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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Record Collector | September 1990

Linda La Ban


LINDA LA BAN CHARTS THE PROGRESS OF THE AMERICAN FUNK-METAL MERCHANTS


Who would have thought that FAITH NO MORE

would have a top 30 hit and be selling out the Hammersmith Odeon, less than a year after the release of their decidedly uncommercial third album, “The Real Thing"? Well, I would, but it still comes as a surprise.

The band's most recent visit to the UK, in April, was their fourth bout of touring to promote that album. Each visit has seen them progress to larger venues, and increase their record sales. You can even hear them on the radio — occasionally.

Endorsed by bands like Metallica and Guns N'Roses, and with a small but healthy following in the homeland, Faith No More haven't crossed the boundary of commercial success in the States. They are decidedly more popular in the U.K., and their repeated jaunts here in the last year have built them up a large and loyal audience.

The current vogue for funk-metal is an exciting direction for rock to be moving in.

Bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Dan Reed Network and Faith No More are a refreshing diversification from the axe-grinding thrash metal of recent times. But this isn't a wimp-out: there is plenty of awesome axe-grinding in the music, as well as some powerful funky rhythms. You can bang your head to it and you can dance to it!

Back in 1980, Faith No More was just an idea being kicked around by singer Chuck Moseley and bassist Bill Gould. For anyone's money, Gould has to be one of the best bassists around - uncompromising and engrossing to watch. The same couldn't be said of Moseley, who doesn't possess a natural singing voice; but what he lacked in melody he more than made up for in imagination and an avant-garde approach.


GENTLE


The two got together with Gould's old school friend, and classically trained pianist, Roddy Bottum. For a band as heavy as Faith No More, the inclusion of keyboards might seem incongruous, especially as Bottum plays, at times, such gentle, sweeping melodies; but he contributes an added depth, another dimension, to Faith No More's bitchin' brew.

Drummer Mike Bordin, who was studying at Berkeley University, was also added to the line-up.

Bordin is unparalleled in his tech-nique, using African beats with a ferocity that belies his diminutive frame.

Faith No More were rehearsing with a guitarist who clearly wasn't working out.

Bordin's friend, the late Cliff Burton (bassist with Metallica), recommended — in fact, practically insisted — that they try out his mate Jim Martin. The band knew about Jim and his band, Vicious Hatred, and had formed the opinion that he was a bit too, well, weird. Nev-ertheless, they gave him a chance, and found that he was not only weird, but perfect for Faith No More.

Martin had trained as a classical guitarist and had fooled around in a band with Cliff Burton before taking his vocation as a guitarist more seriously. With the exception of Mose-ley, who is a native LAer, the rest of the band come from Northern California, and had based themselves in San Francisco, where they began playing in clubs and bars. Before long, they became familiar with the discomfort of lengthy travelling in the confines of a transit van, as gigs from further afield came their way.

In 1984, they were signed to Mordam, a small indie label in San Francisco, who provided a limited budget for them to record their eponymous debut album. Though it was difficult to find the album outside California, a few copies were imported into Britain by Revolver.

Since then, the album has also been issued in the Netherlands. Despite the shoestring budget, "Faith No More" became a hit on college radio, and caused ears to turn on the underground scene. This wasn't heavy metal, it wasn't rap, and it wasn't funk. It was a strange and wonderful combination of all three.

The attention that the band were winning with their Black Sabbath guitar riffs, flat vocals which occasionally slipped into rap styles for more emphasis, and tapestry-woven keyboards backed by a ferocious rhythm section, attracted the interest of Slash Records, part of the huge Warner Brothers empire. Slash could offer them more financial and record industry clout than Mordam, so naturally the band signed on the dotted line.

With a larger budget, they recorded their second album, “Introduce Yourself", which was finally released in 1987. Co-produced by Matt Wallace, and Steve Berlin from labelmates Los Lobos, it contained 10 self-penned songs of great intensity. While the music knocked you backwards, Chuck's dark, brooding lyries held you there.

In the U.K., London Records (part of Poly-gram) signed the band for European release, and the album surfaced in Britain in October

1987. The first single from "Introduce Your-self" was "We Care A Lot", issued in the U.K. in January 1988, when it narrowly missed the Top 40. It was backed with "Spirit" on the 7", with a remix of "Chinese Arithmetic" added to the 12" format. The video for the song, which was a happy mix of rap and blistering guitar, managed to win relatively heavy rotation on MTV in America, and although it didn't become a chart hit, it did succeed in breaking the band to a wider audience.


JAUNT


The band followed the recording sessions for "Introduce Yourself" with the inevitable tour, notably as support to the Red Hot Chili Peppers on a jaunt through American clubs.

Then they came to Europe, arriving in Britain

February 1988 for dates throughout the

country. They played one gig at the Marquee Club in London, which was then still in its original Wardour Street premises. Their remarkable performance that night was rounded off by a breathtaking rendition of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs".

By the time of their second visit to these shores, in May 1988, there was a marked change in the band. Chuck's performances had moved from the realms of the avant-garde to the totally surreal. For virtually every song, he dashed offstage only to reappear in a different costume. Funny and disturbing, with a cheap wig across his head, Chuck parodied real life bizarre, ugly, and definitely something else.


To coincide with this tour, a second single

was pulled from “Introduce Yourself”. “Anne’s Song” was backed with a previously unreleased song, "Greed", and came in three different formats: 7", 12", and 7" picture disc. As it flopped, it's now their rarest U.K. 45.

Meanwhile, trouble was brewing inside the band. Chuck's colleagues were not as amused by his antics as the audiences, and it was obvious that he wanted to take the group into a different direction than they did. The upshot was that during the preparation for the next album, Chuck was fired. Words like "ego" and "undependable" cropped up among the explanations and Chuck vanished, having created a mini-legend. I for one hope that his disappearance from the music scene is only temporary.

Word soon spread that Faith No More needed a singer. Among the demo tapes they received was one from a San Francisco band called Mr Bungle. The song, "The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny", featured the voice of Mike Patton - who duly joined Faith No More

in time to put lyrics to the music the band had already written for the new album.

Patton, who was then barely 20 years old and a good deal younger than the other members of the band, possessed a real singing voice which was both powerful and sweet — reminiscent of Sly Stone's husky purr.

The new line-up made their live debut at a club in San Francisco in December 1988, quietly exercising their new singer, and proving to themselves and their local fans that things were working out fine.

They spent the start of the new year recording their follow-up to the critically acclaimed "Introduce Yourself", working in a studio in nearly Sausalito. Once again, Matt Wallace produced, this time sharing his credit with the band, and the album was in the can by the end of January. Titled "The Real Thing". and containing nine original songs including the monumental instrumental, "Woodpecker From Mars", the album didn't disappoint the fans. Patton's lyrics turned out to be as "black as Chuck's, but his vocal delivery was very different. The CD version, incidentally, came with two extra tracks “Edge Of The World"

and the band's perennial encore, Sabbath's “War Pigs”.

The band's third U.K. tour began on July 4th last year, and included one gig at the new Marquee Club in Charing Cross Road. The weather was scorching hot, and a tube strike was in full swing, but despite a disappointingly small audience the band gave everything they had, in a breathtaking spectacle of power.


Over in America, their popularity was taking longer to build. Before their U.K. visit, Faith No More had played a showcase gig at the Roxy in L.A., impressing both music biz people and local celebrities. For their encore that night, the band had been joined onstage by Slash and Duff from Guns'N Roses for a memorable rendition of "War Pigs".

Elsewhere, though, the band's name hadn't filtered down to the general public.

In October, the band were back in the U.K for fifteen more dates. To tie in with the visit, London issued "From Out Of Nowhere" as a

single, backed with two new songs, "Cowboy Song" and "The Grave" (12" only). Around the same time, 'Kerrang!' featured the band on a free flexi-disc using an out-take from the sessions for "The Real Thing" called "Sweet Emotion".


ARENAS


Winter saw the band back on the American touring circuit, as support act to fellow San Franciscans Metallica. The tour was booked into huge arenas, setting the band the challenge of how to put themselves across such a massive expanse of audience. Metallica did their best to help: each night, singer/guitarist James Hetfield joined them for "War Pigs".


On January 27th 1990, yet another tour of the U.K. began, which culminated in a sold-out show at the London Astoria. Out came another track from the album as a single. “Epic" was the choice this time, backed with a live version of "War Pigs" recorded in Berlin during the autumn tour. This coupling was used on the 7"

and 7" picture disc. A 7" in a special gatefold sleeve has an extra live track, "Surprise You're Dead". The 12" and CD formats have an additional track, a live take of "Chinese Arithmetic".

Apparently not worried about over-

exposure Faith No More came back for a

fourth British promotional tour for "The Real

Thing" this April, and reissued "From Out Of

Nowhere" as a single. This persistence paid off, with the record becoming their first U.K. hit, having been issued in five formats. The 7” gatefold sleeve edition comes with live recordings of "Woodpecker From Mars" and "Epic", taped during the winter tour at Norwich. The taped during the winter tour at Norwich. The 12”, 12” picture disc and CD have an additional live track “The Real Thing”, while the cassette single is only backed with "Wood-pecker From Mars" (live).


Turning up on 'Top Of The Pops', where they  looked a little incongruous alongside the whooping audience of pop fans, there was the suggestion that Faith No More were at last becoming slightly fashionable.

'Slightly' was still the operative word, however, as their follow-up, "Falling To Pieces", peaked at No. 41 - despite the boost of extra live tracks on all formats, and various other free bonus items. Now London are trying again, with a reissue of "Epic" designed to take Faith No More back into the Top 40. They would certainly make the most unlikely pop stars, but as far as their music goes, they are the real thing.



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