Los Angeles-based FEAR FACTORY formed in 1989, but disbanded in early 2002 following fervid internal disputes. The group reformed, minus founder Dino Cazares, and released two more albums before going on hiatus again in 2006.

In 2009, Cazares reunited with FEAR FACTORY and announced that the band had completed work on a new album. 2010’s Mechanize was released to much critical acclaim, and the band has reestablished themselves as one of the front runners of the modern metal scene.

I had the opportunity to speak with Cazares prior to the band’s headlining run with PRONG. We discussed the new incarnation of FEAR FACTORY, his reconciliation with singer Burton C. Bell, and the band’s plans for the rest of 2010.

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What made now the right time to make another FEAR FACTORY album?

Because I’m back! I’m back in the band. That’s one of the reasons.

There were a few years there when I was out of the band for awhile, and they created a couple of records that were somewhat mediocre. And I think that a lot of the fans were missing my guitar style. FEAR FACTORY was one of my first bands, and it was a band that I helped create, and I really missed being with the band as well.

So when me and the singer [Burton C. Bell] reconciled our differences, we were able to move forward. He asked me if I wanted to rejoin the band, and I said, “Of course!” So obviously, our two styles coming back together definitely leads for a great combination and a great FEAR FACTORY record.

How did you approach writing for the new album given your past with Burton, and how was the process different from past FEAR FACTORY records?

One of the main differences is that we’re on a record label now that we’re able to have creative freedom. Back in the day when we were on Roadrunner, the band was getting so big that the label would totally suggest writing radio-friendly songs, and they always wanted to use certain producers, and so on and so on. But this time around, we have creative freedom, and when you have that kind of creative freedom, your mind is free. You’re able to basically create things that are from the heart and not necessarily from somebody’s pocketbook.

So that was one of the main things for us. Another thing too was that me and Burton playing together again was exciting. It felt fresh, and it felt real, and the combination between me and him doing it again happened really fast. And just the excitement.

When we got Gene and Byron in the band, everything came along really fast, and the connection was really fast. We wrote the record in four months and we recorded in two months, so everything was done in six months, which is pretty fast for a FEAR FACTORY record. Normally we take a year or so to do a record, but this time it happened really fast just because of the excitement–everybody was just happy to be playing.

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Mentioning Gene and Byron, how has the dynamic of the band changed, both in the studio and live, since their additions to the band?

Obviously, Gene Hoglan has his own style. He’s definitely a legendary drummer, but he’s also very professional and he knows how to adapt in whatever band he’s playing in. So it wasn’t like we asked him to do the same things. He added a few rolls, which is something really different from FEAR FACTORY.

And personally, being out the band, I’ve learned a lot of things in the past 7 years, and I was able to bring guitar solos and more intricate stuff into my playing.

Byron’s been in the band for 7 years–he was in the band when I was out of the band–so the sound of the band didn’t really change; it was more of the vibe and the attitude and just the aggression.

Considering that FEAR FACTORY has been out of the picture for awhile now, do you feel that your work with DIVINE HERESY helped to keep your own sound relevant?

Keep my sound relevant? (LAUGHS)

Yeah, meaning have you progressed musically from your work with that band?

It definitely helped me progress musically, just playing with other musicians. I felt that when I was in FEAR FACTORY, we had the weight on our shoulders of everybody saying, “You’ve got to do this” and “You’ve got to do that.” Once that weight was lifted, I was finally free to do what I wanted to do.

And definitely doing DIVINE HERESY and projects like BRUJERIA, I was able to expand my playing and bring all that into FEAR FACTORY. And now that FEAR FACTORY doesn’t have that weight on our shoulders either, we were really able to express something from the heart. And I believe it kept me, as an artist, relevant.

Sorry, I think that was worded a little odd! What I was trying to say was that, while the new FEAR FACTORY sounds a lot like old FEAR FACTORY, there is so much stuff on Mechanize that I was really impressed with. There were a lot of moments where I thought, “Wow! They did this? That sounds awesome!”

Well, we made some mistakes in the past of venturing off too far. Back when we did the record Digimortal and I was still in the band, our bass player wanted to put some hip-hop stuff into it, and it was not a good idea, but sometimes you’ve got to experiment. You’ve got to take a chance, and you’ve got to see how much you can expand on your music.

You’ve just got to know your limitations and know how far you can go with it, because obviously you have a fan base. Your fan base likes a certain thing that you do, but you’ve got to watch out when you experiment too much–you can go too far and people can not like it.

They did a record without me called Transgression, which is a very light record, and a lot of the fans didn’t like that. So when we were doing Mechanize, we were like “OK, we need to bring it back to what it was,” and that’s exactly where we’re at. We’re at the classic FEAR FACTORY, and that’s exactly what this record is.

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So was this album a one-off thing for you guys or is the band back for good?

Well, the band is me and Burton. Byron and Gene are, and I hate to say this, hired members. They could be in the band one week and out of the band the next week. We have a commitment between those guys for them to be involved as long as they can be. But no, this is not the end for us.

What about DIVINE HERESY? Are there any future plans with that?

Yes, there are definitely plans for the band. In July, DIVINE HERESY and FEAR FACTORY will be touring together, and we will be playing LA. It’s going to be exciting for DIVINE HERESY and FEAR FACTORY fans to see me do two bands back to back.

It must have felt amazing to land the METALLICA tour after being gone for so long–that’s definitely not a bad way to let everyone know you’re back. So aside from the DIVINE HERESY tour, what does the rest of the year look like for FEAR FACTORY?

It was definitely very exciting to do the METALLICA tour. That definitely took us to a whole new level of our career, and it felt really good because when we met the guys, they were saying how much they liked the record. It felt good to know that they were actually listening to it, and they chose us to do that tour.

But for FEAR FACTORY as far as touring for the rest of the year, we’re booked all the way up to December and then part of next year. After that we’re going to be doing a new record. I’ll be putting out a new record for all of my projects, ASESINO, DIVINE HERESY, and FEAR FACTORY, and they should all be out by 2012.

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For more information on DINO CAZARES, check out:

www.myspace.com/dinocazares

For more information on FEAR FACTORY, check out:

www.myspace.com/fearfactoryofficial