FAITH NO MORE | Kerrang! 287 Cover Story
Ho-hum. But listen up, suckers! Are you tired of lifeless, bloodless interviews? Fed up wfth tales of studios and producers, record company and management politics? Do you thirst for tales of organised crime, government corruption and mass murderers? Thought so... Pull up a chair then and make yourself comfortable because FNM bassman Bill Gould has put on his best Mac Bygraves voice to say....
'I Wanna Tell You A Story'.
Cover photo | Ross Halfin
Article | Steffan Chirazi
Article | Steffan Chirazi
As I watch Faith No More's sell-out show at LA's Palace, the thought sort of flows into my mind and stops there for the rest of the night.
The baby is no longer, the youngster doesn't pee it's nappies anymore. Faith No More are an improper adult.
From being a band that no one wanted to know, FNM have grown into one of the biggest in Britain and Europe - and a band that are finally
turning the more ignorant in their native America onto the Real Thing.
Tonight's Palace show is the best this band has played since Mike Patton joined the ranks. Playing athletic, crunchy, wide, mobile music on springs. Faith No More take the crowd through the real world with superb pace and order, the whole show climaxing gloriously in 'Epic' .
The LA crowd seem to actually have it all upstairs for once, choosing to focus on their own instinctive reactions instead of their buddies. The result is a Palace heaving and wobbling like some giant amoeba ... although amoebae don't stage dive to the best of my knowledge.
All this off the back of two
ferocious, sweaty and triumphant hometown San Franciscan affairs at the Stone and the Omni, where
floorboards and PA's found it tough to take the immense strain and I found it hard to peel the sopped shirt off my drowning back.
Each cog of Faith No More is currently operating at it's peak: Patton is nothing short of amazing, Mike 'Puffster' Bordin simply one if the best drummers you'll see, Roddy
Bottum continues to be the fastest developing member in terms of overall presence and his willingness to take some stage spotlight, and amidst all the fuss is the one member who has probably changed the least—Jim 'Shirt' Martin. Even
if he shaved his head (or just cut it off) he'd still be the same.
Then there's Bill Gould: more buried
than ever in his basswork. Just before the Palace show I sit down with him to talk.
A founder-member of the band, it strikes me that despite my lengthly documentation of Faith No More, Gould is one pocket I was always either too scared or too wary to delve into. As nice a fellow as Bill is,
he is a constant threat to security.
Gould was the child with the child with the nice smile who spat in the headmaster's tea, the child who wondered what would happen with certain chemical combinations in the school laboratory. And Bill Gould
His mind is constantly lubricated by the exact thought that "they" don't want you to have.
"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' which is just fair and there's this new one called... Jesus Christ I can't remember the title now..." (Gould looks genuinely pained) "...but anyway it's 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."
Is it the evils in organised government that make this stuff so appealing?
"I'm just fascinated by it, and in case music doesn't work out then I'd like to feel that I know something about the apparatus of the business world... the musician's career can be very short-lived."
What has viewing that business world made Gould think about the music biz?
"It's very interesting because before we had a deal the record companies were just some kind of monolith, this unattainable, unapproachable mega machine.
"But then I read books about CIA/government bribery and I realise that record company people are small fish who could end up in suitcases. Even the president of Warner Bros could end up in the trunk of a car at anytime... which I of course would never want to wish upon anyone, but you realise that these things could happen".
Could it ever happen to you Bill?
"I'm not worth anything to anybody so I'm not worried about it personally. Generally I don't think anyone in the record industry is worth it because the money that the industry generates is just small change to even a single Colombian
gold-carrying coke dealing outfit."
I remind Bill that Faith No More seem to be worth something to the people of Britain right now, with 'From Out Of Nowhere' at Number 30 and rising (?), a slot on 'Top Of The Pops', Hammersmith Odeon sell-outs.
"Yeah, true, but that's all based much more on a communicative and cultural basis. It has nothing to do with money or power or that side of
things, and let's be serious, if I wanted to make money and be on that side I'd be smuggling cocaine because that's where the big money seems to be at."
Gould elaborates further the money game.
"Pornography isn't as hot as it used to be, but maybe gay pornography because many homosexuals have been buying gay pornography due to the whole AIDS situation. Although having said that many heterosexuals too would rather sit in their house and wank off than risk disease, the country as a whole is turning to pornography much more."
Despite all attempts by Thatcher the differences between Britain and America remain numerous. For a start. Faith No More are huge in Britain. What are the differences through Gould's eyes, and why?
"I think it's down to three things. One is that the British audience takes less bullshit in their music. Case in point is the first time we played there, they'd play Slayer before the show and kids would be
jumping around and getting into it. You'd just never see that in the US with a band that's so heavy and unconventional, not with masses of people anyway, so in Britain there's a more open frame of mind. "Second, the business is just different in Britain and the third is communications where you can have magazines that come out once a week going all over the country.
"In the USA the only one that even comes out every two weeks is Rolling Stone and by the time you're in Rolling Stone you've already hit the masses, so in Britain that
communication means a lot. Then Rolling Stone isn't so much a magazine as a symbol which represents what is doing well and is telling you this is it. A magazine like Kerrang! might do a feature on an unsigned band that nobody's heard of but because of that story they will and people will check 'em out. Maybe they suck, but maybe they don't..."
What about the cultural differences? "Well. I must say I think British people seem very hung-up on sex,"he starts in earnest, "they're fascinated by it, seem to tolerate it in softcore yet totally reject it in hardcore formats. Americans are totally the opposite. If the supervisor of a council is having an affair with another member's wife, it's not much, unless he's running for president. You just don't get front page coverage in the US simply because you are a city council member who had an affair that included getting whipped and chained! But then there's no denying that when it comes to good ol' white trash, America leads the way, they really like to cook it up."
I wonder if the deep traditional British religious foundations have a bearing on these differences through
"I don't think so actually, because I feel the heavy protestant ethic is deeper in America because all the extremists and psychopaths got out of Britain and came here!"
Why is it then, that a country so sexually repressed can find the extra energy American audiences lack? "I'm really not sure,", concedes Bill before voicing a theory. "It might have something to do with releasing
built-up frustrarions and being able to just let them go at one time. "Americans have many more opportunities to relieve stress especially through stress-relieving toys such as Nintendo games and consumer items that are only just available in Britain now. In the US these things have been around for quite a while so people are maybe less stressed? I dunno, who can Be sure."
We decide to move on to musical matters, (Shame, I liked that bit about whips and chains -Ed.) and the fact that many FNM songs these days boast a newer, brighter arrangement. Does this come from playing too much and getting bored, or just becoming better musicians? "It has much more to do with our improving abilities as musicians. You don't get bored playing the same songs because basically the physical set becomes a challenge. It's like meditation, you sink into it and the whole thing just gets better the more you do it.
But what actually brings the thought into your head to rearrange something?
"I dunno," concedes Gould, "that's a good question. With 'Chinese Arithmetic' for example, we tried something that seemed like fun and it worked out. "If the show's going real good we sometimes just try things out and make stuff up on our own. There are certain nights where you know it's gonna work because everybody's 'on'. It just sorta mutates out of situations."
When Gould adds his touch
to tunes, are they the result of his personal fascinations?
"Only in as much as reading's great for focusing in and keeping interest on whatever's being done. So when I write stuff sure, my mind's more able to focus but I don't think about coke
dealers while I write bass lines! However, the intensity of, being so interested in, something reflects onto other things.
"it's like an exercise."
How much thought and pressure is there going into Faith No More right now as a result of the rapidly rising profile? Is writing a new album a weight
"Every once in a while I suppose," sighs Gould, "but when we kicked out Chuck...(Mosley, former FNM singer)... we hadn't written one new
song for this record, we had no idea what we were gonna do, we'd toured the last album for two years and I personally thought we were all used up. But then when you get off this touring thing, you look at the music in a different frame of mind and you can put your time into song writing and it happens just fine. Having a record company that's pledging full support and what have you isn't pressure, it's confidence, it feels good. Anyway, that sort of pressure is something this band's never really taken to heart, because we just do our own thing. If we were one of those bands that worried about what companies and people thought, we wouldn't have fired Chuck would we? But we aren't like that."
I Suddenly remember Bill's interest in mass murderers and note that he
hasn't mendoned this so far.
"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."
You have to wonder just what a chap like William Gould could possibly be scared by. Body fat maybe?
"Ummm... I m not sure. Maybe the only thing is that somebody in the band will f**k up and not do their job
properly, I mean that's the thing that scares me, but I feel that problem's largely been alleviated. We're signed up for a long time. It's like there's a limited amount of oxygen and you're
in a small tank, and if everybody watches their breath, breathes lightly and co-operates, then everybody will be fine and you can open up the tank and walk out: like an experiment. But if somebody panics, it'll take everybody's oxygen away from them..."
Bill Gould, murderous flickering eye and all, will be on the next edition of 'Jackanory'.