Christian Olde Wolbers, who handled the bass duties in FEAR FACTORY for the last nine years of the group's existence, has assumed the role of guitarist in the newly-revamped version of the band, which also includes drummer Raymond Herrera and vocalist Burton C. Bell, BLABBERMOUTH.NET can exclusively reveal.
The trio — who are still contractually bound to Roadrunner Records — are said to have recently submitted a three-song instrumental demo to the label with a view towards releasing a new album under the FEAR FACTORY banner. It is believed that Bell has since laid down vocals to at least one track on the demo, with plans to complete the rest during the coming weeks.
At the time of this writing, it is not clear if Roadrunner Records will exercise their contractual option of picking up the group's next studio album, which is not expected to surface before late 2003 at the earliest.
Despite the fact that he had played bass in FEAR FACTORY for nine years, the Dutch-born Olde Wolbers had started his career as a guitarist, having handled the axe in several groups in Belgium prior to joining FF in 1993.
In an interview with RoughEdge.com conducted back in August 1999, Christian recounted his decision — made on the recommendation of BIOHAZARD, with whom Wolbers was friends — to switch to the four-string instrument in order to join FEAR FACTORY.
"[BIOHAZARD frontman] Evan [Seinfeld] had seen me playing upright bass in a rockabilly band on the street in Belgium back in '90 or '91," Christian recalled. "He always thought I was a bass player. I had always played guitar in metal bands and hardcore bands. And [one night while we were hanging out] he said, 'Oh, you're a bass player — I have a band for you!' I kept telling him 'I'm not a bass player, I'm a guitar player now.' But he said, 'FEAR FACTORY needs a bass player — you're a bass player and you'd be perfect.' And I'd actually heard of FEAR FACTORY because someone told me about them while I was still in Europe. However, I really wasn't into the death metal scene too much, but I knew they were different. When I went to the audition and I was blown away when I saw Raymond playing — I said, 'Alright, I'll play bass.' So I borrowed a bass from Evan and auditioned for a couple of days right before a tour with SEPULTURA and then I knew I was going to do the tour. After the SEPULTURA tour, the rest of the guys said, 'Do you want to be in the band?' I said, 'Hell yeah!' "
FEAR FACTORY unceremoniously split in early March after announcing the departure of Bell, whose personality clashes with guitarist/co-founder Dino Cazares proved to be too much for the frontman to handle, eventually forcing him to leave the group. Subsequent interviews with Cazares and Herrera revealed deep-rooted differences between the other members and Dino, who has since announced plans to launch an as-yet-unnamed new project.