The A to Z of Billy Gould
Updated: Apr 25
Faith No More's bass player, CEO of Koolarrow Records, and importer of Balkan rakija Billy Gould is 58 today. We are celebrating with an alphabetical run through of some of his coolest endeavors.
A IS FOR THE AUDACITY OF HYPE
Jello Biafra, the legendary lead singer of The Dead Kennedys, and Bill first worked together in the Mexican metal band Brujeria during the early nineties. Biafra then asked Faith No More to contribute a cover of Let's Lynch The Landlord to Alternative Tentacles 100th album release.
For Biafra's 50th birthday celebrations he collaborated with guitarist Ralph Spight, drummer Jon Weiss and bassist Bill in the band Jello Biafra and The Guantanamo School of Medicine.
The band recorded the record The Audacity of Hype before Bill left to rejoin Faith No More.
"I was a major Dead Kennedys fan in my high school years, and I first met Jello when I was 16 years old at The Whisky [a Go Go] in Los Angeles. We told the people guarding the backstage that we were guests, and he saw us and said,‘yeah, they’re okay, come on in.’ He hung out with us, even though we were kids. But also, in playing in his band, I was just a bass player and I had to do my job.at the time, that was perfect for me: liberating in a different way.” - Bill
B IS FOR BUMBLE BEE
Bill is not afraid to dress for the occasion - from dresses to diner suits. However his most famous ensemble is surely the bumble bee costume worn during Faith No More‘s performance of Everything’s Ruined on the UK TV show The Word in 1992.
C IS FOR CASTRO SINATRA
In April 1998 Faith No More announced they were no longer a band.
The five members pursued different projects but two years later Bill, Mike Bordin and Jon Hudson reunited to write new music under the name Castro Sinatra. Unfortunately the band only lasted eighteen months and none of the music was released.
"We got into a little bit of a whirlpool or a wormhole with that one. It just wasn’t right. It wasn’t good enough." - Bill
D IS FOR DAVID BOWIE
At the age of ten Bill attended his first rock concert accompanied by his father - that show was David Bowie at the Long Beach Arena in 1973.
Bowie became a major influence on Bill as a young musician and after Bowie's death in 2016 Bill shared his favourite Bowie songs with us.
E IS FOR EASTENDERS
Bill has always been fascinated with different cultures from around the world and has found sanctuary in foreign countries such as Chile, the Balkans and the UK. Bill first crossed the North Atlantic Ocean at the age of eighteen to promote his first band and then returned again to England with FNM in 1988 for his first overseas tour.
Bill's preoccupation with Eastenders, a British TV soap opera set in London's East End, was revealed in 2009 when FNM covered the theme tune during their sets at Leeds and Reading Festivals. In 2012 FNM were back on tour and Bill was photographed on-set visiting the Queen Victoria pub in the fictional borough of Walford. He has since shared social media status' referring to plot twists and characters.
F IS FOR FEAR AND NERVOUS SYSTEM
Fear and the Nervous System is a project set up by Korn guitarist James 'Munky' Shaffer in 2008. The band recorded one album which was released in 2012. Bill featured on bass.
"My guitar tech for 15 years used to tech for Faith No More. He was Jim Martin’s guitar tech back when Jim Martin was back in Faith No More. Him and Billy had a relationship and I was saying, “Man, I gotta get someone to play bass on this thing,” and he said, “Do you want me to ask Billy?” and I said, “Well, yeah! I’m a huge Faith No More fan!” Ever since they had Chuck Mosley in the band and the first record, I’ve been a fan. So, that goes way back. And Korn and myself and everyone that has anything to do with this band have been Faith No More fans. And Billy said, “Let me come down and I’ll fly down.” He came down and I picked him up from the airport. He liked a lot of the tracks and started working on them later that night. So that came together." - Munky
G IS GUERO SIN FE
A Spanish phrase translated as 'white man with faith' ... aka Bill Gould. This is the pseudonym Bill adopted whilst amongst the ranks of Mexican extreme metal band Brujeria. Founded in 1989 by Bill and Brujeria's singer John Lepe, alias Juan Brujo, the group also featured members of Fear Factory, Carcass and Napalm Death.
Bill left the band in 2002 and had this to say:
"I was involved from the beginning, and it's just a different band now. I left around the same time that Ray did. What I really liked in the beginning was that nobody really said who was in the band, it was something done purely out of fun, and it didn't take itself too seriously. It ruffled a lot of people's feathers too, so it was all really positive. At that time, Mexico didn't really have death metal bands, and it was great to be involved in something that was interesting on so many levels. I think the way the band turned — I can't stop other band members from giving their names and saying who they are — it changes the focus of the whole thing, and it becomes just a typical rock band that really doesn't have any meaning that interests me."
H IS FOR JON HUDSON
In 1993 Bill produced a demo for Jon Hudson’s band Systems Collapse. A year later Bill sent Jon the King For A Day Fool For A Lifetime demos and Jon recorded some ideas. After FNM chose to work with Trey Spruance Jon landed a job as head guitar tech for Monster Magnet.
In 1996 when FNM were again in need of a guitarist, Bill approached Jon for a second time. There was no audition and Jon started to work with Bill straight away. Jon contributed a lot of ideas that made it onto Album Of The Year, including Stripsearch and Ashes To Ashes.
I IS FOR INTRODUCE YOURSELF
Faith No More released their second album on April 23rd 1987. Ahead of it's time and reinventing keyboard driven guitar music with genre shifting complexity. This record forced the music industry and press to think up a completely new class to describe it - coining the phrase 'funk metal'.
For fans it is the foundation of FNM's sound - a raw punk and funk energy that would be polished and expanded over the band's next five albums. The album has all the musical ingredients which create that familiar FNM noise however it is Bill that shines above the rest. The song's are driven by his trademark bass grunts and grooves.
J IS FOR EPSEN J JORGENSEN
Espen J. Jörgensen is a Norwegian filmmaker and musician who has collaborated with Bill on several projects. Bill was mixing a Kultur Shock record in Oslo when the two met and Jörgensen went on the direct videos for other Koolarrow artists including German metal band Harmful's Elaine (featuring Bill on guitar). Bill composed the soundtrack to Jörgensen's comic book documentary film The Sequential Art released in 2012. A year later the two released an EP of experimental hip hop sounds called Fugly.
K IS FOR KOOLARROW
After FNM had parted ways in 1998 Bill became disillusioned with being part of a band, he concentrated on music production and in 1999 founded his own label Koolarrow Records. Koolarrow specialises in international non English speaking music. Bill himself has recorded and produced many of the records released also occasionally lends his bass playing skills. Not only are many international cultures represented on KA but also varied genres, for example: the Chilean hip hop of Como Asesinar a Felipes, Bosnian pop outfit Dubioza kolektiv and the hardcore metal of US based Flattbush.
L IS FOR LOYOLA HIGH
Bill and Roddy Bottum met in 1972 when they were both aged nine. The pair were classmates at St Brendan Elementary School, and were in the same Boy Scout troop. Their Catholic education continued at Jesuit Loyola High School where they were taught together by nuns.
"Everything else was extremely conservative about them, except they wouldn’t wear the habits. They might as well have. They were sadistic; they were particularly intense and would create in our class a jailhouse mentality where we were the inmates and we stuck
together. We learned to do things clandestinely. We had these little acts of rebellion." - Bill
M IS FOR MAUSOLEUM OF IMPERFECTION
Mausoleum of Imperfection is a collection of picturesque and satirical portraits by the Balkan artist Slavko Krunić. Bill contributes to the book with accompanying stories inspired by Krunić’s work.
"This is something I’ve never done before, or even considered, but decided to do my best and channel some of what his paintings were telling me. I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that I even did it." - Bill
N IS FOR NAKED IN FRONT OF MY COMPUTER
Bill recognised the advantages of using computer technology in music during the mixing of Album Of The Year.
"Until now we every time we did an album...we recorded that on tape and mixed it then..roli changed our point of view. he copied all the stuff to the computer and we started to edit it then. we didn't do to much of that...we just really fucked up one song in the computer. most we did were little things that really improved much. and Roli also mixed the album and his extreme mixing style was really good for us." - Bill
"I've done a lot of interviews where they'll ask how I wrote a song, and I'll say on a computer. 'No way!' They just can't believe that our band would do stuff on a computer." - Bill
O IS FOR DIRTY O’KEEFFE
Dirty O’Keeffe is a band featuring: Christian Martucci from Stone Sour (Guitar, vocals), Lagwagon’s Dave Raun (drums), Steve Shepard from Trash n Privilege (guitar) and Bill on bass. The collaboration was the brainchild of Raun to help out of work stage crews impacted by covid-19.
The first song Brick or Bullet was released in February 2021.
P IS FOR PRODUCER
Bill first received production credits on Brujeria's 1990 EP ¡Demoniaco!, and then went on to produce other music for Alternative Tentacles. He practiced his production skills on a selection of B-sides from King For A Day Fool For A Lifetime which were recorded in his basement. In the same basement Bill produced Faith No More's sixth record Album Of The Year with guidance from Young God’s Roli Mosimann.
He returned to the mixing desk in 2015, this time with a little help from Matt Wallace to co-produce Faith No More's comeback album Sol Invictus.
Since then Bill has handled the production of many records for his own label including bands such as Talking Book, Kultur Shock, La Plebe, Como Asesinar a Felipes, Flattbush, Naive and more. Other bands he has worked with are CMX, Beatsteaks, Harmful and Elvis Jackson.
Q IS FOR CITY OF QUARTZ
In 2012 the Danish/American composer, producer and musician Mads Heldtberg released an instrumental album called City Of Quartz under the name House Of Hayduk. This abstract soundscape featured Bill, experimental drummer Charles Hayward, BJ Miller, Dean Hurley (musical producer of David Lynch), Timba Harris (Estradasphere), Anders Trentemøller and Peter Peter.
Heldtberg was the guitarist with Danish metal outfit Düreforsög who released two albums on Koolarrow Records.
R IS FOR ROCKABUL
RocKabul is a documentary film which follows the story of District Unknown, Afghanistan’s first and only heavy metal band against the backdrop of war and Islamic terror. Produced between 2009 and 2016 by Australian filmmaker Travis Beard and Executive Producer Bill Gould.
“Well, to me they’re a band that’s very naive, very innocent and very rough. But, if you consider that when they started out they didn’t even know they had to tune a guitar, I give them a pass, they get an A+ for effort. There’s kind of a fearlessness to their music-making, and that coupled with the innocence really appealed to me.” - Bill
S IS FOR SHANDI'S ADDICTION
Shandi's Addiction was a short lived supergroup who recorded a cover version of Calling Dr. Love for a Kiss My Ass tribute album. Bill played and produced the song with Tom Morello and Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine) on guitar and drums, and Maynard James Keenan (Tool) on vocals.
T IS FOR TALKING BOOK
Talking Book is an instrumental soundscape project featuring Bill, conceptual artist Jared Blum and Dominic Cramp of Gigante Sound. They have released two records, the first is dark and atmospheric yet still has an underlying warmth with rich textures and distinctive melodies. The second explores abstract foreboding sounds deeper, giving the listener an otherworldly experience.
U IS FOR UNDERGROUND EMPIRE
During the early nineties Faith No More’s preferred technique for evading the music press was to talk about anything except the music. This led to interesting and sometimes troublesome conversations involving Milli Vanilli, Bjork, Guns N Roses and more.
Whereas Mike Patton would confuse journalists with talk of masturbation, Bill would often discuss murderers and the criminal underworld. Here are a few quotes from a 1989 Kerrang! interview with Steffan Chirazi.
"I like to read a lot actually, that's correct, and my main obsession right now is with organised crime, arms trading and drug smuggling. I've read several books on these topics, one James Mills called 'The Underground Empire' which is the best of the lot. There's another called 'The Cocaine Wars' about the Triads in Hong Kong, and it talks about getting into heroin smuggling techniques, bribery at a government level. Also there's a book called 'Manhunt' which I'm really into, it's about an ex-CIA guy who sold stuff to the Libyans. Those kinda books really get me off."
"I'm very interested in murderers, but I'm more interested in organised crime. The murderer is fascinating because he's irrational but there's really no monetary value in becoming a mass murderer and many of them don't have much money— so there's very little chance of elaborate means of escape through political channels. I'm much more interested in guys like this dealer in Mexico known as 'Choci-loco' which means 'crazy pig'. This guy has millions of dollars and is a mass murderer too.
Once he got a guy, cut him up little by little so he wouldn't die too fast and fed, pieces of his fat to this pack of dogs to show he was slowly killing the guy whilst he was alive. Cochi-Loco is still alive and has not been arrested. Those type of murders fascinate me more."
V IS FOR V
V is the fifth (v) album by Chilean hip hop outfit Como Asesinar a Felipes. This and the band's seventh album Elipse were produced and mixed by Bill and were recorded at Bill's own Estudios Koolarrow in Oakland.
Bill went on the mix the next two CAF records and in 2018 joined them on tour.
W IS FOR WAYNE KRAMER
In May 2018 Wayne Kramer, the original guitarist from Michigan rockers MC5, announced the MC50 tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kick Out the Jams. The all-star line-up included Soundgarden's Kim Thayil on guitar, Fugazi's Brendan Canty on drums and Bill on bass. The band toured the world for two years.
X IS XTC
When Bill is asked to list his early influences he often refers to his discovery of punk at the age of 15. The Sex Pistols, The Germs and English new wave post-punkers XTC are often mentioned when describing Bill’s first band The Animated.
This featured his Boy Scout group friends, Mark Stewart (guitar), Paul Wimms (vocals/guitar) and Kevin Morgan (drums). Chuck Mosley also lived in the same neighbourhood and would often play keyboards with them. The Animated released a four track EP in 1981, recorded in Silver Lake.
"I also learned about bands like The Fall, Pop Group, XTC, Joy Division from them [The Animated] ; to look back on it now, they probably saved my (musical) life! Meanwhile, I got into more aggressive punk stuff too, maybe a bit more than them, but it created an interesting dynamic that made the music part Buzzcocks, part XTC, part "I don't know what". - Bill
Y IS FOR YEBIGA
"Not a lot of people know this, but from decades of touring and travelling the Balkans I have become very attached to a popular spirit called rakija. It's been made for centuries in the area but it seems that not many people in the US know what it is; and if they do, they seem to only be familiar with the nasty stuff." - Bill
Yebiga is a fruit brandy or rakija created by Bill, brewed in Serbia and imported to the U.S. Rakija is an important part of Southeast European culture. Drunk during religious ceremonies, weddings and funerals. When drinking "for the soul" of the deceased, one spills some rakija on the ground, saying "For the peaceful rest of the soul", before drinking the rest.
Z IS FOR ZON
Bill has been playing the same Zon Sonus bass since 1992 and it is partly this make and model of instrument that gives him his distinctive sound. In 2015 Zon released the Sonus BG4 Billy Gould Signature Bass which was designed in collaboration with Bill.
"...the most distinguishing feature of the BG4 is the on-board, touch-sensitive, distortion circuit, designed for this bass by Roy Zichri of Greenhouse Effects. When engaged, this circuit gives a grit and edge to the tone of the bass providing Bill’s distinctive sound. The BG4 is the first bass on the market to incorporate this feature."
You can pick up a Bill Gould guitar for around $35oo!!
Happy birthday Bill!