The Factory Powers On
American industrial metal band Fear Factory’s founding member and frontman Burton C. Bell on performing in India for the first time, their upcoming ninth concept album and writing sci-fi lyrics
Whoever called metal fans boneheads hasn’t come across AmericanÂ industrialÂ band Fear Factory’s followers. Frontman and founding member Burton C. Bell recalls several instances when fans get into in-depth conversations about the concepts behind their eight albums, spanning across two decades. Says Bell, who founded Fear Factory in 1989 with guitarist Dino Cazares and drummer Raymond Herrera [who left in 2008], “They [fans] really grasp science fiction. People hand me their stories, or a book to read what’s influenced them. And then we’d discuss science fiction, we discuss the future and what’s happening with technology and how that’ll affect humanity. It happens all the time.”
From their debut album Soul of a New MaÂchine, released in 1992 to their seminal work Obsolete, released in 1998, and more recentÂly, their 2012 album The Industrialist, Fear Factory have been all about comÂbining sci-fi worlds where machines have enÂslaved man with visceral yet polished metal. This sound put them in their own subgenre ”” industrial metal. Bell says, citing the works of writers such as George Orwell, Aldous HuxÂley and Philip K Dick, “Machines working for people or machines that enslave people ”“ it’s always a metaphor for the establishment we have today.” Among all the concept albums he’s written so far, Bell says 2001’s Digimortal was the most difficult one, while DemanufacÂture  and Obsolete were among the easÂier ones. Says Bell of Digimortal, which was also Cazares’ last album before he returned for Mechanize in 2010, “I really did not know where to go with it. It was kind of in the way of different things and I didn’t know what to do. I had a writÂer’s block.” Since then, he’s learned to stress less about writing, “ThinkÂing about it too hard or too much is actually detrimental.”
Fans had a chance to geek out with Bell and the rest of the band in January this year, when they played aboard the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise tour. Bell says he’s not one to be irked by being stranded on a boat with fans for a week. “[With] the metal scene ”“ all fans are just cool and mellow. They respect evÂerybody’s space and I was walking around and no one was bothering me. I would stop and say ”˜Hi,’ pose for pictures. All I’ve got to do is stand there and smile. What’s so hard about that?”
There will be plenty more posing for photos and hanging out with fans when Fear Factory makes their India debut in November, playing at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune on November 22nd and in Delhi NCR on November 29th. Bell says that although there is a week between the two shows, no other gigs have been planned. Bell adds, “I have this opportunity, I’m not going to let it go to waste and sit in a hotel room and watch TV all day. The promoter’s offered to be there with us for a week. He’s offered to set us up with travel and things and to see the country, so I’m really looking forward to walking around and have the opportunity to see the country that has been a mystery to me my entire life.”
Bell is also currently writing lyrics for the band’s upcoming ninth studio album, the follow-up to 2012’s The Industrialist, which is also their third album after their guitarist Cazares returned to Fear FactoÂry. Says Bell, “Having Dino back in the band was definitely something that was imporÂtant to me.” Fear Factory have nine tracks ready to be recorded and Bell mentions that the band will head into the studio followÂing their India shows and aim to release the album in March or April. Bell says they will play two “different but similar” setlists for their festival shows in India, hinting they might even throw in a new song. Says Bell, “Fear Factory has been around for 24 years almost and we have eight records under our belt and we’re working on our ninth, so we have plenty of material to work with, but there are songs that the fans will always love to hear.”
This article appeared in the October 2014 issue of ROLLING STONE India.