Greg Prato of Songfacts recently conducted an interview with guitarist Dino Cazares of Los Angeles cyber metallers FEAR FACTORY. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Songfacts: Looking back, how would you say songwriting has changed in the band over the years?
Dino: It’s definitely changed. Actually, from our first record to our second record, there was a huge jump. You learn as you go along when you’re writing songs. We’ve been fans of metal music and industrial music for a long time, but we’ve also been fans of very popular music. And if you listen to a lot of very popular music, it has this very simple structure. So by our second album, we were like, “What happens if we take some of these simple pop structures and made them into fuckin’ really heavy songs?” We learned from that and we grew from that. Then you subconsciously have a template of structures that you like to do. fear factory, we have a template with maybe 10 to 15 different structures. It’s just what combinations work best with each other. And as we get older, we discover other patterns and we change things around and we discover other structures and listen to other music. I’ve known bands that actually copy structures from other pop bands. I mean, literally, just copy it. Everybody does that. A lot of the producers do that, so on and so on. So when we got our own template, we just started mixing and combining different tempos to see how they work. Sometimes we look at songs as two different halves, and sometimes we try to make the second half different than the first half just to make it more interesting. But at the same time, still do some of the same vocal harmonies on top of it. So it’s all relevant.
Songfacts: When FEAR FACTORY first appeared and first started putting out albums, what was the reaction from fans of heavy metal? Because FEAR FACTORY was pretty different sounding than the average metal band at the time.
Dino: Well, our first album came out in 1992, and we started in 1990. So the minute we got together and our singer [Burton C. Bell] hit this melodic vocal, something just sounded right, and we were like, “Wow, okay. Besides insane heavy, he’s doing this melodic part.” And it became our thing. It became who we were. It became our style. Over the years, we’ve gotten better at it. And Burt‘s vocals have gotten better. When we first came out, no one was really doing anything like that, so we were put into the death metal genre, even though we weren’t a death metal band. We were kind of lumped into that genre, because of the label that we were signed to, Roadrunner Records. A lot of the death metal kids heard it, and it was like, “What the fuck is this? Why are they singing on this death metal record.” It was funny, because it got us attention. Whether you hated it or you liked it, it got us attention. Kids either hated it or liked it. The ones who liked it were like, “Holy fuck, this is amazing.” The ones who hated it just hated it for that reason: “Oh, the music’s great, but I hate the vocals.” “Demanufacture” came out in 1995 — a lot had changed in those three years. The band made a huge jump. We definitely got rid of the death metal-style vocals and death metal-style music, and we went into a whole new thing. We experimented much more with technology and we brought in a lot more keyboards and we completely changed our sound, used a lot of drum programs and the computer for the album. People were like, “This is new, and this is amazing.” People instantly got sucked into the melodic vocals, and it opened a whole other door for us. It became more acceptable. Since that record came out, the vocal style has become a staple in music today. You hear it in every band: KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, ALL THAT REMAINS, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH. That typical vocal structure, vocal style that Burt created has become the norm today. I’ve heard other people claim that they started something like that, but we were before that. Everybody was like, “Yeah, we came out in 1995 and I did this.” I’m like, “Oh, yeah? Well, you need to go back to 1992.” Monte Conner, who signed us, he was the A&R director there, and that was the reason why he signed us, because we were different.
Read the entire interview from Songfacts.