Faith No More | Kerrang! ISSUE 659 - August 2nd 1997
Kind souls that we are, we've decided to stop asking FAITH NO MORE about hating each other and shit eating. Instead, we've flown to Poland to talk to them about heroin addiction and homophobia...
Kerrang! Issue 659 | August 2nd 1997
MEN IN BLACK
Words by Jason Arnopp
Photos by Ross Halfin
"Can I touch you?!" gasps the Polish fan as he places his hand on the shoulder of Faith No More's Mike Patton. Innocently attempting to haul his suitcase from the tour bus, Patton laughs disbelievingly. "No!" he chuckles, in good nature. "You're touching me anyway, so why do you ask?" The fan heads off, visibly delighted. We're near the Czech Republic border, in Katowice - a town with a 10 per cent lower life expectancy than the rest of Poland, due to the numerous industrial factories belching smoke into the air. It's early evening, but drummer Mike Bordin has yet to arrive for tonight's show. He has been in San Francisco attending to the birth of his first child, causing the cancellation of some European shows. Furthermore,his flight over here has been horribly delayed, but he will apparently make it tonight. "It's comical," grins Patton - a surprisingly cheerful, friendly character. "It makes me feel like Axl Rose or something!"
Kerrang's idea today is not to discuss how Faith No More's members hate each other, or their tendencies towards coprophilia. We want to talk to them separately, about themselves. Limited time prevents new-ish guitarist Jon Hudson from taking a hot seat (although, seemingly a private man, he's probably grateful), and Bordin only has the chance to answer a few questions. But keys-man Roddy Bottum, bassist Bill Gould and Patton give it the full monty. "You can go on and on and on about how different everybody is in this band," a remarkably feisty looking Bordin declares after the show. "But - especially with me and Billy - put us in soundproof rooms, ask us the same questions and you'll get a lot of the same answers."
Kerrang: What makes you laugh?
BILL: "Watching people's weasely behaviour; scammers trying to pull scams. Black arts, serial killers and mass murders also count as weasely behaviour. It's like watching the rat go through the maze in a different direction."
MIKE P: "People make me laugh the most. It's important to laugh at yourself, too. People are funny enough - who needs comedians?"
Any fears or phobias?
BILL: "Tight places and high places. Also, cooked eggs. It's irrational, but they scare me. There's something wrong about an egg."
MIKE P: "I'm afraid of birds. I'm not so keen on toilets - they scare me, and I've never understood what it was."
MIKE B: "I don't like pickles."
RODDY: "Cats, clowns and mimes. Cats are a bit sneaky for me. Apart from that, racism freaks me out a little bit. That backwards mentality of down-south Americana."
Roddy, have you encountered any prejudice as a result of your being gay?
RODDY: "People would be ashamed to speak about me or my sexuality with any sort of condescension. It's,like, 1997. It would be like a racist comment. If there is that kind of vibe around me, I wouldn't know about it. People say it behind my back, if it does happen. We recently played in Florida on July 4, which is a f**ked up, backward state. It was an open-air redneck barbecue and the DJ said, 'I'm not gonna play any of that faggot ass bullshit!'. I didn't know what sort of music he was taking about, but that was his terminology!"
You never really 'came out', officially, did you?
RODDY: "I didn't, no. It's an awkward time in a person's life, when you're dealing with that. And everyone around you who knows you're dealing with that gives you room to deal with it personally. That's the way it sort of happened with us."
If you met yourself at a party, what would your reaction be?
RODDY: "I would be absolutely in love, intrigued, infatuated... No, I'd probably think I was snotty and aloof, but curious."
MIKE P: "I wouldn't meet me at a party, because I don't f**king go to them! How about a restaurant? I'd think, 'What a f**king pig - look how much food that guy's ordering!'."
Any good at relationships?
BILL: "I try. I've failed several. It's a thing you could probably get better at, with practice."
MIKE P: "I haven't had many. But now, it seems to be going well."
RODDY: "Not really, no. But I've been good lately. I've had the same boyfriend for almost two years now. Then again, Faith No More haven't done that much in the last two years, so we'll see..."
How much have you changed as a person since 'The Real Thing'?
RODDY: "I'm probably getting more selfish and less tolerant of people's opinions outside of my own. A band should be, and is, a democracy. But as time goes by, I wish more and more that it was entirely up to me."
MIKE B: "I hope I've got more self confidence and I've learned stuff. Just because I haven't changed my hairstyle in 15 years doesn't mean I can't try to develop my mind!"
BILL: "Up until 'The Real Thing' I didn't have much self-confidence. For years, we did better in England than we did in the States. When 'The Real Thing' happened, it made me confident about taking risks."
MIKE P: "Well, that was my first record and tour. I was up to my neck, and it took me a while to realise it. After that, you have to learn how to rearrange the furniture and make yourself happy. We milked the record to death, and I think we're probably overly cynical because of that. It took a while to rebound from that shit."
What do you do on your time off?
BILL: "Spend time with my dog, computer and girlfriend. I like to get up in the morning and work on the computer until evening. In a way, it's like being a drug addict. You're always chasing something."
RODDY: "I like to see movies.Obscure stuff and big, stupid blockbusters. I just saw an amazing movie called 'Ulysses' Gaze'. Harvey Keitel's in it, and the pacing was excruciating - it's, like, three hours long."
MIKE P: "Make music. I lock myself In a studio. It doesn't make for a very well-rounded, interesting life, but that's what I do. I have a lot of friends to play with in a lot of different groups. Apart from that, dominoes, cards and my Sony Playstation are good."
MIKE B: "I like to be home. Gardening or finding some fucking peace and quiet."
Mr Patton, how many FNM songs do you sing sincerely? Especially in ballads. It's easy to think you're taking the piss.
MIKE P: "People love to rationalise things in ways convenient to them. If people hear (FNM's take an The Commodores') 'Easy' and want to convert that into their own personal little joke..."
But we're talking about how you see it.
MIKE P: "Absolutely not as a joke! The impetus may have been me and Bill in a bar, laughing at the original - covering Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs' started the same way. But all of a sudden, you become the joke and you're playing it every night. How funny can it be? I couldn't tell you much more. I try to enjoy myself, although I don't think it's all about humour. When we write songs, we usually think of them visually. It it needs a scraggly stroke of red, then usually I can provide that."
What's a scraggly stroke of red?
MIKE P: "I can bring out a goofy little paintbrush. Or sometimes it needs a white wall. 'Take This Bottle' sounds like depressing white trash - a guy sitting in this trailer, talking to himself. So in a sense you create a character. If I wrote about my experiences, my feelings and cried on your shoulder for a fucking hour, it would not be a fun record. We're not in this to bare our souls."
Ever encountered drug problems?
BILL: "No, I've been lucky. Of course, denial is the first stage of a problem! But I've never Indulged to such an extent that it would interfere."
MIKE B: "Drugs can sure f**k things up. I'm not particularly obsessive about that stuff, and I never started drinking to any great degree. I have a smoke every once In a while, but nothing more."
MIKE P: "I'm drinking probably a little more vodka than I should, but it feels natural in this environment. Alcohol's the only drug I really enjoy, besides coffee. Where I grew up, In the woods of Northern California, everyone and their f**king dog smoked marijuana. I guess that cured me for the rest of my life. I've been told that speed would do me in, so I've never tried it."
RODDY: "I guess so. I would imagine that anyone who does drugs has downfalls. You start doing heroin in a habitual way and you just get tied up in it..."
You say that so casually...
RODDY: "Well, it's been a while. I was smoking and injecting it whatever was available. Heroin was better than just sitting around, but it wasn't that great a rush. Maybe if you mixed heroin and cocaine, that might be quite exhilarating. But heroin struck me as a more subtle drug than the 'Trainspotting' take on it. The thing about taking your best orgasm and multiplying it by a thousand just looked good in bold print."
So where did your problem start?
RODDY: "It's tough to find drugs in different cities, and then you start getting sick. That was a drag. I don't know why people do heroin."
Why did you do It?
RODDY: (laughing) "I don't know why! It's just another way of pushing the envelope, I guess. These days, I'm a little subtler in the extremes that I go after. I haven't done heroin in almost four years now, but you never know..."
What kind of a drunk are you?
BILL: "Most people don't know that I'm drunk. That's good, except people start buying you more shots. You walk into elevator like you're sober, and then vomit."
RODDY: "I don't get drunk, but I used to be really funny. I would Imagine I was entertaining."
MIKE P: "I don't talk so much. I laugh a little bit, but I'm mainly a thinking, relaxed drunk. I've been told that I'm an asshole, too."
How do you cope with Stress?
BILL: "I eat to kill stress, which is not such a good thing. Walking a dog every day helps, too. Just don't get a bull terrier - they can be a pain in the ass."
RODDY: "Sex and exercise."
MIKE P: "Food. Eating good is one of the hardest things to do - even in your fucking house! But food is the meaning of life. It kills time, it's a great way to socialise. The only time I ever see friends is over a meal. Eating alone is the most depressing thing I can imagine."
Fancy having kids?
BILL: "Definitely. But not while I'm touring. After this, we're gonna take a little break for a year or two, and that would be the time. But kids is a scary one. Imagine the kid crashing your car. Destroying your things. Complaining about the clothes you bought them!"
MIKE P: "No. Big bone of contention! Some people can do it and some can't. I don't know if I could go somewhere knowing what's at home.There's this creature - this thing that you're completely responsible for. It cries, and it doesn't say why it's crying. It's hard enough to take care of a plant, you know?"
What's your attitude towards celebrity?
BILL: "The one time we met celebrities was when 'The Real Thing' hit big. I really didn't like any of the celebrities that I met. It's hard talking to someone who thinks they're king of this world - you wonder where you fit into the conversation."
MIKE P: "YOU can be a celebrity if you wanna be. You can say yes or no, and most of us have said no."
Why are you still doing this?
BILL: "For different reasons to when I started. Now, we've got better as songwriters. I feel the potential of doing things that we couldn't have done before. There are a lot of reasons to leave, but as long as we don't suck we should keep on doing it."
RODDY: "It's hard for me to turn my back on this band's history. Record by record, Faith No More never really sounds the way I'm comfortable with. But a part of me believes some day there might be the perfect Faith No More record that would make me happy."
MIKE P: "I guess the point is try to find new reasons to keep making music. We could have broken up. But when you get to that point you ask yourself, 'Is it worth it or not?'. If the music's still getting you hard, it's worth it."