The Automaton In Us All- An Interview With Dino Cazares Of Fear Factory

January 1, 2012 by Chris Grosso

“They said that the world was coming to an end. Well… it ended and it was caused by our own hand. The world just kept on turning.” – anonymous

With those words begins The Industrialist, a new chapter in Fear Factory’s career of ideas and extremes. The follow-up to 2010’s critically acclaimed Mechanize, The Industrialist is a vital chapter in the history of one of the most over-achieving bands in heavy music. It’s the Fear Factory machine at its most confident and passionate, bringing every sonic weapon in its arsenal to the fore.

The shadow of the Los Angeles born band has loomed large, writing the book of industrial metal that has gone on to influence the likes of Rammstein and inform such stalwart noisemongers as Ministry. Fear Factory also merged the idea of melodic vocals erupting from death metal screaming long before it became modern metal’s de-riguer. Over the course of a many storied career that’s seen the success of five critically acclaimed albums plus a remix EP and album, Fear Factory has had a career of creative and commercial success, selling over three million records worldwide: they’ve also been plagued by bitter infighting and have emerged from it all in 2012 with a new alloy of aggression.

The Dino Cazares Interview

TIS: So The Industrialist is the second album you’ve written with Burton since returning to the band in 2009 and recorded Mechanize. I was wondering if the writing and collaboration process varied at all between the two records?

DC: The only thing that really varied at all is that on Mechanize we worked with Gene Hoglan whereas on this record we didn’t. It was just me and Burt and the reason we chose to do it that way is that we wanted it to be pure Fear Factory. When Fear Factory first started, it was just me, Burt and a drum machine and we’d do the record like that. So we wanted it to be how it was when we first started and felt this was the best approach. That’s not to take anything away from the musicians that we’ve worked with in the past. We just wanted to do it ourselves.

TIS: Nice. Judging from these two records it seems like it’s working, and speaking about the recent albums, particularly The Industrialist, in a recent interview regarding that record you said, “This one is more Fear Factory than anything we’ve done in years.” Can you elaborate on that your statement for those who are yet to hear the album?

DC: Sure. Well obviously, when you’re in a band you have to diplomatic about things. Everybody wants to put in their two cents and while sometimes it works, often times it also doesn’t, and a lot of times it leads to arguments, like when there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. Most fans probably wouldn’t understand that because they’re not in bands, but when there’s too many cooks in the kitchen it can really ruin things, it can destroy a band. So for me and Burt to approach it as just two guys it makes things a lot easier. This may sound selfish but it was less people we had to share our ideas with so there was less interference.

TIS: Oh I can relate to that all too well. So can you tell me about the concept behind The Industrialist?

DC: A lot of the Fear Factory records we’ve done have been loosely based concepts. When we first started Fear factory, we asked ourselves what Fear Factory means, it was a cool name, but what did it mean? We obviously embraced the technological side of a factory, as a factory can be anything from something that insights fear, like a government machine, to something of futuristic technology, or it could be religion. So we embraced the technological side of it back in the early days with Soul of a New Machine, our first record. We really wanted to be more of an industrial band, even though we were clearly influenced by a lot of metal bands. So we wanted to be more of an industrial band and Soul of a New Machine was the beginning of a concept of what Fear Factory was, and what we were going to be. So it progressed when we did the first remix album, Fear is the Mindkiller, the title of which came from Dune. Soul of a New Machine’s title came from Terminator. Demanufacture’s title came from L.A., because at the time we were living there and in the early 90’s we had riots, fires, floods, earthquakes. So we just saw destruction around the area that we lived and the most fitting title we came up with was Demanufacture, which is a made up word. Remanufacture was about the cloning technology at that time. It was all about stem cell research and the ability to clone dogs and sheep and eventually the ability to clone humans, which obviously is illegal. Then on Obsolete, that record was based on a concept about a war between machines and humans, a war which the machines were winning as they were basically destroying man and wiping out all of life. Digimortal was more of man and machine embracing one other and figuring out ways to continue their lives by being able to download their soul into cloned humans from this technology. The other two records I wasn’t a part of so I can’t tell you about those (laughing). Mechanize was about the conspiracy theories. Controlled Demolitions was a song that dealt specifically with 9/11 and the conspiracy behind that. Christploitation was another song on that album that addressed how people use religion as a fear tactic like, if you don’t believe in Jesus Christ you’re going to burn in hell for eternity. Fear Campaign addressed a lot of the political tactics politicians use to get people to vote for them or a certain bill. So on the new record, The Industrialist, it’s about The Automaton, which is actually “The Industrialist”. The Automaton pays attention to everything it sees and everything it learns, it stores it all in its brain so it gets smarter and smarter, to the point where it basically thinks it’s human. So the whole concept this time is through the eye of the machine, instead of the human, and what he’s thinking and going through. The Industrialist title actually came from watching the History Channel. There was a story about a particular person, who back in the late 1930’s and early 40’s was building engines for tanks and planes to be used for war. Later on he started a car company, I don’t want to get into which company, let’s just say it’s a very famous company now, and they named him “The Industrialist”. So it’s a person who mass manufactures mechanical things and we thought it was perfect.

TIS: Wow. Thanks for that in-depth look into the mind of Fear Factory.

DC: Yeah, no problem (laughing).

TIS:  So it’s obvious that Fear Factory is heavily influenced by Sci-fi…

DC: Yeah, sci-fi is definitely a big influence on Fear Factory. I’ve had people tell me we always sing about the same thing but it’s like well, if we were a black metal band we’d sing about Satan, you know? What if we were a Christian metal band? All the songs would be about how much we loved Jesus. You sing about the things you’re influenced by. So we’ve been big into sci-fi since we were kids, things like Star Trek etc. Then came movies like Terminator and Dune. Burton is also a really big reader and loves sci-fi novels which helps him write. It’s also really cool he does that because it’s through the perspective of how we see things going or possibly going.

TIS: Yes, very cool. I’m a sci-fi nerd myself. So what are your touring plans for the rest of The Industrialist and beyond?

DC: Well The Industrialist world tour ends December 18th. We’re going everywhere, basically the whole world. I’m not sure about next year right now, I’m sure it will be more touring though. These days, being in a band you have to tour, that’s the only way you’re going to make money. The record industry has basically gone to shit. It’s something we’ve been talking about forever, since we first started Fear Factory, how technology will be the thing that takes over and that’s what has taken over the music industry. Anyone can go download whatever they want, music, movies, whatever, so in order for bands to really make any sort of income, it is by staying on the road. Unfortunately, we have to tour and tour and tour and tour in order to actually put some food on the table.

TIS: Sure. Most bands I interview all say that same thing.

DC: Yeah, it’s just the way it is now.

TIS: Right. So it seems to me like a lot of bands sound starts to soften over time whereas Fear Factory somehow finds ways to keep coming back heavier than before. Is this a conscious effort on your part or more of a natural progression?

DC: I think our first album Soul of a New Machine was our heaviest record until Mechanize came out which was a very aggressive album. I think The Industrialist is very aggressive to, but I don’t know what it is exactly, maybe it’s just that it’s ingrained in me. I think that anybody who loves metal or any kind of music in that form has it in them for life and I think Burton and I are two of those people. We have written softer songs in the past though. Songs like Resurrection etc. We’ve always had those dark, ballad type songs but for the most part we’re fucking here to rip, to kick ass. We’re here to fucking deliver the goods and that’s what we want to do.

TIS: And do that you do. So what’s going on with Divine Heresy? Are you guys still planning to release a new record this year?

DC: We’re trying too but unfortunately I’m on the road so much that it just makes things really tough. We’re half way through the album and we’ll see when we have time to finish it. It is coming though.

TIS: Right on. So in close, just off the top of your head, what’s one of the funniest tour memories you have?

DC: Oh, there’s one that just recently happened actually. We’re on tour with Shadows Fall right now and their bass player, Ed, is sleeping on the bunk above mine (we’re sharing a bus with them.) So one day we’re all getting fucked up in the front lounge and I was tired so I went to bed. I’m in the middle bunk and Ed is on the top bunk above mine and later that night, he was climbing up to his bunk and while doing so, he barfed all over me. It was all over my arm and bed and I was just like, “Oh fuck.” Luckily I had a towel in my bunk so I sort of wiped it off but I was so tired and drunk that I just went back to sleep. I woke up next morning to one of the worst smells I’ve ever experienced. It was so bad. It was really brutal but funny. We’re having a great time with those guys so it was all good.

TIS: Um, woah. And on that note, thanks so much for your time Dino.

DC: You too man (laughing).

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Chris Grosso is a writer, public speaker, mental health youth group facilitator, and author with Simon & Schuster. He also writes for Revolver Magazine, Fangoria, and has spoken at a bunch of fancy-schmancy festivals and conferences (as well as even more events that were significantly less than fancy-schmancy). Chris's podcast, The Indie Spiritualist, is hosted on Ram Dass's Be Here Now Network.