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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Raw | June 1990 | Issue 48

Turn It Down

Sylvie Simmons

That was the message the French authorities gave to the San Franciscan band FAITH NO MORE an the final night of their European tour. As if all this wasn't enough there are the constant rumours to be dealt with concerning the imminent departure of vocalist MIKE PATTON. Keyboards man RODDY BOTTUM and bassist BILLY GOULD deal with the problems. SYLVIE SIMMONS captures the moment for posterity.

THE BAND is furious, The Parisian slagehands are shrugging and oofing like the cast of 'Allo Allo'. It's soundcheck time at the Elysse Montmatre on the last night of Faith No More's Euro tour. And the whole thing looks like ending not with a bang but a wimp rock. "Eet's simple," Monsieur Le Manager-of-the-joint shrugs uninterestedly. "Ze music, she's too loud." 

Too loud? TOO LOUD?? This is a Rock gig for Chrissakes, not the Paris Opera House (although the place does have some nice columns and cherubs on the ceiling). "You 'ave to turn eet down." 

Living Colour did when they played here. Even Bad Brains turned their knobs in a seriously antiRock direction. Faith No More, though, are standing their ground. Mike Bordin's drums alone bring them over the officially allowed decibel level. They're going to play as testicle peeling loud as they want. 

Then we'll pull the plug, say the French, and we won't give the fans their money back. . . 

The fans are milling about outside. Among the French are a gaggle of girls from California who've been following the band around, plus a couple from the North of England, and an enterprising British bloke who's wandering up and down the queue going "Parlez-vous Anglais" then badgering whoever answers in the affirmative with a hard-luck story about how he spent all his money getting over here to see the band and now needs to lig some more to buy his ticket, booze, etc. 

Meanwhile, upstairs, the band debates its move. Play without a drummer? Do the first ever Faith No More acoustic set? Do what the fuck they want and risk it being a five minute show? (It finishes early enough already, anyway, what with the venue having an off-the-stage-and-home-by-9,30 curfew!) What a way to end a tour!

Added to which there's an interview with RAW to contend with, this being a band that supposedly eats journalists, pukes them out, and pees on their mortal remains. "What???" says bassist Billy Gould, genuinely shocked. "It's not really true but I like those misconceptions." He's sitting in the dressing room with Roddy Bottum, keyboards player, surrounded on all sides by French bread. Guitarist Jim Martin and vocalist Mike Patton are wandering about outside somewhere, and MiKe Bordin's off looking in gargoyle shops. 

What about the misconception - or maybe it's not one - that the band basically all hate each other's guts and only manage to co-exist long enough to play the show? That the whole thing could blow up any moment and make a really nasty mess? "Sometimes it is like that," admits Billy. "Sometimes we get along really well and sometimes we don't get along at all."

 "But I don't think it ever reaches the point where we would break up as a result of that," says Roddy. "Where we say, even to ourselves, 'Oh God. this is too much! Let's quit!'." 

"It gets there every once in a while at certain times of the year," Billy contradicts him. "it gets to where it's really bad - for one night it'll be particularly bad." 

Like how bad? Fisticuffs? Ultra-violence? "We don't hit each other, no. We used to with our old singer, Chuck Mosley," says Billy. "There were fights there. But there hasn't been one fight since Patton joined the band." 

Which isn't what we dirt-mongers of the Press have heard. Some mags have even printed a story that they're going to kick Patton out at the end of the tour, pissed off with his general brattish behaviour, not to mention wearing the T-shirt of his sideline project, Mr Bungle, when they appeared on 'Top Of The Pops'. 

"We heard that," laughs Billy. "We're neither confirming nor denying it." 

Well, Chuck Mosely was kicked out when the band had a single in the British charts; they've got one there now. And Chuck was removed at the end of a European tour, and what's tonight if it's not another end-of-tour situation? Looks like all the omens are right for another disposal. "We're getting along really well," says Billy. "There's no problems at all. Its kind of sad to say," he says when I press for a categorical denial of future frontman removal, "it's not true!" 

When I say I'd heard they thought Patton was a brat, they look me in the eye and say, "We're all brats, we all have our turn. On our bad days when we're not brats we're arseholes or a million different things." It all comes from being five people stuck together in a bus for ten months. "And we don't interact with any people except each other all the time, so it's like 'pick a victim'." "But we change the scapegoat every week or so," says Roddy. When it comes to pairing up to share hotel rooms and stuff, "we kind of play musical room-mates, have a different room-mate every night, to avoid always picking on the same person," 

Mike Patton's the youngest as well as the ,newest FNM-er, which might have something to do with it, "He's actually had to deal with so much so fast," says Billy. "He's getting a lot better." "It was difficult for him," says Roddy. "He had never flown on a plane, never lived outside of his parents' home in Northern California, never left the small town in the woods where he lived a very sheltered life. Then all of a sudden he joined our band, made a record, and he's onstage with Metallica, frontman for a band, in front of 10,000 people. It was hard for him to deal with. And if sometimes he has to be a brat to deal with that, then it's not that big a deal." "And the more he gets used to it," says Billy, "the less he's going to be like that. I think a tot of it's a reaction. Like protection. if you have a temper tantrum, you can either ask people to stay away from you or you can have your own space where you can deal with things and things sort themselves out. It's just because there's so many new things happening all the time." 

The tour - which has been going in various phases since last July - has gone "surprisingly smoothly" they say, other than the nasty crushing incident that injured a dozen fans in London the time before last. And it's been pretty rewarding, says Roddy. "Our crowds too are real cool people, most of them," says Billy with a fond smile, "and the atmosphere of the shows have been really fun, really mellow. There hasn't been a whole lot of macho stuff going on. It's been a good time." 

In fact, the nearest thing to macho stuff was to happen later tonight when some Parisian bouncers started muscling in on the punters. Patton singled the guilty men out, stopped the show, lectured them, only they didn't understand English. And 

Patton's rarely-executed and hazardous Olympic backflip into the crowd was pretty macho as macho goes. But where were we? "It's been a good tour," says Billy, adding that their return visits to Britain "definitely" helped to push their record up the charts. The reason they did four British tours so close together was more because every time they got here the shows sold out. "But things in the States are now coming around," says Billy. "It's a giant country. It just takes longer to get going. But right now things are going really well out there." "MTV is really picking up on us," says Roddy. "Epic's getting added on commercial radio stations in the States - which is way more conservative than Radio 1." 

"It's a funny business how America comes out with all these great, original Rock bands and yet the shows, the magazines, hell even a lot of the audiences are shit."

"Some people just don't want to know," says Billy. "They're not in the habit of listening to interesting bands or wanting to know about it. 

They're just working their jobs - it's a pretty go-getting type of country." 

How come so many American Rock bands - Faith No More among them - have come up with the idea of incorporating musical ideas within Metal that were once considered musically exclusive? There was a time when you couldn't get Funk and Metal fans to even talk to each other, let alone get off on a combination of their sounds. "It's hard to say." says Roddy, "because it was so natural for us. We've been doing it from the start. We were doing Rap and Metal." "A lot of the Rap," says Billy, "comes from Mike, our drummer, who took the African rhythm thing - lot of his beats are African - and he taught me a lot of his beats, so it's got like a Funky rhythmic background, and a lot of the singing, or the guitar, is playing rhythm. So It's not necessarily Rapping, but as a rhythm thing it kind of all fits together."

 "But as to why it's becoming accepted all of a sudden," says Roddy. "I don't know. I think people are just opening up a little more to different stuff, which is a good thing." "There's been a lot of bands who've played a Funky type Metal sound yet haven't had the attention that we've gotten or the record company behind them the way ours is," adds Billy. "So maybe we're taking a lot of credit for what people have been doing for a long time."

"Ever since we started," says Roddy, "we were looking for a very heavy guitar sound. At the time it was like Killing Joke were happening, and to me they had like real Heavy Metal power chords." 

"Metallica did a Killing Joke cover," adds Billy. "We couldn't settle on a guitar player for a long time when we first started," says Roddy, "because we wanted a real powerful, crunchy sound and we were always looking for that. We would probably have done it a lot sooner if we'd gotten a guitar player who could capture that sound." "Jim's perfect," Billy nods. Jim, who came to the band after playing alongside the late Cliff Burton of Metallica in San Francisco band Vicious Hatred, was suckled on Black Sabbath in his formative years. "He's a victim of the '70s," Billy describes him. "He says nothing since then has really interested him that much. He's got pretty far-reaching roots. What made him play guitar was Black Sabbath," and if it wasn't his idea to cover 'War Pigs' on the album, "he was probably, the happiest when we decided to do it!" 

"To the people who were coming to see us at the time, 'War Pigs' was a real clash to our audience. The last thing they expected to hear us play was a Black Sabbath song because it wasn't our scene, we're not a retro Sabbath-Zeppelin type band. It's 

like when we play the Commodores song now," says Billy, "people are like 'what the hell?????'. The same type of song." 

You mean The Commodores as in 'Once Twice Three Times A Lady'? That loathsome abomination? "We almost did that song!" laughs Billy, "That's the beauty - you have to throw opposites out and let people make sense of them. You can't always give people the same thing all the time." "We do this Commodores song just to curve things a little bit. People are now expecting 'War Pigs' to be the last song, so we threw this one in so we could say, 'OK, here comes the cover you all want, and then we play 'I'm Easy'." 

You know it. The one they used on that building society advert with the man getting up in his trendy warehouse with no money to buy catfood. They play it straight, right at the end, and it sounds good. 

FAITH NO More started out in the early '80s as an ultra-experimental outfit. Roddy, Billy and Mike The Drummer are the only three still around from those days when they did "different things every time we played - different singer each show, different set." 

Chuck Mosely joined in 1982, just as the band started getting some major attention. They did an album, "and when you make a record you have to 

do a tour, then one thing led to another and we got a record deal, another record, another tour. It was a pain in the ass but if we'd had time off to stop and think what we were really doing and what we really wanted to do," says Roddy, "we probably would have kicked out the singer long before we did." 

"It's like, 'OK, we've got our problems'," adds Billy, "but it's like getting a record deal for us was like getting the unattainable thing, you've crossed a line, you don't want to give up what you've finally gotten, so you hang on. You've just got to get to that next goal. In the end what we realised was, we're kicking out our singer, who most of the people in the world identify this band with, and so we're probably not ever going to do anything again and all this stuff we've built might be for nothing. But it got to the point where we said, if it's for nothing or whatever forget it." 

"He wouldn't co-operate with us. We gave him another chance for a year - 'This isn't working out'. 'Please give me another chance'. It's like the 

husband who hits you then comes home crying, 'I won't do it again', and hits you again, you know? We started feeling like victims. This guy keeps saying he's good, we really want to believe him, so how come next week I want to punch him out?" 

"He was good for what he did and it worked out really well for a long time," says Roddy, "but it was really inconsistent and that was the big problem. Sometimes he'd be good, other nights he'd get into a fight with his girlfriend on the phone and be really bad, and some nights he wouldn't want to play, just fuck the whole show off. For a long time we didn't have it together, but then we wanted to get serious - and didn't think he had it in him." 

Pretty bad timing to kick out a frontman - just as your record enters the charts, everyone declares you the Saviours Of Rock and shoves your picture on the cover of magazines, the record company spends a fortune printing up posters with Mosley grinning down from them. "We thought our record company would probably drop us," says Roddy, "and we'd have to start all over, play tiny clubs. But we had to make ourselves happy, and so that's what we eventually did." 

The Press, who fawned over the Mosley-fronted Faith No More, were scathing when Patton joined. 

Reviews of the latest album said they only had two songs on it and they should give up and die. "They all hated it," laughs Roddy. "But now they give us good live reviews and talk about the record as if they liked it all along." 

"But in England our fans were really cool," says Billy. "When Patton came in they were right on it, they didn't take things as superficially as the Press did, like the whole image thing." 

So much do they like their English fans that they've immortalised a bunch of them - from the Brixton show (a track from which is on our cover-mounted EP) - on their latest video. "In England, especially, I think the audience is a big part of the Faith No More show," says Roddy, "so we wanted to capture them - In their element rather than all in seats like Hammersmith, It's mostly live stuff on the video, just the gig." 

They're coming back - again - to play the Reading Festival after ten days off and a fortnight's tour of the States. They've got some German and Belgian (poor things!) festivals to do, then towards the end of the Summer they start on a new album. "It's not going to be too tough," says Billy, "because we all have ideas. I think the new album will prove we can actually do something really good." 'Epic' was real good when they played it live onstage in Paris, last night of the tour. They dedicated it to their hard-working road crew. And announced afterwards that next tour they would be getting a new singer. At least that's what I thought they said. But remember, the Parisians turned the volume down.

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