Fear Factory’s Dino Cazares Gets Heavy Tone while Traveling Light with Line 6
Since releasing The Industrialist in June, influential industrial metal band Fear Factory has been everywhere from San Francisco to Sweden. As they embark on the second leg of The World Industrialist Tour, Cazares shares his secret for getting heavy tone while traveling light—the Line 6® POD® HD Pro multi-effects and Relay® G90 digital wireless system. With POD HD Pro, Cazares can plug directly into the PA system—no cabinets required.
You've been working with Line 6 for many years. How’d you first make the connection?
Back in 1998, Fear Factory was on a U.S. tour. We had a big old U-Haul truck full of our lights and gear and all this stuff, and we parked it in front of our hotel in New Jersey. We went to sleep, and woke up to a phone call letting us know that the truck was stolen with all our gear. Everything was gone—$1 million worth of stuff. Good thing we had insurance!
After we were done crying about all our gear being stolen, I went to Guitar Center to try out a bunch of amps. Nothing was really turning me on until I tried the Line 6 Flextone head. I started playing it, and was like, "Holy shit." It was amazing. I've been playing it ever since.
I've gotten everything that's come out from Line 6 every year or every couple of years: The Flextone, the Flextone II, the POD Pro, the POD xt, the POD X3 and now the POD HD.
So obviously you’re a huge POD fan—what do you like best about it?
We take zillions of flights and travel everywhere, and you want to take your sound with you. Depending on the location, when you rent gear, you can’t be sure what you're going to get. You might get there and the amp is just beat to hell.
With POD HD, your tone is with you wherever you go. It’s consistent everywhere. Nine times out of ten, I’m using a POD direct to a PA system, direct to the monitor system, and that’s about it.
For traveling, it’s so convenient. I just put POD HD Pro in a four-space rack with a Relay G90 wireless. So everything I'm recording with, everything that I use to travel around the world, is in compact enough to just carry onto a plane.
Another great thing about POD HD and G90 is that they’re 220/240 ready as well. All you do is change the plug. I don't really need converters or anything else.
Do you also use POD in the studio?
When I started working in the studio on the latest album, I made a few tweaks to the POD presets I’d been using live. Then when the mixer mixed the album, he tweaked the sound a bit, so I went back and tweaked my POD to match. Now I can take the exact same sounds from the album on the road with me.
When you perform live, how do you get your tone?
My favorite feature of the POD HD Pro is that you can run two heads at once. I usually have two heads, the Cali Tread, or I have the ANGLE F-Ball [editor’s note: Cali Tread is based on* 2001 Mesa/Boogie® Dual Rectifier® Solo; ANGLE F-Ball 100 is based on* ENGL Fireball 100]. I usually have those EQ’d slightly differently. The F-Ball has a little bit more low-end so it pumps more air.
I do all my processing within the POD HD—I run it through a compressor, then a gate—not hard gate, but just a little bit of a noise gate. Then I got a Screamer cranked, and that gives it some of that midrange tone that I need [editor’s note: Screamer is based on* Ibanez® Tube Screamer®].
Then I run it through another gate, and then I usually run it through a studio EQ, so I can get more of the curve that I need, and then usually another EQ—all in the POD. That’s it. I mix it like 25 percent left and 25 percent right. I just crank it and it sounds amazing. I use the 412 Tread V-30 cab on both with the Shure 57 off-axis microphone model in the POD [editor’s note: 412 Tread V-30 is based on* a Mesa/Boogie® cabinet, 4x12 inch Celestion® Vintage 30 speakers]. It sounds amazing.
You can go to any YouTube Fear Factory video from 2012 and see and hear what I'm talking about. My sound man loves it because it's so easy. He's basically just turning it up. Maybe he adds a couple of things, nothing really major. Usually the monitor guys just tell me, "Make it flat." And that's it. 99 percent of the time, I don't do any tweaking on the POD live.
Can you describe how you set up your presets for a gig?
For a standard set list, I’ll use four different presets, each based off a different amp. For more experimental stuff, I’ll use eight.
My main preset is my main guitar tone, rhythm tone. Then I have the lead tone. Then I have this filtered effect that I use on a lot of songs, using the Bomber Uber [editor’s note: Bomber Uber is based on* 2002 Bogner® Uberschall].
I do this weird tone where it scoops out all the low end and gives it a low-fi vibe, kind of like you're hearing something off an old-school AM radio. I also have it set to where I can add more delay, or certain modulations. I’ll add some reverb and other weird stuff. I have that on my Line 6 FBV Shortboard so I can click whatever I need to do.
I also have this really cool clean tone that I use on a few songs, using the Blackface [editor’s note: Blackface ‘Lux is based on* 1964 Fender® Deluxe Reverb®]. That has a lot of delays and a lot of compression to give it a certain sound, a lot of chorus.
How do you think POD stacks up against other high-end guitar processing systems?
There’s a lot of hype around the Axe-Fx by Fractal Audio. It's a great system, but you're not going to hear any difference between it and POD HD as far as tone. But the Axe-Fx takes you longer to dial in. It took me two weeks to dial in something—and it took me 10 minutes to dial in something on the POD.
For me, POD is a lot more user friendly. It's very direct. Axe-Fx is a whole different language and it has other parameters that are unnecessary. It takes you a lot longer just to find something you like.
I've had both Axe-Fx and POD HD—one cost $2,000 and I know a lot of the nerds like it because maybe somebody like Dweezil Zappa said it was cool. But with the POD HD, obviously you're going to get a lot more for your money.
As soon as the POD HD came out, I got one, plugged it in, and compared it to the Axe-Fx. Then I got rid of the Axe-Fx and put my money in my pocket.
You also a long-time user of Line 6 digital wireless—how’d you get into it?
On Fear Factory’s first tours in 1992, I wanted the freedom to run around the stage, so we had some cheap analog wireless system that just squished the heck out of my tone. Then in 1995 or '96, I met this guy with a company called X-Wire, and we agreed to be the guinea pigs for their systems. It was great because it didn't mess with the tone. We worked with the stuff for years, and then when Line 6 bought X-Wire I was just so happy.
When Relay came out, I got the first G30, then the G50. Now I use G90. We really put it to the test while traveling through Europe. We were playing these gigantic, gigantic stages. I don't know if you can imagine how big they are. With Relay, you can still walk all the way out to the sides to where the big screens are. We were doing that and we had no dropouts.
And with a 100,000-person festival, there were so many potential problems. They got their cell towers out there for the festival. They got their own internet—internet everywhere. But we didn’t have any interference.
How does the Relay tone compare to a wired guitar system?
The first time I heard Relay, I was blown away how it didn't take away from my killer tone. All the wireless systems I used in the past changed my guitar tone. I always had to compensate by trying to push more out of my amp or by boosting more EQs. With Relay, it was liked I was plugged in with a cable—but better. It’s also easy to set up—you just turn it on and choose any channel.
Check out Dino and Fear Factory on the World Industrialist Tour—see upcoming tour dates.*All product names are trademarks of their respective owners, which are in no way associated or affiliated with Line 6. The product names and images are provided for the sole purpose of identifying the specific products that were studied during Line 6's sound model development.