Fear Factory

Interview - Burton C. Bell

The concepts behind Digimortal...does this interview actually ask more questions than it answers?

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Sam: So what's up with this DVD in November?
Burton: "We're working on it"
Sam: I knew that much...
Burton: "That's what's up with it...it's gonna be out probably Nov/Dec and it's gonna be like 3 hours worth of material, 10 years history of Fear Factory. So it's gonna be a bunch of old footage, live footage, behind the scenes stuff, interviews with the band, artwork that we've never used, a photo gallery. We wanted to make a real interactive menu so it's gonna have photos of the band that you've never seen, when you open it up the booklet will be like a program...pictures that no one has seen...so I've been collecting pictures on this tour, including video footage...We want it to be really cool, it's our first home video of any type so we wanna do it good, we want to make sure it's not cheesy, we wanna make sure it's well worth the money that the audience and fans will be putting into it. And it'll also have a remix record with it."
Sam: Were you guys actually considering having Bob Rock produce the last album?
Burton: "Well, in the past year we changed management and they suggested that we try a big producer because, to them a big producer creates success. So through them...they convinced us, just try it. So we made a demo for Bob Rock, and it sounded really good...and Bob Rock heard it, came back to us and said it was too heavy. So, we briefly ..it was a consideration just to see, but Rhys was always part of the plan. Rhys was going to be there no matter what. Our original plan was that Rhys would do it. We listened to the management and said let's try it, let's see what happens, so we even tried another producer, can't even remember his name and he just never even got back to us...so that confirmed our feelings..."
Sam: whaaa? (in disbelief)
Burton: "No one was jumping on it, no one...weird eh? Typical with Fear Factory, we've gotta do things ourselves usually."
Sam: So you guys are finally getting airplay?
Burton: "Apparently.."
Sam: Hell has frozen over?
Burton: "Well, we've gotten airplay on SOU..."
Sam: Heavy airplay...well around here anyway
Burton: "Well, the east coast...apparently we are getting alot of airplay, you know there are a couple songs in there that are listenable on the radio that are accessible, not commercial but accessible in that sense. I don't think it's not deserved, I mean we've been working our asses off, we've been touring our asses off and you know, it's about time someone picked it up. We did alot of songs in the past, 'Replica' could've been a radio song, why not?"
Sam: That would've been crazy...
Burton: "But it could've been, easily..so why not?"
Sam: It's catchy but it's smashing your head open at the same time
Burton: "So is 'Linchpin' at the same time though..."
Sam: If they play Slipknot I don't know why they won't play you guys...(Slipknot used as an example in terms of heaviness and the fact that they are also on Roadrunner!)
Burton: "I don't know either, I don't understand...the industry sucks I just want everybody to know that."
Sam: haha, I know that already...
Burton: "But the radio play, it's positive, it's getting fans, alot of fans who've never heard us."
Sam: Over the break you guys recorded a new version of 'Invisible Wounds'?
Burton: "We added a new part...you know the middle part where it's heavy? I went in and sang that part again, came up with another version of it. And so the edit of that...well, there are 2 edits, there's one where we just took the heavy part out..."
Sam: ARGH!
Burton: "Well you know, you have to do that, the industry's... I hate it too..let it be known I hate that. We re-recorded the middle part where I sang...I sang the part, it sounds good...kinda wish we did it that way to begin with.
Sam: I've been reading though explanations of lyrics in various magazines and on the internet and I'm wondering how the hell you come up with the concepts?
Burton: (laughing) "It's not easy..."
Sam: Pretty fuckin' mindblowing if you think about it...
Burton: "It's not easy, it takes alot of time, the fact that we came up with the title first generated alot of thought. We just sit and talk alot and see where it comes out and then when it comes down to writing it, everything we've ever talked about and everything I've ever thought of just comes and I look though pages and pages of notes I've written down and I just put it all together and make it fit. And it's quite intriguing actually...it drives me nuts, during that time my brain is just like (makes ticking sound like a train moving) constantly working."
Sam: On the first track you ask if the soul consists of mere memories or something else, what's your personal take on that question?
Burton: "I don't know...I don't know the answer, my personal take is that I don't know. The soul is a powerful thing, you know is it there when you are born before the memories? Or is it something that is achieved though generating your own personality? It's something that I still think about and ponder and it's something that philosophers have pondered for many years. Maybe I'm a new kind of philosopher I don't know, but I don't have an answer, I like searching for the answer and generating these questions. And through thought you can talk about this to other people you know, ask you that question and talk about it and maybe we could come to an agreement but is that an answer? I don't know."
Sam: Not exactly something that can be scientifically proven right now...
Burton: "No, no not really...there's a comic book called 'Coffin' that's really cool, this guy makes this suit basically called a coffin, but when you are preparing to die, you die in the suit and the soul is captured."
Sam: That's fucked up...
Burton: "It's really wild, the idea of capturing the soul is something very interesting. Can it be captured? Can it be downloaded?"
Sam: If the soul does consist of purely memories, since computer systems as we know them aren't completely stable, if the system that stores your memory crashed when you died would you become a wandering entity or would your soul be erased into nothingness?
Burton: "What your saying is if the machine that your soul is inside of crashes, what happens?"
Sam: Like if you're recording an album all of your information goes into the computer, if it crashes everything is gone...
Burton: "Ohh, that would be death. Maybe...I donno, it depends on how it crashes, if it crashes and everything inside of it crashes with it then maybe the soul dies. Or a power outage, maybe the soul dies...If it's something else, maybe it's trapped inside and it needs to be reopened, or maybe it's just stuck in purgatory, maybe the soul is banished to something else."
Sam: Could the concept of human cloning turn into a religious sect?
Burton: "That's possible yeah, it definitely creates a real moral... moral questions arise from it. First, that's what religion is about is morality, keeping man in line, keeping ourselves in line. Religion created these rules, the 10 commandments and religion is there to make man a moral person, not necessarily a spiritual person. So the idea of cloning could create a type of religion maybe the clones themselves could gather around together and create religion themselves, like well, all we have is us."
Sam: In Acres Of Skin it seems like you also raised the question of corporate ethics concerning the use of new technology which is an issue everyone should be concerned about not only in your preconcived notion of biotechnology and cloning, but with everything around us in the present...
Burton: "The corporations always cash in on medical breakthoughs. Cloning is a scientific and medical breakthough and if money can be made then corporations will be involved and there is always a plus and negative side with everything in this world, everything is positive/negative, good/evil, good/bad, you're never going to have one without the other. The problems that the corporations could generate definately could affect all of us, moral issues, the ethical issues of it...is it right? You know I think nature has perfected procreation, is it necessary to make a perfect being? When you made a perfect being, through DNA transplant, through genetic engineering, then what? Have you created god? God is in a mind, the perfect being, man, woman, whatever, the perfect being. Man created god to be the perfect man...to have someone to look up to, god is the perfect man that we should all live up to, we should be like this, we make rules to be like god, therefore, is it a vanity thing at that point? Is is selfless? or selfish?"
Sam: Probably selfish...
Burton: "I think it's selfish, I think it's selfish as hell, it just poses so many questions."
Sam: It's like side-stepping natural selection...
Burton: "Exactly, it's like science stepping on natural selection, what happens to natural selection at that point? Is this perfect being going to be centered? Or is the perfect being going to be fingered out and ostracized because they are so perfect? Is it a mutant or is it a perfect being? You're created through science, does that make you human? What makes us human is the act of being human, being born though another person, the act of procreation, the act of growing. Are you a science experiment at that point or a human? If you were that person I was creating, what are your rights? Do you have choices?"
Sam: That's a whole other can of worms right there...
Burton: "There's a civil rights issue right there, that's the thing about cloning, people are afraid...and they are cloning people already whether they tell us or not."