Burton C. Bell on the Storyline to Fear Factory’s “The Industrialist”

** Fear Factory’s The Industrialist is out June 5, 2012 on Candlelight Records. We spoke to frontman Burton C. Bell about the record’s storyline.

“I am a being… My existence has value… My purpose right now is to relate my witness, without any bitterness or partiality, the motives of my present reality.”

We can only print a partial prologue… Is the story top secret or meant to unveil itself as time and circumstances allow?
Burton C. Bell: The full story will be the limited edition book/CD that [Candlelight] will be releasing. Along with the story, I drew some very rough sketches to go along with some of the scenes. In time, I wish to post the entire story and on the Fear Factory website.

Who is the person in the prologue? A protagonist, antagonist or mere observer?
Burton C. Bell: The Industrialist is an automaton, and it is the protagonist of the story.

Actually, is the “person” in the prologue a sentient machine?
Burton C. Bell: It is an automaton that is becoming sentient as it collects more memories with each passing day. Through observation and learning, it has gained the ‘will to exist’.

“Desperate and exhausted, I see the human character lying wasted in ruin, victimized by planned obsolescence, deteriorated by emotional distortion.”

Can you explain The Industrialist title?
Burton C. Bell:The Industrialist is the incarnation of all industries in the form of an automaton. The mechanical, technological, and scientific advances through the Industrialist age led to the creation of The Industrialist. What was meant to help man, will eventually be man’s demise.

Why is suffering important to the protagonist?
Burton C. Bell: The way I see it, suffering gives the protagonist a reason to better one’s self, to make life better. It shows the reader that the actions of the protagonist are not unfounded, even if the actions are questionable.

Is suffering a uniquely human trait or does it extend to the protagonist? Does the ‘will to exist’ lend itself to others’ “will to exist”?
Burton C. Bell: Though the protagonist is an automaton, the suffering is caused by the actions of man. The automaton is becoming more sentient every day, while man is eradicating it’s kind through due process. I think the will to exist is within all life forms. The notion of suffering lends itself to adaption, modification of form and thought. Even a virus will evolve for the sake of existence.

“Questions that are irrationally logical…. I implore you to seek as I seek for the encoded design, the ultimate realization for all humanity, and now myself…”

Are there other automatons in The Industrialist?
Burton C. Bell: Yes, quite a few. There is one that is frequently called The Counterpart.

Do you see a future world of sentient or self-learning robots, as Asimov, Dick and Scott imagined?
Burton C. Bell: I do envision a world, (not far away), that is full of robots, androids, automatons, and other machines that are created to serve mankind. To say that these machines will become sentient is uncertain.

How does the Internet or a future version of it where ‘everything’s connected’ play into the story, if at all?
Burton C. Bell: I did not consider the Intertron as part of the future story, however I did form the idea that all machines are able to ‘talk’ to each other.

Is The Industrialist part of a larger story? Something beyond its current scope?
Burton C. Bell: The reader will see some references to today’s whorl, but that’s all they are; references. The story does not have an ending, and it may continue.

“What have I done with MY life?”…