrial elements, a lot of keyboards, and a lot of samples and stuff like that.

Most of your albums have been recorded by Rys Fulber, what is your relationship like and how was it working with him on this latest effort?

Our relationship with Rhys is super tight. He’s one of the guys that really understands what we are trying to do. He understands the concept between us trying to combine the industrial elements in with the metal elements. He was the first one to really get it. We started working with him back in 1992 with our first EP that we released called ‘Fear Is The Mind Killer’, and then we used him for ‘Demanufacture’, and we used him for ‘Obsolete’, we used him for ‘Digimortal’, then I was out of the band for a couple of records and they used somebody else, and then obviously when I came back I said “We gotta get Rhys back!”. We used him for ‘Mechanize’ and the new album, ‘The Industrialist’. Rhys has been our quiet, fifth member forever.

What can you tell us about the artwork for ‘The Industrialist’, and does it represent a lyric or theme within the new album?

It’s a conceptual album and The Industrialist is an actual “thing”, it’s actually THE Industrialist. It’s an automaton, it’s a robot. Basically, US WE created this “robot” and this robot gets smarter and smarter and as it lives, it collects memories and starts to think it’s human. It just gets smarter and smarter, kind of like Siri on your iPhone. It learns who you are. This automaton learns by what it sees and hears and so eventually, on the album, it turns against us.

I’ve seen quite a few of your shows by this point, all over the country, and I’ve noticed that your crowd reaction here in the States is really strong. Where do you feel is your biggest following and do you get the same reaction overseas?

Bigger actually. Oh yea. Fear Factory is a bigger band overseas. I think a lot of bands are like that. Especially in places like South America where a lot of kids are more passionate. They’re into their metal, they love it. You know, a lot of bands get bigger because they get radio play or they’re the hot trend at the moment. We’re just a band that doesn’t really worry about it, we just do what we do. We like playing everywhere. Small stages, big stages, you’re mom’s house, we don’t care. (laughs)

Do you have any pre-show rituals? Anything that you guys do to prepare for a show?

Number one thing, and I think this goes for every musician…you either piss or shit before you go on stage. Because you don’t want to be up on stage going (grabs stomach) “Oh fuck, I gotta piss!” or “Man, I gotta fuckin’ shit!” Obviously it happens sometimes. You know what I mean? I’ve heard of drummers just pissing in their seats. Or even dudes like Burt, crapped himself on stage one time. There was one time when I even had to stop a show and run to the bathroom, shit, and come back out. (laughs) So basically, the number one thing is just relieve yourself before you go out.

Do you warm up at all?

No, not that much. It comes natural!

Fear Factory has done quite a bit of touring and I’m sure you guys have a lot of stories from the road. Anything crazy that pops out in your mind that you’d like to share with us?

Where do I start? (laughs) (thinks for a moment) I could tell you one recently…we were on tour, and this was in Europe. We were in England and we were going down the O-1 Freeway on our way to the Airport to drop off our drummer’s girlfriend. On the way there at like 3 or 4 O’clock in the morning, our bus driver noticed there was a fire, like a little flame, coming out of the left wheel well. He was like “Oh shit!” So he pulled the bus over, jumped out, grabbed the fire extinguisher, went to go extinguish it out, and as he was doing it the fucking extinguisher ran out! There wasn’t enough in there. The flame started getting bigger and bigger, so the guy runs back inside and says “Every body’s gotta get the fuck off the bus! Get the fuck off the bus!” So, we’re all asleep and so we jump up out of the bunks going, you know “Fire! Fire!”. So, everybody starts grabbing their shit off the bus, like all their backpacks and their belongings, and we all run off the bus and we look over and we’re like “Holy fuck!”. The whole side of the bus was on fire! We’re like “Oh man, our gear and our trailer!” So, thank God the crew at the time was really good because they unhooked the trailer, pushed it back, went into the base, grabbed everybody bags, grabbed everybody’s shit and took it a few feet away. We’re all standing in front of the bus and all of the sudden a tire blows. “Boosh!” We’re all like “It’s blowing up! Aah!” We’re running…but it was just a tire that blew because it got too hot. We’re all watching this fucking thing go up in flames, then all of the sudden we’re like “Where’s Zeke?” Our merch guy, he was passed out in his bunk. So two of our crew guys ran back on the bus, pulled him out into the street. He was still in his…you know, those Europeans they wear those tight, white underwear. We almost forgot about him and he would have fucking burned. The whole fucking bus just burned in flames, gone. Everything was gone.

Your band has endured quite a bit of controversy in the past, do you think it has hurt or helped your band in any way?
I think some of the controversy has hurt the band, of course. I mean, especially when you get member changes and you’ve got labels dropping you and things like that, sure. A lot of those things hurt you, but you know, you’ve just got to persevere. You’ve got to think positively, move on, and forget about that stuff. I think that as long as you keep putting out good records, that will help.

How has it been working with Candlelight Records?

Every thing’s been fine with us, we signed a licensing deal with them. They seem to be doing a great job.

This may be kind of a touchy subject, however I’m curious what you have to say about Roadrunner Records?

When I was with the label they helped us a lot. You know, they basically brought us to the lime light. Roadrunner Records was a very strong record company. They had offices everywhere in the states, and everywhere in Europe. Their marketing team was fucking amazing. All of the good bands that you’d heard of, were on Roadrunner at one point. They did a great job for us. Of course, we signed some bad, fucked up contracts with them and we basically made no money even though we were selling a shit load of records. We were broke for maybe the first ten years of our career. Just being slaves to the label. At the same time, they fuckin’ brought us to stardom. We had a song on the radio, they helped us with that and that worked out really good. They wanted to push us in a more commercial direction at one point and it just didn’t work…on the Digimortal record. Over the years they did really well, it’s just the fact that they ripped us off. The owner, a guy named Cees Wessells, really just fucked us over bad. He made bazillions of dollars, he sold everybody’s publishing…for like 50 million dollars. Then he sold the record label to Warner Brothers. Now it’s fucking gone. I understand that business is business, but his was “heartless” business. That’s all I have to say about it.

I heard a rumor that Fear Factory once held a world record for having the most songs featured in Video Games? Is this true?

Yes. It’s very true. I think we still probably hold the record for that. I don’t know how many it was. It was a fuck-load. We had a mechanical sound, that just really worked with video games. People liked it, and we just got asked a lot, and it worked out great.

If I’m correct fear factory started in 1989, how does it feel knowing you’re still relevant over 20 years later and still have a rabid fan base?

Um…(pauses) It feels good! (laughs) I still got a career! Thank God! I think it’s great. I think it’s actually really cool that I get to still do this. This is my love, this is my life, this is my career. What they call us is “lifers”. Dudes who are doing this for their life. This is it. This has been my number one main band from the beginning, and this is where I’m gonna end as well.

Who are some of your main influences as a musician?

Oh man, I was influenced by so much stuff. When I was younger my mom turned me on to The Beatles and stuff like that. I was like 8 or 9 years old and I remember listening to Mariachi music from my dad. I kind of wanted to pick up the Acoustic Guitar because there was always an Acoustic Guitar laying around. Then when I first fuckin’ heard AC/DC when I was like 10, I was in love. Angus was the shit! Angus Young, just seeing him play, I was like “Oh fuck! I really want to play now!” So, I picked up the Acoustic Guitar, and obviously it progressed. I started with Van Halen, then Black Sabbath, then it progressed from there to Iron Maiden, Metallica, Def Leppard, of course early Motley Crue, Ozzy, and then it just keeps progressing…then you got into Carcass, Napalm Death, Slayer…all that has pretty much been an influence on me.

Are there any new bands or styles of music that you’ve gotten into lately?

The Browning. That’s really all I’ve been listening to. There hasn’t been too much…you know, there have been a lot of bands that have been super technical and that’s cool. It can only go so far. People are gonna crave a SONG. That’s why people like bands like Five Finger Death Punch, because they have SONGS. I think people want to hear songs, they want to hear hooks, people want to be able to latch on to a riff, or a beat. When you’re playing stuff like (makes guitar shredding motion)…that stuff’s cool, don’t get me wrong, but I think that for band’s like Animals As Leaders you can only go so far with it. I don’t think bands like that will ever be that big, because they don’t have a song. They don’t even have a singer! (laughs)…but I commend them for being as successful as they are, without it. For me, I like the bands that have some sort of substance.

Your sound has really evolved in a major way over time. A lot of people don’t realize you’re a part of the early death metal movement. Can you comment on this progression as a band?

When we first started it was just me and Burt and a drum machine. We did three songs, and it was just very industrial. Then Raymond obviously came into the band and it started to become more death metal. Then we kind of did a couple more demos that were a little more death-metally. There was something always that was a little different, and that was Burt’s vocals. That was the key to us getting signed. Obviously Max Cavalera helped us get signed, but it was Burt’s vocals that stood out. When we put out our first record, we couldn’t afford all the keyboards and all the samplers. At that time, back in 1991/1992, that shit was expensive. We couldn’t afford all that stuff so we just had to do it old-school way and throw in a voice sample here and there or some movie sample or something. So, it was always the vocals that made us stand out. Even “Martyr”, the first song, I’ve had death metal dudes come up to me and say “The first time I fucking heard that song, I was like, Holy Fuck! This is something new!” It’s funny because “Martyr” is actually a techno riff. (sings and taps on his leg) I heard some techno band or whatever, and then I was like “Okay, I’ll convert it into a riff.” So we kind of, in a way, copied it…the style, but we just made it into metal. Then we put Burt’s death metal and melodic vocals over it and we were just like “What the fuck is this?!” People never heard anything like that. There were people that were saying “This is fucking amazing!” And there were people that were saying “Oh, fuck those vocals! That’s pussy shit for death metal.” So either way, it got us a lot of attention. Then when we first met Rhys in ’92, he brought all that keyboard shit that he had, and we put it all together. That was the first time ever that you had Industrial, Death Metal, Melodic Vocals, and Techno all combined together. First time that it’s ever existed…and then that’s when Demanufacture came out. Okay, let’s go write these songs…you know, in that same style “Ba-da bup bup bup” (sings kick drum pattern) Who the fuck starts their record with a fuckin’ kick drum? You know what I mean? It was like “Okay, this is it”. Then Burt’s melodic vocals on top of that, then Rhys’ production? Shit was like, futuristic…and pretty much changed a lot of things. Dimebag Darrell even told me one time that he as A/B’ing our record to their record. Obsolete to The Great Southern Trendkill. “Man, you’re tone’s fuckin’ sick Dino!” I was like “Really? Thanks!”…but yeah, it really wasn’t until Rhys came into the picture, bringing the technology that we needed to help develop our sound.

Is it true that you discovered your singer, Burton C. Bell, because he was singing in the shower?

(laughs) Yeah, well, there was a house in Hollywood and it was a seven bedroom house. A friend of ours owned it and rented it out to starving musicians. You could rent a room out for like 200 bucks a month or something. Living in Hollywood, we weren’t really making that much money, we all had odd jobs, so that was right up my alley. It was all musicians and artists living in this house, and Burt was one of the dudes. One day he was singing in the shower and I heard him and I was like “What?!” He was singing U2 or something like that. I was like “wow, this guy has a pretty decent voice!” Later on we became really good friends and started turning each other on to different music and then we started our first band called Ulceration. It was a total Godflesh rip-off. You know, drum machine, me, him, and a friend of ours playing bass. We played a couple shows for like 10 people or something like that.

You recently recruited a new drummer, Mike Heller. What was the audition process like and how has it been working with him?

The audition process took me at least a month or so. I have a lot of friends who are drummers, but everyone was really busy and everybody had gigs and so on, and so on. I reached out to SickDrummer.com, and Anton and Ian definitely helped me find the best drummer for the position. We went through a lot of dudes, a lot of YouTube videos that people sent in, a lot of dudes from all over the world…you know, Europe, Australia, a lot of dudes in the U.S. We were like, let’s give an underdog a chance, let’s get somebody who’s not really well known and just see what happens. Mike Heller happened to be one of the guys that was one of the best videos that we saw and one of the best guys that we auditioned. Obviously there were a lot of other really great drummers, but we just thought Mike fit really well with the band.

What does the future hold for Fear Factory?

Tour, tour, tour. Tour this year, tour next year, and hopefully put out a new record as soon as we can!

Interview by: Noah “Shark” Robertson