Mark Carras of Rock My Monkey conducted an exclusive interview this past weekend with FEAR FACTORY vocalist Burton C. Bell. During the chat, Bell spoke about the band's new lineup — featuring original FF members Bell and Dino Cazares (guitar) alongside bassist Byron Stroud (who played on the last two FEAR FACTORY albums in addition to touring and recording with STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and ZIMMERS HOLE) and legendary drummer Gene Hoglan (DETHKLOK, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, DARK ANGEL, DEATH, TESTAMENT) — and the legal dispute over the rights to the group's name involving Bell and Cazares on one side and drummer Raymond Herrera and guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers on the other. A transcript of some of the interview highlights follows below (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
Burton: Before I go off on all the comments and everything, I'd like to make an official statement first. First of all, I just want to cut through a lot of the confusion about one issue since it really will be part of every answer. I have not made a public statement about it; I'm not one to air dirty laundry, but I have been forced to correct certain misstatements by Raymond and Christian. The fact that I have not worked with Raymond and Christian for the past three years as FEAR FACTORY is for this one reason — it's that I did not want to be involved with their manager. Her name is Christy Priske and she happens to be Christian's wife. During the "Transgression" mixing session, her and Raymond started a love affair that lasted for a couple years. As [she was the] manager of FEAR FACTORY, this was completely unacceptable to me.
Rock My Monkey: Were you aware that the two of them [Christian and Raymond] were working on a new FEAR FACTORY CD?
Burton: To begin with, I think it was irresponsible of Raymond and Christian to discuss specific business transactions in the media, but I can tell you that I never agreed to any deal that Raymond, Christian and Christy proposed for two reasons: The terms that they brought to the table were unacceptable; and I would just not allow the band to be managed by Christy. After I took that position, Raymond, Christy and Christian threatened to sign the deal anyway without me, claiming that they had spent a lot of money on attorneys to negotiate the deal even though I never approved of the expenditure or saw any of the proposed agreements.
Rock My Monkey: Did you ever say you were not ready to jump back into FEAR FACTORY due to ASCENSION OF THE WATCHERS [Burton's side project] or anything else?
Burton: No, I never said that. I made it clear from the beginning that I was not signing any deal or moving forward with them as long as Christy was manager.
Rock My Monkey: You were said to have a problem with them saying that they put ARKAEA [Raymond and Christian's new band, also featuring THREAT SIGNAL members] together when FEAR FACTORY wasn't ready to get back together. Again, that would be for the same reasons you've already said?
Burton: Well, yeah, and they're wrong. They were already working in trying to secure a deal for ARKAEA and then threatened to have ARKAEA take over FEAR FACTORY's bookings. I mean, ARKAEA was not merely formed as a result of me not being ready at the last minute. They were talking about ARKAEA last year and were already writing music for that.
Rock My Monkey: Have you given them a clear explanation as to why they were not included in this lineup of the band?
Burton: Yeah. What they said was an absolute lie. I made it very clear that I would not work with Christy. They basically took the position that I had to work with Christy or they would not work with me. I mean, in October of 2008, last year, I extended an olive branch to Raymond, stating that I would like to bring Dino back into the band, to be part of FEAR FACTORY. And Raymond said that he would never work with Dino or me ever again. He said it to me in a phone call and I have two different e-mails where he stated that as well.
Rock My Monkey: So you definitely feel that they had a choice other than the legal action that they took to resolve this dispute?
Burton: [Laughs] They did not initiate legal action. Dino and I filed a lawsuit first. We filed a suit maintaining that we had the right to use the band name and to take care of some other issues. So we filed the lawsuit first.
Rock My Monkey: In my interview with Raymond [hear audio below], he said that this whole legal thing has not been cheap. And I heard that you had a problem with that.
Burton: Well, yeah, Raymond did say that, and as Raymond mentioned, this has been very expensive. They refused to discuss anything unless Christy was the manager of FEAR FACTORY. We could have moved on a long time ago if they had just fired her. I tried to get the situation resolved a long time ago, but they would never consider it.
Rock My Monkey: With such an amazing lineup — I think everybody's in agreement that this [new] lineup [of FEAR FACTORY] you have is an absolutely stunning lineup — why not let it stand on its own as a separate entity and avoid any legal drama or hassles?
Burton: For the exact same reason Raymond didn't wanna change the name of the band when Dino left. And we believe that Dino and I have the right to use the name. I mean, Dino and I started jamming before Raymond was even in the picture. I've always been the singer of FEAR FACTORY and Dino was the guitar player of the records that really were the seminal records of this band, that are associated with this band. Byron has been playing bass for five years already. And it comes down to that Raymond and Christian chose Christy over FEAR FACTORY.
Rock My Monkey: Now, is there a business contract that states that Raymond and Christian are 25 percent along with you and Dino?
Burton: You know, that's really... Fear Factory Incorporated has 100 percent shares and whatever the percentages are, [it's] none of the business of the public, and it's irresponsible that they're talking about FEAR FACTORY business to the public.
Rock My Monkey: Did this lineup of FEAR FACTORY receive a cease-and-desist order in response to the live dates that were announced and then pulled so you could go and record?
Burton: Yeah. [But] it wasn't the cease-and-desist that made us cancel the tours; we decided to finish the album instead. The offers to do the shows still stood. OK, rewind to last year. When their booking agent was getting us summer gigs in Europe, I was ready to do the shows as long as they fired Christy, and then we could move on forward. They chose to turn down a lot of money to keep their manager over me. Their booking agent knows this is the reason I would not do the shows — because they would not fire her.
Rock My Monkey: Now, rewind a few years back. Why did you initially quit FEAR FACTORY a few years ago, and did you come back with the agreement that Dino was fired?
Burton: [Laughs] I left FEAR FACTORY for many reasons, and not wanting to work with Dino was one of them. In 2002, Raymond and Christian were the ones who came to me and told me about their plan to re-start FEAR FACTORY. At that time, I again said that I did not wanna work with Dino and Raymond said that he would be the one to fire Dino — something which he had already planned. I didn't make him fire Dino. In your interview [with Raymond], he said that he plans for the future, and you can't tell me that he did that... that that was something he didn't plan for; this was something he had an idea about before he even called me.
Rock My Monkey: Is there any truth to you and Dino having any money problems at all?
Burton: [Laughs] I don't wanna get into the allegations in the lawsuit, but Raymond said that he doesn't need FEAR FACTORY, he says a lot. Therefore, he shouldn't mind if we use the name. And, you know, these are desperate times in this economy, and the monetary situation is just part of the lawsuit that I filed against Raymond and Christian, so I really don't wanna get into that either.
Rock My Monkey: Now, I'm gonna assume that the problem that you had with the mention of you and Dino's age in the interview is that Dino is actually 41 and not 47, or was there other facts that were wrong?
Burton: [Laughs] Nah, I just thought it was funny that how many years we were together and [Raymond] still doesn't know [how old Dino is]. And for all that it's worth, Dino is 42 and I'm 40.
Rock My Monkey: Is there a label behind the CD being recorded under the FEAR FACTORY name right now?
Burton: I'd rather not get into that, but we are recording an album.
Rock My Monkey: What's the ETA (estimated time of arrival) for that? Is there any timetable for that?
Burton: We're shooting for a February release.
Rock My Monkey: Is there anything else that you wanna bring up or anything else that you wanna state for the record?
Burton: There is one thing. When [Raymond] said, "They [referring to Dino and Burton] don't want to talk to us." Raymond told me that he was done with me, that he does not need the money and that he does not give a rat's ass about FEAR FACTORY. Christy said that she was booking ARKAEA whenever any offers were made for FEAR FACTORY, and I said that I did not wanna work with Christy. But Raymond would never agree to do anything unless she was managing FEAR FACTORY. In all fairness, I have not heard from Christian. The only time they said they wanted to talk to us was after the lawsuit was already filed. We gave them a chance to talk, and they just declined completely. And there's one more statement that Raymond made that I think is also important that people need to know. He said, "Even their lawyer hasn't given me a reason." And I think it's very unfortunate that he's resorting to the "poor-me" strategy to try and spin fan support. But I'll make it very clear again: Raymond and Christian refused to proceed with FEAR FACTORY unless Christy was the manager of FEAR FACTORY and that was unacceptable to me. And they know exactly what the reason is.
Rock My Monkey's interviews with Burton C. Bell and Raymond Herrera can both be streamed below.
Rock My Monkey's interview with Burton C. Bell (August 2009):
Rock My Monkey's interview with Raymond Herrera (July 2009):
Pictured below is FEAR FACTORY's 2009 lineup (left to right): Burton C. Bell (vocals), Gene Hoglan (drums), Byron Stroud (bass) and Dino Cazares (guitar)