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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Take 5 With Christian Wolbers of Fear Factory / Arkaea



As the metal world waits for new epic cybercrust metal from the legendary Fear Factory, the band's constituents are keeping busy in side ventures varying in extremes. Former guitarist Dino Cazares has made the biggest splash with his ratchety offspring Divine Heresy following his side explosive side projects Brujeria and Nailbomb. Vocalist Burton C. Bell has been quietly lounging behind the scenes, cropping up for a brave and enigmatic mood rock venture, Ascension of the Watchers. Meanwhile, Fear Factory's drummer Raymond Herrera and guitarist Christian Wolbers have formed an alliance with Threat Signal singer Jon Howard and bassist Pat Kavanagh in a new entity, Arkaea, which brings what you already know about these performers and yet changes the scheme to include more melodic and straightforward variables.

Christian Wolbers produced Threat Signal's debut full-length album Under Reprisal, and one might infer the working relationship was a premature audition for Arkaea. Sampling the fledgling hybrid's in-progress demo tracks, certainly there's plenty of snap-tight rhythms as Wolbers and Herrera deliver precise shots and strums straight out of Fear Factory's Soul of a New Machine. You can also hear atypical next-gen harmony-driven metal not far off in theory from Linkin Park. A mixture of brutality and tunefulness is heard on Arkaea's working tracks tentatively titled "My Redemption," "Awakening," "Gone Too Far," "Break the Silence" and "Blackened Sky." Perhaps Arkaea can thus be considered to be Fear Factory reinvented for a more mainstream generation of headbangers.

Wolbers took a few minutes to sit with The Metal Minute during Arkaea's strict recording schedule to give a little insight into the band's doings, as well as pimping his new customized Randall Archetype amplifier.


The Metal Minute: Let's start with Arkaea, which features yourself and Ray with Jon and Pat from Threat Signal. I'm detecting small elements of Fear Factory based on the online sampler, but I'm also getting a stripped and melodic feel to this project. What is your take on things as Arkaea is progressing towards your debut release date next year, as well as your gig with God Forbid at The Whisky in January?

Christian Wolbers: Well, there are Fear Factory elements because some of this material was originally written for Fear Factory, and there's actually a Police influence, which was always one of my favorite bands. Playing for some years with Stephen Carpenter always rubbed off on me. I always give my boy credit for that. We still need to do Kush together. There's a Threat Signal influence because of Jon and Pat, although I feel they brought a lot of different elements to the record from what they would normally do in Threat Signal. It's still a new sound for us so we didn't sit in the studio trying to over-think everything, if it had a good vibe and it worked so be it. We just kept writing and until one of the last songs we wrote we think we found our vibe and sound.

I wanted Arkaea to be a band that has room to expand. Some songs are very simple others are more complex. We did write some songs with 20 different riffs and it seemed too weird and wasn't coming together as solid. The songs with more vocal room and more of a solid platform musically seemed to work really well and sounded epic. What's online is a demo that was created on a 2 track live and Jon did vocals on a 57 microphone in his laptop on tour. It was just thrown together to see if Jon could write to the songs and if it was gonna gel. It was never meant to be a demo to be put online for people to hear. Now things sound a lot more together and solid.
I think the record is gonna come out late May or June now. Yeah, we have our first show January 15th at the Whiskey in Hollywood, California. That's gonna be awesome!

MM: I'd say the past three Fear Factory albums have kind of started what I'm hearing in Arkaea. Sometimes you and Ray cut loose with heavy detailing in Arkaea, but it appears the prime motivation is groove and soul within the metal construct. Is that how you've been seeing things going?

CW: Honestly, when I realized that I was writing for Arkaea and not for Fear Factory I felt like I could do what I wanted to do. I didn't have to stick with the Fear Factory formula. I think because I was hearing different ideas. Same as for Raymond and Jon. It's healthy creating music with a different mindset. That’s when you learn new things.

MM: Let's hear your story on hooking up with thrash legends Cyclone. I reviewed the Brutal Destruction reissue here at The Metal Minute and it was like an old friend coming home to visit once I got that sucker in my mailbox!

CW: In 1991 Cyclone needed a fill-in guitarist for an upcoming European tour with Sadus. I had previously tried out for the group but I didn't have my down and triple picking up to par. So I went home practiced for a few weeks and came back to ask them to try out again for the band. This time I got the gig. They just seemed to have a hard time finding guitarists. Stefaan Daamen, Cyclone's guitarist, really taught me how to down pick, how to hold a pick properly so you could do triplets, etcetera. He showed me and I took it home and studied it and came back to hit the European leg with them. They were the first classic Belgian Thrash metal group. Cyclone first did a demo in 1983 called In the Grip of Evil. Guido, the singer, used to trade New Wave of British Heavy Metal tapes with Lars Ulrich back in those days and turned him on to Jaguar, Iron Fist, and Diamond Head and all those other bands. Cyclone's sound on that first demo is very much like Metallica's early sound. I think Cyclone started playing in 1981 and I was 9! (laughs)

MM: How about plugging your signature Randall Archetype amp you designed? I like the postmodern look of the insignia above the knobs, but what really looks awesome is its apparent multifunctional output features.

CW: Well, I took the existing V2 Randall design and gave it an overhaul and added more gain to the Solid State Channel and a tighter bass response for tighter palm muting. I changed the color to a black chrome and replaced the green and red lights with all blue lights. I was going for that Terminator 3 look. And we named it the Randall the Archetype V2. It’s a smoking 3-Channel Head, Height Gain Tube Channel, High Gain Solid State Channel with the MosValve Technology and a Clean Channel. I'm really happy with The Archetype and I can't wait to take it on the road soon.

MM: You guys are doing the Arkaea gig, Dino has Divine Heresy and I'm really digging Burton's guts on that Ascension of the Watchers project. First thing, do you guys anticipate doing any more Fear Factory in the future, and second I'm a big sushi guy myself. To me, it's about ambience, much less the cut of fish. Where in your travels is the best sushi you'd recommend?

CW: That's the big question! (laughs) I’m always down to make records. That’s what I am here for. Sushi is my favorite! You are taking me to go get some when I see you, by the way! (laughs) It’s all about the Philly roll!

Copyright 2008 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute

4 comments:

A Dark In The Light said...

"Former bassist Dino Cazares.."

He was the guitarist - and defining one of his genre at that.

SCRATCHtheSurface said...

I see a lot of protests coming your way due to that unfortunate remark about Dino Cazares! Didn’t ever heard that his unique 7-string guitar work influenced a ton of other musicians? And his contribution to Nailbomb seems a bit irrelevant when compared to his other projects Brujeria and Asesino.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

I sure as heck didn't MEAN to write bassist, oy, since Christian was shifted from bass to guitar when Dino left. Typing error on Van Horn. Thanks for spot-checking, guys. Correction is made.

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