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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

RIP | October 1988

No laughing matter

Stella


What is it? Super Elastic Bubble Plastic? Putrid Plastigoop gone wrong? It certainly ain't Silly String that's hanging from the hotel room ceiling and threatening to kerplunk at any minute. No, it's the real thing-straight from the mouth of Faith No More's guitarist, Jim Martin.

I won 40 bucks off that one over there by the curtains," boasts Jim. "Two guys bet me 20 dollars each that it would fl?king drip. One said it would drip within 30 minutes. One said it would drip by Super Bowl Sunday. And there it is, right over there. It's not going anywhere!"

He continues his monologue on sickening spit stalactites, fondly reminiscing about "one that hung so low, if you walked underneath, it would touch your head. It f?!king dried like that. The ones that are good come from the sinuses. You gotta let some air go out. You gotta do it in the power band of the breath—the lower lip and tongue action combined with a lot of air.”


Mercifully, it's much more sanitary at the next day's mixing sessions for The Real Thing, Faith No More's long-awaited third LP Bassist Billy Gould and keyboard player Roddy Bottum take a break on a couch underneath the nice, clean ceiling in the lounge while the rest of the band plays pool.

"The way we've been portrayed before was kind of like this fun-loving, party-boy shit-that Beastie Boys bullshit," complains Billy.

"Yeah," agrees Roddy. "I don't like that whole joke image thing.”

In that case, shouldn't someone tell Jim to stop showing off his ceiling expectorant? "It's not just explains Roddy. "It's like when we went to Europe. People were writing stuff about how we fight a lot.”

Billy adds, "I think if you play up that fun-lovin' shit-just to write it off as some kind of Three Stooges joke-is kind of a shame. We arrange all these songs ourselves. We've put a helluva lot of work into it for a long time."

Faith No More-no laughing matter? Ha! They have been at it for a while though. It all started about eight years ago, when Billy moved from Los Angeles to attend school in Berkeley and somehow started jamming with drummer Mike "Puffy" Bordin. Billy's old grammar-school buddy, Roddy, then got in on the action.

kinda joined those guys after they'd

been playing for a little bit. They had a band called Faith No Man, with another keyboard player. I joined after the other keyboard player left. That was probably '82 or '83."


Jim Martin didn't sling his axe onto the scene until a year later. "We had a hard time finding guitar players in the beginning, remembers Billy. "Since Mike, Roddy and I were the steady members, we pretty much worked out a sound among us three until we felt we could find a guitar player that we really felt good with. That's why we have such an integral point of sound, 'cause we were writing music for a long time without any guitars. We were smoking a lot of pot then, so the keyboards sounded really cool too.”

Jim puts down his pool cue to interrupt.

"Once they had a guitar player, they hardly knew what to do with it. They kind of like to keep it as a pet!'

Billy retorts, "Some animals, you really can't tame!"

Roddy jumps in to philosophize, "You gotta start from the very beginning and teach 'em how to go outside and not make a mess inside."

"I haven't really caught on though, admits Jim.

Roddy tries to finish his train of thought.

"We picked him from out of the wilds when he'd already been through puberty. You know what they say—like chimpanzees-once they get into puberty, if you don't beat them every day they'll turn on you.

Billy adds, "They get really vicious once they get a sex drive!"'


Regardless, the addition of Jim's searing, crunching riffs over the tight thrusts laid down by a solid rhythm section, combined with jet-propulsion style keyboards, completed Faith No More's unique punk-funk-Glenn LaFerman metal, whachamacallit hybrid roar. 1985 saw the release of FNM's debut LP on Mordam Records, an independent Bay Area label. Its catchy title track, We Care a Lot, garnered fans and considerable college-radio airplay. Slash Records soon took note, signed the band and put out the Introduce Yourself album a year later.

Things slowed down a bit after the band parted ways with original vocalist Chuck Mosley.


The search for a replacement took some time. "Actually, we auditioned five people. It was very ugly;” deadpans Jim.

"We were looking for somebody who had a good ear, could sing and was into it. That was the main thing, 'cause we had had enough problems already with people who weren't into doing it."


The band ended up choosing the first guy who had tried out—a 21-year-old named Mike Patton, who sang with a Bay Area porno-thrash-funk-spunk-shit outfit known as Mr. Bungle.

So FNM was ready to roll again in the Fall of '88. But how did they deal with the confusion caused by now having two members with the same name? The solution was provided by drummer Mike's pre-dreadlock hairdo history. "Mike had this huge Afro," reveals Roddy. "The story goes that in his driver's license picture, his face was in the middle, and this picture was all hair! You couldn't even see the edges of it in the picture! That's why we call him Puffy!"

“I guess we should say that this is our best sounding record, right?” asks Billy.

"Yes, but I don't think a sexy cover is the answer to why a record sells or not," jokes Roddy. "Because, you tell me, the White album—what was that? There's nothing on that goddamn cover! You know what I'm saying?'

Lord knows what FNM is trying to say with their latest album cover. They went the surreal route with a piece by Jeff Price that features a big, mysterious, mud-encrusted planet, as well as a bright orange sun set against a vivid red sky with a bunch of thundering clouds rolling across the bottom. It's as trippy as those famous album covers that Roger Dean did for les back in the 70s.

The Real Thing stands as FNM's most powerful album to date. Young Mike displays himself as a much different singer than his predecessor, and he handles the variety of tunes with ease. He flies with the frenetic energy of 'From Out of Nowhere’ barks and snarls his way menacingly through

'Surprise! You're Dead!’ and pleads his heart out on 'Falling to Pieces.' He flips both sides of a sweet/evil personality on the schizophrenic lullaby 'Zombie Eaters,’ and enhances the soulful sway of ‘Underwater Love.’ Puffy himself described the vocal work on 'Epic’ (the stand-out track on the album) as a cross between Axl Rose and Sly Stone! The cabaret-style song-and-dance swagger of

‘Edge of the World’ and FNM's killer version of ‘War Pigs’ are available only as CD and cassette bonus tracks.

This new LP shows a progression for the band. “We always kinda did three-minute songs. That was our kind of thing. But there's some long ones now,” Billy points out.

"The guitar has had more of a chance to be heard and felt. It lets go more than on the other albums."

“I wasn't happy with the sound on the last record,” observes Jim.

“This one's sounding a lot better. It's a lot more rock-in'. It sounds a lot more like Faith No More. The last two weren't very good representations of what we sound like.

"We have some violins going this time," says Roddy, referring to ‘Woodpecker From Mars’. Violins on a FNM record? Who played them? "It's just a floppy disc that we put in the keyboard," laughs Roddy. “It's 1989-get with it! It's beautiful.”

"We have a lot more versatility with the keyboards. Usually bands that get on a huge scale and start doing really well eventually incorporate a keyboard player. See, we’re way ahead of things.”





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