Dino Cazares: The Riff Master
A master of his craft who has manifested his own signature sound, guitarist Dino Cazares has not only demonstrated how ardent his passion is for music, but also unparalleled work ethic. He is the riff-master, whose talents first came to notoriety with the influential industrial metal band Fear Factory yet furthered his establishment into guitar lore with additional projects Brujeria, Asesino and Divine Heresy. Having multiple projects is somewhat common practice among musicians due to the thirst for continued creative outlet during the “down time” of any band. However, Dino can juggle more than one simultaneously. In November 2009, for his birthday show at the Whisky a Go-Go, he pulled double duty with Asesino and Divine Heresy; a night when the air conditioner went out at the venue and added to the brutality with the sweltering heat in a packed house. On July 7, 2010, this was proven yet again as Fear Factory and Divine Heresy kicked off a tour together along with 36 Crazyfists and After the Burial at House of Blues Sunset. Prior to the show I sat down with Dino to talk.
As a youth in the border town of El Centro, CA, his future was already foreseen supposedly…as a baseball player. The son of an accomplished professional baseball star in Mexico and a rising athlete himself, it seemed mapped out already. Then came metal. Spurned by the guitar rock of the 70’s, Black Sabbath, the British New Wave of Heavy Metal such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and into the thrash metal of Metallica, and the like, of the 80’s as well as legendary guitarist, Angus Young, and AC/DC, Dino, was sucked into the metal vacuum that many of us were in that period; yet, Dino wasn’t just a fan, he had a calling. He credits Angus’ influence as the prod to pick up a guitar and start playing. Although, he took classes in high school, for all intents and purposes he is a self-taught axe man extraordinaire since what they wanted to teach him in class was not up to snuff with the shredding and power chords that he desired to sign his name with.
Cazares signature melodic sound is a combination of fast alternate down-picking that was derived from a cornucopia of influences from Def Leppard and Van Halen to Metallica and Slayer and created a “machine gun” effect to his rhythms that is syncopated to drums.. He created this sound with influences from his musical heroes and has since made those idols fans of his own.
Some nine years after the original Fear Factory line up disintegrated there was a reformation of sorts. Dino reunited with FF vocalist Burton C. Bell at the House of Blues during a Ministry show. They talked for several months when Bell asked him if he wanted to come back to the band and revisit the creative union they had together which many people, including Cazares, had been suffering with FF during his absence. Dino was all for it; however, there were two other member of the band and Cazares was unsure if they were on board as well. Obviously, those two were not in favor of it and Cazares and Bell forged forward with bassist Byron Stroud and legendary drummer, Gene Hoglan to form the current line-up. Fear Factory has been a touring machine since the reformation. All around the globe, from South America to Australia to Europe/U.K. and Puerto Rico, Fear Factory has jammed with some heavy hitters but none bigger than Metallica…at Metallica’s request.
A last minute addition to one leg of the Metallica tour, I was curious as to how that came about and Dino’s explanation was essentially the guys in Metallica were really into the new Fear Factory record, Mechanize,which legitimized Cazares as a legendary and influential guitarist. As growing up heavily influenced by Metallica’s brand of metal, he had come full circle as his idols were now fans of his own. Very humbled, Dino could hardly put into words just what a complimentary feeling it was for James Hetfield to come on the FF tour bus the first day and raving to the band and each member individually, including Cazares, how great a job they did and how awesome Mechanize is.
Dino’s influence and talents are not limited to Fear Factory; however. While away from Fear Factory, he returned to his side project Brujeria, which was a direct expression of his Mexican culture and heritage, in which he takes a great amount of pride. Manifest out of Brujeria though was another project Asesino. Leaving Brujeria behind, he formed Asesino with Bass player Tony Campos (Static-X, Prong) and drummer Emilio Marquez. These projects, while very well received and an alternate sound from his Fear Factory influence were more satirical in nature. Yet, another project, Divine Heresy, was founded by Dino in 2006. Along with drummer extraordinaire, Tim Yeung (Vital Remains, Nile, Morbid Angel), Joe Payne (Nile, Pain After Death, Domination Through Impurity) on bass and Travis Neal (The Bereaved, Hate Times Nine), Divine Heresy has pushed forward and has created a large and loyal following. At the HOB start to the Fear Campaign tour this was quite evident.
A blessing that is direct product of the relentless pursuit of achieving the very best sound that compliment his style are the musicians he is surrounded with; none greater than FF drummer, Gene Hoglan as well as Divine Heresy drummer, Tim Yeung. Hoglan is legendary in the metal community and arguably at or near the top of the heap of the all-time greats in the genre, and according to Cazares, Tim is not far behind and he is thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with both of these iconic drummers.
To see the happiness in his face as he performs on stage, is what fans have come to appreciate about Cazares, as much as his patented sound. Perhaps, the smile on his face that night was increased, since it was his first night back in L.A. after touring Europe with FF. His return home, also marks his return to his lovely wife Jennifer. Together they are a fantastic couple; are beloved by all that know them and in my experience of knowing them both, I assure you that his smile was a bit brighter that night because of her. Nevertheless, Dino appreciates his fans so much. Whether he was on stage with Divine Heresy or Fear Factory, throughout the sets, mid-riff; he acknowledges the faces in the crowd that he recognizes.
The period of time after his departure from Fear Factory, Dino recognized who his real friends and supporters were as opposed to those superficial friends due to the success of FF. Among those true supporters, Dino acknowledged Hollywood Music. “Through Asesino, Divine Heresy and now Fear Factory, Hollywood Music has always supported me and I am very appreciative of everything they have done for me and I consider them personal friends.”
On behalf of Hollywood Music, I tip my cap to Dino, Jennifer as well as Joe, Tim and Travis of Divine Heresy and the guys from Fear Factory for your support of Hollywood Music and for making that HOB show something special, since you all knew it was also my birthday. Extra thanks to Dino and Jennifer for giving me the time for the interview. Dino Cazares-if this were the Paleozoic era, he would be called Riffasaurus Rex.