As he prepares himself for tonight’s sold out show in Dublin’s Academy, Burton is relaxed, happy and beyond pleased with the outcome of the “Demanufacture” 20th Anniversary tour which has been thundering through most of Europe since mid-November.
It would seem like Fear Factory are well and truly back in fighting form, with reports of sold out venues and ecstatic fans wallowing in the afterglow of one the bands nightly performances. Overdrive managed to get some down time in a quite dressing room in the backstage corridors of The Academy to talk past, present and future plans!
OD – The last few dates of the tour are happening over the next few days, when you look back on the last month have you been happy with the reaction to the shows?
BURTON – Absolutely, the reaction has been great on this tour. The crowds have been really big with packed houses and the further west we come the more packed they have been. The audience reaction has been really fantastic with a lot of passion. I want to say, or dare I say; the audiences have been as energetic, if not more, than when we released “Demanufacture”. That might be because there is a new generation of kids that are experiencing this album for the very first time and have checked out what all the fuss has been about. There’s been a lot of hooha about the record this year and they must have checked it out as well as our loyal fans who are equally excited about hearing it again in a live setting. This would be the first time that the fans who were with us the first time around would have heard it since back in the day. You could say it’s a combination of new and old experiences for our fans and it’s been really great for us to see everybody just really getting into it.
OD – Have you found that by playing the “Demanufacture” album, that there has been a good mix of the older generation of fans as well as the younger audience?
BURTON – Everywhere we have gone we have been playing the same places for decades you know and in the front row I’m seeing people my age and kids that are so much younger, that were not around when the album came out, that really blows my mind! This really shows that the album is still very relevant in terms of the sound, the topics of the songs and what we are saying. The energy of that album still has meaning and is still connecting with the audience.
OD – The concept of Fear Factory and especially “Genexus” (with man becoming machine) seems to be more reality than that of Science Fiction, have you personally seen a dramatic change in the way the digital / machine has been creeping into our daily lives over the last decade and do you really believe that by 2045 or thereabouts as stated by Ray Kurzweil’s theory of The Singularity will be the case?
BURTON – It seems like it’s gonna happen faster than we think. People are already dependent on machines and technology to a great extent. I mean it’s got to the point where we can’t go anywhere without our phones, it’s almost become our lifeline. People can’t function without their phones, it’s crazy! There are aspects that we touch upon and what Ray Kurzweil was talking about was the concept of nano technology being developed as a machine that can reproduce itself, fix itself but in the form of a liquid that can be injected into the body to fix the organic parts and go on to destroy the carcinogens and the cancerous tumors in the human body and go on to make us better, stronger humans. But as it’s doing that, it’s reproducing itself and embedding itself into the human tissue which Kurzweil then talks about at what point are you a machine or a technological machine and that’s the question.
OD – It’s a very interesting subject that borders on the realms of Science Fiction when on paper, but as you say, is more becoming a reality as each year passes.
BURTON – Yes, definitely! The first Kurzweil book I read was, “The Age of the Spiritual Machine”, where his singularity theory explores the technological advancements that are made each year with things like nano-technology, which has accelerated within its field over the last few years. They are already manufacturing and placing super computers in our daily lives that are smaller than anything you and I could imagine. They are miniscule in size and super powerful. It’s alien technology man, you could even say that it all started from Roswell (laughs)!
OD – This tour has been I’m sure, one to remember the unfortunate bus crash and the news of the terrorist attacks in Paris, did you guys have any thoughts as to cancelling the remaining dates, because that’s a lot to deal with considering your away from your family’s and friends?
BURTON – Personally no. The bus crash looked way worse than it actually was. It was basically a fender bender and thankfully nobody got hurt. The only thing that got killed was the coffee machine and that was a tragedy in its own right (laughs). The events in Paris, were horrific and at that point, we were concerned that our shows woud be cancelled or postponed, because of those events. We did not want that to happen, because for selfish reasons that would work very expensive for us and more importantly, that would just mean that the people who carried out those cowardly attacks would win! If you let them create the fear that they want us to fear, then they win. Yea, we experienced the bus crash that could have happened at any given moment anywhere and gun violence happens every single day in America, it’s almost becoming a common place event which is very sad and is something that we just need to expect in our daily lives. No one expects to get hit my lightning, but they do!
You can’t let fear of these things prevent you from going outside and living your life. If you fall off your bicycle, will you never get back on it again. You have to keep going with things, because that’s what life is. You can’t let fear rule you because you will have no life if you do. The Paris attacks were just so awful and it breaks my heart to even think about it. Although we didn’t cancel and had no intention of doing so, I can totally understand why other bands did cancel their tours, but that is not Fear Factory!
OD – Your graphic novel “The Industrialist” seemed like a total labor of love for you. Will there be a follow-up to the novel and if so where are you with the ideas at present?
BURTON – Yes it was a labor of love. Noel Gurad (artist) and I have teamed up again with Rachel Smith (colourist) and are already discussing what we will be doing next. There have been fans of the novel are asking what happens next and that got me thinking “hmm what does happen next?” so I began to really think about the next part of the story. All of us involved with “The Industrialist” novel really learned some things being that we did it ourselves and released it ourselves. We now know the process and what’s involved.
I learned some things about the setup of the graphic world in general with things like, I can’t make it too “wordy” or I have to make room for imagery, so we are discussing how the story will continue as well as some other cool stuff as well. Its’ a new element to my career that I’m really excited about and can’t wait to get back into soon.
OD – I had spoken to Dino earlier in the year about signing to Nuclear Blast, but I wanted to ask you about the transition to the label. Does it feel like in a way coming full circle with Monte Conner behind the wheel?
BURTON – Absolutely! The feeling was just so right with this and having Monte back behind the wheel again makes it just amazing! He was the heart of Roadrunner Records and signed so many bands that made such a huge impact in the metal world. He pretty much signed every band that kept metal going during the 90’s and early 00’s! When he was gone from Roadrunner there was no question that it was going to end up where it did. I mean, it wasn’t really Roadrunner anymore it was Warner and what ever else is behind them. Monte didn’t have a home and then he found a home with Nuclear Blast, created N.B.E. (Nuclear Blast Entertainment) in America and came back to us and said “let’s just do this right this time, you guy’s are still a relevant band and I want to bring you back to that level where you should be” and he’s done a phenomenal job and he keeps signing amazing bands. He’s got the gift! (laughs). Nuclear Blast has amazing avenues for bands and is a vital part of the global metal community and I fell blessed that we have a lable that works hard and it passionate about what they do.
OD – I have been told by many artists signed to the label, that they have an amazing PR department there that work very hard with each of the bands.
BURTON – They have a fantastic PR team, that are amazing at what they do and in this day and age, that is worth its weight in gold.
OD – When you finish this run of dates what are the plans for 2016?
BURTON – Yea, we’re gonna be doing some more touring, as we have to tour “Genexus” properly, we want to do a proper “Genexus” tour in American and back here in Europe. We also have some summer festivals planned for next year with Bloodstock Open Air in the UK being a highlight. I’m just so psyched to play that festival, it’s gonna be rad!
Regarding other stuff with me, 2016 will be a busy year for me as I’m planning to work on the other elements of my career, such as the graphic novel that we spoke about earlier and my other project Ascension of the Watchers, will continue write and do some new stuff. We have a full albums worth of music that we have yet to record and I would like to find a home for it and would really like to tour a proper tour for it also.
OD – For you personally, what is your passion for doing this, what brings you back to the process of rigorous touring night after night?
BURTON – I just love what I do. It’s not meant for everybody, because it takes a certain mentality being away from your friends and family, but being on the road constantly and engaging with new people, is just such a great feeling. I’ve always been an entertainer, it’s what I do and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Even when I was a child, I was always performing in the school play or the school choir or whatever. It’s just something that I really love to do. I obviously don’t just do it for the money (laughs), the music industry has changed considerably over the last ten years or so, but the people who are doing it, do it because they love it and it’s in their blood! My kids respect me and love what I do, which is just really important to me. I would rather do this than anything else, I’m just very grateful to have a creative outlet like this.
OD – Who would you say is your biggest influence for what you do and have you ever met that person?
BURTON – There are a lot of artists that I have respect for, but I just knew from a really young age that this is what I would be doing. From a really young age, I just really wanted to be a performer. I wanted to be on stage and feel that excitement you know? I don’t know if you had this show over here, but I remember being a kid growing up in the 60’s and 70’s and my Dad used to watch a TV show called “Heehaw”. It was kind of a Country & Western variety style show, it was the original MTV format and I also used to watch “Solid Gold” which was like Top Of The Pops, I was just hooked on those shows and really enjoyed watching bands performing and I just loved the idea of music and that feeling of when something really resonates with you and you get that feeling almost like the universe is passing through you. That’s what got me hooked on music and performing and I wouldn’t like it any other way!
Fear Factory “Genexus” is out now via Nuclear Blast. Order your copy on the graphic link below!
Fear Factory will be performing at the 2016 Bloodstock Open Air Festival along side SLAYER, MASTODON, GOJIRA ANTHRAX, TWISTED SISTER, BEHEMOTH, VENOM, PARADISE LOST and many, many more! For tickets to the Bloodstock, please click on the graphic link below!
Interview / Transcription – Oran O’Berne © 2015
Photography – Stock images Fear Factory / Nuclear Blast © 2015
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