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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Metal Hammer | June 1992

Angelic Upstarts

Pippa Lang

Three years after FAITH NO MORE slugged Britain with their mighty 'The Real Thing' album, with it's chart-screwing 'Epic' single, the San Fran Metal funksters are back with their third studio album. The appropriately titled 'Angel Dust' is us snortingly naughty as its PCP derivative enough to blow your head off says guitarist BIG JIM MARTIN.

Faith No More will never admit to being 'Funk Metal'. You could take them through 'The Real Thing' track-by-track, funky beat by funky beat, and they'd still deny it. Not that they could think of anything else to call themselves 'cos, like most bands. "labels are shit," says Big Jim Martin. The new album, 'Angel Dust', is no less Funk derived than the last but, like 'The Real Thing', has fingers pointing in every conceivable direction. OK, 'Angel Dust' doesn't have the same instant crunch as its predecessor, but that's only because 'The Real Thing' was so ahead of its time. Even Jim himself admits that there could, never be another 'Epic'. The new album doesn't so much progress as lean on 'The Real Thing"s strengths, playing on the best parts. 

Whatever, Big Jim Martin is just glad it's all over - the recording process that is. He is not a patient man, and has a notorious reputation for deliberately avoiding the rest of the band during rehearsals:

"This album has taken so long to record... God, it's been almost eighteen months - you can't believe the torment I've been through man. It's not supposed to be like that, not supposed to be that hard. Took too damn long... I'm gonna make sure that doesn't happen again. I'm gonna take some recording gear out on the road with me soon as possible, and start working on new songs straightaway. See if I can come up with some real sick single again. "Anyway; it's so good to take a break. I'm just enjoying my own good company right now. Not for long though o'course, 'cos we have to start rehearsing soon for the upcoming European tour with Guns N'Roses. It's all very well recording new songs, now we have to learn the bastards so we can play 'em live."

Jim sounds so thrilled at the prospect of touring again... What a bind this rock'n'roll business is. All that goddammed money, all those cars, the Bel Air mansion, oh the lifestyle my dear.

It's enough to drive a man insane.

The tortuous recording process for 'Angel Dust' took place at San Francisco's Coast Recorders, with the help of producer Matt Wallace again. Jim hated it all. At least during rehearsals, he could shut himself away at home, get a courier to bike over the rest of the band's ideas and, in his solitary self-inflicted hell, add his own guitar contributions to the melee. But then came the recording schedule. No, Jim, you can't stay at home, the rest of the band pointed out - much as we hate each other so much, we gotta work on this thing together. Out of the doghouse and into the studio, Jim obliged, and the legendary thunder and lightning sessions began.

That's the way it is within Faith No More. If they got on with each other, there'd be no friction, no chemistry, no creativity, anyway, who ever said you have to like the people you work with? (Not me - Ed!)

Actually, Jim's healthy disgust isn't confined to the rest of the personnel within Faith No More - he isn't too happy with the current state of the music business in general:

"It's all going horrible, haven't you noticed? Everybody's doing the same damn thing. The business is so desperate to find something new that, when they can't, they just take an old idea and market it in a new way, so then everyone can go 'wow, this is new, the music business is really refreshing isn't it?'. But it's not, it's stale. The latest angle is eclecticism'. Wow, everybody's  mixing everything together - Funk, Rap, whatever - ain't- that clever? But people have been doing that for fucking years man! There's nothing new about it!

 "For some reason, all music has to be segregated and labelled, the only reason can think of for that is to give the marketing departments in record companies, and the press, a black-and white substance to work with. God, without labels, there'd be no business, apparently. But it's the labels that confuse everything. Faith No More are, evidently, a 'Funk Metal' band. Actually, we are, but we're a lotta other things too. But maybe a category with, like, ten words in it is too long for the press and record companies to handle..."

Just call Faith No More 'eclectic' and they'II be happy - well, not happy, God forbid, but at least a little satisfied. The band, in all their ten years of hoisted, disturbing inconsistency, have never had to depend on the press for - well, anything. College radio was their champion in the early days, the power of social tittle-tattle spreading the faith rapidly throughout the San Francisco area in the early Eighties. Jim joined Roddy Bottum, Mike Bordin and Billy Could in 1983, and Chuck Mosley came in on vocals the following year. The latter relationship lasted, surprisingly, five years - by all accounts, it was a very rocky liaison indeed. (Since then, Chuck has also managed to get himself booted from Bad Brains, but at least he's consistent. How long will his new band, Cement, last I wonder?) But then, since Mike 'Mr Bungle' Patton 's. involvement, which immediately spawned the distorted funky of 'The Real Thing' in 1989, nothing's changed. The friction, if anything, is worse. Maybe the auditions were run on a 'hate' basis, and Patton turned out to be the guy they all hated most.

Meanwhile, is there anything that actually makes Jim happy? Surely, as Matt Wallace has produced anything and everything Faith No More have created, we can all assume the band are happy with him - his job issecure, and all is hunky-dory. Why else would they keep using him? But when I broached the subject of self-production to Jim, he grabbed ahold of it like a veritable limpet.

Matt, obviously, is no safer than anybody else involved with the band. I wish I'd never brought up the subject.

 "I think it's a damn good idea. I dunno how the hell an outside producer can come in and know how your stuff's supposed to sound. It's crazy. I think it's a damn good idea for a band to produce themselves, 'cos they know better than anybody how their music should be presented. When you write a song, you're the only one who can hear it totally and clearly in your head. It's impossible to get across to somebody else what's going on in there!"

Sounds like another bone of contention between Jim and rest of the band to me!

Wonder how long that one's been stagnating...

Still, what's another grudge in a long chain of creative bouts? The day Faith No More start getting on with each other will be the day they split up. That, evidently, is not about to happen. Expect the usual fireworks when the band undertake their own tour in Britain, after the package tour with Guns N'Roses and Soundgarden. 'Angel Dust'? It's a loada PCP to me...

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