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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Metal Maniacs | 1989

Accept No Substitute

Marina Zogbi

Every once in a while a great band comes along and makes me feel better about this business, the state of rock in particular, and the world in general, besides reminding me in no uncertain terms why I chose music and not, say, investment banking, to write about. San Francisco's Faith No More has been around for seven years, released two independent Lps (We Care A Lot in '86, Introduce Yourself in '87), and created a bit of a stir with their much-needed answer to "We Are The World": the catchy and snotty "We Care A Lot," re-recorded for Introduce Yourself.

They did three U.S. and two European club tours and are big stabs across the Atlantic.

Last year, two major things happened. They axed frontman Chuck Mosely and they signed with a major label.

The LP The Real Thing is the result and it is a beaut. Mixing rap, funk, thrashcore and whatever else they felt like throwing in, it's clearly one of the most captivating, thrilling slabs o' vinyl to come our way. At press time, singer Mike Patton, guitarist Jim Martin, bassist Billy Gould, drummer Mike Bordin and keyboardist Roddy Bottum were planning to join Metallica on the last U.S. leg of the latter's Damaged Justice tour. A bigger and better break could not have been dreamed of (or more deserved.) I talked with all five Faith guys weeks before, when the prospect of this tour was just a dim possibility.

"Offbeat" and "unorthodox" are affectionate terms people use to mean weird. Both words are often employed to describe Faith No More. As people, the band is an eccentric lot. A swell buncha guys, they're as unaffected as they are talented (i.e. hella).

So, boys, how's life in the majors (Warner Bros.)?

Roddy: "Now we get the basics taken care of, tour support, instruments, a vehicle to drive in …."

Billy: "Now we can tour, we have a roadie, we can pay him."

Mike B: "Now we're rolling in dough, need a loan?"

But seriously, folks, sometimes big labels have a problem with things “alternative."

Billy: "We haven't had any pressure to change because the way we appear to the media has kind of been our own creation (creation? You mean you're not really lovable sickos?!) The only thing to really change is the amount of money coming in and that's great, but it doesn't affect us creatively at all."

The record sure doesn't sound affected by corporate “insight" although there have been major changes. In addition to a crisper production (thanks to many bucks for studio time), more fully-developed (but no less adventurous) song structures and a general overall tightness, there's the small matter of new vocalist Mike Patton. Mike, quite simply, is amazing. Not many rock n' roll singers can exude such range, emotion, power. Certainly not many 21-year-olds. How'd they come up with this gem of a guy?

Explains Jim, "He was a Faith No More fan, came to one of our shows a few years ago and gave us a tape of his band (Bay Area funk unit, Mr. Bungle). We liked it a lot. Mike Bordin got in touch with him (after the erratic Mosely was ejected), said ‘come on down and jam it up.'"

Mike P, who's from northern California, came on down. "And here we are," Jim says simply. Knowing an extremely good thing when they heard it, the band didn't bother to audition anyone else.

Says Roddy, “Before we had mostly stage personality. Now we have stage personality and a voice wrapped all in one." And a lyricist. Patton wrote all of The Real Thing's lyrics and they are provocative indeed. So, Mr. P, what the hell inspired thrashfest “Surprise!

You're Dead!"? "Vampires and Slayer," he answers sincerely. OK, how about the lovely and disturbing “Zombie Eaters?" "That's just birth and growing up and how sick it is."

"Edge Of The World" (available only on cassette and CD seems to hint at a dirty old man-type theme? "Yeah, it's a Sugar Daddy story. It's about walking through the park." Easy to imagine the angelic-faced Patton luring little girls, or ahem, big ones for that matter. He's quite the cutie, though his publicist worries about how strange he is. While recording, according to Jim, Mike had a skull and a Dracula hanging in his vocal booth for inspiration. It was Halloween.

Then there's Jim Martin. "Enigmatic" is a word oft used to describe the dark, bearded dude. The man behind those bright red eyeglass frames seems wise beyond his years.

He is, in fact, ageless and highly regarded as a guitarist and musician.

It's his razor-sharp riffs that give FNM its bruising metallic edge. I had to ask him about his involvement in legendary jam band, Spastic Children, that odd assortment of Bay Aera musicians that includes James and Kirk from Metallica. Jim is very cagey on the subject, although he admits having played bass with them on occasion. "It's really funny, people come from a long ways away to see it and it's real shitty, it's the worst," he claims. "The worst thing I ever heard in my life," Patton chimes in. "Bunch of stupid drunks," declares Jim. Guess it's only fun for the people onstage? "Not really," Jim deadpans, "It's pretty bad all around … If anyone ever mentions it to you again, you ought to take it as a personal insult!" He then considers denying that he ever took part in such a thing. OK, OK, sorry I ever brought it up. What else about this biz, besides "wild rumors" like the above-mentioned, annoys you guys?

Roddy: "I hate seeing places so fast, the way we see places on tour, seeing one side of things, like only a nightclub. I feel cheated."

Mike P: “I don't like not knowing what's going on."

Jim: "See, I really like not knowing what's going on."

Roddy: "This is the type of business where people hide bad things from you, things you should know."

Billy: "Also, you can't take opinions very seriously. When we had our old singer, people would tell us how they liked us, great things. Then we kicked him out."

Suddenly, people were admitting they never liked him, right? "Yeah, but it was the truth. I never knew about it. It didn't influence our decision any." On to fun topics. Hobbies? Jim:

"Shooting guns." At what? "The sky, the ground, dragonflies."

Mike P: "Basketball, carnivals, amusement parks... It's good to go on one ride six times in a row, you get to know it really well and mess with people on the ride." (Watch out for this guy at your local Great Adventure.)

Roddy: "Parades. I played piano in this huge parade in San Francisco a couple of months ago. There were 20 grand pianos coming down the street, all on individual floats, being towed by muscular men in bicycle shorts, if you can imagine that."

Mike B: "Eating. It's definitely one of my hobbies." "Deep down inside, Mike is actually a fatman," Jim elucidates. "He's also the scapegoat of all our cruel pranks," Billy adds, helpfully.

Alright, you crazy mofos, what's the best thing you ever were for Halloween?

Jim: "I was a raincoat one time." Mike P: “I was a shower, had a little curtain around me." (He did have shorts on underneath. Yup, had to ask.

Billy: "I was Gene, Simmons." Mike B: “When I was extremely little, I was a radio and it even worked. And I was a flasher once, and a skeleton with a little skeleton suit."

“She said 'the best thing,'" an exasperated Jim interrupts the slightly carried away Mike.

And Roddy? "I don't like Halloween. I would never dress up." There's always one, eh?

And for our wrap-up question, complete the following sentence: Success means never having to…

"Say you're hungry," the food-obsessed Mike B. states definitely.

"It all depends on what at the time," Jim philosophizes. "I believe that life is a succession of little successes."

Billy: "People who contribute part of their life to a huge success, that's usually indicative of a manic depressive, attaching huge symbolism to a particular event."

“Which may in fact be meaningless and trivial," finishes Jim.

“Success means never having to get out of bed," he adds, getting into the spirit of things.

"Success means never going to bed," counters Patton. Continues Jim, obviously on a roll, "Success means never having to take off your sun-glasses, success means never having to take aspirin."

Seems to me success also means never having to worry about doing the right thing. The Real Thing and signing with Warner Bros. were undoubtedly the right thing for Faith No More, as was choosing Mike Patton, as is the band's endearing eccentricity (OK, weirdness.) Faith No More have nothing to worry about. They've succeeded.

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