Metal rock band
After Fear Factory’s second consecutive sell–out concert at London’s Astoria in 1999, Ben Myers of Melody Maker declared the rock band “the kings of nu metal.” Myers further added, “While Korn and Deftones operate on the hip hop crossover axis, these chaps take the dynamics of what was once speed metal and weld it to the best electrónica—from band associate Gary Numan to Nine Inch Nails’ monolithic beats. Only, somehow, it sounds surprisingly fresh, almost… groundbreaking…. To see a band so focused, consistent and minimal still sounding like God punching sheet metal in a cathedral can’t fail to excite.” The Los Angeles–based band became one of the most popular speed metal/industrial acts of the1990s, gathering a loyal following of fans largely by grassroots touring. By the middle of the decade, with the release of 1995’s Demanufacture, the band finally earned greater radio airplay and gained worldwide mainstream attention.
Fear Factory emerged in 1990 in Los Angeles, California, when members Burton C Bell on vocals, Diño Cazares on guitar and bass, and Raymond Herrara on drums decided to form a band. Bell, known for his dry, guttural vocal delivery, and Cazares had been friends for years and lived in a large house together with other roommates in Los Angeles. “He was right into death metal,” Bell told Australia’s Rebel Razor magazine in an article on the band’s website. “He introduced death metal to me and I introduced Godflesh to him, bands like that.” Bell was a member of a local Los Angeles band called Hateface prior to forming Fear Factory. He compared their sound to early metal rock bands like Helmet and White Zombie. It was during his upbringing in Houston, Texas, that Bell became an avid fan of metal rock.
The group started out playing local gigs in Los Angeles, where they established a grassroots following, before landing a record deal with Roadrunner Records. In 1992, the band released their debut album, Soul of a New Machine. Soon thereafter, because of Fear Factory’s endless touring schedule, the group recruited bassist Andrew Shives. The additional bass guitarist enabled Cazares to play guitar full–time and allowed the band to tour more easily. From the onset, Fear Factory appealed to rock enthusiasts “who don’t like metal, but who still like their rock in violent, disruptive doses,” according to Paul Hampelof the St. Louis Post–Dispatch. “Punks who eschewthe likes of hair bands such as Iron Maiden (Fear Factory’s unlikely tour mates [in 1996]) are some of the band’s most ardent supporters.” In 1993, Fear Factory released a second album, Fear Is the Mindkiller, also issued by Roadrunner. Unlike the group’s debut, which focused on speed metal rock, Fear Factory’s follow–up effort incorporated techno/industrial elements into the overall sound. At the same time, the popularity of techno
Members include John Bechdel (born August 23, 1964; guest musician), keyboards; Burton C. Bell (born c. 1969; raised in Houston, TX; son of a National Public Radio correspondent [father] and an artist [mother]), vocals; Diño Cazares (bornSeptember 2, 1966), guitar, bass; Raymond Herrera (born December 18, 1972, in Mexico), drums; Christian Olde–Wolbers (born August 5, 1972, in the Netherlands; also lived in Belgium; joined group, 1994), bass; Andrew Shives (joined band 1992, left band 1994), bass.
Formed band in 1990 in Los Angeles, CA; signed with Roadrunner Records, released debut Soul of a New Machine, 1992; released Demanufacture, 1995; toured as part of Ozzfest concert series, 1997; single “Cars” from the album Obsolete crossed over to modern rock charts, 1999.
Addresses: Home —Los Angeles, CA. Record company —Roadrunner Records, 536 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, (212) 274–7500, fax (212) 334–6921. Website —Fear Factory Official Website, http://www.fearfactory.com.
Personal conflicts led to the replacement of Shives by Christian Olde–Wolbers in 1994. After recruiting Olde–Wolbers, Fear Factory recorded their third album, De–manufacture, issued in 1995 by Roadrunner. According to Bell, the album surrounded the concept of stripping down society’s laws, government, servitors, religion, and death. “The whole disc is the story of ananonymous man of the future,” the vocalist informed Hampel. “He has lived in the stultifying, hateful atmosphere of a society ruled by the iron hand of a totalitarian system. One day, he snaps, sees the light of non–conformity and the importance of individuality.”
For example, “Pisschrist,” a song inspired from a photograph by Andres Serrano thatdrewoutragefrom religious groups, questioned the power of religion. Regarding his own religious beliefs, Bell commented, as quoted by Rebel Razor, “I’m agnostic really…. I believe in personal spirituality, but letting a group of people tell you how you should worship or what your spirituality is, is wrong.” The lead singer also professed that one should believe in himself first and search for spiritual power from within. Expressing his satisfaction with the record, Bell added, “I like listening to it myself, which says a lot because I didn’t really listen to Soul Of A New Machine or Fear Is The Mindkillerthai much. But I’m really proud of this record ’cause we worked very hard and even if I weren’t in the band I’d probably buy the record.” Following the release of Demanufacture, Fear Factory finally had greater radio airplay and continued to tour non–stop. As the band gained even more fans, they toured with big–name acts such as Biohazard, Iron Maiden, and Korn.
In the meantime, around 1995, Bell joined a side project with Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath. Butler formed a new band and enlisted Bell as the lead singer. “There’s the Fear Factory element in there, but I’m doing a lot more different things,” Bell told Rebel Razor. “There’s a couple of samples but there’s no keyboards on the album. There’s four of us in the band—Geezer, myself, Dean Castranova who plays drums forOzzy[Osbourne], and a guy named Petro Howse who’s been a friend of Geezer’s for a long time.”
In the midst of exhaustive touring, Fear Factory found time to record a remix EP entitled Remanufacture, released in 1997. That same year, the group also joined the Ozzfest tour. Ozzfest ’97, a hard rock and heavy metal road show assembled by former Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osboume, toured 21 cities that year and also featured bands such as Marilyn Manson, a reunited Black Sabbath, Pantera, Type O Negative, and Machine Head.
Fear Factory toured for the next two years and released the album Obsolete in 1999, which featured a cover version of Gary Numan’s classic single “Cars.” “We’re really big fans of the original,” Cazares told Carrie Bell of Billboard. “Fear Factory is brutal and heavy, but we still have a lot of melodic elements in our records and keyboards. So Gary [who appeared as guest vocalist for the remake] was a huge influence.” By July of that year, the single reached number 40 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart, marking the first time Fear Factory had crossed over to an alternative audience. Nevertheless, the group held mixed feelings about the song’s success. “Our record company saw it as a way to market Fear Factory to a new audience, and people ate it up,” added Cazares. “Which, in itself, is a cool thing, but we would be more excited if we bridged that gap with one of our own songs. We don’t want to be known as a cover band.”
The group resisted comparisons to other rock bands who caught the attention of alternative radio, feeling that Fear Factory’s music provided a unique sound all its own. “Our band is definitely still growing in America, but we didn’t do this to get popular quick or copy some other band. We aren’t jumping on the Limp Bizkit [the popular rock/hip–hop band] tip,” noted Cazares to Bell. “We created our own style and intend to use it.”
Soul of a New Machine, Roadrunner, 1992.
Fear Is the Mind Killer, Roadrunner, 1993.
Demanufacture, Roadrunner, 1995.
Remanufacture, (EP), Roadrunner, 1997.
Obsolete, Roadrunner, 1999.Sources
Billboard, August 7, 1999, p. 69.
Boston Globe, April 9, 1997.
Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1997; July 1, 1997.
Melody Maker, January 16, 1999; October 2, 1999.
St. Louis Post–Dispatch, February 29, 1996, p. 12; March 8,1996, p. 06E.
Washington Post, August 18, 1999.
Fear Factory Official Website, http://www.fearfactory.com (November 24, 1999).
Rolling Stone.com, http://www.rollingstone.tunes.com (November 19, 1999).
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