It’s hard to overstate the importance of Fear Factory’s Demanufacture. The landmark 1995 album came along at a time when metal was in danger from within (the influence of nu metal was beginning to swell) and without (grunge was in its final throes and pop punk was picking up speed).
Fans didn’t know it yet but Sepultura were about to abandon their death metal heritage with the tribal Roots, and while Pantera had re-energised the genre in the early 90s with Cowboys From Hell and Vulgar Display of Power – and scored a Billboard #1 with Far Beyond Driven in 1994 – the metal world needed a new voice to take the genre forward. Fear Factory provided that voice.
By combining death metal precision and brutality with a gothic sense of melody and an industrial approach to rhythm and atmospherics, Fear Factory created a sound that stood apart. The crisp production was a world away from the stripped down, blunted rock of the era, and by being a Fear Factory fan you felt like you were signing on to be a part of something; like you’d found that you weren’t alone in filling your head with a postmodern mix of metal, art, literature and film. Being a Fear Factory fan meant you got it. The band are heading our way in July to perform this modern classic in its entirety, and Brag caught up with guitarist Dino Cazares to talk about Demanufacture’s influence and enduring appeal.
It was probably one of the most difficult records to make, Cazares explains, although not because of the writing process. All of the songs were already written, and the sessions were originally booked for Chicago Tracks, “a very famous place where bands like Ministry and Skinny Puppy recorded. We wanted to get that industrial sound, so we wanted to go to the famous industrial studio.”
But the sessions weren’t quite the direct line into industrial history that Cazares and co hoped for. The console started to fall apart, the channels were messed up and the computer wasn’t saving anything. And on top of that, “drug deals were going down in the studio and we were like, ‘Okay, we’ve gotta get out of here,'” Cazares says. “So we left there, and the second studio was a place called Bearsville. And of course the record label, Roadrunner, had to keep putting up money for us. We tracked most of everything there, and then we kinda didn’t see eye-to-eye with the producer, a guy named Colin Richardson. We just thought he didn’t see the picture. He didn’t see what we were trying to create.”
The band felt that the sounds Richardson was getting were too typical, too generic. So they fired him. Then they had to go back to the label and ask for more money to work on the album in LA, where they felt they should have started from the get-go. “So we had to fly back to LA with all the tapes, and we asked the record label for more money.”
They managed to score a new team – mixer/producer Greg Reely and Rhys Fulber, a mixer who also did all the keyboards for the record. Once those two guys were on board and they saw the vision Fear Factory had, it all just gelled. “It was like butter after that,” Dino says. “Burt went and did some of the vocal tracks over and everything started to really gel together. And when we were mixing it, we’d rented a place in Los Angeles down the street from where I live now, and it was a place where they did film scores, so they had a gigantic film screen in front of the console. So we’re mixing the record and putting Terminator and Blade Runner on, and we were like, ‘wow, that fits!’ Because those were the movies that inspired the record and gave us the overall vision of what we wanted to sound like. We wanted to sound like the future. And that record was definitely ahead of its time.”
BY PETER HODGSON
Fear Factory perform Demanufacture at UNSW Roundhouse on Friday, July 5, with support coming from Twelve Foot Ninja.