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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Metal Forces | 1989

The More The Merrier

Rob Clymo



It was a strange feeling, ironic even, to be standing behind the mixing desk at the

Marque watching FAITH NO MORE sound-check on the first two nights towards the end of their UK tour in October.

Ironic in that for a long time I'd had mixed opinions about the Californian five piece. They've always had plenty to offer on record but I was yet to be convinced by their live performance, something which had stemmed from a couple of things in the past.

My initial doubtfulness was mainly instigated when I first heard about the band in early '87. A blaze of publicity surrounded them which culminated when they embarked on their first visit to these shores at the beginning of '88.

Certainly not to knock the band at all, l stifled many a yawn when I read all those gushing statements about how good they were going to be, prior to the shows.

After all, we'd seen and heard it all before from some of those mags, with claims like 'This band is going to be huge' or ‘That band are going to be megastars.’

Still, it was only fair that the band be checked out anyway and hence I caught my first glimpse of 'em at a Marquee show in February of that year. As I recall, good though that night was, I remained somewhat skeptical and remember having a very long and totally pointless argument with someone on the train home, disputing his claims as to how brilliant they were. To me, something was missing.

Blatant cynicism I'll agree, but the band did exude an air of extreme inner turmoil and gave the impression onstage that at any moment things would rapidly dissolve into chaos, in a way that was half their charm I suppose. Well, events have borne that out as we've since seen the original vocalist Chuck Moseley ousted. He was a character for sure, but by far the weakest link in the chain. With the addition of Mike Patton it now looks like the jigsaw has been completed and on the whole FAITH NO MORE haven't looked back since.

So, as i say, here I am at the Marquee to interview 'em. Never thought I'd see the day I must admit. For some reason METAL FORCES appears to be lagging behind in charting the bands progress. I suspect that in the past FAITH NO MORE were perhaps considered not metal enough to warrant inclusion, but with our ever increasing outlook combined with the fact that "The Real Thing", the bands third album, sports more of a metallic edge than their previous two outings, it's about time we did some catching up.

Of course, the obvious choice would be to talk to lively frontman Patton but instead I opted for bassist Bill Gould, along with drummer Mike Bordin, the rhythm section that's been a part of the FAITH NO MORE story from the beginning alongside Jim Martin (guitars) and Roddy Bottom (keyboards).

Languishing in the splendour (cough) of the Marquee's dressing room we begin by going back to the early days and the band's first album, “We Care A Lot" on the small US indie label Mordam.

"We'd had a really difficult time in the Bay Area," begins Bill. "We were kind of different, even around there at the time and found it really difficult getting shows and stuff. Then we had this idea that we should put together all the money that we could get hold of, which ended up being about 3,000 dollars between four of us. Chuck didn't contribute. We were just sick of it at the time, doing all those shows and not being able to get out there and do more things."

"It was like you'd send all these tapes to the stupid fuckin' record companies and nothing ever happened." declares Mike.

"So we booked three days in the studio." continues Bill. "That was with Matt Wallace (producer) and came out with the first side of "We Care A Lot", the Mordam record. We tried to get the sounds down in the amount of time we had, which wasn't much. That was in ‘84, the record says '85 because it came out in January. My room-mate worked at Rough Trade Records in San Francisco and we really wanted to get a deal with them, so I asked him to take it to work and play it on the tape deck. Ruth Schwartz, who had Mordam Records, was there and she heard it on the stereo and asked who it was. So, she called up that day and said she wanted to make a record with us. Two weeks later we were back in the studio and finished the other side of the record. She paid for the other half, and it was out within about a month and a half. About a week after it came out Slash Records (their present label) started calling us, so we were having a lot of interest real quick."

I put it to the guys that "We Care A Lot" certainly sported some weird moments, and Mike's keen to respond. "I know what you're saying, especially from a metal point of view. It may seem a little bit odd. I think that had a lot to do with the sound which isn't very pointed and direct."

Bill chips in, "Jim had just joined the band too. We're only now learning how to get a good guitar sound anyway. It wasn't as guitar heavy as it is now."

Producer Matt Wallace seems to have grown along with the band them-selves, now having completed all three albums so far. Is it an ideal partnership?

Mike: "He's pretty good because he doesn't really tell us what we should sound like, he listens to us when we want something and works with us. We've known him long enough now so he's got a pretty good idea, I'm real comfortable with it."

"We've recorded with him since he had a little 8 track studio in his parents garage," says Bill,

"Any of you guys want a butty?" interrupts Mike, grabbing a cheese sandwich from the table behind me. I decline and Bill continues. "When he (Matt) got his own studio, we started making demos there. Then when we got the Mor-dam deal he came along and has kind of grown with us, so now he knows our sound."

"We still owe him five dollars for mixing the first tape we put out," quips Mike. It's a well known fact that Cliff Burton was a staunch supporter of the band back then. What were their recollections about that? "It goes back even before that" explains Mike munching vigorously on his sandwich. "I went to Junior High School with Cliff Burton. We were good friends, y'know. I met him in seventh grade and started playing music with him. Me and him met Jim Martin (guitarist) and they stuck together a long time after I left, played together for fuckin' years and years. Jim had played in a lot of bands, he's done a lot of things with people, playing under different names. There were the PARK GODS, VICIOUS HATRED, A.D. TWO MILLION, AGENTS OF MISFORTUNE, which Cliff was in, just a lot of fuckin' fun stuff, y'know."

"PIGS OF DEATH." offers Bill. "PIGS OF DEATH for sure," agrees Mike before going on to explain the six string situation in FAITH NO MORE during those early days. "We had a lot of guitarists back then," he says.

"We had the guitarist from a band called CRUCIFIX, he lasted one show."

Bill: "And a guy from a band called TRIAL, he played for one show. We weren't happy with any of them because they weren’t really heavy guitar players, they weren't coming from the frame of mind that we were looking for."

What was it that attracted you to Jim then? "Well to to tell you the truth about what happened," explains Mike. "Was that I kept in touch with Cliff after I stopped playing with Jim. I didn't stay in touch with him at all. In fact, me and Bill saw Jim in a restaurant one day, totally by chance and I said, That guy is the weirdest fuckin' guy I've ever met, he's such a fuckin' weirdo'."

Bill bursts out laughing. "You remember that," asks Mike. "Yeah sure," reflects the bassist.

Mike: "I said he was so weird, but kept talking to Cliff, who'd be on his tours, y'know. I'd say to him that we really needed a guitarist because the band was starting to go so good and we were starting to get pretty heavy. The thing was that even then we were trying to assemble the heaviest thing possible and were always lacking a guitarist in that sense. So Cliff said why didn't we get Jim to play. We did a jam thing, with Cliff on bass. Jim on guitar and me on drums, opening a show for another band in San Francisco. We called ourselves the CHICKEN FUCKERS. Bill sang and it was wild!”

"It was pretty fuckin' nuts," endorses Bill enthusiastically. Mike: "So it was like, 'Okay Jim, c'mon."

So you played quite a few gigs around then? "We went to L.A. a lot," says Mike. "We had a little Honda car" explains Bill. "Very small, and we would just pack in as much gear as we could and go down to L.A., which is how we ended up finding Chuck Moseley. We'd maybe do a small show, the thing was that we were playing two cities, getting to meet people and play a lot. See, the good thing was that when our first record came out it was the biggest thing in the world for us, we'd go to LA. and get a really good show because people were already familiar with us. It was really good in that way."

Was it a very together sort of set-up back then? "No," states Mike bluntly.

"We thought it was, but it was totally chaotic for a while". "Compared to us now," furthers Bill. "It didn't feel that much different playing then but we are better now."

"There's just no substitute for touring", adds Mike.

The buzz created by "We Care A Lot" was sufficient enough to gain the interest of Slash Records, a label who immediately spotted the bands enormous, if a little off-beat potential. "They got real fuckin' excited," says Mike devouring another sandwich. "The president of Slash (Bob Biggs)," ponders the drummer. "..Is. Well, I call him a corporate terrorist because he doesn't give a fuck, he'll do whatever he wants."

Bill: "He has no aesthetic morality, he doesn't worry about it." "The thing is" continues Mike. "Is that he turns that around. He says 'This band are fuckin' wild man, they don't give a shit, and I wanna make them sell millions'. It's like taking a fuckin' Mexican wedding band like LOS LOBOS, who are fuckin' great, but it's Spanish music and you wouldn't think they'd have fuckin' pop hits, and he does that. It's the same thing with VIOLENT FEMMES, y'know. This is the guy that started his record company on the GERMS. It was easily the most rottenest punk, rock, death dope music ever."

"And they sold like 70,000 records" adds Bill.

At which point tour manager Neil Schaefer comments on my choice of tape recorder and informs me he owns the exact same model. "Hey c'mon now," says Mike.

"Hey" insists Neil.

"Technical stuff takes precedence over interviews any day of the week." Perhaps I could get an endorsement deal I think to myself.. Anyway, "So he saw a spark," Mike continues.

"Something that got him excited, not just about how he could recoup his investment in the long term. He said 'Fuck, I like this band'.

“He's certainly stuck with us.”

Armed with the support of student radio stations, FAITH NO MORE was already becoming the name to drop. What sort of audiences came to the shows then? “Disco” says Mike. “Well, not when we got to the first record,” disputes Bill. “With the first record it was more punk rock".

"Yeah, punk rock, alternative confirms Mike. "I think people thought that we were maybe a punk rock band because we had a singer that couldn't sing. All he could do was scream."

Bill: “We were an aggressive playing band. They put out "We Care A Lot" as a single (from the then new second album “Introduce Yourself") and there would be all these nice people with gold chains and feathered back hair, because they'd heard it on local radio, y'know. And then there would be all these people with their girlfriends doing Coke and stuff, and they'd look at us. We hadn't had showers for like three days. We'd start playing and they'd start leaving the room.."

With a great second album to promote and the help of new manager Warren Entner it was undoubtedly a good time for the band. Unfortunately things began to go sour when Chuck started causing problems, “it was always hard with Chuck," sighs Bill. "We always had the attitude that the better things got for us, the easier it would be for us to deal with him, but it turned out to be exactly the opposite. I guess about a year ago, after that British tour here, I was ready to quit the band. If he had stayed, I would have been gone. We probably wouldn't have been playing. So, we thought, "We don't want to do this because we like our music, so we just kicked Chuck out, y’know. We figured that anything would be better than what we were dealing with in that bad patch."

Up to that point I'd always envisaged the band to be in a situation of organized chaos, and it turns out this is almost true.

"It's a lot like that.." says Bill. "We were more into creating a mood and atmosphere rather than performing a beautiful song, cause we didn't give a fuck about that. We were at points in our lives where we were pretty fucked up, smokin' a lot of pot and just trying to make it as creepy sounding as possible."

How did songs come about with Chuck, had you always written the music then the lyrics or what? Bill: "Yeah, that's the way we've always done it because Chuck wouldn't write the lyrics until we had to go into the studio, and then he’d make them up.”

Mike: "Plus he wouldn't come up to San Francisco, he'd want to stay in L.A.".

"Exactly" adds Bill, "He'd want us to send him songs and then he'd learn them down there. I think Chuck was a really good lyric writer though."

Do either of you feel much temptation to write lyrics? "Bill writes great lyrics" informs Mike. "He wrote the most bitter song we've ever done called "Why Do You Bother”, it’s totally bitter.

Does bitterness play a big part in FAITH NO MORE's outlook, you seem to mention it a lot? "Bitter is a big part of Jim's vocabulary" says Mike.  “Yeah,”

announces Bill. "Jim brought that word into the band.”

The two seem very happy with their replacement for Chuck Moseley. Mike Patton is a definite asset to the band with a personality that matches his voice admirably. He was grabbed from the ranks of one MR. BUNGLE, an oddly named outfit whose tape "The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny" is supposedly quite infamous. Is it? "It sure has become one.. fuckin' hell!!" comes the rather pained reply from Bill.

"Everybody wants it" adds Mike, who looks reluctant to talk about it.

"Better not talk about that though", he says. "Let's talk about accentuating the positive.” Nuff said.

On Mike Patton himself they had this to say. Bill: "He was a young kid, who at first didn't know whether he wanted to leave school or not. We had a bunch of new songs together and eventually he said okay. Within a week he'd already learned five songs and written the words, he fitted right in, brilliant."

Mike: "The one thing that you can say is different about these two singers, besides the fact that one can sing and one cannot, is that Mike was a honourable student in college or whatever it is, very fuckin' sharp. and he'd never been out of a small town, a real small town." Bill: "I think the last time we came here was like his third time on a plane."

"And like with Chuck," Mike continues.

"I don't know if he ever even finished high school. He's had a life of drugs, drink and being on the street."

He always gave the impression he was very unpredictable? "Oh Man." exclaims Bill. "That's such an understatement. I mean he was my best friend, I brought him into the band and always looked up to him because he was an experienced kind of guy, and nice too."

"Yeah, real quick witted and shit", endorses Mike. "But with Mike, it's just like two different people and the sets of lyrics tend to reflect that."

What does Chuck do now? "He moves furniture," says Bill almost regretfully.

Prior to recording their third album the band undertook some consistent bouts of touring and they'd clearly learnt a lot from the experience, as Mike explained. "We did two full circuits of the United States, clubs and small theatres." (Including dates with THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS .)

"We learned a lot from that," claims Bill. "We definitely put a fair share of years on our lives. It was hard touring and we had to drive a lot, but it was when we realized that we could get through anything if we really had to. You just realize how far you can push your body.

It's like the army, y'know. People feel proud when they make it through Boot-camp, there's this certain amount of distinction because they went through so much shit, came out of it, and realized that they held up. It's a lot like that."

“It’s true,” agrees Mike.

"And," continues Bill. "We realized what it can be like when a record company spends money on you, how good it can be. "We Care A Lot" was like Radio 1 over here, our picture was all

over town, Jesus Christ. It was wild!"

Mike: "I'm really grateful for the support we got from the people as well.

It's like this time we've had 90% sellouts I appreciate that.”

Of course, this time out is to promote third album "The Real Thing", released in June of this year. How had they approached it after all the upheavals in the past? "What happened", Mike explains. "Was that after all that touring and the second European tour, we had nothing to do. We would have been touring in Japan with Chuck, But we said we had to stop. We could not have continued and enjoyed what we were doing. So, that's what we did, pulled up and made the break. We hadn't written for two years because of all that touring, so what we did was just set up our shit in a fuckin' cheesy studio and started playing. I just wanted to try and experiment, and it started to come together on all fronts. The more we played the more it came together. It was like lifting a big weight off something, or unplugging something that shouldn't have been plugged up. There was all this shit plugged up behind it, we played and it all came out."

Somewhat surprisingly Bill and Mike don't seem to make much of the new songs, when in fact it's possible to study the lyrics for hours at a time, trying to fathom them out. Although Mike Patton wrote the words what did the songs mean to them? "It's totally different for us because of the music", says Mike.

"From Out Of Nowhere" (the new single) is about an obsession with a girl, "Epic" is about sex, "Zombie Eaters" is about a spoilt baby that people pay too much attention to, "Surprise, You're Dead" is about rock n' roll, speed metal hell, or whatever you wanna call it. "Underwater Love" is about strangling your girlfriend.

"The Morning After", I don't know... is that about vampires? Whatever.."

Bill takes up the story. "The making of this record was a real pleasurable experience. It was free from a lot of tension we had making the other ones. We wanted to have a lot of fun making it and I think that's why we feel so good about the way it came out."

What about the sleeve. Is there anything deep and meaningful behind it? "It means that back are the days you can smoke pot and stare at a record cover",

"I'll tell you one thing", suggests

Mike. "You don't wanna call a record “The Real Thing" and then put a picture of the band on the front. Personally to me, that would be arrogant. That's one thing. Two. Everybody in this band is different, and everyone's opinion on artwork is totally fuckin' different. Jim's ended up being the TESTAMENT cover.

That was proposed to be ours. He has a credit on that record... that was his dream."

"And we were like, phew", laughs

Bill. "I like our cover though", adds Mike.

"It looks real, I mean those look like real things put together, but it's not. I think it's a lot better than showing a picture of the singers dick and saying 'This is the real thing, ladies'. That's cheesy! This is just us."

Before returning to the UK for the second time this year, the band also enjoyed their first taste of arena shows, going out as support to METALLICA on the final leg of their American tour. What were their recollections of that West Coast stint? "It takes simpler things to get people excited", says Bill. "Certain words and symbols more so than complicated things. When you're in a club, you can't go we're havin' a good time, yeah', cause everybody's like 'Yeah, Fuck Off. In a big place you need simple things that get across to people."

"It's like they say, the bigger the crowd, the lower the IQ" adds Mike dryly.

"We played in the rain in Sacramento" recalls Bill. "It was really wild. They were really worried about all this powerful sound gear getting fried. The sound is different on those arena shows but it's really not so much different to playing in a club."

Culminating with three shows in L.A. the band have obviously gained a lot from the experience. While we're on the subject. What was the scene like in their native California, with regard to up coming outfits? I ask because Bay Area trio PRIMUS are currently attracting a lot of attention? "That's the only good funk thrash band back home," says Bill. When I tell him I recently reviewed their album ("Suck On This") and gave it a 55 rating his face drops.

"Oh man", exclaims Bill.

"This time next year you'll listen to it and like it," declares Mike. Well, it's grown on me I have  to admit but at least the two agree it's not an instant thing.

"The first time I saw 'em, I hated 'em," announces Mike. "I did too" agrees Bill.

"They're a great band though."

Returning to their own affairs Mike and Bill had a couple of interesting points to finish on, particularly the press attention they're receiving. "It's really weird," says Mike. "We're getting metal press, teenybopper press and musician type magazines.

"It's kinda interesting though," adds

Bill. "That we're a buncha pigs and that our music has a certain kind of grand style about it, cause we're justa bunch of scum, y' know. Ha! Ha! Ha! If we wore tuxedo's we might be able to pull this music off a bit better..”

How do you deal with all this interest Bill?

"It's really gratifying to make people conform to you, make them come around to what you're doing, rather than you having to go to them for acceptance.”

"If somethings different, then it takes time,” says Mike. Do you see yourselves as subtle manipulators then, bringing people around to your way of thinking? "I know Bill loves to fuck with people!” Comes the witty reply from Mike. "I know that for a fact! And Jim is also totally into manipulating things and working the controls."

Bill: "Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!."

Mike: "We just wanna make heavy music that's not crap, y'know, that doesn't leave us with a bad taste in our mouths.”

Well they got that much right. For some Strange reason the interview finished on the subject of various chants and phrases which have been adopted by UK audiences. For example, the much favoured 'You fat bastard'. Victims of which include MOD's Billy Milano and DARK ANGEL's Gene Hogian. Luckily

FAITH NO MORE see these as terms of affection. Bill "It's like going up to Jim and saying 'You're goin' bald, you're an ugly piece of fuckin' shit!', that's like a compliment.”

Mike: "It's like the same thing with Jim, when he says 'I'll pee on your Mom when she's givin' me head', y'know, Ha! Ha! Ha! It's just a bunch of fuckin' words man. I wanna tell people... loosen your underwear.”

To which all that could be heard was tour manager Neil negotiating some pretty involved moves in the dressing room toilet. Or as Bill so eloquently summed up "Shits happening now?.

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