Watch: Former FEAR FACTORY Singer BURTON C. BELL Plays First-Ever Solo Concert

June 14, 2024

Former FEAR FACTORY frontman Burton C. Bell played the first concert with his solo band last night (Thursday, June 13) at 1720 in Los Angeles, California.

Backing Bell at the 1720 gig were guitarist Henrik Linde (THE VITALS, DREN),drummer Ryan Junior Kittlitz (ALL HAIL THE YETI, THE ACID HELPS),bassist Tony Baumeister (ÆGES) and multi-instrumentalist Stewart Cararas.

Fan-filmed video of the show can be seen below.

When the 1720 concert was first announced, Burton called the gig a "historic event" and vowed to perform "new songs and classics spanning my career."

This past March, Bell, who recently released his debut solo single, "Anti-Droid", was asked by Knotfest's "Nu Pod" podcast if he has an entire album's worth of material ready to come out. He responded: "No. I'm working on individual singles at a time. I do have a record's worth of music. But I'm adopting the hip-hop strategy where instead of coming up, releasing a single and then the whole album comes out a couple of weeks later, and then a couple of weeks later, when that album is out, the momentum of the single and the whole record just kind of slows and becomes sluggish and just almost crashes. So I learned watching hip-hop artists and other artists as well, [where] they would just release a single at a time, keep that momentum, keep that spotlight on them and just release a single every few weeks and just keep that momentum going."

He continued: "In this day and age, the short attention span of the masses is very apparent. There's this old saying in economics, less is more — supply and demand, less is more. So if you just feed 'em just a little bit at a time, they wanna hear more. And that's where the interest stays. They're compelled to keep listening. 'Oh, he's got something else coming out. Oh, he's got something else coming out.'"

Bell went on to tease his next single, which he described as "heavy", "groovy" and "dark. It's more uptempo. It's got more guitar in it," he revealed. "And it's gonna be awesome. I've got a couple of guest artists on this next track that it's gonna be sick. I recruited Paul Ferguson again, and I've also recruited Norman Westberg, guitar player from SWANS. SWANS is one of my favorite bands of all time and it's a band that influenced not just me but NEUROSIS — a lot of bands — GODFLESH."

Asked if he is planning to play shows or get a band together to promo his music, Bell said: "Yes to all of those questions. I'm in the process of booking a show. It's gonna be a showcase. It's gonna be in L.A., and I have a band together. They're already working on [the set]. It's a retrospection, so I plan to play four new songs, some deep-cut FEAR FACTORY, some [ASCENSION OF THE] WATCHERS, some G/Z/R, some CITY OF FIRE.

"My new music is an amalgamation of everything I've ever done, and I'm gonna basically put it all together into this package and just see what happens," he explained. "And the live show, it's gonna be heavy, it's gonna be groovy. And I wanna create a vibe. I really do."

When "Anti-Droid" was first released in March, Bell said in a statement: "I'm starting my solo career. I'm working with different producers and co-songwriters, making music that I love, with full control of the music and creative direction."

Bell's discography includes multiple live and recorded collaborations with BLACK SABBATH icon Geezer Butler and JOURNEY's Deen Castronovo (as G/Z/R); industrial maverick Al Jourgensen and MINISTRY; and guest vocal appearances with PITCHSHIFTER, CONFLICT, SOIL, STATIC-X, SOULFLY and DELAIN, among others. He's the vocalist of ASCENSION OF THE WATCHERS and CITY OF FIRE and, of course, the co-creator of FEAR FACTORY and the only musician to appear on every FEAR FACTORY release from 1992 through 2024.

FEAR FACTORY created a sound that revolutionized extreme metal, defined in no small part by Bell's innovative scream/sing dichotomy and the influences he brought from post-punk and industrial. Songs like "Replica", "Linchpin", "Edgecrusher", "Fear Campaign", "Archetype", "Cyber Waste" and "Zero Signal" are modern metal anthems. "Demanufacture" (1995) and the RIAA gold-certified "Obsolete" (1998) are genre-redefining works heralded by fans and critics as essential albums. Orwell, Bradbury, "Blade Runner", and sophisticated sci-fi and fantasy works fed Bell's lyrics and concepts.

The band toured the world with METALLICA, SLIPKNOT, KORN, MEGADETH and OZZY OSBOURNE, taking bands like SYSTEM OF A DOWN and STATIC-X out as support acts in their early stages. After years of behind-the-scenes band member turmoil and legal issues, Bell left FEAR FACTORY in the fall of 2020.

In the chorus of "Anti-Droid", he declares: "I'd rather be dead than a slave to the factory."

Bell says "Anti-Droid" is "a statement about breaking free. Breaking the bonds of what I felt was a prison in many ways. Not just financially or contractually but creatively, as well. I felt constrained to this format we'd written ourselves into. The 'factory' doesn't have a capital F. It's the factory of the music industry, a certain form of business, and priorities. Being a slave to an established way of thinking is not really freedom. I am moving forward."

Like the faithful cover of RAMMSTEIN's "Du Hast" he released in 2023, or the cover of "Enter Sandman" recorded with DANZIG's John Christ and METALLICA's Robert Trujillo more than a decade before, Bell's solo work embodies the best of hard rock, metal, and industrial's past, present and future. "Anti-Droid" is but the opening salvo in a brand-new campaign, which will see Burton C. Bell releasing increasingly innovative yet classic feeling, ever-engaging solo material.

The 55-year-old Bell had been largely inactive on the musical front since officially announcing his departure from FEAR FACTORY in September 2020. At the time he said that he could not "align" himself with someone whom he did not trust or respect, an apparent reference to FEAR FACTORY founding guitarist Dino Cazares.

During an appearance on a May 2023 episode of the "Home Is Where The Dark Is" podcast, Bell reflected on his musical journey so far, saying: "I've had a lot of incredible ups in my career, a lot of incredible high points. I've had some devastatingly low points. But for me, this is all I wanna do.

"I consider myself an artist — multifaceted, but first and foremost I'm a musician; I'm a singer. So I wanna keep continuing that," he explained.

"I love performing on stage. I love being out in front of the crowd. I love the energy of the audience, and I miss it completely.

"I am making plans — I'm making steps to get back onstage."

At the end of the chat, when host Alex Crescioni thanked Bell for his "inspiring" musical output over the years, including that with FEAR FACTORY and ASCENSION OF THE WATCHERS, Burton said: "People will hear those again. When I get back on the road, I'll be playing… I'm proud of 99 percent of the songs we did [with] FEAR FACTORY. Not every song is a winner, but I'm proud of all the work I did with FEAR FACTORY, THE WATCHERS, GZR, CITY OF FIRE, MINISTRY, HATEFACE. There's all these bands I've been part of. So when I go on the road, I will be playing music from all of these bands. Obviously, a lot from FEAR FACTORY, 'cause I got 30 years of that. But it's not gonna be all about FEAR FACTORY. It's gonna be FEAR FACTORY, WATCHERS, classic GZR, CITY OF FIRE — just do all of it. It's gonna be fun. And I'm jamming with some guys right now. We're working on it and making those steps to make that happen."

In March 2023, Bell was asked by Joshua Toomey of the "Talk Toomey" podcast how it felt to see FEAR FACTORY going out on tour with someone else singing the parts he originally wrote and recorded with the band. He responded: "It doesn't affect me at all. To be honest, I haven't been this happy in a long time. More power to them, but I'm just moving forward in my own life, my own career, and I'm just trying to make a name for myself."

Asked if he has checked out any of the videos on YouTube of FEAR FACTORY performing with his replacement, the Italian-born singer Milo Silvestro, Bell said: "No, I don't. I don't care to."

Burton went on to say that he doesn't mind being asked about FEAR FACTORY despite the fact that he is no longer in the band. "FEAR FACTORY, it's what I'm known for," he explained. "And the 30 years I had with FEAR FACTORY were some of the proudest moments of my career. And everything I've ever done in FEAR FACTORY I'm very proud of. Even some of the questionable things I've done in FEAR FACTORY I'm still proud of. It was a great legacy."

During an April 2022 appearance on an episode of "The Ex-Man" podcast hosted by Doc Coyle (BAD WOLVES),Bell touched upon FEAR FACTORY's latest album, "Aggression Continuum", which was released in June 2021 via Nuclear Blast Records. The LP, which was recorded primarily in 2017, features Bell and fellow original FF member Dino Cazares (guitar) alongside drummer Mike Heller.

"I was just happy that record finally came out," Burton said. "We finished that record in 2017. By the time it came out, I'd forgotten all about it. 'Oh, yeah, I remember that song. Oh yeah.'

"There's some good songs on that record. The song 'Collapse' is a good song. The title track 'Monolith' is a good song," he added, referencing the LP's original working title, before it was changed by Cazares.

When Coyle noted that the mix on "Aggression Continuum" is "great," Bell hesitated for a couple of seconds before reluctantly agreeing. "I guess," he said. "When I finished the record [in 2017], the record was done and agreed upon and then further work was done without my say."

Elsewhere in the chat, Burton admitted that "it was difficult" for him to leave FEAR FACTORY. "Stepping away from FEAR FACTORY was not an easy decision by [any] means," he said. "But what I experienced for the 10 years before that, the lawsuits, the acrimony, that was the one that killed me. And I just had to step away to realize, you know, they can take all this stuff from me — they can take the money, they can take the royalties, they can take the trademark away from me — and I realized that didn't define me. They can take that, but I'm still Burton C. Bell, motherfucker, and whatever I have they can't take. So I'm just kind of moving forward and doing new things."

According to Bell, hardship is par for the course for most musicians, who often find themselves victims of bad contracts, unscrupulous management and, all too often, what appears to be a penchant for self-destruction.

"I knew a long time ago I wanted to be an artist — way before I was in FEAR FACTORY," he said. "When I was in high school, I was, like, 'I wanna be an artist.' To be an artist, you've gotta suffer. You've gotta understand that people wanna take from you the entire time — what you create they wanna make money off of and take it away from you and just give you a pittance. But being bitter is not my style — never has been.

"Whatever negativity has happened in the past with FEAR FACTORY doesn't even hold up to the amount of positivity that has happened," he continued. "If you think about the negative, it can weigh you down so much, but it's not really that much in comparison to what the band achieved, what we created, what we provided to the music world, and for that I'm proud and very happy.

"No one likes to talk to a bitter person at all," Burton added. "Me for one. It's, like, 'Man, just get over it and just move on.' 'Cause holding on to the past doesn't serve me anything, it doesn't serve anybody else anything. Move on and show 'em what you can do from that point forward."

Bell's exit from FEAR FACTORY came more than two weeks after Cazares launched a GoFundMe campaign to assist him with the production costs associated with the release of FEAR FACTORY's latest LP.

Bell later told Kerrang! magazine that his split with FEAR FACTORY was a long time coming. "It's been on my mind for a while," he said. "These lawsuits [over the rights to the FEAR FACTORY name] just drained me. The egos. The greed. Not just from bandmembers, but from the attorneys involved. I just lost my love for it.

"With FEAR FACTORY, it's just constantly been, like, 'What?!' You can only take so much. I felt like 30 years was a good run. Those albums I've done with FEAR FACTORY will always be out there. I'll always be part of that. I just felt like it was time to move forward."

Last year, Bell unveiled "Paradise Found", his debut exhibition of photographic works, at the Vincent Castiglia Gallery in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The photographs Bell presented were representational of his industrial and science-fiction aesthetic.

"Paradise Found" consisted of 20 original full-color photographs of abandoned industrial buildings taken in darkness and fog from 2002 to 2003. Bell's images are printed on aluminum using the dye sublimation process — an approach Bell calls "celluloid impressionism."

Bell's ASCENSION OF THE WATCHERS project released its second full-length album, "Apocrypha", in October 2020 via Dissonance Productions.

Burton C Bell at 1720 Club

Posted by Skum Love on Thursday, June 13, 2024

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