After years of rumored infighting and legal wrangling between current and former members of the band, we finally have some clear evidence as to some of the legal issues that have plagued Fear Factory over the years. The information comes via a copy of a court decision rendered this past February involving the band’s current vocalist Burton C. Bell and former members, bassist Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera . It was obtained by MetalSucks , who have also shared a copy of it with the public here .
As you might expect, It’s a rather complicated tale that has played out behind the scenes of the band’s career for roughly the past decade. Among the key points are Burton C. Bell , Raymond Herrera and Christian Olde Wolbers having entered into a settlement agreement and mutual release regarding the licensing rights for the Fear Factory trademarks and rights regarding merchandise, music and live performances back in 2011. That settlement was resolved then pending litigation over the band’s trademark rights at the time.
Essentially, while Herrera and Wolbers were no longer members of the band at that point (both had exited in 2006,) Bell would be able to continue on using the band’s trademarks, etc. in exchange for continued compensation to Herrera and Wolbers .
The curveball came later in 2011 when Bell and his wife Amy filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy. While they listed both Herrera and Wolbers as creditors, Bell neglected to mention the prior settlement he had reached with Herrera and Wolbers months prior among his bankruptcy filings.
As such, having received no compensation since Bell ‘s bankruptcy, Herrera and Wolbers once again filed suit against Bell in 2014, claiming he had violated their previous 2011 settlement agreement. In their suit Herrera and Wolbers argued that they had not been paid for the earnings Bell had generated in regards to Fear Factory -related activities after his bankruptcy filing, as per the terms of their original 2011 settlement. This also led to much dispute over whether or not the original licensing settlement was still enforceable after Bell ‘s bankruptcy.
Herrera and Wolbers effectively won that suit via a signed stipulation in 2015 with Bell ‘s party being ordered to pay $214,307.24 to Herrera and Wolbers with legal fees to be determined. In April of 2016 those legal fees were calculated in with an overall judgment of $905,605.41 in damages and legal fees being entered against Bell . As part of that ruling Bell is said to have agreed to adhere to the licensing obligations of the original pre-bankruptcy 2011 settlement in regards to the bands trademarks going forward.
However, Bell would go on to dispute select counts of that ruling in regards to certain findings and file for a motion for contempt. This past February, the now late Judge John J. Thomas of The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania agreed that several counts of the 2015 ruling were in violation of Bell ‘s bankruptcy discharge injunction. This effectively would allow him to establish damages of his own in a hearing that was dated for this past March. What transpired after that is currently not public knowledge.
Given the above, we now have far more pieces of the puzzle to understand why Bell , the apparent licensee of the Fear Factory name, seemingly moved ahead last year with the creation and planned release of a new album from the band titled “ Monolith “, without the apparent knowledge of guitarist Dino Cazares . It also sheds more light as to why the band’s former bassist Christian Olde Wolbers seemingly had inside knowledge of what he claimed was the band’s alleged breakup.
If you missed it yesterday, you can find a recap on the band’s current status and confusing past few years here .