Since FEAR FACTORY officially called it quits in early March, very little has been heard from the band themselves, with the four members of the group choosing to each deal with the break-up of this long-running group by immersing themselves in new projects rather than speaking out publicly on what was, by all accounts, a less-than-amicable split.
Known to FEAR FACTORY fans as the spokesperson for the group and its chief songwriter, guitarist Dino Cazares was unsurprisingly the first one to pick up the pieces and start afresh, having recently joined forces with ex-BUILT XL vocalist Jason "Gong" Jones in an as-yet-unnamed new band, which is currently recording its debut demo at a Santa Monica studio.
In a BLABBERMOUTH.NET worldwide exclusive, Cazares has spoken out publicly for the first time about FEAR FACTORY's split and his plans for the future. What follows is a phone interview with Dino that took place yesterday, May 12th:
When [vocalist] Burt [C. Bell] announced at a band meeting in early March that he was leaving the band, were you guys at all surprised, or had you seen it coming?
I wasn't surprised to hear that he wanted to quit. But what caught me by surprise was that he was gonna quit this early. Because he had mentioned to us, while we were on tour with MACHINE HEAD late last year, that he wasn't really into it anymore, and that he thought that we should kill off the band, do one last album and one last world tour and that was itwe were all gonna go our separate ways. And that was kind of the plan that he kind of had. I didn't really agree with it, but at the time, he was basically trying to say, "Look, I'm gonna quit. Not right now, but I'm gonna quit later on." And the concept of the next album was basically gonna be the ending story to this whole concept that we were creating as FEAR FACTORY. So in his mind, he was writing the last chapter of the bookof the FEAR FACTORY story. So it took me by surprise that he was trying to quit early.
Did he give you a reason as to why he had changed his mind?
He just basically walked in [at the rehearsal place]me, [bassist] Christian [Olde Wolbers] and [drummer] Raymond [Herrera] were thereand he basically just straight-out said, 'Look, guys, I'm not into it anymore, I don't wanna play in the band anymore, I don't wanna play with you guys, and I especially don't wanna play with you, Dino." And that was it. He literally ran out the door. I heard that before he came to rehearsal, he had gone out and bought a bottle of Jack Daniels and drank, so I'm assuming he came to rehearsal pretty much buzzed or drunk. Probably because he was looking for enough courage to come and tell the guys [that has quitting]. So when [Burt] quit, me, Raymond and Christian decided that that was gonna be itthat we were all gonna go our separate ways and do our own thing.
At this meeting when he announced
[jumps in] It wasn't a meeting [per se]. He was there literally two minutes. Before anyone could actually react to what he said, he was gonehe had ran out the door. So obviously he didn't leave any [opportunity for any of us] to even argue what he said. He literally ranI'm not exaggeratinghe ran out the door.
When you guys had discussions about Burt leaving prior to this occasion
[jumps in] No, no, no He only discussed that with me. He didn't discuss it with any of the other guys.
So did this come as a surprise to Christian and Raymond then? Were they aware that Burt was planning on leaving at some point?
They were kind of aware, just because of, after 9/11, how things were shaky within the [music] industry, and how the record [Digitmortal] didn't do as well as [everyone had expected it to].. When things like that happen, the morale kind of goes down. I think one of the downfalls in FEAR FACTORY was that there was too much freedom in the band. In other words, there was too many projects going on.
And you would include yourself in that as well?
Yeah, including myself as well. And I think that people were starting to lose focus of the whole FEAR FACTORY thing. And I think Burt sensed that, and I think this was his chance to get out. All those little things were a factor. Besides an argument that me and him had about a silly tour manager.
This argument you are referring to happened on the tour with MACHINE HEAD, right?
Yeah, we argued about a tour manager that was doing a very poor job.
There was some implication in other published reports that this argument was somehow a turning point in your relationship with Burt. But you don't think that was the case, right?
I think it was a lot things that were a factor [in Burt's decision to leave the band]. And I think that [argument] was just the final straw. I think it was the aftermath of 9/11, the poor sales of the last record A lot of people in the industry suffered, and I think that was something that Burt didn't understand. He was trying to blame it on the bandthat maybe it was time that we quit. And he was always talking abut stopping the bandand that was all before the argument [over the tour manager in October]. So when the argument came aboutwhich was an argument that lasted literally a minuteit was me basically confronting the tour manager of him doing a bad job, and Burt, not knowing the facts, stood up for him, and got in my face, so I ended up pushing him, and we ended up in an argument. And that was it. And then the next day, me and him talked, and we gave each other a hug and a kiss, and we basically apologized [to each other].
In the initial reports following the split, there was some talk about the fact that Burt didn't want to sing aggressively anymore, that he didn't have his heart in it, and that he wanted to move on to a different style of music. Was that something that was an issue as well?
Yeah, I totally think that that's correct. He felt that he was getting too old, and I think singing this kind of way was not something that he wanted to do the rest of his life. Burt was one of those kind of guys who enjoyed maturing. He enjoyed getting older and being more of a sophisticated kind of guy, and singing aggressively is not sophisticated. Singing aggressively is not something that he looks at as something that is intelligent. So he didn't want to do it anymore. His heart wasn't in it.
Did he tell you this himself, or was this something you had gathered on your own from being around the guy for so long?
After knowing the guy for 12 years, it's not just an assumption. Burt looks forward to turning the age 35. He looks forward to being wiser. He's really a big Nick Cave guy, and Nick Cave is older and intelligent, and he plays sophisticated, artsy kind of music, and that's what Burt's really into.
What would cause Burt to say to you at this final meeting, "I especially don't wanna play with you, Dino"? Obviously, it sounds like there had been a lot of resentment built up over the years that had taken its toll on the working relationship between the two of you.
Burt is a pretty reserved kind of individual. He doesn't exactly open up and say his feelingsuntil the last minute.
When he reaches his breaking point.
Exactly. So, what led up to that, I really don't know. When he left the band and said, "I especially don't wanna play with you, Dino", the only thing I could think of that would cause him to say that was the argument in Octoberthat he obviously still held some resentment. Even though we had talked about it, and we apologized to each other, gave each other a hug. And even though we did that, I guess it still bothered him. I think the thing about Burt is that he's much more of a sensitive kind of individual than I am. I'm more like, "OK, I've dealt with the problem, we apologized, let's move on." I don't go back and hold all that in me. I can let it out that moment. Burt's not that kind of guy. Burt'll hold it in for a long time, and then finally, a year or two down the line, he'll bring it out. And you don't even remember it.
Do you think that the dynamic of your relationship with Burt was such that he simply felt overpowered by you and by your stronger, more direct kind of personality?
I think that one of the things that made FEAR FACTORY so successful as a band was that we were all completely different individuals, and somewhere down the line, we related to something and we made this music that we did. But I heard that Burt was telling people at our record company that I was an individual who was more controlling. And I think that Burt kind of mistakes that as a stronger personality than him. And that's basically what it wasthat I was a stronger personality than him, that I was able to put up a better argument and stand my point better than he could.
Did he ever tell you directly that he felt you were too controlling in a band situation?
Yeah. It was weird, because whenever something went wrong in the band, they were like, "OK, let's call Dino, he'll take care of it." But the minute I take care of it, and I start doing business, they'd be like, "Why are you doing too much?" There was one point when it was like, OK, we got a new management company, and they were on top of things, and all the rest of the guys said, "OK, Dino, you've gotta let go, you've just got mellow out and relax and let our management take care of things." Because over the years, we had bad management, so a lot of the times, the bandespecially myselfhad to take care of a lot of the business, and that's how I built up relationships with a lot of people at the record company, and people like you, and other people, and that's why most people, when they think of FEAR FACTORY, they know Dino, because I was basically the spokesperson. I was kind of put in that spot.
Not necessarily by your choice.
No. Because if I didn't do it, no one would have done it. So I was put in that spot, and I was kind of getting the limelight of being in that spot. And I think certain members of the band didn't like it, so they wanted me more to let go of it, to let go of some of that.
When you say "certain members didn't like it", are you referring to some of the other guys as well, in addition to Burt?
Yeah. I would say that. But the person that made a lot of the decisions behind the scenes that no one really knew was Raymond. Me and Raymond were the ones that started the band, so a lot of the stuff was one us. Because I was the guy in the front, I was the guy who, whenever something bad happened with FEAR FACTORY, I was the guy who automatically got blamed for it. Even though Raymond was the one who made the call.
Are you aware of any differences that might have existed between you and any of the other guys?
I also heard from members of my band that Christian held some resentment towards me, because during the recording of Demanufacture, he was upset because he couldn't live with the fact that I had to play half the bass tracks on the record, because he didn't know all the songs, and we didn't have the time or money to have him learn the songs as we were recording. So the producer and the band asked me to step in and take over the bass tracks. So I did, thinking what's best for the band. But later on, seven years later, Christian brings up to certain people that he couldn't live with that factthat I played on one of the best records.
Did he feel like it was a slight against him or his playing ability?
It's like I took something away from him. Maybe it's a little bit of that, too. I really don't know, 'cause I never spoke to him about it, because I only heard about it other members of the band that Christian held that resentment towards me. I also heard that he held some resentment towards me because I never asked him to play in any of my other projects that I did.
So there were never any direct, face-to-face confrontations with any of the other guys that would have caused you to be aware of unresolved issues between you or any resentment that they might have held towards you?
No direct confrontations. No one came to me face-to-face [and said anything].
This is all stuff that you have heard through the grapevine then?
Yeah. I think that, maybe, certain guys in the band were intimidated by me. Because I am a strong person. And I can understand why people would be afraid to talk to me about certain issues. Which is really kind of funny, because I am the kind of person who could tackle an issue at the moment. When things were going bad in FEAR FACTORY, unfortunately, it became a thing where people would try to blame me for it.
You mentioned the poor sales of Digimortal.
I'm not even saying "poor" sales. It's just that it didn't
The sales were disappointing, at least.
And I don't think it was because of a bad record. I just think it was because it came out because of [events] of 9/11. I mean, look at how many records bombed because of it.
But was it really just because of 9/11? You also have to admit that a lot of the reviews were surprisingly negative, and the reactions from the fans weren't necessarily all great either.
But so what? We'll come back with another great one. What it did to me was it gave me more incentive to write a better album.
But in hindsight, why do you feel Digimortal didn't connect with the fans as well as you had hoped it would?
There were a few things that we did that we could have done differently. First of all, I think that having the track "Back The F.ck Up" on the record, which was more of a Christian decisionto bring B-Real [of CYPRESS HILL] into it Nothing against those guys, but I think that it was a bad decision to try to bring that kind of style into FEAR FACTORY, and we got a lot of flak for it. And I think that there was one of the downfalls of it. I also think that at the time, unfortunately, radio was really, really big on playing heavier rock music, and everybody else in my band was really focusing on trying to write a radio-type song. And I think that when you listen to too many different people, like your record label, you start to lose a little bit of focus. Everybody wanted the quick money, everybody wanted to get rich off a radio song I went along with it. I didn't exactly like it. I mean, my heart is still brutal, and I still love brutal music. FEAR FACTORY was a very talented band, and we could do many different things, especially when you've got versatile musicians, but we were listening to the record label, and the record label was saying, "We need a radio song", and I think we tried to do that with every song. And it kind of lost focus. And I think that, when you're doing something that is not really coming from the heart and it's coming from what someone else is telling you to do, I think that people kind of sense that. I think the kids kind of sensed that, and I think that that was one of the downfalls of that record. The kids wanted some heavy shit. It was still kind of heavy, but you could tell it was a little differentevery song was shorter, a lot of the meat-and-potatoes were kind of cut out of it, or edited out of it, and Christian and Raymond were really keen on trying to get rich and be big ballers, 'cause of CYPRESS HILL and B-Real, and hanging out with those guys, and Rolexes and platinum necklaces, and everybody wanted to be driving Escalades and stuff like that. And then you see bands like SLIPKNOT on the radio, and it's like, "What the f.ck?" So that's what everybody wanted to be like. And we went along with it, and then look what happened. If FEAR FACTORY would have just been writing the stuff that we had been writing, keeping it brutal and heavy and true, I think that it would have been a more successful record.
But it wouldn't necessarily be fair to say that it was strictly their (Christian and Raymond's) fault. You went along with it, and you had the power to say "No".
Yes and no. I mean, yes, I did have the power, but it would have been a fight, and no, I didn't have the power, because if I did step in, they would be trying to say that I was trying to take control again. So I was kind of [stuck between] a rock and a hard place.
When Burt came to you guys and announced his decision to leave the band, there was no discussion amongst you guys about possibly trying to carry on with a new singer?
No. I could never do that.
Is that because you feel that Burt is irreplaceable?
For FEAR FACTORY, yes. Of course, there's better singers out there than him, there's better guitar players, there's better drummers, there's better bass playersof course there isbut there is something about all four of us clicking together which was something that was magical that we could never change. I mean, we had always said that if someone had left the band, it would be over. We always said that, and everybody knew that.
Except, I presume, if that someone was Christian.
I didn't say that. (laughs) But yeah, if Christian had left the band, as far as I was concerned, the band could continue. As a matter of fact, to be honest with you, I thought Christian was gonna be the first one to gobecause of his involvement with CYPRESS HILL, and because he wanted to be so hop hop that he wasn't there anymore. I thought that Christian was just going through the motions on stage, and going through the motions in the music, and I even noticed that he and Raymond were slowing down some of the tempos of the songs to make them more groovierbecause he [Christian] thought that they were too fast on the record. And I think that that was because of his mentality of being into the hip hop, more groovier stuff. And if I said something, I was the asshole, so I just went along with it.
But there were never any discussions between you and Christian about him wanting to leave or being unhappy?
Every day, Christian would express his feelings"F.ck Europe, I don't wanna go to Europe, I don't know why the f.ck I'm doing this, I'm not making enough money, blah blah blah." He was constantly complaining about things. Constantly complaining. "CYPRESS HILL's got this, they fly first class. How come we don't fly first class?" And I mean, if you really are that unhappy, maybe you should just go play with CYPRESS HILL.
Which I guess he did.
And the he's flying coach and he's going to Europe touring with CYPRESS HILL. So basically, he was unhappy being in FEAR FACTORY. It was obvious.
Since this whole thing happened and you guys decided to go your separate ways
[jumps in] As a matter of fact, I thought it was probably for the better, because I could tell that a few of the members of the band's hearts weren't there. Christian's heart wasn't there, Burt's heart wasn't there.
What about Raymond?
Raymond's down. Raymond would be down [with continuing the band].
So out of all the guys in the band, Raymond was the only one that you felt you still had any musical chemistry left with?
Yeah. Everybody else, at this point, I would have had to pull teeth and force it out of them. It was better than we all went separate ways. After spending so many years with each other, it was like, "I think it's time we did something different, new". Not necessarily meaning in the musical style being different, but just playing with different guys.
Is this something that you had made clear to Raymond and Christian as well? Was there ever any type of discussion about the three of you forming a new band together?
I never would have brought it up to Christian. No way. Of course, not Burt. Raymondyeah, I brought it up to Raymond, but Raymond doesn't want to tour.
But you would have continued playing with Raymond if he had agreed to tour?
Yeah. We have other projects together. Raymond won't leave his house unless he's getting paid. He won't walk out of his door unless he's getting paid. That's what these guys' mentalities are like nowthey won't leave until they're getting paid.
After you guys decided to go your separate ways, did you immediately have an idea as to where you wanted to take your next project, musically speaking?
I was writing the songs for FEAR FACTORY, and I was kind of taking FEAR FACTORY in a newer direction.
What direction was that?
It was definitely much heavier, much groovier, and a lot more focused and a lot more thought-out songs. But at the same time, like I said SLAYER's still my favorite band. I'm not about to turn my back on the fans that still like heavy music that still want me to put out heavy music, 'cause that's the music that I like. But I do have a versatile side to me that can write different types of music. So I wrote five songs. I actually wrote three songs, and me and Raymond wrote two songs together. So there were five songs. And two songs were used for FEAR FACTORY, three of them were my songs, so I'm taking those three songs and I'm doing new stuff with them with the new members. And they're all three different types of songs. One of them is really fast, mechanicalsomething that you would hear off Demanufacture that's ripping, with brutal vocals over it. And then, I've got something that's more groovier, that's more along the lines of "Edge Crusher" meets "Descent", with melodic vocals with heavy choruses and things like that. And then I've got one that's completely like "Invisible Wounds" meets "Resurrection" that's got melodic vocals all the way through. I'm demoing these three different types of songs, and that way people could see the versatility of the new style that I'm trying to do. I definitely still do want to be metal. There's definitely no doubt in my mind that I will be heavy. And if people don't like the fact that I'm saying that I'm gonna be that way, then f.ck them.
How did you hook up with your new singer Jason "Gong" Jones?
Jason is a guy that I've known for about 6-7 years, something like that. And I knew he was a talented singer. As a matter of fact, I was the one that recommended him to try out for SEPULTURA. I knew he was a talented singer, but of course, there was really nothing I could do with him, because I was already in a band. And all my other bands are singing in Spanish. So the minute FEAR FACTORY broke up, less than a week a later He was in a band alreadyhe was in a band called BUILT XL. And Monte Conner, [head of A&R] at Roadrunner Records, was interested in working with the band. So the minute [FEAR FACTORY] broke up, Kevin Estrada, at Roadrunner also, him and Monte were saying, "Dude, call f.cking Jason." And I'm like, "Jason's in a band." And he was like, "So what? Call him." So that was the first guy I called.
So he left BUILT XL to join your band?
Well, before he left [BUILT XL], he came and tried out. He basically sang on the demo, and I was like, "Ah, you're in". So when I said he was in, he basically went and quit his other band.
How would you describe Jason's vocal style in comparison to that of Burt?
Well, you can obviously tell thatand I don't mean this in any disrespect to Burtbut you can tell that [Jason] had more vocal training.
Because he has more control over his voice?
Correct. And he can do a lot more with his voice, too.
And he's not just limited to the heavy stuff or the melodic stuffhe can do both?
Correct. He can do a lot of the melodic stuffreally good melodic stuff. The difference between him and Burt was that Burt was kind of like meeverything just came from the heart, and that's just where it came from. And you can tell Gong had some training. It's like a guitar player who can really know his music, or a guitar player who can just write some great riffs, just coming from his heart.
So this new band that you're going to form will be a four-piece, correct?
Right now, I'm thinking of a four-piece, but it might eventually go into a keyboard player or a DJ, or anything like that.
You don't have any ideas for, or candidates for other musicians right nowyou're still looking?
I'm still looking for a great drummer. Someone who can do double-bass, and at the same time, do really fat grooves. I tried out a couple of guys, and either they're really good at the fast stuff, or they're really good at the slow stuff. And they're not good at nothing else. They can't do both. That's really hard to find.
You said you're looking for a drummer. Does that mean that, at the moment, you're not even looking for a bass player?
Yeah, but it's not as much of a priority. I'm going at certain steps. I found a singer, and now I need to find a drummer, and then I am going to find a bass player.
Do you have name for the band in mind?
I don't have a name for the band, and I don't have any [song] titles yet.
Are you finished recording the three songs by now?
Musically, we're done. Vocally, we're not done. We're recording at a studio called Klown Recordings in Santa Monica, California.
Have you been in contact with any of the other former FEAR FACTORY members since the split?
Do you know what those guys are doing, or what they're planning to do?
I know Christian is on tour with CYPRESS HILL. I don't know what Raymond's plans are. I know he's been working with the video game industry, and I don't know exactly what Burt's doing. The only person I spoke to [since the split] was Raymond.
Are you still going to be involved with BRUJERIA and ASESINO, or are you going to focus on this new band exclusively?
Yeah, I will still be involved with both of them, but my main focus will be my new band.
Tony Campos from STATIC-X is involved in ASESINO with you, right?
Yes, he sings and plays bass.
What kind of stuff is it, musically?
It's likea mixture of SLAYER, CANNIBAL CORPSE, and TERRORIZER.
And he sings in Spanish?
Everything's in Spanish. And Tony will be talking in Spanish between songs. We were talking about possibly having an actual translator on stage translating what he's saying. (laughs) We also have a touring drummer, since Raymond [who played on the record] doesn't want to tour. The touring drummer's name is Emilio Marquez.
Do you have any idea when peope might get a chance to hear this new project of yours? Will you be playing shows before you record the album?
Yes. As soon as we get a drummer, we're gonna be writing songs and we're gonna start just playing showsanywhere, f.ckin' we don't careyour mom's house, backyard parties. It's gonna be a completely different mentality than FEAR FCTORY. I wanna get the new guys broken in.
But in terms of a studio record, you don't expect that to happen for some time?
I'm gonna say [that you can expect to hear it sometime] next year.