Thereís no rest for the weary Iím told. Perhaps Fear Factory knows that best. They have been perpetually on tour or recording since reforming in 2001. I caught up with Raymond Herrera, drummer and one of the founding members of Fear Factory, the day before Thanksgiving, November 23.
DaBelly: Well how are you doing today?
Herrera: Iím doing good. We are here in Denver and um, itís the Darkane / Strapping Young Lads / Soil Works / Fear Factory tour! But Iím sure you know all about that.
DaBelly: Yes I do but itís always nice to hear about it from you. Is Denver a little cold today?
Herrera: Itís actually really nice.
DaBelly: Great. I know itís a pain in the ass to tour when the weather is nasty. Well, first of all, I want to say congratulations on the record. I really enjoy "Transgression" and obviously youíve had some success with this record. I read that Fear Factory sold 11,000 records the first day of "Transgressionís" release.
Herrera: Yeah, when I heard about that I was like, wow thatís great. It means that weíve got some fans that are wanting this record.
DaBelly: I know that the record has been out for a little while, but I havenít had a chance to talk to you, so forgive me if I run over some older ground. Letís start with the new record. What can you tell me about it?
Herrera: Itís a bit of a departure from what most of our fans are used to listening to. Weíre really excited about it. Christian [Olde Wolbers] and I spent about 14 months writing it, more off than on obviously because we did a lot of the writing on the road. We tracked about 18 songs and the ones on the record are the ones Burt [Bell] felt went the way he was feeling. The record turned out a little bit different. Some of the tracks are on the lighter side. But I still think thereís enough aggression on the album, enough power tracks, to still keep the typical Fear Factory fans very excited.
DaBelly: Now the changes that youíve eluded to, is this indicative of where the band is heading or is it just the moment?
Herrera: I think itís just the songs we picked from the 18 more than anything else. There were a couple of songs from the 18 that we didnít use that were really fierce, really fast. I think itís just the way it turned out. Iím really proud of the record because, you know, no matter which songs were picked they are all still songs that we wrote. Theyíre all near and dear.
DaBelly: Certainly and it sounds like youíll have some future B-sides available at a later date.
Herrera: This record probably has more left over stuff than any other record weíve ever done. Weíll see what happens, I mean, we donít want to rate the songs as "Bs" or anything like that but I understand what youíre saying. We might end up using the songs on the next record or who know, weíll see.
DaBelly: It sounds like your left with many opportunities. Now Iíve noticed that the band or the record company has begun doing reissues of past Fear Factory albums.
Herrera: Roadrunner, our previous label, has begun doing the 10 year anniversary thing and so they wanted to do something with "Soul of a New Machine" and "Demanufacture." Maybe in a couple of years theyíll want to do something with "Obsolete" again. I canít believe itís been 10 years. I feel so old when we talk about it like that! So Roadrunner wanted to do some special reissues. They picked some records and happened to pick ours. So we thought that itís cool if they want to do that but letís make it worth while. So when we did "Soul of a New Machine" we added "Fear is the Mindkiller" on there along with a lot of other cool stuff. We try to add something a little more than what we had originally.
DaBelly: I was wondering how much of a hand you had in all this given the subtle changes of the new record. I wondered if you were recognizing a new fan base and were trying to remind them of your older material.
Herrera: No, actually. That isnít the reason at all. But I guess in a sense it kind of solidifies that we have been doing this a while. We didnít just wake up a year ago and decide to put out a record!
DaBelly: And at the same time I have been hearing quite a buzz about this new record. Iím sure thatís got to feel good.
Herrera: Yes, it always does. Anytime you do a record you want it to cause some waves. Maybe not controversy but you definitely want people to know about the album and buy it and come to the shows. So it feels really good that not only people know about the record but that theyíre happy about it and like the record.
DaBelly: I was lucky enough to catch Fear Factory out on the "GiganTour." I saw you down at the Tucson show. It was a great set. I really enjoyed it. What can you tell me about that tour. How did you get involved?
Herrera: We got called to do that tour last February. At the time it wasnít official, it was more of a pitched idea that they were trying to do. Dave [Mustane] wanted to put a festival type tour together. We didnít know exactly when it was going out, but we knew it was going to be a summer thing. Originally we told them that we were down to do the tour, but we were working on this new record and didnít know if we would be finished. So they were talking about going with Anthrax. Anthrax eventually did join the tour, but only for the final week. As we continued to get more information on the tour and we nailed down our record release date and all of that, it all worked out rather beautifully. We finished our record two weeks before the tour started and the release was slated for four weeks into the tour. It just all made a lot of sense to do the tour. We had a great time. The band that was probably the most different was Dream Theater. But that was good for us. We got some new ears to play to. At least theyíre fans got to hear us and see us and hopefully they were impressed enough to buy the record. Itís always good to go out with bands that are a little bit different to kind of get a larger scope audience wise.
DaBelly: Remembering the tour, I can see where Dream Theater was the odd man out.
Herrera: The funny thing was that when the tour was about to start and I was doing a bunch of press for it, people were saying that the tour was really different and I was saying, ĎWell, itís really not all that different!í Weíve been out with Megadeth before and the other bands werenít that different either. Dream Theater was really the odd one out. But it was cool to go on tour with those guys, weíve known them for so many years and to finally do some shows with them was fun.
DaBelly: And they are incredible musicians in their own right.
Herrera: Oh my God, those guys are, ah yeah!
DaBelly: Do you feel that Fear Factory is just now hitting its stride?
Herrera: I think so. There was a lot of negativity before "Archetype." We had the break up and everything. We thought that it would take a lot longer to get all of that back. I think were a whole new band now. I kind of like the fact that it changed a little bit and weíre still definitely in the mode. Weíve got that stride. Itís all working. We went from touring to recording to putting out the new record to touring again and so weíve got this roll going. But we will be taking a little time off after this tour. Burt [Bell] is having a baby. So weíll be able to kind of rest. As far as Fear Factory is concerned, we really havenít let up since we started writing "Archetype." It will be good to lay low for a little bit!
DaBelly: Have you been working on any DVDs or anything like that?
Herrera: Weíve kind of had the idea of doing something like that. We are recording the audio from one of the shows coming up next week. And we have been thinking about doing a DVD. There is obviously some legal clearance issues with Roadrunner. Obviously some of the music is from that era. So ah, I think after we get all of our Ts crossed we might be able to do something really cool. Weíve never really done anything like that and we are the type of a band thatís very live oriented. I think itís something that we should consider in the near future.
DaBelly: I wanted to ask about one of the cover songs on the record. Itís not unusual for a band to cover someone elseís music but you chose a U2 song and you chose to cover it rather traditionally.
Herrera: You know thatís funny. When we started doing the song we thought about making it heavier. Essentially the song is the same version but a bit heavier in sonic terms. Itís got a bit of attitude. We were going to change it around but then we got to thinking, "You know what, we really shouldnít mess with the song too much." We just did our rendition as if we just got on stage one day and decided to play the song. Itís very true to the original.
DaBelly: It is always refreshing as a fan to sit back and see a heavier band do an unexpected cover.
Herrera: I agree, itís not something that you might have expected. We were going to cover "New Year's Day" several records back, but we ended up doing Gary Numanís "Cars" instead. We always wanted to do a U2 cover. Itís one of the bands that everyone in Fear Factory has always been a big fan of. Itís the one band that we all really kind of respect. We all grew up listening to U2. The track was supposed to be a bonus, like a Best Buys track, but when the record company heard it they lost it. They had to put it on the record. And we argued that it would put us at two covers but finally we said what the hell. Thereís no rules, letís just do it.
DaBelly: Early in the history of Fear Factory the band acted as a bit of a bridge incorporating some of the industrial sounds with a heavier form of music. In many ways you connected a lot of dots for a lot of people. As a band do you still feel a need to reach out musically?
Herrera: The funny thing is we never did it for that reason. We did it because we were musically confused. We loved a lot of different types of music. Weíve always been bigger metal fans than anything else. So the grassroots of the band was always metal but with different ingredients mixed in. We never really meant to go to connect any dots or erase boundaries. We were just really big fans of Ministry, really big fans of Faith No More, really big fans of U2 and huge fans of metal. So we brought in the industrial, we brought in the singing element, we kept the heavy element, removed the guitar solos and it was a whole different style of writing music. It was more rhythmic where the kicker and the guitars really locked in. Really we just came up with this whole different idea. And it turns out that we just blurred the lines. I mean, we are really more of a metal band than anything else, but we definitely blotted enough styles outside of metal to make people wonder what kind of band we really were. I almost feel bad saying this, but it was almost like we were the beginning of this whole nu metal thing. You know saying that could be a good thing or bad thing! But essentially nu metal has all of the same ingredients. But back then we werenít nu metal, we were the one band that was different. I mean, go figure that years later everyone would be copying the same business model that we developed. Other bands may have perfected it or did it better or added their own thing but ultimately I think itís kind of cool that some people look at us as the guys that kind of started all that.
DaBelly: Music is a constant state of flux and every now and again you find yourself in a musical no-man's-land. I guess you guys did it fortunately.
Herrera: We certainly didnít invent anything new. We just added a twist to it. All we did was reinvent the wheel by adding things that inspired us growing up.
DaBelly: So Iíve come to the end of my questions. Is there anything that Iíve missed? Is there anything that you want to talk about?
Herrera: Letís see, "Transgression" is out, we are on tour until December 5th, we have a soundtrack that came out about a week back for "Rainbow 6." Itís a game soundtrack. Fear Factory is on that one along with a bunch of Roadrunner bands. Weíre on a video game for PCs called "Infected." Itís a really, really heavy soundtrack. Itís all Roadrunner bands. Itís probably the heaviest video game soundtrack that Iíve ever played. Iím really proud to have been a part of that. And I think thatís it. Weíll be on hiatus for a couple months and weíll be back on the road in March, back in the U.S. the middle of next year.
My thanks to Raymond Herrera for taking the time to talk with us. Check out the Fear Factory web site atÖ
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