By Sebastian Mackay
Fear Factory are legendary. They do stuff with guitars and noise that made people I like want to do the same stuff. That's where my connection to Fear Factory began and up until chatting to Burton C. Bell I thought that was where it ended - it's not though. So like an elephant on a tightrope I proceed to make myself look like a right dick in the following interview but Burton had fun... I think.
Mr Burton, I reckon you've got yourself a few political songs, the Industrialist being one, why corner yourself off like that? Most people write about their ex.
Political? I would disagree. I think it's social. There's a huge difference between political and social ideas. Political really touches upon certain party, different party, ideologies while social is the entire mass of how it affects the civilisation and people and general, but I'm not talking about class warfare - that's the difference between me. Plus, I hold no political affiliation either so I wouldn't say it's political at all.
So I don't look like a complete dick getting that wrong, what political ideas light you up?
Ever since the very beginning, I grew up on Punk rock and for me, Punk rock is anti-establishment and for me, I continue that anti-establishment type of mentality. It's a look at how the machine, the corrupt government, the corrupt governments of the world affect humanity and the social structure and people in general and so it affects me as well so as a member of society I get angry at how injustices are just running an epic.
My core ideas are: Government corruption, authoritarian corruption and abuse and the brain washing of civilisation through education and control.
You reckon people only like you because you fill a need sing to that 'I hate the government' tune that a lot of people seem to be into these days?
Some might, not all fans do, some fans might just listen to it for the music and the melodies, the vocal melodies, a lot of fans do a lot of fans do take what I'm saying, they read the lyrics, and they take it to heart and they understand it and that's why some fans really like the music as well. Because the vocals are just as caustic as the music itself.
Is music more important now in helping people be understood?
I really hope so, that's something I really focus on I have this moment in time where my voice is heard and I'm not going to waste it on banality, I'm going to write about things that are important and that I feel are important and hopefully others can understand what I'm writing about and take it to heart.
You've been in the band since 1990 - are you still motivated by the chicks and free booze or has that changed?
No [not motivated by chicks and free booze], the reasons probably [have stayed the same], yes. But the motivation is always there. I'm an artist, I always have been. There's the need to create and the need to survive. If I can survive off creation then that motivation drives me more. The fact that I have three children to support, that motivation to continue working and the creative elements to make my music drives me 300x more.
I'm still able to write music and people are still interested in hearing Fear Factory.
You've influenced some of the bands that I love, like Slipknot, these days, what do you think a band needs to ensure longevity?
Just persist, consistently work. Consistently put out albums that people are drawn to and that people want to hear and introduce your music to new fans which means touring to a wider audience and touring with different style bands and getting out there. That's what it takes, y'know. Delivering music that you can't find anywhere else. Fear Factory created a stamp on its music a long time ago and you hear a Fear Factory song for the first time and you go 'wow that is a fear factory song'. Some bands have that as well, you hear an Iron Maiden song for the first time and you know it's an Iron Maiden song or a Metallica song or a Slayer song, bands set their stamp, their identity in place. This is our identity and people are drawn to it.
The challenge is always to out do yourself or to come up to where normal Fear Factory standards and it's always a challenge and it's challenge we strive for and it's a challenge that makes it worthwhile. We don't do things because it's easy, we do things because it's challenge and so to rise to the occasion is one of the reasons that we do it. There are a lot of other bands out there that have been inspired by Fear Factory and have an element of FF and that's fine, I'm happy and honoured that my band was able to influence another artist to create and that's a positive thing in this world. Always try to write things that could inspire another artist.
Speaking of Slipknot, Corey Taylor is my God (well, one of them) you're someone's God, does being God come with any pressure?
Haha no, I don't feel pressure. Maybe the pressure is that we want to create something where we don't let our fans down. I create for myself first and foremost but in the long run it's for the fans so you want to release something that you're proud of but that you know your fans will also enjoy so there is a challenge and there is pressure to do that. Is there pressure feeling like I'm an idol? No, because I'm still myself and I don't consider myself an idol. I know I've contributed to the music community in positive ways but the best thing to do is when you meet someone I'm always open and sincere, like I always am, and when they see me and they meet me they realise 'wow you're pretty cool' and I'm like well, y'know [laughs] that's the way it is.
Got any Gods (or Goddesses) yourself?
Heck yeah, I still have fanboy experiences and when I have the opportunity to meet one of my heroes or an artist that's influenced me, I feel completely humbled and I become a fanboy and it's not even like I become myself anymore. I try to hold my composure and try not to geek out. When I meet the artists that I've been fans of and they're cool to me it means a lot to me so I try to emulate the way they've treated me and if they've treated me in a really cool and respectable way, that's the way I should be.
Thanks dude, hope to see you soon.
Yeah, we'd really love to get over to NZ.
You've just been announced for WestFest straight after Soundwave.
Oh, we have? Haha. See you then!