top of page
  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

RIP | December 1992


Christine Natanael

Christine "The Writer From Hell" Natanael talks to FAITH NO MORE'S BILLY GOULD.

One evening, as I sat in a friend's living room eating Chinese food, watching cable comedy shows and feeling my deadline time approach, I began pondering-pondering the big things in life, that is, like, why is it that any fortune cookie fortune is inherently more funny when you add the words "in bed" to the end of it, and whether or not there were any philosophical and true prophetic meanings underlying the fact that Faith No More's guitarist, Jim Martin, was chosen as one of the major music figures to time-travel into the future to address music students in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. The latter weighed on my mind as I listened to the new album Angel Dust.

Faith No More has become, over the last three years, one of the most respected and popular "underground" bands. Although the group has attained vast acceptance since the release of their 1990 album The Real Thing, it was in 1983 that the group was actually conceived within the marginally sick minds of Roddy Bottum and Billy Gould.

In the beginning they were just a couple of L.A. punks who had moved to San Francisco. There they met up with Mike Bordin to form Faith No Man, and even had vocalist Courtney Love (of Hole fame) on vocals for 6 months or so before hooking up with thrash riff-meister Jim Martin and psycho frontman Chuck Mosely, and then changing their name to Faith No More.

It was with this lineup, armed with a 5-song demo, that they convinced Mordam Records A&R rep Ruth Schwartz to put up the money to record 1985's We Care A Lot. The year of 1987 brought their first major-label release, Introduce Your- self, but the subsequent touring also brought on in-fighting and the throwing of punches, which finally ended when Mosely left the group. In January '89, the band asked a 21 year old fan from Eureka, California named Mike Patton (who had been the first to audition) to join the group. Nineteen-ninety saw the release of The Real Thing, and the band embarked on a 10- month tour with groups like Metallica, Soundgarden and VoiVod. After months of playing to medium-sized crowds and even getting abused by Metallica fans, all of a sudden, album sales doubled within one week. This prompted the group to continue touring for an additional 8 months with people like Robert Plant and Billy Idol, as well as doing Rock in Rio 2, and the San Francisco Day On The Green with Soundgarden, Queensryche and Metallica.

During their hiatus between touring and recording, the band members were involved in many different projects. They contributed a lounge version of the Dead Kennedy's song "Let's Lynch the Landlord." Guitarist Jim Martin made his acting debut in the aforementioned Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. Bassist Billy Gould produced demos from-Brujeria and The White Trash Debutantes featuring Ginger Coyote on vocals (a band Gould was once a member of)as well as traveling with producer Matt Wallace to record music of the native peoples of Samoa. Mike Patton kept quite occupied between his Mr. Bungle project and performing with John Zorn's jazzcore outfit Naked City. In between all of that, the band also found time to record Angel Dust.

"It took about three months," says Gould via telephone from his hotel room in Newcastle, England where they've got a day off on the new tour with Soundgarden and Guns 'N Roses. "We recorded it a month before we left on the road. We hit the road right away. We didn't waste any time because the Guns tour happened in Europe. It was already booked, and they asked us if we wanted to do it or not. So, we had to say yes. Obviously."

“People think it took three years to come up with another record, but two of those three years were touring," he continues. "When we got off tour we spent, like, six weeks just doing nothing. Then it took about two months just to f*ck around in the studio before we even felt like writing anything. Actually, the whole thing came together in about a year, and that's written, recorded, and mixed."

Angel Dust is a collective mix of boundary-pushing material, eclectic and steeped in extended hyper-surrealism. It is not the logical pop follow-up to their hugely successful cd of '90.

"All of the songs serve a certain purpose or another," says Billy. "By themselves, they don't work without everything else. Like, 'R.V.' is such a slow song, but you have to have a song like 'Caffeine' to balance it out, you know? One really isn't good without the other. I don't think we could have [done the pop thing]. I mean, it probably wouldn't have been much fun. We try to make a record that is as challenging and fun for ourselves-everything has to sound good, obviously, but we try to make it fun for ourselves."

The most notable change, besides the obvious com- plexity of the new material is the style of vocalist Mike Patton's singing. His timbre is deeper, richer. The phrasing, while still unusual, has taken on more of a free-formed approach. Had his time spent with Mr. Bungle and Naked City had a huge effect on his thinking and his style? "It probably had a pretty big influence in that maybe he felt like he had a little more freedom to do whatever the hell he wanted," admits Gould. "Maybe his imagination expanded a bit. I mean, the last record he was kind of repressed because he had just joined the group and he didn't know us very well.He didn't know what he could get away with and what he could do. We've always said, 'you can do whatever you want as long as it works.' I think he got a little more wise to what the game is all about, too. I mean, he toured with Zorn and got into some really wild shit and got to understand it. But I think he also got to understand that there's even a consistency to that stuff when you play it everyday. And really, you know, if you tour in a band, there's these certain things that are, these inanities that affects everybody, no matter what kind of band you're in. It's the same fucking thing. If you tour, there's a certain point where, you could be Poison or you could be Einsturzende Neubauten, but you still have to deal with the same shit. When you play everything day after day, no matter what your music sounds like, it's gonna feel the same."

Still, Gould admits that had FNM not toured so incessantly with the last album and exposed their music to so many people at so many levels, they wouldn't be where they are today.

"A lot of bands like Ministry, like us, record companies three years ago didn't know how to market these kinds of bands. They've been learning how to now, but they didn't know how to then because there was no market. The bands had to create it themselves by touring, by getting in people's faces and people going, 'what the hell is this?' People always assume the general public is stupid. If you do assume that, then what you do is you breed stupid people because you give them stupid shit."

In the interest of not giving the fans any more stupid shit, FNM has put together a record that is a biting commentary as well as a cynical indulgence. The songs themselves simply drip with irony and sardonic humor. A fine example is the track "R.V." with all its grumbling and mumbling.

"He's just talking about how he is a beaten soul," states Billy, "and he doesn't care anymore because he gets beaten down so hard that he doesn't even feel it anymore. The last thing he says is he has to have a talk with his kids, and he'll just tell them what his parents told him-that they'll never amount to anything."

Also included is the band's own commentary on those who are caught in the midst of the war on drugs.

"The whole idea for 'Crack Hitler' came from this quote in the newspaper," claims Gould. There was this guy who was an ex-drug dealer who was going around the Tender- loin district in San Francisco and he was lecturing on the evils of drugs. And I read this in the newspaper. I cut it out. I just laughed so hard. It was just this quote where this guy said, 'in regards to my usage of the drug, it modified my personality to the extent that I was highly irritable. I was like a crack Hitler.' And it was such a-you know how people talk when they get in front of a judge this kind of verbosity that is completely inappropriate. And then he calls himself a crack Hitler, but it's such an ignorant thing to say, because crack and Hitler are the two most abstract things you could ever put together. It was just such an extreme abuse of the language that we laughed really hard. It's such a sick concept. We could never come up with it on our own."

Yet, much of the concepts on Angel Dust they did come up with on their own. And the levels of sickness will be wholly interpreted by the listener. This is not a safe album, by any means. It is going to stir up some emotions and maybe even make you feel nauseated, yet it'll make you feel as if you've also just seen God. I guess that's why they called the thing Angel Dust after all.

43 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page