Fear Factory is here to stay *poms poms*. I won’t downplay it; it was a turbulent journey. It was an emotionally charged cluster fuck to be precise. The unfolding events of Fear Factory over the course of 2021 have finally come to a head. And fans, now going through the four stages of loss: shock, denial, anger and perhaps someday soon, acceptance were facing the potential loss of one of the biggest and longest standing institutions of industrial metal. Don’t kid yourselves, it was a real fucking possibility. Lawsuits, accusations of scams, sabotage, and character assassinations heated the debate. Bankruptcies ensued, divorce settlements were stamped, and the auction gavel proclamated a sale, with friendships now unmendable, fans divided. The casualties were piling up…
But it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s industrial… Sentinel Daily caught up with a very candid FF guitarist Dino Cazares, now fresh on the other side of chaos. Dino, not only a co-founder but now the SOLE OWNER of Fear Factory is here to guide this bunch of change-allergic diehards into the future of Fear Factory…
There’s a lot to unpack here. “Yeah, we can talk about whatever you want”
Fear Factory have seen more challenges than most bands, so in terms of overcoming those challenges and wanting to accomplish what you set out to achieve; take us through the last several years and one of the many casualties of all this; the impending album… “Basically, we wanted to do a record around 2017 and unfortunately, we were in the middle of a lawsuit, from 2016 to 2020, we were in a lawsuit for the trademark, Fear Factory – in other words, the name Fear Factory. We couldn’t legally use the name because it was held up in litigation with the two ex-members, (former FF drummer and bassist) Raymond (Herrera) and Christian (Olde Wolbers) so the lawsuit lasted a long time – such a long time, I went bankrupt, from the intense legal fees, I mean that stuff can really take a toll… and it did, it also took a toll on my marriage – I got a divorce in the process of all that. It was a very stressful time, I ended up having to go to hospital because I thought I had a heart attack from the stress. There were so many things I was going through. I had to get past all that. I can’t tell you what Burton [C. Bell, FF vocalist] was going through personally, but in the process, he had lost his rights to the trademark name. The trademark went up for auction in 2020 which meant anyone could buy it. You could have bid on it, you could have bought it! So luckily, somehow, I was able to acquire it, and in July 2020 I got the rights to the name and we could move forward and put out this record. Now, in that process Burton did end up leaving the band – stating to the media that he was basically over everything that had happened. But along the way, I took a lot of the punches. When Burton left, he tried to sabotage what I was doing and purposely went out of his way to try and damage my reputation and musical career by promoting lies on his public social media platforms stating that the Fear Factory Go-Fund-Me campaign was a scam”.
The axeman is on a roll now, continuing “I started a Go-Fund-me campaign to alleviate the costs of the record – as it was sitting there for three years, it needed much improvement, so I started the campaign to raise funds to complete this. That was to record live drums, to get the producer Damon Rayno and to get the mixer Andy Sneap and this is exactly what the campaign was intended for. But unfortunately, Burt’s social media attacks on me were very ill intended, a character assassination and very unprofessional. His comments spilled over to all metal media sites (not this one – Ed.) – so it made headline news and people were sharing a lot of misinformation and it was just getting out of hand. It wasn’t easy for me to handle all the negative attention. And fans were pissed, they wanted answers. The ‘departure speech’ started this unnecessary public drama. I was answering fans and media questions as best as I could, trying to do damage control and be positive about this new record. I didn’t hide from any of it – I hit it head on. But I can’t understand why he would try to sabotage the album and the improvements that I made benefited everyone involved, especially him”.
It’s clear there are two perspectives on this – and without having Burton’s at this time to debate the facts, we can only speculate his intentions. Your intention was to be proactive with the situation. You refused to let Fear Factory fizzle out; to put the past and the stress behind you? “It was a very stressful time. I thought that everything was over. The only thing I could do was not run from the issue and hit it head on and answer any question that was asked. It’s the only way I know how to be. I believe in Fear Factory, I believe in what I do with Fear Factory and I believe in myself. I don’t fear change – as an artist you can’t fear change. I don’t fear the future and I don’t fear what people are going to say. You don’t succeed without some failure”.
The things you have just stated have obviously been your biggest motivators – and you had a lot to contemplate during this period, so let’s discuss the legacy of Fear Factory and the future of Fear Factory. “Well, for me, I really enjoy putting out music that people enjoy – this is one of the biggest gratifications I get. To me, that is something that keeps burning. The passion of what I do and create, to me is everything. I love this music; I love what I do”.
With this new future and the latest album (Aggression Continuum) that has finally come to light – with Burton on vocals. It can’t really be described as a new beginning, but perhaps a farewell? “Yeah – it’s like a closing of one chapter and the beginning of another. I can’t force anybody to be there if they don’t want to be – that was his decision. It still blows my mind how he handled his departure. He didn’t have to quit. If you had an issue – reach out. But he chose to take a different route and move on – and that’s how I’ve approached it also – to move on. I look forward to what is coming up, finding a new singer and carving a whole new chapter – I’m questioned as to what will change and what will remain the same. The only way I can answer that is that Fear Factory has never remained the same – a thirty-year career, your voice is going to change – compare (2010’s) Mechanize to now, it’s different – why can’t it change again. I’m very open about who we get to sing, and I can tell you now, gender won’t play a role in my decision. A singer is a singer, he or she, that’s who they are”.
“Fear Factory was always anything that manufactures fear, religion, government, technology. Fear Factory always promoted battling those fears and keeping an open mind. A lot of the concept was the relationship between humans and AI and the awareness and being socially conscious of what’s going on out there. Open minds will dominate. That was one of the main lyrics we had on Demanufacture. And I am hoping that any Fear Factory fan will believe in those lyrics will believe in us going forward. I understand people are grieving. The loss of the only voice they’ve ever heard [in Fear Factory] but we have no choice, this band needs to move forward. Being truthful and honest to what Fear Factory represented from day one. It’s who we are”.
Anything else would be a disservice to the bands legacy to not move forward? “Especially what I went through to get it. Journalists have asked me was it worth it? Of course its worth it! At the end of the day, I fought so hard, and I have found a sense of freedom”. A question raised by people who haven’t had the privilege to be a part of something like this in their lives “If you had a great job, and you and your mate worked side by side every day, then he decides to quit – are you going to quit? I don’t think so, you need that job”. [Laughs]
How was label Nuclear Blast’s stance on the project and the situation that was unfolding over the years? “They were very cool about it all, but there was definitely pressure on them as well. They didn’t know the outcome – but they were determined to get this record out because they spent serious money to pay the band to make a record, so they wanted to make back their investment, so they were waiting, just like us”.
Where do you see the direction of Fear Factory? “We are definitely going to continue the traditional elements of what make Fear Factory what it is. Syncopated guitars and double bass kick drums and the futuristic element on the keyboards and sampling, all the while using A-list mixers to help tone and shape the material. Nothing will change in that respect. People are freaking out though, about the concepts, the vocals, the lyrics… I understand, I do – I can be the buffer for your grief and anger [Laughs] I’m here to tell you, it’s all going to be OK. I’m here to give you hugs”. [Laughs]
Fear Factory’s long-awaited new album, Aggression Continuum, releases on June 18th. You can read Michael Stronge’s review of the album HERE