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Raymond Herrera (Fear Factory)

Interview with Raymond Herrera from Fear Factory
by Katrina Cannon at 15 September 2005, 10:23 AM

While touring on the very diverse Gigantour in support of their new album Transgression, Fear Factory drummer Raymond Herrera takes a much needed break after playing an awesome show to give me his thoughts of the music industry as it is today and plans about their upcoming tour.
Even though I didn't have an interview scheduled, Raymond, being the cool dude that he is, invited me on their bus to chat with me anyway.  So even though I had to drive 8 hours in the pouring rain yet again, getting this interview and talking with Raymond made it all worth while.

How do you like being on tour with such diverse bands and how is it going so far?

Very hot! (Laughs) No, it’s been going good. We weren’t sure exactly what to expect because of the diverse bands but the bands aren’t really that diverse, but diverse enough to where you’re like Hmm, sure I guess this could work out.

Yeah, they’re definitely each from different genres.

Yeah, the Megadeth fans aren’t gonna be too different for us and maybe even The Dillinger Escape Plan fans but the Dream Theater fans are gonna be a lot different. But it’s been fine, we’ve had a really good time on it. The only bad thing about it is the hot weather when we have to play outside.

Yeah, the hot weather in the South does suck a lot.

Yeah, it’s just too damn hot! (Laughs)

Your new album, Transgression, came out on August 23rd. How did the recording go?

It was kind of a slow process. It was kind of slow during the writing stages but once we got into the studio everything went really quick. It was just the set up time took a lot longer than usual, but yeah it turned out really good. We got to work with Toby Wright \[producer] which was really cool. I think from beginning to end it was about 6 weeks which was rather fast, so it came out killer.

I just got it not too long ago. I’ve been listening to Fear Factory for years. You guys are one of my favorite Metal bands. I have every album.

Really? Wow! Now that’s pretty cool.

Actually, Byron (Stroud - bassist) is a mentor of mine because I’m a bass player as well.

Really? Yeah, Byron is awesome.

Is there any particular theme behind Transgression?

Wow, you would have to ask Burton \[Bell - vocalist] about that. I kind of know why he called the album Transgression. He told me one day what he was trying to write about but it kind of went in one ear and out the other. Basically each song was about different aggressions and like from one thing to another. But this early on, I have no idea, it usually takes me about 6 or 7 months to understand before I actually know what he’s talking about. (Laughs) Like we started recording in May and I didn’t even know what he was singing about until like maybe the first week of June, so that alone and the stories, I don’t even know. (Laughs)

There’s a list of all star musician cameos who contributed to the album and a couple of cover songs. How did you get the idea for that?

The only real person we got was Billy Gould from Faith No More. It was my idea to bring Billy in. We’ve been friends for like 8 years now. We had a side project for a few years and we have a record label too. I keep in touch with him all the time. When Christian \[Olde Wolbers - guitarist] said he wanted to bring, in his words a real bass player in, and I was like uh, ok, a real bass player huh? I mean that just sounded funny, it’s like me saying I want to bring a real drummer in. But he didn’t mean it like that, he meant someone that would maybe flow a little bit differently around songs and that are maybe a little bit more open.  So Christian wanted Billy to play on Supernova and this other song maybe if there was enough time called Echoes Of My Scream.

So I called Billy up and I told him Hey, I’m gonna send you some of these mp3s and I want you to check these songs out, but they’re really, really rough. So he was like Yeah send me the tracks. So we did, and a couple of days later he already put bass tracks onto Pro-Tools and sent it back and we were like Yeah this sounds great. So, he flew in and he did rehearsals with us for like 2 or 3 days and then he came back to the studio to nail the tracks out. Then Phil Demmel (guitarist) from Machine Head came in to kind of tutor Christian a little bit on the solos and stuff because Christian was like I gotta play a solo on this record. He did a couple of them and then that was it.

Why did you choose to cover Killing Joke’s Millennium and Godflesh’s Anthem?

The Godflesh cover was a song that Burton wanted to do and the Killing Joke cover was a song that Christian had wanted to do for a long time. It was kind of like a last minute addition. We had been doing preproduction for like 3 or 4 months and during the last week we added the Killing Joke and Godflesh songs. We learned them really quick, Christian played it over and over cause he was like Play it again, I gotta learn that part so we just banged it out in a couple of days.

The artwork on this album is very similar to Archetype. Who does your artwork?

Yeah, it is. Burton usually works on the album covers with whoever the artist is at the time and at that time it was this guy Ben Templesmith. One of the designs that he had done was the wolf with the teeth that kind of looks like the Fear Factory logo. Well, that was one of the original designs for Archetype but we ended up going with this other guy that Christian found in Europe and he came up with what we know as the album cover as today. But Burton really liked the wolf piece and we kind of used it here and there, like on shirts. But when we started thinking about what we were gonna use for the new record, he was like I wanna use that artwork, and we were like Well, we already kind of used it and he said I wanna make it different, I wanna make it like silver and blue and more metallic looking like rusty metallic and I was like Alright, it sounds like a good idea, so we did it.

My Archetype got stolen out of my car CD player when my car got broken into.

Do you know how many times I’ve heard that? It’s weird, it’s always someone stole it sometime, borrowed it and never gave it back, it’s weird. (Laughs)

Mine was actually in my CD player when they stole it.

Aw, then it was a bonus, it was added value. (Laughs)

It seems that Fear Factory’s subjects have always been around a police state and control of the mindless masses. With the current state all around the world do you think that your songs are timelier than ever?

Yeah, they definitely land on what’s been going on over the past couple of years but Burton writes more in a futuristic sense yet creates scenarios that are very true to today or recent times. So it’s really interesting how he does that, because he always comes across as sci-fi. But the band has always had kind of a sci-fi theme to it, we’re just all futuristic movie buffs, so it shows through in our music.

Burton is also in Ascension Of The Watchers and Byron is also in Strapping Young Lad. Is it difficult to share members with other bands?

You know what, it’s never really been an issue. Ever since this band started, side projects were always there so there were never any real issues or problems with that.

So when Burton wanted to do the Ascension of The Watchers thing I thought that was great. When I first met Burton he wasn’t really a metalhead, I think the closest thing he got to Metal was Industrial bands. And what I mean by Netal bands is like Cannibal Corpse, Sepultura, Obituary; at the times those were the bands. He wasn’t really a metalhead, he was more of a singer but when we found out the he could scream heavy, we were like Wow, we can do both. So that’s kind of how the whole thing started. But yeah, Ascension of The Watchers is almost like something he can do that allows him to do something else. Another style of music that he’d probably feel more comfortable doing, not that he’s not comfortable doing Metal, he’s been doing it for like 12 years now. (Laughs) But now it kind of shows another side of what he’s capable of doing. It’s a lot darker, he doesn’t do the heavy vocals, it’s a lot more singing, it’s like really melodic, its cool stuff. If you’re a Fear Factory fan, you might not like it, but if you like Burton’s voice you might like it.

Ascension Of The Watchers he’s doing with John Bechdel which is the keyboardist we had from Obsolete to Digimortal. He was with us for a few years, he was actually with us for the first part of Archetype as well for the first 7 months and then he went on to do Ascension. So it’s Burton and John doing it.

What bands have you listened to lately?

I listen to pretty much everything. Lately I’ve been listening to Silverstein, which is kind of like a Punk band. I like the new Static X record and the last Avenged Sevenfold record, which I didn’t like it as much as the previous record. I also just got the greatest hits by Depeche Mode. I had it on once before, I was gonna say someone stole it but I wouldn’t have been able to stop laughing on that one. (Laughs) But I had it a few years back but I don’t know what happened to it and the other day I was at Best Buy and I saw it and I was like Gee, I wonder whatever happened to that album, so I bought it again.

What’s your opinion on today’s music industry?

Wow, that’s a hard question. I guess the whole piracy comes up. I think that for too long the price of CDs was too high and it was way too easy to get them for free. I just think that the other side of that is there isn’t as much money anymore to make albums sound as good as they could. But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter anyway ’cause you’re gonna download them into your mp3 player and it kind of compresses the whole thing, which kind of goes against the whole reason on spending a lot of money to make a good recording. So it’s kind of funny but at the same time I think the positive side of that is bands have to do something extra to make the fans buy the CD. Like with the Dual Disc, it’s kind of cool, I like that. But the Dual Disc itself, because it’s a new technology, it’s like 19 dollars which goes back to the original idea to where it’s too expensive. But I think it all got convoluted a little bit because there was a little short time there where every album had this little DVD content and it really didn’t cost you extra.

Now it’s this Dual Disc thing and technology thing and it costs more. It’s almost like kind of a step backwards, I mean, we did a Dual Disc on this record, we also did a regular version but the regular version doesn’t offer as much as the Dual Disc version but obviously it costs a little more. It’s like which one would you want, the premium one or the other, it’s almost like shopping for gas now. (Laughs) So I think the cool thing about it is that the music industry realizes that it’s been doing things maybe not so right, so in a sense we’re trying to figure out the best kind of way to still be able to sell albums but give something to people that they can download on I-Tunes or whatever. I think it’s getting there, I think the idea of giving more to the fan is really what the point is. I think slowly but surely it’s getting there. Which I really like what we did with Archetype, we added that DVD and we didn’t charge more for it; I think that’s the way to go. It’s like I could download the record but I wont have the DVD and I wont have the making of it and that’s gonna make people want to buy the actual record.

What are Fear Factory’s plans for after this tour?

We’re doing this until September 10th and then we do a show in New York in mid September. Then in October, Christian is actually producing a record for this band in Canada. We may do a few shows in England in October, then Burton is gonna do some stuff with Ascension Of The Watchers in October as well. Then on October 26th or 27th we’ll start touring with Shadows Fall until the first week of December. After that if we don’t go to Europe in October we’re gonna go in December instead. And then January, February, and March we’re doing Asia, Australia, and Central America.

Do you get good crowds over there?

In Asia we do fairly well. Australia and Europe we do really well. Central America we have yet to go believe it or not.

You guys have to come back to Memphis because I didn’t know the show started so early today so I almost missed you guys.

I know, the early start kind of sucks. I almost missed us. (Laughs) With the thunderstorms and the traffic there were like12 accidents on I-85, I was like what?!? It took me an hour and 45 minutes for me to get here from the airport. I got here 30 minutes before we had to be on stage. Everybody was like Where’s Raymond at? and getting worried (Laughs).

Any last words?

Yeah, speaking of added value, on the Transgression record, we have a special section on the Fear Factory website. It’s gonna have exclusive tracks that we did on the record but actually didn’t get on the record and exclusive videos. When you buy the record you’ll get access to a special part of the website that’s only available to people who actually bought the record. We’re also thinking of setting up something to where fans can do remixes of songs and submit them and if the remix turns out good enough we’ll put it on the next remix record. We wanna maybe do some contests where a fan from the U.S. can fly to Europe for a show and a fan form Europe gets to fly to the U.S. - stuff like that. So yeah, we got a lot of fun cool stuff coming up so keep checking for updates.


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