EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTIAN OLDE WOLBERS OF FEAR FACTORY AND ARKAEA
When a press release landed in the MetalSucks inbox a couple of months ago announcing that Fear Factory guitarist (and former bassist) Christian Olde Wolbers had released a signature Randall amplifier head and was currently booking interviews, I got to thinking. Could I possibly land an interview with Wolbers — who also happens to be a talented producer who worked on the recent Threat Signal record and tracked vocals for the new God Forbid album Earthsblood — ask him the one obligatory amplifier question, and then proceed to ask him questions about Fear Factory, producing, and his new band Arkaea? Yes, yes I could. And so I did. Our conversation, after the jump.
So you’re in the studio recording with your band Arkaea. What’s the latest on that? I know you guys have some samples up on your Myspace. Where are you in the recording process?
We’re in the studio right now, and I just started recording guitar. I’m like 2 songs deep. We just started tracking. We did all the drums already. We’re now tracking guitars. When the guitars are done, it’s bass and vocals. The record comes out March 10th of next year.
Oh cool, so you have a release date. Do you have a record label for it yet?
Yeah, Koch Records.
So how did this band come together? I know you did some work with the guys in Threat Signal. Did it kind of come out of that?
Partly, yeah. Raymond and I started writing for the next Fear Factory album. We noticed that the others weren’t ready to move ahead with that. Raymond and I were sitting with all this music that we had already started writing, and I wanted to get it on the shelf and make a record. So I was like “well I always wanted to do a side project.” I did some songs in the past, but it never turned into a full length album. So this is really my first side thing. It doesn’t really feel like a side thing, it kind of feels like a real band that I definitely want to keep pursing and continuing. We just decided to do that, and we found someone who could do vocals. I didn’t have to look hard because I already had someone in mind which was Jon from Threat Signal. He fit in perfectly and recorded five songs with us. It was a good vibe, and he was down to play. He’s hungry and young and wants to go on tour. I decided to go with him, and then we got Pat who is also in Threat Signal. He was right there and seemed like the best choice after going through a couple of other people that didn’t seem like a good choice. We went with Pat, and it feels like a full lineup and band. It’s really good.
Do you approach the writing for this new project any differently than you would approach the writing for Fear Factory? You mentioned that some of the songs came about when you were initially writing for the next Fear Factory record.
Yeah, I mean the way that Raymond and I approach writing songs has always been kind of the same. I felt that with the last Fear Factory there was a lot that I wanted to experiment with on the guitar but didn’t get the chance because the record had to be out so quickly. On this record I want to experiment more. With Jon coming in, it helped me open up a lot of riffs and parts guitar wise because he’s a different singer. He’s got a lot of top range. He’s up there range wise. You can hear him sing a Chris Cornell song with a lot of range. He helped me step outside of my box as a guitar player. I do a lot of other things in the band like play bass and producing and stuff like that. It’s nice to be able to expand on guitar and do things that I never really did in the past. So I am taking a different approach. In the beginning I wasn’t. I started taking a different approach as the band and the piece started coming together. I was like “I don’t have to stick between these two lines. I can step outside of them and expand on things I usually don’t do.”
Would you say it’s a little more experimental than what you would do with Fear Factory?
Yeah, definitely. Also I have been listening to a lot of other bands. Deftones have always been one of my favorite bands. They’ve always used a lot of different textures. Steph [Stephen Carpenter, Deftones guitarist] is a really close friend of mine, and he has rubbed off a lot on me because we’ve been hanging out for 15 years. We used to play a lot together in a band called Kush, and we have a lot of mutual respect for each other. When I listen to the songs and play them, I know that there are some influences from certain bands from when I was a kid. I would be like “whoa, that’s something Andy Summers from the Police would do.” There are definitely a lot of different influences. There’s a Fear Factory influence of course. There are a lot of melodies and the vocalist has a lot of range.
Do you plan on taking this band out on the road?
Yes, in February. We’re working on going on the road in February. We’ll try and do a U.S. tour and go to Europe later that year too and do some festival stuff. There are definitely touring plans.
Cool. As far as Fear Factory goes, you mentioned that the other guys were busy. Burton is doing his thing.
Yep, and he’s a father too. He’s busy and doing his own thing. He went on tour with Ministry for a while. We’ll come together and figure it out and do a record. We also need to find a home for Fear Factory because we don’t have a record label. So there are a lot of things like that. We’ll all come together eventually.
Yeah. That’s right. I won’t do it for just anyone. I will find good opportunities and bands that like.
Is that how the God Forbid thing came about?
Yeah, because we are all in the same family [Fear Factory and God Forbid share a management company. -Ed.] They’re good friends, and it was just easy for them to come and do it out here. They’re a great band.
You were just doing the vocals on that record right?
Yep. They recorded everything [else] on the East Coast.
How did it come out?
I just got the record today. I have to download it from the server. I haven’t listened to it yet.
I understand that you have a new amplifier from Randall. How did that deal come about?
Well, Jody Dankberg is one of the reps at Randall. He came from Krank. I was a Krank artist for a while because I was such good friends with him. Once he left Krank and went to Randall he told me that I should try some things out. He said that if I liked it that there was a home for me there. I had a lot of loyalty towards Jody so I was definitely willing to try Randall’s stuff. It’s a lot more reliable, and they have some other items that are really more functional for me like their power amps and pre-amps. There are some really cool people in the company. I met everyone, and I was just blown away. That’s how I moved forward. He was trying to bring a lot more signature stuff to the company. We got to talking and I ended up doing a signature head. That’s how all that came about.
Cool. Other than you doing the Arkaea record and Fear Factory who knows when, are there any plans to do anymore producing in the meantime or is Arkaea the focus for now?
I think I’ll be working on the Threat Signal record after this, but this is pretty much the focus for right now. After this is done, I will be working on the Threat Signal album. There’s a record from Final Enemy, a band from Australia that I will be recording. They’ll be coming right there. There will be some tours coming up for sure once we’re done recording this album.
Cool man. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day.
Thank you so much man. Anytime.