Fear Factory guitarist Dino Cazares is a pioneer of modern metal guitar technique. His ultra-tight picking, monstrously heavy tone and pioneering use of Ibanez seven and eight string guitars helped to solidify the combination of mechanical precision and brutal riffing that spurred an industrial metal revolution and eventually fed into the development of the djent sound. And Dino’s riffage is in fine form on the band’s new album, The Industrialist [Riot]. The collection is perhaps the most pure representation of the Fear Factory philosophy yet, with Dino handling guitar, bass, and drum programming, and vocalist Burton C. Bell dishing up the kind of anthemic melodies and brutal textures that made albums such as Demanufacture and Obsolete such classics.
“We’ve been getting that a lot,” Cazares says of the Demanufacture/Obsolete comparison. “I think part of that is just because it’s me and Burt! I think it’s the purest you’re going to get of Fear Factory.” The Industrialist marks a departure for Fear Factory in its use of programmed drums in place of a live player such as Raymond Herrera or Gene Hoglan. But the move is not entirely out of character for the band. “When me and Burton started the band in 1990 we were using a drum machine to record our demos” Cazares explains. “Over the years we’ve never been a band that has shied away from technology. We’ve never been a band who hid what we did in the studio. Over the years we’ve used drum machines on certain songs and certain albums, and even though we’ve had live drummers we have edited the drums to be like a machine, and we’ve changed the sounds to machine sounds. So either way it would not have made a difference if we used live drums or not. It would have been the same outcome. Some people are kind of shocked by it, like they didn’t realise that’s part of our schtick. That’s who we are. It’s what we do! Again, even if we had a live drummer it would come out to be the same outcome. And one of the benefits of using a drum program on your Mac laptop is it’s much more cost-effective. And with the way the music industry is going these days, it’s getting really hard to make a solid income because record companies are going down, and the amount of money you would spend in an actual recording studio to record the album, nowadays it’s still pretty expensive. So using a drum program is definitely a much more cost-effective way than hiring somebody to do it.” But Dino remains coy on the exact drum program used on the album. “Oh, I don’t want to promote any kind of drum program that doesn’t give it to us free,” he laughs.
John5′s resume reads like a who’s who of hard rock and heavy metal frontmen. Having held down jobs with such diverse acts as Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth, Rob Halford, and now Rob Zombie, John5 is well versed in the art of playing on other peoples’ records – check out his killer work on Zombie’s latest CD, Hellbilly Deluxe 2, where he adds all sorts of greasy blues-influenced licks to Zombie’s brand of dark rock. For his own solo work though, John5 combines his equal loves of metal, rock, shred and even country into a distinctive sound, capped off with the stunning displays of guitar technique that he rarely got to show off in his various high-profile day jobs (well, maybe with DLR). I caught up with John5 to discuss his fifth CD, The Art Of Malice, which is out now.
Did you start with a concept for The Art Of Malice?
Well it was my fifth instrumental record, so it was very special for me. It was something that was… I wanted everything in there. Everything and the kitchen sink. All kinds of music, all bits and pieces going everywhere. Country, heavy rock, metal, acoustic, Spanish flamenco, everything is in there. So I wanted to do it all.
And also, Steve Vai’s got his whole ‘seven’ thing, how the seventh track on each of his albums is the big ballad and all that stuff. You’ve managed to beat him by having your number be five!
(Laughs) That’s true!
One of my favourite things on the album is the title track, where we can hear you flip the pickup switch…
I love that because usually you’d edit that kind of thing out, but hearing little details like this is just great!
Oh yeah! I like doing things in one take, not chopping them all up but just doing certain things and not overdubbing.
What can you tell us about that track?
The true story is, I was doing a clean guitar part for the song The Nightmare Unravels, and I was testing the clean sound and I was playing around with some licks and stuff like that, and we were recording it to see how the clean sound was, and so I could listen back to it, and it sounded so good the engineer was like, ‘We should make this a little track.’ I kept working on it and doing a couple of different things to make it a little longer, but I think it came out really good. So it was kind of an improv thing, a spontaneous piece of music that really came out really nice.
How much of your work is improvised?
None! (Laughs) None! Really, it’s all, everything is planned out and everything is thought out and tried and turned around, and things like that. WIth this kind of stuff it’s very difficult to do so I don’t improvise at all!
Where did you record the album?
What I did was I would write at home, then I would rehearse, rehearse, rehearse at home. I would just get it all down, then I would go into a studio, and usually the track would get done in somewhere close to an hour because I was so rehearsed. I knew what I was doing, so it was mostly getting it down at home.
I hate being one of those journalists who is like ‘Well I read on Wikipedia,’ but…
(Laughs) No, that’s fine!
But I read that with David Lee Roth, when you recorded the DLR Band album, that was only two weeks?
Yeah! We recorded and mixed it and everything in two weeks. And it was all done at like 6 o’clock in the morning, too! I was playing with Rob Halford too, so we would rehearse at noon, and Dave would want be before Rob Halford, so we would rehearse at six in the morning. True story!
Speaking of DLR, your track Ya Dig, with Billy Sheehan, has a bit of the same vibe as Slam Dunk from the DLR Band album.
Yeah! And the reason it’s called Ya Dig is because Dave’s a good friend of mine, and when he talks, when people say ‘y’know,’ they say ‘y’know’. But what Dave says is ‘ya dig?’ like ‘Maybe we should go to the beach, ya dig? They have this great food there, ya dig?’ And there is nobody but Billy Sheehan who does the Billy Sheehan bass playin’. It was incredible. Incredible. Oh man, he’s the best.
There’s a bit of slide on the album. When did you get into slide?
I love slide. I’ve always been into slide. I love Pink Floyd and David Gilmour, but everyone always looks at me as this crazy shredder and stuff like that. But I really wanted to show people that I love music, and I love guitar playing, and I love guitars. Can I Live Again, with that nice melody and all that, that’s one of the most popular songs on the album. It’s really cool because I’m reaching everybody. There’s everything on there for everybody.
I love the little honky midrange tone at the start of Steel Guitar Rag.
I’m using my Fender Broadcaster on that. We just took a lot of the lows out in the studio, and then it kicks in with that nice steel guitar rag, and it’s one of my favourite tracks on the record. It’s hard to play with a clean tone but it’s one of my favourite things to do. When I’m on tour I always have a guitar in my hand, and I have a little battery powered amp, and it doesn’t get a lot of distortion, so it’s always clean.
There’s a cool cover of Ace Frehley’s Fractured Mirror…
I loved KISS when I was a kid, and that was my introduction to instrumental music. It’s my tribute, saying thank you to Ace.
And Last Page Turned sounds like a tribute to Jimmy Page?
That’s right. My favourite stuff was always his acoustic work on Physical Graffiti and Led Zeppelin 3. That’s where I got it. He’s amazing. I love him.
Now: guitar talk! The Fender J5 Triple Tele Deluxe is awesome!
Thanks! Everybody knows I love my Telecasters. It was the first solidbody electric guitar in 1950, and I just started playing Teles early on in my life, but no-one really played them in rock and metal that much, so I kinda wanted to design them so more people were able to enjoy this incredible instrument. So that’s why I designed the Triple Tele. It’s kind of like the Black Beauty Les Paul. And there’s a lot of chrome on it and it looks amazing and it sounds incredible. But I just put out a Squier version of my main model, and it’s priced to sell. Everyone can afford one of those, and they’re great guitars. You’ll have those forever. I have one with me in the studio. All the guitars Fender produces for me are unbelievable.
Yeah, the quality of Squiers is so much better than the stuff I started out with!
Absolutely, of course! They’re great, great guitars, and they’re very inexpensive so everybody can afford them, but they’re fabulous guitars. I’m online playing them, and I love it. I love it.
And the Telecaster in general is such an immediate-sounding instrument. Why do you think they’re not so much associated with rock?
I think because when it came out in the early 50s, rock n’roll wasn’t even around yet – y’know, rock n’roll didn’t really come in until 1955 – and everybody played Teles and they just played country music. So I think they got pigeonholed really quickly as being a country guitar. But y’know, in the 60s and 70s, Steely Dan played a Tele… the Stones of course, the Beatles, Jimmy Page. I started playing it in Manson, and Jim Root plays one in Slipknot and Stone Sour, so it’s my favourite guitar. It’s the best in the world.
The J5 Bigsby Telecaster is very cool.
I just play with the Bigsby a little bit for vibrato and things like that, and at the ends of songs you’ll hear me shake it and things like that. But I love the Bigsby, y’know? I really love it. I think it looks rad and I think it sounds rad, y’know?
And I believe you’re using DiMarzio D Activator pickups?
Yeah. To be completely honest, I’m not a huge tone chaser. I love guitars, but I’m not a huge amp guy. But pickups …Larry DiMarzio’s a friend of mine and he’s always like, ‘Oh you’ve got to check these out.’ And they just sounded so good. That’s how I am in the studio: if it sounds good, ‘alright, cool!’ Some people will fiddle with sounds for hours and hours but I just don’t think I have the patience for it, for just trying to find that perfect sound. But I think that’s why I have great engineers to do it for me. Because I’ll plug into a little battery-powered amp and play, just as long as I can play. Your fingers will get that tone for you. Eddie Van Halen says ‘I can pick up any guitar and I sound like Eddie Van Halen,’ because it’s in his fingers.
Any guitars on your wish list that you don’t have yet?
Yes! A Fender Nocaster. What the Nocaster was is, Fender came out with their first guitar in 1950, which was the Broadcaster, and they got sued by Gretsch, who had the Broadcaster drum set. So Fender had to take the Broadcaster part off of the headstock. So the collectors call them Nocasters. This was in 1951. So that’s what I’m looking for!
Do you have any plans to come down to Australia any time soon?
Actually yes! We might come down there with Zombie in February. I’m hoping, because it’s one of my favourite places in the world, but that plane ride’s a son of a bitch! It’s a long one.
Unfortunately Ace Frehley’s impending Australian tour has been postponed until February. Bad news for the thousands of Ace fans who were looking forward to the tour. Great news for me, who hadn’t bought a ticket yet (damn you, general living expenses and a huge influx of great gigs competing for my cash!). But great news for those in Perth and Adelaide, as the rescheduled tour will visit those cities as well!
“The album was 20 years in the making,” Ace Frehley says, in reference to the years that have elapsed since Trouble Walkin’ in 1989 and the September 15 worldwide release of Anomaly. “I started tracking in 2007. I tried to make it as close to my first solo as possible because most of my fans cite that as their favourite record, y’know? I did an interview the other day and I ask the guy, who had heard the whole album in its entirety, what he thought of the record, and he said ‘You could call it ‘Son of,’ you know? So hopefully I think I achieved that.”
Ace Frehley, 2009 edition is a more sober man than the Ace of 1989 or even 1999, when Ace was back in the KISS juggernaut supporting the controversial Psycho Circus album. Although that CD was the first original KISS studio recording to feature Ace since Music From The Elder in 1981, Ace’s contributions were, by his own admission and much to his dismay, rather minimal. Today though, with KISS about to release their own album, Sonic Boom, Ace has his eyes fixed firmly on the future. Y’know, just what you would expect from rock’s preeminent guitar-slingin’ spaceman.
One thing I really like about Anomaly is that even though you used Pro Tools, it doesn’t sound like a ‘Pro Tools album.’ It sounds like it could have been recorded 20 years ago, 30 years ago…
Yeah, well I used a lot of old amplifiers, old guitars, old mics. And I’ve worked with some of the greatest producers in rock and roll: Eddie Kramer, Bob Ezrin and a host of others. And I’ve learned a lot of mic’ing techniques and ways to record from them. Plus I threw in a couple of tricks I’ve learned over the years on my own. I think I achieved an analog sound even though 90% of the record was done directly into the computer.
One thing that really struck me was that the drum sounds are really sharp and snappy, which is really cool.
Yeah! I had Marti Frederiksen and Anthony Focx mix the record. Anthony Focx really specialises in drums because he’s a drummer himself. He really tweaked the drum sound. I just think he did a wonderful job with the mixing, tweaking the drum sounds, the digital reverbs, and the actual room sounds that we got.
Being a guitar geek, I couldn’t forgive myself if I didn’t ask about your approach to gear on the album.
I used a bunch of old Marshall amps, old Fender and Vox amps. I used about a dozen acoustic guitars. Les Pauls, about a half a dozen vintage Fenders. I used a (Gibson) Reverse Firebird. I probably used 25 different guitars on the record. I even used a synthesizer guitar on ‘Change The World.’
Cool! Was that a new one, or one of the old ones people seem to be digging into lately?
It was just a Roland synth guitar I had laying around. I just went into Pro Tools and recorded the MIDI information. Then once you have the MIDI information recorded you can trigger anything, any exterior module or plug-in module.
I’ve been getting into that myself a bit.
This is the first album I’ve done completely digitally, and after working that way I could never go back to working all analog again. The flexibility of digital editing is unbelievable. I did a lot of editing, sampling and cutting and pasting in my hotel room. While Marti and Anthony were mixing one song, I was fine-tuning other songs in my hotel suite, which expedited the album.
Did you use it as a songwriting tool too, or more of just a recording or editing medium?
Nah, I don’t use Pro Tools as a songwriting tool. Most of the songs I write, I just have a drum track in the background. Just the beat, and either an acoustic or electric guitar. That’s the way I write, then I add vocals and build it from that. Some tracks were recorded as a three-piece with Anton Fig and my bass player. Some tracks I recorded into Pro Tools with a drum machine and Anton played drums to them.
I hear you’re working on a new Gibson Les Paul model?
Yeah! The first Ace Frehley signature series guitar came out in 1997. That was a Cherry Sunburst. The new one’s going to be a Blueburst with some special features: pickups I designed, speed knobs, lighting bolts… It’s going to be a special guitar. It’ll be released by the end of the year. The new pickups are basically a collaboration between me and Gibson.
One of my readers wanted to know what you use the middle pickup for. Does that come up often or is it just because it looks really cool?
I don’t use the middle pickup very much. I mainly use the treble pickup. In concert I only have the treble pickup – that’s the only one wired.
Are there any plans to do an Epiphone version of the new guitar?
I believe so!
Cool! Speaking of guitar, the instrumental track ‘Space Bear’ has a really bright, powerful tone. What are you using on that one?
I’m using a Les Paul and I doubled it with another Les Paul… actually I doubled the rhythm track on that with a Reverse Firebird. That song, I wrote that a couple years back. I wrote it for a television pilot for a police show that was never picked up by the network. I had that laying around and I developed it into ‘Space Bear.’ That song was probably the least amount of overdubs of any song on the record. I kept that pretty sparse except for a guitar solo and the riff overdubs.
The ‘Fox On The Run’ cover – when I first heard you did that I thought it was a weird choice, but once I heard it, and especially the verse, it really made sense.
Well last year when I was trying to finalise the songs for the record, I thought it’d be a good idea to do a cover. We were kicking around a few different ideas, and the gal who does my makeup for photo sessions came up with the idea to do ‘Fox On The Run.’ I ran it by my engineer, my assistant and Marti Frederiksen and everyone thought it was a great idea. When I went out to LA to mix the record we had not recorded that song yet. Me and Marti threw that song together one afternoon directly into Pro Tools. Marti programmed the drums, played bass, sang backgrounds, and I did everything else. Then I took the track back to New York and overdubbed live guitars on it. Then I brought the track back to LA and Marti put Brian Tichy on it, and that’s basically what you’ve got there.
I’ve had so many guitar students wanting to learn your licks. Is that amount of influence something you think about when you’re writing and recording new songs, or do you try and not think about it?
It’s something I don’t really think about very often, but when people bring it to my attention it seems a little in the abstract. Cos I never took a guitar lesson, I don’t know how to read music, and the fact that I influenced so many upcoming musicians – I almost feel like maybe I should have practiced a little more (laughs). But it’s something I don’t really think much about. I kind of try to live in the now and just focus on what’s at hand, you know?
The packaging of the album is really cool and unique.
It’s something I designed on the computer. I took from a lot of different influences. The actual kinda tentacles coming off from the side came from an alien from the movie Invaders From Mars. And obviously the lightning bolts are part of my persona as a spaceman… it’s just something that developed.
Well that’s all the time we have. Thanks so much!
Thanks so much for the interview. I just want to thank all my fans down in Australia for all the support over the years and I’m looking forward to coming down there.
Huge thanks to Riot Entertainment for arranging this interview. Riot are releasing Anomaly here in Australia on September 15.
Just got this press release from my mates over at Riot Entertainment, who are releasing the new album by Fozzy! Hells yeah! \m/
Fozzy ‘Chasing The Grail’ Release Date, First Single Online & Cover Art revealed!
Fozzy the band featuring WWE Wrestling Superstar Chris Jericho and Stuck Mojo mastermind Rich ‘The Duke’ Ward release their 4TH Album ‘Chasing The Grail’ through Riot Entertainment worldwide on January 19TH, 2010.
To celebrate the announcement of the release date Fozzy have launched the first single ‘Martyr No More’ to the public via youtube. The song also features a guest solo from Annihilator guitarist Jeff Waters!
My buddies over at Riot recently sent me this press release:
FREE REIGN (DALLAS COWBOYS BAND) SIGN WORLD WIDE DEAL WITH RIOT ENTERTAINMENT
NFL Superstars become Heavier Than Metal….
There is a new name in Heavy Metal! Free Reign featuring the Dallas Cowboy’s # 75 Marc Colombo, # 71 Cory Procter and # 70 Leonard Davis along with local guitar virtuoso Justin Chapman have signed a world wide deal with Australia’s Riot Entertainment. Their upcoming debut EP is set for release in the fall.
Free Reign has been branded ‘Heavier than Metal’ for their intense musical style as well as their intimidating stage presence. They bring something unique to this powerful genre. “This is an amazing opportunity for Riot and to further establish our name internationally,” said Riot Owner / CEO John Howarth. “Free Reign is a band with massive potential. There has been an enormous buzz surrounding them since they appeared on the scene a few months ago. Free Reign has already been flooded with endorsements. Their marketing potential is limitless. These guys are already huge sports stars, but they have shown they have the talent to diversify. I am positive that Metal fans will embrace Free Reign and see them take it to the next level. These are exciting times for Riot and we are excited to see what the future holds. When the opportunity arose to work with Free Reign I jumped to it! This is something that has never been done before and this band is a long term project. It’s also been great working with John Gomez of TQ Management putting this deal to bed”.
“The members of Free Reign and myself are equally excited to be working with John Howarth and his team at Riot Entertainment” said Free Reign Manager John Gomez. “Riot has a great track record and they work hard for their Artists, we all look forward to a bright future together and are honoured to call Riot our new home.”
Riot is also the new home for Fozzy, fronted by WWE Wrestling superstar Chris Jericho and featuring Stuck Mojo mastermind Rich Ward.
“I would love to see a double bill with these bands, imagine that! No security needed!” suggested John Howarth. “I know that would be one hell of a gig. Imagine WWE, NFL, Fozzy and Free Reign fans all under the one roof; only the strong would survive!” Free Reign play their last gig before the NFL Season on Saturday 27TH June at the House of Blues in Dallas!
I Heart Guitar news – sifting through the internets so you don’t have to.
Rare Mike Keneally albums available again Mike Keneally has made available via download three long out-of-print titles: Sluggo! (probably my personal favourite), The Mistakes (an amazing collaboration between Keneally, Prairie Prince, Andy West and Henry Kaiser that I had to pay fifty bucks for on eBay), and Half Alive In Hollywood, which I’m going to buy the hell out of come payday.
In his most recent email newsletter, Mike says: “It has been our plan to do expanded, remastered special editions of these albums since we started the reissue campaign with hat. and Boil That Dust Speck, but with all of our current operating capital going towards the manufacture of the three upcoming Scambot CDs, we couldn’t wait any longer to make these archive releases available. These downloads feature the albums precisely as they were originally issued, including all artwork lovingly reproduced, and all feature new updated liner notes by moi (which is French for Mike Keneally). Available in both FLAC and mp3 format for the same low price. Will we ever reissue these albums on CD? We don’t know? (Ask us when Scambot:Three is done.) In the meantime, we feed a music-hungry world as best we can.” To download the albums, go to http://store.moosemart.com Source: Mike Keneally Link: www.keneally.com
Riot! signs Fozzy Riot! Entertainment, the crew who hooked me up with my Derek Sherinian interview, recently signed wrestler Chris Jericho’s metal band Fozzy (with Stuck Mojo guitarist Chris Ward) to a worldwide deal for their forthcoming album, ‘Chasing The Grail.’ This is a huge move for Riot! and is sure to mean lots of label support and promotion for Fozzy. Chris Jericho said of the partnership, “I’m very excited to know that the new Fozzy record is going to be released by John Howarth and Riot. Riot was by far the biggest supporter of Fozzy’s last album ‘All That Remains” and did everything they could to spread the Fozzpel not only across Australia, but around the world as well. As a result ATR was by far our most successful album to date. To make this partnership even more exciting is the fact that we have written the absolute best album that we have ever done. This album will see Fozzy reaching new heights and breaking down more barriers to show all fans of heavy rock and heavy metal exactly who we are as a band. I guarantee that all of our fans will agree and be blown away and that all of our haters will hide their faces in shock when they realize that they were wrong about this band. I’m so stoked to unleash these tunes upon the world and just as stoked to know that it will be the people at Riot who will be making it possible! 2009 is the year of the Fozz!” Source: Riot! Link: http://www.riotact.com.au
Singer search for my band And finally, in other news, my band is looking for a singer. The music is influenced by Alice In Chains, Extreme, Devin Townsend, Living Colour, Primus, Joe Satriani, Frank Zappa and Mike Keneally, as well as a whole bunch of other things. I’ll post an audio sample over the weekend to give you an idea of the style, but if you know of anyone in the Melbourne, Australia area who has great stage presence and can sing their ass off, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org