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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Loudmouth | 1997

The Unforgiving

Jeremy Sheaffe

Calling it Album of The Year sets Faith No More up. But as founding member Mike Bordin explains, it's an album title that works on many levels, just like the album itself

Faith No More have spent the last 12 months of their lives making the Album Of The Year. They

have also spent that time keeping away from reporters and press hounds, focusing all their efforts on re-discovering the fire that made them so powerful to start with. They have not allowed the rumour mongers or the pressures of success, both critical and financial, to interfere with that process.

It's a process they are familiar with, but once more they found themselves looking not only for inspiration but another new guitar player.

Calling from Amsterdam, Holland, founding member/rhythm man and drummer for the reunited Black Sabbath line-up to boot) Mike

Bordin explains where Faith No More are at and how they got there. "Primarily this is a tour to go speak to journalists, do photos, stuff like that, but also we are playing some shows, which is great. We played one show the day before yesterday and we're playing another show tonight in Amsterdam. It's not so much of a full on tour because the record's not gonna be out for a while, we're just playing smaller places.

I have to say that unlike many of your peers, Faith No More keep out of the press very well indeed. It's been very hard to get information about Album Of The Year. But now it's time to promote the album, I suppose it's a good time to get that information, right?

Well, there you go... I think getting in the papers every day is a deliberate move too. If you want to go looking for it, you know... If you want tomatoes you plant tomato seeds, y'know. We've never been ones for that, we've never been comfortable with that and probably in a lot of ways it hasn't been great for our careers. Everyone is different and everyone has to be reasonably comfortable with what they're doing. I think you could possibly take it even further and say, "Oh you know, everybody's making these rumours about band breaking up" and we didn't even er to respond to them, hoping that all

the while this new record would prove that we hadn't - it comes to that really.

None of us are too excited about hearing ourselves talk.

Keeping quiet also leads to plenty of questions, however, so let's start by finding out what happened to Dean Menta. Why did he leave?

He is probably in LA still. After the tour and as we said we were going to do - we had to see if we could write with Dean. Pretty much the standard response to that question is "We really like Dean, we are really glad he stepped in when he lid, but we had to find out if we could write with him." We wanted to write with him, we wanted everything to work beautifully with him, so we came in and started writing. We gave it four or five months, and we just wrote songs. We wrote heaps of songs but they had nothing to do with... We kept running into walls, and we realised after that we needed another guitar player. And it was a bummer, honestly, and kinda sad, but we knew that was the bottom line, the acid test of the whole thing.

At that point we had several songs that Billy, Roddy and myself had written that would hopefully entice Dean to get into the mix, as it was, and Mike wasn't around. So Billy, Roddy and myself went in at the beginning of last year and recorded those songs, and that's what really became the demo for the guitar player we have now [John Hudson], who is a permanent guy. He is absolutely in and there is no waffling about it. As I sit here and talk to you he is definitely in Faith No More. And since then he has actually written two songs, which are the first two songs on the album. Which is great, because you can say whatever you want... Jim didn't like us or we didn't like Jim, whatever, but the bottom line is that whatever guitar player you are talking about, all we want out of them, and we've said this all along, all we wanted was to be able to write songs with them. They need to be able to give us the aggression we need on guitar, maybe understand where we are coming from and maybe even like it a little bit. My feeling about it is, and people can certainly disagree if they want, it's really good that we made the last album we did. Even though we had to juggle people, it was good for us.

When we made our last record John was in a band called Systems Collapse, just a local band who didn't do much, but we all knew them, especially their keyboard player, and there was no way we were going to steal their guitar player.

Billy's known John since about the beginning of this band, like 12 years. Billy got John accustomed to playing with us by listening to those four songs that we recorded last year.

You say 'get accustomed to playing in Faith No More'.

Was that an easier process because John came from a band that had a keyboard player?

I would imagine that's true, because John not only composes songs on guitar but on keyboards too. I think that is a big part of relating to this band. It's no small matter that he actually likes what we've done, we always knocked heads with our old guitar players for years. For years... you just don't want to know, it's not even any fun to talk about it. It's a small thing like that which we are not used to.

Normally it was, "I'm gonna play this but I don't really want to", now it's "I'm gonna do this and I'm gonna do that". It's great!

Shit, creativity's a beautiful thing and it should be encouraged. If you don't have it, if it's not in the situation, whether that is a commercially successful situation or not, if you don't have creativity, show some balls and show some heart - change what you are doing. Make it honestly better.

Given that your last album, King for A Day... Fool For A Lifetime got the thumbs

down in the US, you could have reacted by making an album you know would have sold. Returned to the style of The Real Thing. I don't think you've done that.

The only formula Faith No More has ever had, and I know this is an old cliché, is really no formula. I know it's a cliché but I think our records show it. But there's a couple of things I could say about that record and the way it worked for us. Number one, I think it was really aggressive in the way that the songs were selected and sat together, it was like buckets of iced water down your back, know what I mean? A lot of very abrupt stuff. It was a big middle finger, a big blow off of steam because we had gone through a hell of a lot. It was a clearing out and cleaning out, which I won't apologise for. Maybe that aggressiveness, the commercial, you know, friendliness, softness, whatever gets lost, but it's not for me to say.

The other thing is we didn't have as much of a keyboard player as we would've liked.

I was just going to ask about that.

When Roddy's Imperial Teen project came out he seemed to be very unstable, he'd suffered some loss and was not coping very well. You and Billy have known him for many, many years now, is it good to have him back?

That's the point, and I won't make apologies for what we've done because it's important to get from there to here, and I might just jump your question if you were going to ask it, about how's it feel that everyone's done all these other things. Everybody's working on a whole bunch of different and interesting sidelines. The thing about all that stuff that has gone on for the last year has boiled down to mean that all of us made the effort to come and do this record because we wanted to do it. It wasn't like we didn't have anything better to do and we had spare time between a cigarette break and the pub being open, it was that we made time and effort to come and do this right. We made this record because we wanted to. After so many years and after so much water has gone under the bridge, it was important for us to have life rather than death. Life is the creativity and healthy interest in doing it rather than saying, "This is what I do, so I'd better go and do it!". You'd be surprised, that probably happens more times than not, especially after years together. So I'm real gratified for that and for a lot of other reasons. Also, we've been playing together for so many years and we still have creativity. Our creativity is growing and expanding outside our box. At this point in life it seems that most people are just in a holding pattern, doing the same thing, waiting to retire. I'm proud of all my guys that this is not the case and I think they are all still growing and developing.

Particularly Mike Patton. He's the youngest out of the band and he lives in Italy...

He lives in San Francisco and he lives in Italy.

Does that make things doubly difficult?

Well, they've got telephones there,

Federal Express there. Geographically it's not that difficult because when he's not doing this he's always doing something else. I picked up one thing and Roddy's doing another thing and Billy, to his credit, spent the last year doing this - and the album title reflects that. While I was out touring with Ozzy, while Mike and Roddy were doing other things, John and Billy were working on this album. There was always work being done, just by different groups of people at different stages.

That shows an enormous amount of faith the band has in it's parts.

Oh definitely, that's a big part of this band. In some ways it's fabulous and in other ways it is umm, unforgiving. In just the way that this is the kind of band where if someone makes a mistake, like 1 did the other night at the first show, something really minor, but somebody after the song was like, "Alright, you made the mistake". It's a certain pack mentality in that sense, where it's like you do it and you do it well otherwise you're gonna have to explain why. It's been like that for a long time and I think that comes from being young and believing in ourselves. All I'm saying is that I think we all expect a lot from each other.

Or having a lot of faith in each other, which goes against what Billy once told me the band name meant.

Well, it obviously means different things to different people. But I think what he says doesn't mean much to some people, for sure. Faith No More used to have a period after Faith. Which, if you think about it for too long, really changes the whole meaning of the thing.

Let's talk about your producer, Roli Mosimann, the man known for his work with electronic bands like the Young Gods, who we know FNM are fans of...

The thing about Roli for me is, really simply, that he is obviously experienced with heavy music but also very experienced with bands who have songs that are very well put together. We have always tried to write better and better songs and we don't make that a secret.

It's a good combination of stuff that is very heavy but is also very technology friendly, I guess. He could do what was appropriate and add finishing touches or touches that we didn't necessarily see.

And I think that if any band deserves that, I mean we have always been there, on the cusp of that kinda progression. We've always been called different things at different times when we've been selling different records and in different countries. But there's a whole time line that somebody laid out that really astounds me, and it goes something like this... When it was 1985 and college radio was finding its voice and they were playing Tears For Fears and the early Warner Bros REM stuff, we were a college radio band, but we weren't. Then all of a sudden the big hair heavy metal got really big and a couple of metal bands said they liked our music. So we got called heavy metal after that, but we weren't really. We had a hit record with a single off our record that didn't sound anything like any of the other songs on that record, so we were 'funk metal', but we really weren't. After that Nevermind had come out and changed the universe, so we got related to that, some of the younger grunge bands, and we weren't.

And on and on and it's been that way now for fuckin' 12 or 14 years.

Which is basically saying that Faith No More have just missed out on the mega mainstream success? Particularly in your

I think that comes back to what we were saying about the press. You gotta work at it and you gotta keep yourselves in everyone's faces, and we are just not that comfortable with that. It's like that thing between your legs, you gotta sorta massage it sometimes to keep it hard, and that's what America is like. Sort of like that, look at it like that. But I'm not saying that it's worse there than it is anywhere else.

"It's my belief that this record we have is of ample quality that anyone, no matter what language they speak, can relate to it. I think this is a damn good record, and not one that is just some good songs put together, but good songs that hang together and make it a good record.

We've been hearing things and I don't know if it's because the record company said it, but that it's a return to form. But I think Mike sings better, he's found his voice and is comfortable with it and is a hell of a lot more effective with it. Also, you can listen to the whole album back to front and there are no buckets of cold water falling on your head, no dirty tricks. t's not for me to say that Faith No More is a good band, or that Faith No More is a bad band, or a ridiculous band, but I can say that Faith No More is an honest band and believe it.

That's the only thing I can say to you and still feel good about myself. And if that is the way you are, then you're hanging your toes over the edge and everybody knows that from the beginning. We are not saying, "Here, this is a picture of us now, but don't fall in love with it. Chances are we are not going to be like this again", everyone knows we are going to change and develop because we have always said that is what we are going to do. It is down to the combinations of people that we have in a band. You can pick a one-combination lock real easy because you only have 10 choices, but when you have a two-number lock it becomes like 100, I think, and that's how it is with the band.

Two songs on Album Of The Year, Ashes To Ashes and Paths Of Glory really stand out because everyone got a writing credit on them and they are the ones that actually sound like Faith No More. I don't mean like old Faith No More, I mean...

You don't have to say anything else, I know exactly what you mean. That's right, it sounds - hopefully - like the best of what we've done in the past but also what we sound like now. What you said just then, what you just said, means we did the right things. That we did the right thing to replace Jim and that we did the right thing taking this long fucking journey to get this record out. It means it was worth our effort to make this record.

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