Interview with Byron Stroud, Fear
Factory/City of Fire (January 2010)
Byron Stroud has been
around the heavy-metal block a few times: thrash band Caustic Thought in
the early '90s, Fear Factory since 2003, Devin Townsend's Strapping
Young Lad and his own humorous side project, Zimmers Hole.
bassistís new Vancouver-based band, City Of Fire, featuring Fear
Factory's Burton C. Bell on vocals, as well as fellow friends from
Caustic Thought, have created a surprisingly organic and melodic album
full of great and diverse songs. With a new Fear Factory album due Feb.
9th, a brief City Of Fire tour under his belt, Byron can't help but feel
stoked about his bands' future.
Calling from Vancouver, Byron spoke with me about City Of Fire, Devin Townsend and the new Fear Factory album.
|City Of Fire
has really been creating a buzz within the metal world and
getting great reviews and write-ups. How's that make you feel?
I'm real happy. A couple of guys in the
band I played with before in a band called Caustic Thought,
Devin and Jed Simon also were in it, we learned our chops in
that band. It's fun to play with old friends again and we wanted
to make a record that we've always wanted to make. Same with
Burton. I'm glad people have been liking it, and it's getting
good response and we'd like to take it as far as we can.
Tell me how you, Burton and the other members got together
to create City of Fire.
In March of Ď08, Bob Wagner (drums) and
Ian White (guitars) contacted me about doing a Caustic Thought
reunion show in Vancouver. Jed was going to do it too but had to
drop out, so Terry "Sho" Murray stepped in to play the show, and
it went well. Then we had a meeting and decided to start jamming
full time again because we realized we had something really
cool. We started demoing the songs in August of '08, and I
thought this would be music that Burton would be down with
because of our time hanging out with each other in Fear Factory.
I knew he would like it. So we did demos without vocals and sent
them to Burton, then we flew him out to Vancouver in November of
'08 and started demoing the tracks to some kick-ass songs. Then
he flew back out in January of '09 and we started to record the
album, and here we are now.
Is the band's name a direct reference to the city of
Well, yeah, absolutely. It's just
becoming so hard to find a great band name lately. When you
think of something and then go on the Internet, 20 other bands
have the same name! Burton's always loved the vibe here in
Vancouver, since we recorded a Fear Factory album here.
He's always loved Vancouver and loved
making music here. It wasn't my favorite name, but we felt it
represented the sound the band has. Even the artwork has a
picture of the city on it. It just represents the creativity
that Burton has while in Vancouver.
Was there any pressure on you to this this album?
No, not at all! We did it all ourselves.
We formed our own label, we financed the record ourselves, there
were no deadlines, no record company pressure to make the record,
we didn't have to send off demos.
It was amazing.
|With the way
the record industry has been changing, did you feel that you
needed total control over the album?
I think so. Even in Zimmers Hole when we
were signed to Century Media, we had such a small budget that we
ended up having to put our own money into it anyways and they
were getting the benefits. Why go into debt while the record
company reaps all the benefits? So we decided to skip all that
and have the music be sold on our label and we'll figure out
that shit ourselves. There is a downfall, though: It doesn't
reach as many people, but we've done pretty well on our own.
With members from Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad and
Zimmers Hole, City Of Fire does have these bandsí influences,
but it also is a mix of other elements not known to the
aforementioned bands. How did you create such a great mix of
We had a lot of songs! Sixteen or 17
written. There are influences of our own past and sounds of the
early '90s on the record itself. We didn't want songs that
sounded the same, with a similar chorus or verse. We wanted them
to be as diverse as possible within our sound.
We worked to make it a diverse record
from front to back, to have character and a different sound, and
I think that's what we created.
You've been involved in the metal scene for a while and
have played in some influential bands. What do you think of the
current metal scene?
I haven't really checked out the
current metal scene. I'm just so busy with my own music that I
find it hard to find other bands that I enjoy. I'm busy with
making City Of Fire, sessions and tours with Fear Factory that I
don't listen to too much outside music because I might wind up
stealing someone elseís sound, so I avoid listening to anything
else. I haven't listened to any other stuff except my own music,
but once I'm off tour I can relax and listen to what's out there.
But right now, I can't say what I like or don't like, other than
my own music.
How did you decide to do a cover of The Cult's "Rain"?
It was always a song that reminded me
of Vancouver, where it rains a lot. I'm not a huge fan of The
Cult, but it's a heavy song. I used to suggest playing it while
in Fear Factory, and nobody was into it. But since we had more
control over this record, I mentioned it again to Burton, and we
wanted to make it heavy like Godflesh. I don't know if we
achieved that, but we made a cool version, and it plays off the
other songs on the record well.
|What kind of
tours have you been on lately?
Of Fire did a brief West Coast tour in November. We did eight
dates and finished up in Vancouver. We wanted to get out and
play live because we really hadn't played together as a band
except for in the studio. We had some good shows and got good
response, then I went to LA to rehearse for Fear Factory, then
we went and played in South America and the shows were great.
City Of Fire had to postpone the UK tour that was supposed to
happen at the beginning of January because of finances. It
really sucks, but we just couldn't get the financial backing.
Maybe another time of the year when we can go so people can see
the show that they deserve to see. We're trying to get a proper
release of the album. We have labels interested that I don't
want to disclose at this time, but hopefully it will happen in
What's the word on the new Fear Factory album?
It's kick-ass! It sounds good. It's
back to our roots. Dino has something to prove. It's the perfect
mix of Fear Factory and Strapping Young Lad.
How's Dino getting along with the rest of the band after
being away for so long?
Dino's getting along well, but he and
Burton had some things to work out. They've been rekindling
their friendship and worked out their differences and they're
buddies again. When we all got back together, the music just
started flowing. The music is more mechanical and, as I said,
back to the roots, like on "Demanufacture." It has that "machine"
sound, it's more brutal. Dino's guitar playing kept getting
better and better, more technical and brutal, and there's catchy
choruses that Burton is known for.
Will you be collaborating with Devin Townsend on anything
in the future?
Well, Devin's basically a genius, but a
tortured genius. Doing SYL was hard on him. Coming up with the
lyrics to go with that music was exhausting for him. And when he
stopped doing SYL, we were kind of expecting it, so we try not
to force him to come back. He never really got to enjoy success,
he was tortured by it. It was emotionally draining making SYL
records and playing shows. He's doing his own thing now. He's an
amazing guy to work with and play live with. We're basically all
available for him. We have no plans (to play together again),
but I can't see it not happening someday.
What's next for City Of Fire?
Take it to the world and play live. The average
fan needs to hear it live, for us to just get on the road and play.
Care to say something to your fans?
For the Fear Factory fans, get ready for the
new record "Mechanize" on Candlelight Records out on February 9th. City
Of Fire fans, go to cityoffire.com and check out what we're all about.
Hopefully you'll like it.
Interviewed by Kelley Simms
City of Fire - City of
Album available on