Yup, Faith No More are back and Mike Patton's still got his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. Their new LP 'Angel Dust' has ruffled a few feathers at the record company but thankfully, Faith Mo More still don't give a shit. Chris Watts was dispatched to Los Angeles to catch the band shooting a video for their up-coming single 'Midiife Crisis', and uncovered Big Jim Martin and co's welcome return to their MTV-hostile roots...
Kerrang! | Issue 393 | May 23, 1992.
'Sure, We Can Compare Ourselves To Gods' by Chris Watts
FOR YOUR information, Los Angeles is a piss-factory. On one hand they've burnt down the ghettos of South Central and Compton. They've even firebombed Fredericks'
lingerie superstore on Hollywood Boulevard to prove that all that glitters makes great firewood.
Domestic TV coverage of the riots has reached saturation level. On the other hand, life in LA simply has to go on. You can still join the aerobics and fitness militia on Channel 13 or order omelette's on room service from the lisping faggot waiters with their sparkling teeth and bouffant haircuts. It's a fitting place to meet Faith No More. High up beside the hotel roof pool, Roddy Bottum and Bill Gould face the cameras. It's the same setting chosen by Spinal Tap for their end-of-tour party in the ancient rockumentary. MTV's Rikki
Rachtmann tells the keyboard player and bassist how much he likes their new album. "It's a much bigger album, isn't it, guys? I love it! I hear you used a completely new recording desk?" "Oh, man," Mike Patton chuckles, "look at Rod's face!" Roddy listens stonily to Rikki's stream of banality. Eventually, the host of America's 'Headbangers Ball' asks him about the band's notorious cover of "Black Sabbath's 'War Babies' "! Patton collapses.
into laughter. Years ago the singer once explained to a British journalist that the band covered 'War Pigs' because they all loved Led Zeppelin!
Left to their own devices, Faith No More would not be here at all. Down there in a derelict patch of Ewan estate beside the Hyatt, Mike Patton watches a vagrant dig the earth with his bare hands. "The meaning of life I guess," he sighs, "I don't think people will like this record at all!"
FOUR YEARS ago Faith No More played their first European date at London's Dingwalls club. Chuck Mosley blacked out his face, sported a rasta frightwig and spazzed it up like a cartoon. 'The Real Thing' was 18 months away and nobody quite knew what to make of it all. Certainly, no one could predict the Platinum success of The Real Thing, the five Bammy and numerous Band Of The Year awards which followed.
Faith No More were the hairy, rubbery, logical conclusion to Thrash Metal. When Mike Patton (now known to the band by his surname only to avoid confusion with Mike 'Puffy' Bordin) replaced Chuck in January 1989, the band were complete. 'The Real Thing' turned into a monster and one of the few classics of the decade. Everybody else was pissing into the wind in comparison. It was fun and sick and gleaming and priceless. Funk Metal (now long buried six feet under) was an insult. Compared to the one-hit wonder of their 'Introduce Yourself debut, 'The Real Thing' became a yardstick for the mainstream. One magazine even described it as 'the only Heavy Metal album worth having in your collection'!
Right now, the problems of releasing a successor are being calmed by the band and management. Outsiders have even suggested that Faith No More could never better 'The Real Thing'. Is there any point in releasing another record at all? "We have to," comments Jim Martin, hillbilly death guitarist. "We're legally obliged to release more records. We can't split up just to preserve our historical integrity. That's all very nice to think about, but the truth is we're due another record. Here it is. Can I bum a cigarette?"
Despite THE guitarist's words, the task of re-launching Faith No More across the world on the back of 'Angel Dust' is causing some people sleepless nights. What did Patton mean when he said that no one is going to like this record? "It means that the record company got really scared when they heard the finished album," says Roddy Bottum. "That was the only way we knew we'd done something right. If they'd liked it then something would be wrong.
There were a lot of worried faces before we started mixing."
"Don't you think it's great to see someone twitch?" Patton asks. "You know, they get really nervous? That happened with our record company. They tried working on each of us individually, persuading us that we didn't know what we were doing.
They said it would alienate fans of 'The Real Thing' Ideally they'd like another 'Epic' on there somewhere," "What does that mean?" queries Jim. "They Just wanted our last record, period. Anything that would make their job easier " Patton: "This way they're going to work hard because they're worried about their house payments!"
Record companies get nervous when bands talk like this. Faith No More love it.
ANGEL DUST is, in fact, a big step sideways. Produced, like "The Real Thing', by Matt Wallace and Faith No More, on the surface the new record is another slice of state-of-the-art junk. To original fans of 'Introduce Yourself' it is a welcome return to Faith No More's MTV-hostile roots. To fans of the far more commercial 'Epic' and 'Falling To Pieces' singles, however, 'Angel Dust' is going to be a cruel surprise. Surprise, you're dead. Is it any good?
"It's just weirder," says Roddy. "The record company said it was 'a little bit too far left-field' That means it's less rock. They also accused of us 'gratuitous sampling'".
Patton: "What was that great phrase they used? 'Too much role-playing in the vocals'? That was their fault anyway!"
"Why compare it to 'The Real Thing'?" asks Jim. "We're tired of The Real Thing'. We toured it for three years. Is it any good? You tell us, man. It's so f**king fickle."
LIKE FAITH No More themselves, their third studio album is awkward, graceful and schizo. From the familiar industrial funk of 'Land Of Sunshine' and 'Caffeine' to the jokey Country and Western of 'RV and the heavily instrumental, typically titled 'Jizzlobber', 'Angel Dust' is a problem child. ls it the big deal it will doubtless become?
"That sounds pompous and self-important," Puffy says. "We're generally just very f**king thrilled. It could've been awkward but in the end the only tough thing about making this record was making the best one possible. Having to follow a successful record was not important to us. The last one, do you?" Maybe not yet.
"I hope you get to like it as much. It'll grow on you. If I were a fan and I knew a band had been touring a record for two or three years I'd be expecting something different. I'd be expecting something like this. But..." "You want us to explain our music with words," Jim interrupts. "If we could do that then we wouldn't need music. Anything you write will be misrepresented anyway. Let's go back to the very beginning of Journalism. Do you see any quotes from God in the Bible? I can compare it to that."
"F**k, man," Patton exclaims. "Yeah, sure, we can compare ourselves to
JUST ONE day on the set of a rock video shoot will prove that God is dead. 20 hours Faith No More are stuck in a shed with a Californian film crew and the entire supporting cast of lackeys, go-fers, fetch-its and bozos. All this, at a cost of 200 grand, to supply the likes of Rikki Rachtmann with a four-minute-and-18-second promo clip for the first single, 'Midlife Crisis'.
The plot has eluded just about everybody save director Kevin Kerslake. Kerslake has directed videos for the likes of Soundgarden, Mr Bungle and Nirvana. He's Puffy and Gould's mate and consequently trusted implicitly.
"Which is Just as well," the drummer comments, "otherwise there's no way we'd be doing all this shit!"
The plot involves the band dressing up as a telephone engineer (Patton), a desert stormtrooper (Big Jim) and a '20s gangster (Gould). It'll probably be art eventually.
During a break for lunch, Jim Martin finds the nearest Tex-Mex homeboy bar and settles down for a game of pool and a Jug of cold beer.
Big Jim has his priorities sorted. The guitarist will talk fondly of his travels to Scotland and up into the mountains just outside San Francisco. Nothing much seems to bug Big Jim, "I love it in Britain," he comments. "You're always within walking distance of a pub! I'd like to spend more time there knowing I don't have to play a gig in the evening. Just to travel around for a bit as a tourist."
THE VIDEO shoot marks the end of a period of stability for Faith No More. The following months will see 'Angel Dust' released to a gagging public, preceded by two months of touring supporting Guns N' Roses in Europe. "Right now we're going through the first stages of the touring process," says Bill Gould. "There's always a bit of resistance at first because we've been used to the comforts of home. We're used to cooking breakfast in a kitchen! "We're gearing up now. We're getting used to doing interviews and stuff again. It's like a cold bath - a bit of a shock but you get used to it after a while. The last time out we didn't really know what to expect. This time we know."
"It's like the old days are back again," says Jim. "The only difference is that we now have a bigger bus."
Patton: "Promoting the band in interviews can be awkward but it's our job. feel like an ass hole no matter what I say I feel like a wet rag. A bad interview is an exercise in how to bullshit. My first instinct is to lie!" "Sometimes you don't really have to be there at all," comments Jim, whose standard photo pose is to stand immobile in one position for as long as it takes.
"All they need is your presence. No one wants to really know what you think."
Patton: "It makes me sick. It's like a porno movie at times. You know when they pan in right up close on the insertion and you just don't want to see it? That's Faith- No More." "It's still as chaotic as it ever was," says Bill Gould. "We're not businessmen. Maybe we seem like we sometimes don't give a f**k, even about our own jobs and each other, but for us it's like sitting together in our living room.
"There are never business things hanging over anyone's head like songwriting splits and stuff.
"It's fun and comfortable but chaotic. It takes us two months to decide on a T-shirt design! It took us two months to come up with the album cover!"
THAT'S THE worst thing about Faith No More? Bill frowns for a minute. "Probably the bad aspects are having five headstrong people who won't listen to each other. We don't give as much of a f**k as we should because we're collectively cynical. When it's bad it's really bad."
Bad enough to disintegrate? "No, not that bad, but there's a lot of bullshit out there. Sometimes it's hard to be there with it. Like doing that thing with MTV yesterday? That left a really bad taste in my mouth. "It's difficult to be patient with the bullshit that came with our last record. When we first started playing we were smart-arses! If we didn't like someone then we'd tell them to f**k off! We were sharp ind trying to be taken seriously. We're still the same people but because of our success we're in a position where we almost have to give in. We've had to learn tolerance and that's a compromise none of us enjoy."
Do you ever feel like a real ass hole being in Faith No More? "Sometimes," the bassist grins. "Definitely! It's an unnatural thing. There's a good chemistry when it works but being in a band is not like it was 20 years ago. People and their chemistry cannot last forever
Sometimes you go through a creative and mental dead spot and you wonder why you bother! But that's just a human rhythm and it passes. "What keeps the band
together is having a dream and making it real. We're all bonded with this thing. This is what we do. I don't want to leave and so it must be a good thing. We're getting closer to what it all means all the time.
"If anything we're following our souls, our own voices. Hopefully people will learn from us that it's okay to be in a band and have a sense of humour Faith No More get rewarded for helping to sell the myth of rock 'n' roll."
I LEAVE Faith No More in the piss factory with Mike Patton hanging from a cardboard tree in the name of art. The band that went out to save rock 'n' roll are back in the ring. Stand by your jukeboxes. "What we hope this record will achieve," says Bill Gould, "is to give the band more creative power for the future. We're trying to buy our freedom. We're Just stretching our wings a little."
"What we've basically decided since 'The Real Thing'," announces Mike
Patton, "is that what we have as a band is worth listening to. It's our job to entertain the masses!"