Fear Factory might have a passion for dystopia and technology making slaves of us all, but vocalist Burton C Bell has much more going on inside his mind. Here, we talk to the Texan industrial pioneer about the state of American politics, his favourite comic books and why modern music is so mediocre.
“These I days I try and follow the same health regiment on the road as I do when I’m home. I don’t drink or smoke on the road anymore. I try and drink water all day long, I don’t overeat and now I do vocal warm-ups, which I never did before. I’m 47, you got to stay healthy. I think it gives the fans the something to look up to – seeing we’re still able to do this and staying healthy – hopefully it’s inspirational for some of them. For me I don’t just do it for my physical health but also my mental health. I just exercise when I can and that makes a big difference.”
“Fuck no, I didn’t see the last Terminator film. The trailer looked like total bullshit, I wasn’t going to fall for a rehash of the original story with new characters. It seems my feelings were correct for what other people tell me. I love the new Star Trek series of films though, they’re badass. I think they’ve done really well to capture the essence of the original characters. Even The Force Awakens is pretty good entertainment. I’ve seen much better movies recently. Ex Machina is great, and a film from a few years ago, Sunshine, was amazing. There’s some TV I’ve been enjoying, like Black Mirror, that was pretty awesome: like a new Twilight Zone but darker.”
“I didn’t get into sports until my friend got me into watching American football in the ‘90s. My father was an Oilers fan, but when the Oilers left Texas and became the Titans I became a fan of their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. They had a good streak in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. I’m not a fan of college sports. Anyone who says they only like college sports because ‘Those kids are playing with heart, not for the money’ is talking bullshit. They’re being propagandised and whored out by the universities, and all of those college players so badly want to get to the NFL to make money.”
“American politics is a pathetic disaster. It is worrying as there’s a lot of stupid Americans. Trump is like PT Barnum, he’s selling outrageousness: racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and people are buying it. It’s the same reason people in the UK voted for Brexit and we need to prevent that from happening in the US. People are going to have to wise up. I get it that people want to vote for their conscience, but what people forget about is that there’s more to an election than who becomes President, there’s the steps after that: appointing supreme court justices, senate and house elections, there’s caveats being made to dictate what’s going to happen in our lives, and that’s going to be reflective of who becomes President. So if you want to vote for your conscience and vote for an independent, who is not going to win, I get it, but try doing the right thing by not letting Trump win. Hilary’s no angel, but what politician is? Being an American is not enviable right now. It’s a beautiful country with a lot of beautiful people, but there’a lot of ignorance and stupidity, and unfortunately they’re the loudest people.”
“Our song Pisschrist questions Christians’ belief in God. I don’t believe in religion whatsoever. Religion is just a form of control and mental slavery. Whatever god they’re talking about is not a loving god. People will say ‘I believe in God because I’ve read the Bible’ – I’ve read countless Batman comic books, there we go, that makes Batman real! Religion was never part of the Constitution or the Founding Fathers. All of these conservative, right-wing Christian ideas like anti-abortion were created in the 1960s to garner the Southern vote. It’s not going to change any Supreme Court law by voting for your religious beliefs at all. All it is is a distraction from the real issues.”
“I never stuck to one type of comic, I always read what looks interesting. Most of them were really small runs of comics: Channel Zero, War Without End, and the whole Dark Knight series of Batman was awesome. I liked more graphic novel-stuff like Sin City, which I thought was great; The Night Of The Living Dead comics pre-dated all the zombie stuff that’s out now as it had really good artwork and good stories; and I enjoyed The Maxx, which was part of the Image Comics. Alan Moore’s comics, especially Watchmen, blow my mind. X-Men is good, especially Uncanny X-Men, that’s the series I really got into. Those comics touch upon a theme and something in history.”
“I see music in general is overly segregated, coming up with different scene names all the time, just to fill in a void in order to entertain certain people. I heard something today that was so mediocre, I just thought ‘What the fuck is this?’. There’s so much mediocre music, standards are being lowered for music and musicians all the time. I give up, why do I try so hard anymore? The only reason I still do it is because I want to make good music, but because I want to make good music I might have to get a second job. We’re trying our best to keep setting standards for ourselves.”
Fear Factory’s latest album Genexus is out now, via Nuclear Blast.