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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Rolling Stone | August 1997

STAYING POWER

Rachel Pirie


Faith No More deliver their sixth album in over a decade, the modestly-titled "Album of the Year"


IS IT JUST PLAIN PRESUMPTUOUS of a band to call an album Album of the Year? Or maybe it's supposed to be a sarcastic comment on the nature of the record industry? One thing's certain, the title still makes Roddy Bottum, Faith No More's keyboardist, laugh. "It was sort of a bold statement to make. We thought it was funny that anyone who'd write about the record would have to write 'Album of the Year'," says Bottum. Welcome to Faith No More, 1997.

Album of the Year is Faith No More's sixth album in over a decade, the fourth with lead vocalist and crazy man Mike Patton. With each album since The Real Thing sounding decidedly different, it's no surprise that Album of the Year isn't a King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime Part II. "The artistic statements seem to be a lot more consolidated," says Bottum.

"The album as a whole is not as long and it's not as convoluted and complicated. I think the tempo on a lot of the songs is not as erratic as the last record and the sound of it seems to be more precise, for the lack of a better adjective. The overall tone of the record, I think, is a little bit crisper than the last record."


Still, the actual process of recording Album of the Year was not quite as smooth as the finished product may suggest. With Patton button-pushing and knob-turning for Mr Bungle, Bottum harmonising with Imperial Teen, bassist Billy Gould mucking around in his studio and producing an unknown Russian band and drummer Mike Bordin filling in for Black Sabbath, getting everyone together, at the one time, proved to be a bit of a chore.

"There was a lot of resistance this time around. It was done more in bits and pieces than any other record we've made," says Bottum.

"We weren't really all satisfied," adds Patton. "We wrote a couple of batches of songs and the first batch wasn't quite ready yet so we put it back in the oven for a little while. It always feels good when an album is finished. Each one is its own little pain in the arse to make. So it's like the only time you can breathe easy is when it's finished and everyone can step back and go 'Aaaahh!' It's like, in my closet now. I haven't been morbid enough to pull it back out." Bottum is much less pained and more co-operative talking about the new album. "The song I like the most is 'Stripsearch'. It seems to be the most modern track. Up until the outro I really love it. I like the lack of guitars on it."

Faith No More do, however, have a new guitarist. Yes. Another one.

Following Jim Martin's departure from the band after the 1994 Angel Dust tour, Trey Spruance joined, sticking around long enough to record King for a Day. Dean Menta was then recruited as the touring of the album began. But things soon fell apart as work on Album of the Year began - Bottum, Patton and Gould found that writing songs with Men-ta was not a happening thing. Enter John Hudson.

"He'd been a friend of Billy's for years and years and was in a band in San Francisco called Systems Collapse," says Bottum. "Yeah, he's great," says Patton. "He wrote a couple of tunes for this record. We write with him really well and we'll find out very soon how he is to tour with, but I assume everything's going to be fine. We've had a little bit of bad luck in the past."

Faith No More are no strangers to line-up changes, but it doesn't seem to have affected the band's durability or its spirit. Patton simply laughs when asked how Faith No More can overcome what could potentially destroy any band.

"Well. we're not really asking for a whole hell of a lot!" he says. "We just want someone we can write songs with and tolerate on tour. It doesn't sound like a big deal - but we soon found out it was. With the first guy [the big-haired Jim Martin], it really was bad for a long time and we just put up with it and then we realised, 'Why? Why do we have to put up with this shit?' We don't have enough energy - it's not worth it. So we got another guy who recorded a great record but didn't want to tour. So we got another guy to finish the tour, he toured great but we couldn't write with him. So it's kind of like you turn one direction and you get it in the arse. You've gotta cover your arse before someone punches you in the face."


Bottum takes a more composed view. "On one hand it's been problematic, you know, the leaving member. But on the other hand it's sort of a good therapeutic process to always have a scapegoat. So every time someone comes or leaves you can blame all of what went wrong with the last recording process on that person. But every time we change a member, in our eyes, the band is becoming a little bit more of what we want it to be."

While the first single from Album of the Year released in Australia was "Ashes To Ashes", US fans were handed "Last Cup Of Sorrow"

, the video clip for which, held the band's interest more than those in the past.

"It was kind of a fun video for us to make because we didn't have to dance around with our instruments, which is what we're used to," says Patton. "It's a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo and Jennifer Jason Leigh is going to be in the video. I'm going to be playing a policeman, which I'm very excited about," gushes Bottum. "I think he likes those uniforms," says Patton with a playful laugh.


With Faith No More set to tour Album of the Year, it doesn't leave much time for the band members' celebrated side-projects. Plans for Imperial Teen include the recording of a new album and a tour with Dinosaur Jr. Bottum answers a question about the contrast between Faith No More and Imperial Teen as if he has answered it a thousand times over. "The kids that would get into Imperial Teen, I don't think really even know Faith No More," he says. "I don't get a lot of cross-over from fans. It's sort of a different world."

Not so with Patton. He sounds as though he'd answer absolutely any question with unbridled enthusiasm.

Patton has recorded and released two bizarre, bordering on annoying, solo albums where he does things with his vocal chords that no-one should be able, or need, to do. "My friend runs that record label and he said, 'If you have any crazy shit that you want to do, I'll put it out'. So I honed . in on a couple of ideas and put out a couple of records."


Patton, aka Vlad Drac, also fronts the demented audio and visual experience, Mr Bungle. "Each [band] has its own strengths and weaknesses. Mr Bungle is kind of a playground really," says Patton.

"Everybody else in that band is very busy with their own stuff too, so that's one place where we can meet and basically get away with whatever the hell we want to, with no consequences."

Every band comes to the point where they simply call it a day, for one reason or another. Some come painfully close, but can pull through it and rise and shine on the other side. Faith No More will continue to walk that tightrope.

"We've always maintained that it's really important to know when it's over. You really have to recognise that there's nothing more disgusting than whipping a dead horse," says Patton. "We could have walked away from this album just as easily as any of the others. This time there was a point where we said, 'Look, is there something left to say?' And there was... so we made another record."



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