Faith No More | Kerrang! 420 - 28th November 1992
That's how FAITH NO MORE bassist BILL COULD describes the experience of touring with Guns N' Roses. But despite the band's attempts to "diss" him in the press, Axl Rose was "pretty cool"! Now liberated from the stadium millstone and back in the UK playing theatres, FNM are feelin' much more at home - and actually like each other for the first time in years! MIKE GITTER is the man sprinkling a little 'Angel Dust'...
Kerrang | Issue 420 | 28.11.92
Making Friends With The Devil by Mike Gitter
"HERE, TRY this. Just be careful..." Twisted. Hateful. Mischievous. Flat-out f**ked. It's a weird scene outside the Roseland Ballroom in New York. Billy Gould has been passing around drinks of a strange, yellow liquid he's quick to give warning about. It's not piss. That's the first thing you might expect from Faith No More's bassist. No, both Bill and keysman Roddy Bottum are quaffing the stuff. They both have ecstatic grins on their faces, bigger than the ones they had an hour earlier when their hour and a half of operatic hippy-hate core came grinding to a close.
"Beware of strange men from San Francisco bearing drinks!" someone chuckles.
The twisted twins smile impishly. Some people make noises about heading down town to the Lower East Side. Mike Patton is surrounded by a gang of friends, fans and friends of friends and fans, hurriedly making his way to grab a cab on the corner. Then, the casualties start.
Staggering. Stammering. Glaring up into space. I spend the next couple of hours making sure Helmet's publicist, one-time Agnostic Front guitarist Steve Martin, and his assistant Adam don't choke on their own vomit. For this service, I have apparently earned the nom de-plume, Dr Giggles. Thanks, guys.
2:30am. Mike Patton is clutching a beer, laughing. "Oh, that stuff!" he grins that mean-bastard grin. "It's okay. They took it off the market about a year ago. I dunno, it just usually scares the hell out of me!"
IT'S TWO weeks later. Faith No More's first fully fledged US headlining tour since the beginning of this 'Angel Dust' business is grinding to a halt in hotter-than-hell Tampa, where they're already on the prowl for 'inbred alligator wrestling Deicide types'.
"We're gonna do a special request for Glen Benton!" Gould chuckles from Hell's Waiting Room. "We're gonna dedicate 'Easy' to him. Maybe we can get him onstage with us! What a stud!"
As for that nasty little cocktail... "Oh, that stuff! The Somatamax!" the bassist grins like a naughty child caught. "It's this health food stuff, this fat-burner thing. It releases your growth hormones and stimulates the endorphins in your brain, and you get really high. It's actually pretty harmless.
"What happened was, you used to get it in health food stores up until about a year ago.) still have a bit left from then. Kids were going in and buying a lot of it, and no one knew why. Then some kid ended up in hospital OD'd on the stuff.
"It's heavy duty stuff, like taking two quaaludes, but unless you choke on your own vomit, I can't see anything really bad happening with it!"
It has been a season of the absurd. Faith No More have only become more brilliantly twisted, fervently contrary and capable of plunging to even deeper depths of dementia and depravity.
BOREDOM CAN have that effect. Being on tour with Guns N' Roses, and then Guns N' Roses and Metallica, since what seems like the dawn of time will almost certainly drive you to it. Faith No More have endured both.
"It was really good for the band," Billy admits, tactfully. "But it wasn't really good for our heads."
That's an understatement. As the bassist intones: "Things happen when our minds are given the space to degenerate".
Let's talk pros and cons of living in a situation known as 'The Circus', with its staff numbering into the hundreds of crew, chiropractors, publicists, diplomats, witch doctors...
"The good thing was playing in front of 80,000 people a night, when on our own we'd bring maybe 3,000 people to a show," Gould calculates. "So we'd have to play 200 shows to make up for one Guns N' Roses' show's worth of people."
"Unfortunately," he says, "we're used to much more relaxed situations, just being able to hang out after the show and not having to worry about our fans shooting us or anything. Getting thrown into that atmosphere was really uncomfortable. Plus, with the security so intense, what can you do backstage? Get drunk and look at strippers? Oh yeah, that's real exciting."
So what were some of the more 'creative' ways to amuse yourself? "Being able to talk shit in the press and have a lot of people read it! That was really fun. That was how we got our amusement. We like to create dissension. It was this gigantic body of people that travel just like some big circus, where no one ever really communicates with each other. We thought that if we could stir it up just enough to where we wouldn't get in trouble, it might make it more interesting! After all, it's kind of uncool when a band invites you on tour and you diss 'em a little bit just to have some fun."
APPARENTLY, INVISIBLE ringmaster Rose caught wind of the shenanigans. Faith No More's hi-jinks in the press, and decided to arrange a little meet-and-greet for their own benefit.
"He read all the bad press we said about him and asked us about it!" Bill Gould chuckles. "We actually talked to him for a while, and y'know what? He was pretty cool! "One day we came to the concert, and Axl was there waiting for us. Like, 'What's the deal?'. And we just said we tried to stir up as much trouble as we could. We told him we felt like that was our job, and he just laughed. He just sat and explained his position to us a little bit. He's an easy guy to take pot-shots at, and we definitely went for the easy thing.
"He was cool about it. He likes to see the system shook up as much as anyone, but he's in an awkward position. We left the tour friendly. It was like making friends with the Devil. I thought all hell was gonna come down, and he let us off with, 'Aw, right, you f"kin' idiots'. "That was a cool response. Most people in his position would have been real uptight dicks. I can think of 100 other bands we've done a lot less to that have freaked out 10 times as bad!"
BILL GOULD is a magnet for eccentricities, quirks, strange vibes and perverse fascinations. A walking encyclopaedia of mass murders and dabbler with computers, he has no trouble recounting the most perverse of Faith No More's strangest quirks. Clearly, this is a man too smart and too unbalanced for rock 'n' roll. Most of Faith No More suffer that problem. "The most perverse thing I can think of right now is that Jim still lives with his mom," he sniggers. "He never moved out! Mike Patton's been pretty cool. He had a thing for a while with human shit - it's a cheap medium to work with. It's free!"
As for your own new obsessions? "I'm taking a ton of health food drugs," GouId admits. "All kinds of different stuff. Legal highs. Every once in a while they work, like the Somatamax. I found a stimulant called Competition Leather that f**ks you up, too. I take it every show now. It's like tar with a bunch of Chinese herbs and shit in it. It's 99 cents a hit, and it's awesome. I recommend it. One bite and you're on top of the world for three hours!"
CONSENSUS IS, being out on their own is where Faith No More belong. They come out doing callisthenics to a techno-ed version of Europe's 'The Final Countdown', and pump straight into The Land Of Sunshine'. The difference this time is that their set isn't about combatting indifference the way it was in the arenas. They aren't a distraction to the crowd as much as they are a vortex of full throttle eclecticism and insanity. Mike Patton isn't so much leading the crowd in chants of "EVERYBODY SAY BUDWEISER!" as he is prostrating himself about the boards, crooning, shouting, shrieking, hunched over and scowling like he actually means it. Not like he's having a laugh at the expense of 80,000 people. Invisible in arena-land, Rowdy Roddy is more animated and flamboyant than anyone's notion of what a keysman should be. Dressed from head to toe in white, he's exuding a raw, flamboyant energy like Liberace on crack, while Billy,
drummer Mike 'Puffy' Bordin and the Big Sick Ugly One with the Big Sick Ugly guitar just pummel. The perfect combination of angel and demons. The night ends with the cocktail sleaze of 'Edge Of The World', Mike Patton and Jim Martin gone from the stage, Roddy twinkling the ivories while Mike 'Puffy' Bordin cracks out a jazzy beat. An enthusiastic college girl from the audience saunters out the lyrics while riding donkey-style on Bill's back. It's the ultimate karaoke scenario, and more perfectly Faith No More than they've been in a while. Just like the Faith No More that made 'Angel Dust', a band not coming apart at their differences, but ending up making great music because of them.
"The five of us are a little more definite now," Mike Bordin feels. "I don't think there's as much that goes unspoken. We get along better and are able to smile at each other. Not at each other's expense, but actually smile at each other. It's nice, for a change."
THEN AGAIN, what would Faith No More be without at least a bit of internal animosity? At one point it was singer Chuck Mosley was the one who won the scorn of the band. It was Mike Bordin during 'The Real Thing' era. The odd-man-out mantle has since fallen to Big Sick Ugly Jim. He seems like a stranger off in his own universe.
"It's kind of puzzling to me," Puffy admits. "He's isolated himself. I don't know why. I first noticed when we did the South American trip, but the weird part was that was when the rest of us started having fun together!
"Jim came from a different place," the drummer postulates. "I'm familiar with where Jim came from cos I grew up there, but I left there to find Bill and Roddy. If you wanted to talk writer talk, you could say I left Robin Trower and the Blue Oyster Cult to find The Stranglers and the Sex Pistols. That's where I met Bill. I knew Jim back in the Robin Trower era."
And most improved player, Mike Patton? After a few months off with Mr Bungle, and then a stint providing the sickly shriek for John Zorn's jazz-noise savages Naked City, he's gone from being visibly uncomfortable and acerbic with his situation to the world's most twisted pop star, Wacko Jacko aside.
"On the last record I can tell you exactly where Mike's frustration was coming from," Bordin says. "Being exploited as a pretty boy; y'know, 'Hunk Of The Month'.
"Look, we are a rock band. We are not a funk band, we are not a Death band, we are not a grunge band. We play our music. It's what we do. When people try to make him into a figurehead or something else that he isn't, that's hard. The guy doesn't want to lie. It's both good and bad, but he doesn't lie. He tells the f**king truth.
"The last record was a strange experience for Mike," Puffy thinks. "We toured a lot, a year-and-a-half pretty much straight, which does get taxing, and it was the guy's first real stretch of time away from home. I also think, 'The Real Thing' being the first record he ever made, he feels he could have done better on it. He outgrew it.
"People like that record, and that's fine. I'm proud of that record, but that doesn't mean I want to make the same record again. There are some bands that can do that, like AC/DC. They deserve to mine their groove because it's their groove. I don't think we've hit our stride yet."
BILLY IS ecstatic to be out on the road in Faith No More's own twisted merits once again. "Y'know what's funny about being on the Guns N' Roses/Metallica thing?" he points out. "It was the biggest tour in the world, and the most happening tour any band could ever want to be part of. We did it. And we realised it wasn't that big a deal. "It's like getting a Platinum record - just a thing to do, and once you do it and realise that you're not any happier, you learn what it is that makes you happy. That's why we did 'Angel Dust'. I dunno, after being out on our own for the past four weeks it seems like we're just at the beginning of things. Everything else was like one long, strange dream."
Faith No More are back on UK soil. "Forget the glamour and mumble a jack hammer." It's bound to get stranger.