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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Melody Maker | May 23rd 1992

Is There A Doctrine In The House?

Andrew Mueller.

They're mad, bad and dangerous to know, so why are FNM so bloody popular? Andrew Mueller travelled to riot-born LA to discover what the kings of chaos think about MTV, hoax phone calls to stars, GnR support slots and their new album, 'Angel Dust'. 

ITS FOUR DAYS SINCE THE last petrol cocktail was thrown in anger, 24 hours since the dawn to dusk curfew was lifted, and Los Angeles bears the demeanour of the shell-shocked veteran; dazed by sudden turmoil, tense for the next upheaval, seeking reassurance anywhere its offered. The already notorious air is doubly unbreathable, the smoke trapped alongside the smog by a stubborn lid of cloud. The view from the Hollywood Hills now 

includes pockmarks of gutted rubble punctuating the familiar dusty drabness of the suburbs. Tanks and armoured cars have joined Sunset Strip's more traditional parade of oddities. It came down hard here, no doubt about it. Back on LA's idea of the real world - television - anybody in uniform or in vaguely responsible office, blames everybody else all day, live, more details at nine. The innumerable Oprah-like chat shows have put the my-spouse-left-me-for another man/another woman/an alien/the circus/our daughter/my compulsive exhibitionism stoogeson hold in favour of ghastly concerned urban strife voyeurism. The city's two most famously brutal gangs, the Crips and Bloods, hold a mildly hilarious 

press conference to tie their blue and red bandannas together in an expression of brotherhood and to announce open season on the LAPD. There is serious debate as to the wisdom of arming the fire department. The world, or at least this corner of it, has gone utterly, infuriatingly, upsettingly, excitingly and interestingly mad. And we're here to talk to a rock group.

FORTUNATELY, your Melody Maker is staying at the Hyatt hotel on Sunset, which is possibly the only place in the world this week where you stand a chance of doing such with a straight face. Even the most spectacular civil carnage couldn't wake this place from its endless rock'n'roll dream. All America's constitutionally protected weaponry couldn't stop Van Helen's tour buses from gliding in polished bullets on ice. No amount of Mr Molotov's party tricks could exercise the ghosts of Led Zeppelin's televisions from the corridors. And nothing short of thorough-going demolition could obstruct the irresistible urge the first-time visitor to the rooftop pool feels to start discussing a musical based on the life of Jack The Ripper in a dimwitted English accent Fiddling while Rome burns? Oh, you betcha. Fit to bust our elbows. 

Faith No More, with whom we will shortly be discussing their very fine new album, "Angel Dust", and related things, are up here as well, taking in the view, attempting to harass a drunk in a lot across the street, and fending off the attentions of an MTV film crew. The interviewer, a pitifully clueless specimen who looks like the drummer in an A&R man's idea of a metal band, takes turns in asking two or three of them why they called the album that, where they got their name from and why they covered Black Sabbath's "War Babies" on their last record. (Answers: because they felt like it, they can't remember, and "War Babies" is a Tom Robinson song, Faith No More covered "War Pigs"). 

The three or two not required at any given moment take turns in standing behind the camera suppressing (not!) chortles. Their interrogator bears the wretched expression of the one not entirely sure if he's being laughed with or at, but suspecting probably the latter without quite knowing why. There's one in every classroom. He probably makes more money than any of us."I think" shrugs vocalist Mike Patton between giggles, "he's big with kids in Nebraska or somewhere. I mean, I assume MTV have their reasons."

Patton (he's usually known by his last name) is the most immediately approachable of the five, followed in rapid succession by drummer Mike Bordin, bassist Bill Gould, keyboardist Roddy Bottum (we'll let it go) and guitarist Jim Martin, who says very little and it seems kind of appropriate that way. His unique unique configuration of eyewear, he confides in a rare burst of self-aggrandisement two days later, is the result of losing his pair of combined sunglasses/focals and never really getting it together to replace them. 

Which seems fair enough.

NEXT morning, over breakfast with Bill and Mike, I start with the investigative bit the very moment the grapefruit hits the table, quizzing a visibly startled Bill about his 

legendary hobby of collecting the home phone numbers of certain celebrities and depositing large heaps of virulent abuse on their answering-machines. "Jesus," he says. "How did you know about that?" 

Ah, now that would be telling. "Well," he begins, swiftly deciding that it's best to come clean, "I did have some, quite a number of them in fact, stowed in my little pocket computer. And just the other day, my battery died and I lost all my information. So I'm starting all over again from scratch. But I've got zero celebrity phone numbers now. So if anyone's coming to our shows who's got any...."

He fixes me with something approaching a steely glare. Have you got any?" 

One or two. But they'd probably make the connection. So, uh, whose did you have?

"I couldn't tell you that."

"Good ones," whispers Mike. "The kind that change their numbers after 

you ring them twice. The kind that get results."

What did you say to them? "Depends on the person," replies Bill, working up some steam. "I believe in treating everyone as an individual, with their own set of needs and, uh, weaknesses, ha ha."

Let's pick a hypothetical example then. Say, ooh, completely at random, a famous Irish folk singer known for singing dull songs about ex-managers in a voice like a car alarm. Who might not be Irish. 

"Well," says Bill, warming to the point, "what you'd do, with this alleged famous Irish folk singer who is female and bald, is call up at, say, 11pm San Francisco time, which is five in the morning English time, and then.. "


"Theoretically, you'd wait for her answering-machine to go off and then you, or a friend of yours, would talk about a particular sexual encounter involving Lenny K..."

Let's make that an imaginary reconstructed hippy with a sad Lennon fixation. And, quickly. 

"Ah, okay. And then listen to this particular person's boyfriend pick up the phone and hang up. That's pretty much how a hypothetical conversation with this theoretical bald Irish singer would go."

Mike is highly impressed with the line of questioning thus far. 

"Boy, you don't mess around, do you?" 

You'd be surprised. Do you have any strange hobbies? 

"Being normal amid the other four."

THOSE among you who've never been invited to spend a day out on a pop video shoot may simulate the experience in the comfort and privacy of your own home by installing a partially working pool table in your lounge, removing the vertical hold on your television, laying out insufficient amounts of rancid food on the kitchen table and getting a few friends in to charge about waving clipboards and shouting. 

Its the next day, and in a studio lot somewhere in the wilds of Burbank, this is exactly what we're doing in the name of a clip for the album's first single, "Midlife Crisis", a glorious, enormously likeable stomper with a glorious, likeably enormous chorus and Patton' s trademark snarl delivering some terrific lines about menstruating  hearts and the like. 

The idea seems to revolve mostly around Faith No More as a re-incarnated Village People (mechanic, commando, hippy, gangster, um, drummer) who stomp around a sandlot hitting things with a shovel. This is all great fun for at least the first nine hours. In off-moments. Faith No More pass the time signing jovial obscenities on Promotional album covers and taking in the series finale of "Beverly Hills 90210". (The dim bulb blond shags the home help while her mum marries the class geek's father and Dylan gets bladdered and has a ruck with Shannon's dad. God, but I'm cruel.) 

They also find time to discuss the album and upcoming support spot with Guns N'

Roses with the patient journalist. Patton is quick to warn that he is perhaps not on top form, regarding the imminent and extensive promotional schedule for the new record like most of us look forward to Christmas with the relatives. 

"Yeah. I can't decide if I'm not used to it, or if I've just started hating it. Maybe both. Maybe I'm just not really any good at it any more."

Have you done much? 

"No," he sighs. "That's the frightening bit."

Patton knows. Faith No More know, with tired certainty, that hacks of every medium from here to Timbuktu are going to want to know why they've made such a wilfully perverse new LP when enormous stardom was apparently there for the taking in the wake of 1989's "The Real Thing" LP and crossover smash single "Epic". The album contains Holy Joy-ish laments ("RV"), children's choruses ("Be Aggressive"), an instrumental, accordion-led John Barry cover ("Midnight Cowboy") all jammed into the band's more familiar and no less fantastic tangled, twisted visions of rock'n'roll. It's a madhouse. It's also rather brilliant. 

Given the easy option of picking three adjectives each. Faith No More are as weary as they are deadpan as they are hilarious. All of the following are delivered as if recorded at 45 and played at 33.


"Over... The... Top." 

"Heavy... F***ing... Metal." "Funk...O'... Metal." 

"Works... For... Me."

"Tastes... Real... Neat."

"I... Love... It." 

Moving. .Right.. .Along, we come to the question of the GN'R support. Faith No More are looking forward to it hugely and cheerfully admit that it's "probably a career move, but what the hell". When pressed, they also own up to more workaday motivations. 

"It'll be interesting," ponders Roddy, "to tap into the Guns N' Roses camp, their little soap opera. So then I can tell all my friends what Axl does in his spare time."

Can you empathise with him at all? I mean, can you see yourselves ever

being that big? 

"I honestly don't think we're that, uh, likable." 

"Now," concurs Patton, "I don't think we can reach that many people. I don't think our appeal is that wide." 

Impeccably judged silence. 

"I don't think we're that good, is what I'm trying to say." Patton's 

timing would shame Paul Merton.

ROUND about here, the interview kind of loses it when people at the same table ask, with that total, wide-eyed sincerity where Faith No More came up with the name. Truly. Without blinking, Patton spins some lovely nonsense about it being the name of a horse upon which the then nascent combo won a sufficient fortune to pay for equipment, management and the takeover of a record company. 

Wow, they say, you really went out  and bought a whole label, just like that. 

"Goddamn right," winks Patton.

"Pretty damn inspirational, doncha reckon?" 

There's no arguing with that. Everyone at the table is united in thinking - if for wildly different reasons - that that's a hell of an inspirational story. 

And you did it, they say and shake their heads disbelievingly. By yourselves, without the majors. 

"F**k 'em," declares Patton. "F**k 'em all, man. F** majors."

Another magnificent silence.

"I haven't liked him since he was in 'The Fall Guy'."

No one bats an eyelid. No one listens to the famous.

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