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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

HMV Magazine | December 1990


Riding high on the belated success of their album, The Real Thing, erstwhile fringe-metal artists Faith No More reflect on the obnoxiousness of their early days, the studly-ness of Billy Idol and the cushy-ness of the arena circuit... Meanwhile (you read it here first!),

guitarist Jim Martin considers his career options...

HOW AUSPICIOUS IT IS TO BE ABLE TO LEAD the cover story of HMV's debut issue with a scoop: the frightening truth about Faith No More's Jim Martin.

"I'm an aspiring accountant," confesses the lanky guitarist. "I'm disillusioned. with this whole thing. I'd like to get out of music altogether and establish an accounting firm or maybe just work. for one. That way I could just go to work, go home and then forget about it."

Until further notice we'll have to assume he's kidding, although nothing in his poker-faced manner indicates that he is. Fresh out of an interview with a guitar magazine (his fave pickers are Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Michael Schenker and B. B. King), Martin has just walked in on the home stretch of a conversation with two of his bandmates: keyboard man Roddy Bottum and singer Mike Pat- ton. (Otherwise occupied are drummer Mike "Puffy" Bordin and bassist Billy Gould.) The setting is a small hospitality room in Warner Brothers' Manhattan office. There's been a party here recent- ly, and the walls of the room are covered with promo material for a wet-lipped cutey-pie named Betty Boo. None of the band members present knows anything much about her either, except that she resembles the title character of the movie Betty Blue in appearance as well as in name.

But as everyone should know by now, Faith No More's third and latest album, The Real Thing (on Slash/Warner Bros.), is the sleeper sensation of 1990, a late-blooming LP that has sold more than sufficiently well to keep Jim Martin a safe distance from the temptations of number-crunching. Recorded early in '89. and released that summer, within a few months The Real Thing had edged meekly onto the charts and slid back off again. So much for that or so it appeared for a while. But then, in the spring and sum- mer of 1990, the album surged back with a vengeance, smack dab into the Bill- board Top 20. Accepted wisdom has it that this second wind was egged on by a Grammy nomination and a well-rotated video for "Epic," an adrenalin-stirring metal/rap anthem with a taunting chorus - "You want it all, but you can't have it!" which seems to confer some weird kind of dignity on frustration..

The band itself was pretty frustrated when The Real Thing initially failed to make much of a dent on the market. "We gave it up for a while," admits the affable Roddy Bottum, his dirty-blond hair cropped to the scalp on the sides, long on top and at the back. "When we put it out, I thought for sure that this record would do really well. I was really cocky about it. Really proud.

"But we got a lot of slaps in the face. We were ignored for the better part of a year. I mean, we got good press every- where we went, but the record just wouldn't sell. We kept joking amongst ourselves we still do..."

"Currently residing in the 'Where Are They Now?' file," interjects the just-as- affable Mike Patton, colorfully attired, his long brown hair shot through with garish streaks of reddish orange.

"But then we did that video and MTV started playin' the hell out of it," continues Roddy. "It was really happening in England, and I think that started to trick- le over here. And that Grammy thing. It kind of all came together."

As a result, this fall the band has found itself in the opening slot of Billy Idol's North American tour, playing wham- bam, 40-minute sets to Idolatrous fans who, if tonight's audience at the Meadowlands arena in New Jersey is typical, are more than appreciative of FNM. Of course, being upstanding mem-bers of the MTV generation, they're positively exultant when the band closes its set with "Epic" (and almost as exultant for the encore, a touchingly sincere version of the Commodores' "Easy").

You might expect that FNM, a band notorious for turning in foot- loose 90-minute shows riddled with spontaneous musical and theatrical shenanigans (tossed-off cover songs, kamikaze stage dives, Mike-the- O singer's infamous Robocop mask) would feel somewhat fettered by their current pared-down sets, per- formed for what Mike refers to as "a popcorn-and-Coke crowd." And you'd be right, but the boys don't mind being a little fettered for the time being.

"Sometimes we really overdo it," says Mike of the band's feature- length gigs. "It's good to just go in, do it and get off when you're just starting to break a sweat. Then you can fool around for the rest of the night."

There are other fringe benefits, notes Roddy. "I love it! It's really cushy. We've been touring for the last year playing every night, for the most part. These big arena tours are routed pretty comfort- ably, so you're not doing really long drives. You get catered meals every night and days off all over the place."

And how do they find Mr. Idol himself? "He's a studly guy to watch!" Mike acknowledges. "Real slick, real suave."

"He's a sex god!" chimes in Roddy. "He's like the ultimate sex...Idol. It's interesting just to watch the way he works the audience."

Patton singles out one crowd-pleasing trick in particular: "He does this rope-dick

thing, like..." Rendered speechless by the complexity of said bit of stagecraft, Mike stands up to demonstrate, grinning lewdly and pulling hand-over-hand on an imaginary cord extending from his crotch, as if reeling in a voluptuous mermaid with a length of phallic fishing line. A cool move, for sure, but one to be used only with the utmost discretion...

"I tried it once," recalls Mike soberly, back in his seat. "It didn't work so well." "He did get a couple of screams," says Roddy reassuringly.

Then Chuck got the boot. "We thought it had run its course and we had a vote and that was that," says Roddy.

Jim had been toting around a tape by a local "pornographic" thrash-funk band called Mr. Bungle and recommended Mike Patton, Mr. Bungle's singer, as Mosely's replacement. "I don't know why they were impressed by me," wonders Patton, who continued working on-and- off with the Bungle bunch after joining FNM. (Nowadays, they just talk on the phone a lot.) "On that tape I didn't even

"I don't think people really bought it, sing. That was back when we were real though," concludes Mike. primitive sounding...GRRARRGH!...just growling and yelling."

Patton, at 22, is the baby of the band; the rest of the members are in their late 20s. He's also the newest member, having replaced the original singer, Chuck Mosely, almost two years ago, just before the band started recording The Real Thing. (Mosely, by the way, has recently been touring the club circuit as a solo acoustic act.)

Faith No More took seed in 1982, when Roddy, Mike Bordin and Billy Gould got together in the Bay area that the band still calls home. "The three of us started playing shows, switching around guitar players and singers all the time just for variety," recollects Roddy. "We tried to do a different show every time we played and to make our shows, At first we went on stage to annoy people for a couple of years.

"Then we decided it'd be a good time to put out a record, and we settled on Jim playing guitar. Him and Chuck had been playing with us for about a year when we put our first record out [1986's We Care A Lot, on the Mordam label." Let's back up a bit, though. What was the band like in the very early days?

"Mostly it was really cyclical riffs one thing over and over: BOOM, BOOM...BOOM, BOOM, for, like, 10 minutes," says Roddy. "And then we'd play really obnoxious MTV cover versions and stuff. It was a time in San Francisco when everyone was kinda dressing in black and being very poetic and intense. So we'd wear dresses or bright colors and annoy people. We always thought we were the best things in town. We thought: Wow! This is a new form of music and only we know how to do it!"

Evidently they weren't the only ones impressed. On the strength of We Care A Lot, FNM signed with the well-connected Slash label. In 1987, Slash released the band's second album, Introduce Yourself, which included a blistering remake of We Care A Lot's snottily acerbic title song.

The choice has been well vindicated by now, however. Patton's voice may lack the punked-out irony of Mosely's, but it's a far more flexible instrument. No way could Chuck have crooned "Easy" - not without making it sound like a complete pisstake, anyway. And, at the other end of the cover spectrum, Patton sounds like a virtual ringer for the great and wonderful Oz in FNM's rendition of Black Sab- bath's "War Pigs."

Faith No More will be on the road at least until early 1991. (The schedule includes, among other things, two weeks opening for Robert Plant, a week in Japan and an appearance on Saturday Night Live.) Then it'll be time at last to start work on a new recording.

Will there be any radical changes in store this time out?

"Radical? What's radical?" demands Jim Martin. "A jazz-fusion album," he chortles in answer to his own question.

"I'm kinda thinkin' I'd like to do some kind of doowop ballad or something," muses Mike.

"A big, symphonic, doowop, country ballad," suggests Jim. "With rap and metal in it."

"Yeah," agrees Mike. "People wouldn't know it's us if we didn't put that in."

"It was a trick, a cunningly crafted marketing move," reveals Jim. "We figured if we put rap and metal together, we might be able to do something with ourselves. And, by God, it worked!"

Once again, Jim has laid bare an unsettling and heretofore unglimpsed side of the band. Such cynicism! The interviewer is prompted to wonder aloud whether being in Faith No More is starting to feel like, well...a job.

"It feels that way a lot of the time," replies Mike.

"No," says Jim. "Actually a job would be a lot easier. If I was an accountant..."

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