FAITH NO MORE their first Kerrang! cover story. Issue 246, July 8th 1989
KERRANG! | Issue 246 | 08.07.1989
Do not adjust your set: FAITH NO MORE control the vertical, they control the horizontal, and they are about to take you into the Twilight Zone, to a place where 17 universes collide and even STEFFAN CHIRAZI gets confused. A zone where their new album 'The Real Thing' plays continuously in all dimensions, where the band performs at a venue near you this very week!? And a zone where all mysteries are solved, where all truths are known, and all questions are answered - even this one:
WHO THE HELL ARE MILLI VANILLI?
THE REAL THING. If you haven't got it by now, if our merry little message hasn't hit home yet: take a deep breath, a large drink and a comfortable chair. It soon will hit you, with all the subtlety of a spiked mallet... Yippee and hooray, some bright spark on the 'inside' of the Los Angeles music business has decided that there is this 'new' band around that are hot. This 'new' band are really becoming quite the hip thing in LA - which means that all those folk who once didn't give thruppence for that band now want to have drinks with them. Talk to them. Shake their hand. Pat their back. Tell them that, 'You guys are great, I always liked you guys' Welcome to the bullshit dome. The one thing that changes matters here, is that for once the trendies and bandwagon hoppers have it right. They're actually jumping on the bandwagon that's rolling.
Because the 'new' band Faith No More are about to torch the industry with passion and power that'll probably give half these bastards a heart attack. Credit must certainly go to management Warrer Entner and John Vassilou, who have worked the 'scene' for some time now, to Slash (the label) and to our man Lenny at Warner Bros who by merely belching their name has got the offices of Reprise/Warner Brothers hopping all over to kick this album into full gear.
But the bottom line is that what we have here reads as a real complete unit for the first time true. A unit that likes itself.
WHICH SORT of brings us to the Roxy Theatre in LA, a well-known club on the Sunset Strip right across from world famous watering hole the Rainbow and the stager of many events we call 'biz bashes' The function of an LA 'biz bash' is to let everyone come and see your band play so - when the band become big - they can say, 'I've seen that band before they were anything' Everyone is invited: press, PRs, record company types, a few famous stars so you have a nice little social cocktail brewing.
Faith No More probably strike you as the type of band that aren't into this sort of affair. Not quite true though entirely false, Faith No More realise that things like this are necessary, an important brick in the wall. Two years ago I would've said that they couldn't handle that sort of thing but we're now dealing with a far more mature group of musicians, and a far happier bunch at that.
None of them are really too nervous about playing for the industry, indeed they all seem to relish the challenge of winning over the 'baldheads' in suits. Things like this can certainly help secure a tour slot which is something Faith No More are going to need once they depart British shores after this week. You never know who's watching you...
It is 9.33pm. In 27 minutes Jim Martin is due onstage. He isn't even at the club. Jim Martin and myself instead stand aimlessly in the lobby of the hotel waiting for a cab company to respond in the next few minutes. Christ, we've already waited 45 so what's the frigging hurry?!
Important to note that in a city where you can get pretty much anything you desire (flying tigers, juggling chimps, talking horses you name it) you cannot achieve the small civility of a fucking cab on fucking time.
I finally get desperate, asking the lobby if anyone can get us a car in one minute because we really need to be there because he has to be on stage in.....before you know it, a lady from reception has wheeled around to give us a ride.
Jim laughs: "Pretty tight there my my man, lucky we'd had a few beers or else things really woulda been stupid."
We walk through the club floors at 9.50: cool, calm, collected. The tables and chairs are stuffed with biz folk, celebrities, all that sort of thing. Who do I see? Well Rick Savage of Def Leppard is a pretty good start before Duff of GnR walks past. And of course Slash (the guitarist) is sat at a table taking it all in his stride. Various other bands, members of Michael Jackson's management, Geffen staff aplenty and the list goes on and on.
When Faith No More walk onstage the atmosphere seems to have suddenly taken a charge up. You know there's no room for any bullshit anymore, and as 'Epic' opens the set with thick, rich sustenance the people at the chairs and tables stop drinking, stop talking and watch. Mike Patton, lurex bike shorts, small Adidas vest and Nike's is throwing himself at the suits with ferocity. Like his lifedepended on it, which is maybe the only way you can do something like this. I should mention that some proper punters are there on the floor of course, and that their reaction is strong enough to encourage 'some of those at the tables to stand up. Jeez, a band that makes the industry stand up at these affairs is quite a thing.
I don't know if any of these people have ever seen anything like Mike Bordin. There are some real pussies drumming these days, all snare and no trousers, but 'Puffy' is certainly the total antithesis of that school. Every drum is there to be hit, every cymbal to be abused and Puffy is one physical drummer. The tables are buzzing about him.
And Jim? Jim Martin will be a hero. Someone's hero, a role model for musicians, a trendy man-to-be-seen-with by the suits. It is only a matter of time. Indeed, at this very show the seeds were sown during 'War Pigs'. Slash of GN'R couldn't resist, strode onstage, plugged a guitar in and stood, legs apart, facing Jim. Yeah, 'Big Sick Ugly' and Slash were exchanging curls and sweat in a roaring display. Duff naturally felt that this was one band he had to play with, so on went his bass. Sav? Poor chap wanted to, but there wasn't enough room or equipment for him to do it. Still, two out of three...
As if anyone at the tables could be in any doubt as to how this band was being received, a partly fellow by the name of Dino decided to stage-dive just to add the zealous opinion of
the punters, and we all laughed hard. Often these biz bash things just don't happen, but Faith No More went one better. They exceeded their expectations and converted everyone. Faith No More are now officially supported by the LA Times.
Afterwards, as Jim cracks a beer, the dressing room fills up a whole lot and everyone wants to shake hands and tell them how great they were. For once the smiles are genuine. There are no fake congratulations, nosyrup-style responses; it's all pretty much on the mark. Just 15 minutes earlier suits, tables and chairs had been up on their feet swaying and dancing to the close of Faith No More's set.
"LET'S HEAD for the Rainbow." I can't remember who said that, but even if the place is hokey, it was the logical three steps across the courtyard from the gig. So across we go: myself, Entner, Martin, Gould, Patton and we're all standing around smiling at each other and wondering just what the hell has happened to Bordin when this black limo pulls up.
Out step two small thin black dudes. And I'm not really too sure who or what the hell they are other than stupid. One of them has this metal plate stuck on his black T-shirt, they both have tight lurex bike shorts a la Patton onstage and both are wearing sunglasses.
Now okay, Hollywood is Hollywood - but this is half-past-midnight and these two are about to stumble intothe dark sleazy Rainbow with shades on? Please, just who the f* *k do these guys think they are?
Actually, who the hell are they?
Bill Gould has already whirled around, thrown up his arms and screamed. Patton is in furious pursuit, both leaping towards the oddball twosome.
"You guys are the BEST! MY ALL TIME FAVOURITES, LEGENDS!" screams Gould.
"Oh my God, is it really? It is: DUUDE MILLI VANILLI, you GUYS ARE THE GREATEST!" bawls Patton.
Milli Vanilli? What is that, a new flavour of ice-cream? I'm confused here, will someone tell me just what... "We'd better all go inside and get an explanation," sighs Entner, Vassilou nodding agreement. It is at the tableinside that Bill opens his heart to me and tells me just who Milli Vanilli are. "I can't believe that a man of your position don't know who Milli Vanilli are," laughs Bill. They're all over MTV with this re-birth of disco tune thing and dance. My love of this band is really more tied into Satan worship though much more along those lines."
Satan worship? "Well the look, the dance...it all ties together. Another thing? Okay, I have this really bad ulcer and when I see a thing that I truly hate, all I can do to soften the blow is face it and come to terms with it. To prevent a flare-up I have to use these methods of understanding and compromise. "I can honestly say that Milli Vanilli are helping me cope with life. They were rock stars, sure," reluctantly admits Gould when questioned on their more hostile airs. "No, they weren't talkative but that's what we expected. But let's look at the good things, like the fact that they fulfilled every expectation."
Milli fever isn't over by any stretch In the upstairs cornered off area of the Rainbow, Milli Vanilli are hosting only girls until their song comes on.
Suddenly, the two come down from heaven to shuffle and swing with Patton and Gould, an experience that leaves both breathless and bursting to tell me of the time they had; "We just did the saddle-shoe dance with them, a thing of huge proportions. I swear at home I have the video of their hit and I watch it everyday. The dancing, now that I too have done it with them, is definitely a form of Satan worship and stomach adaptability."
"I think," starts a breathlessly excited Patton, "they're two of the most beautiful and ugly people I've ever met. Can't sing, can't dance, big hits, pure genius. Two of the whitest black people I have ever seen. No soul, nothing - they can't even say their f* *king names. It was so glorious when they got out of the limo, they just looked at Bill and I and went, 'Uuhh' Going upstairs to that reserved section where they only let women in - what a huge front because they're homosexual! But they did come down to dance to their own video," Patton says shaking hishead. "Although it was a poor rendition, I showed 'em, I went for it dude. One of the guys looked at me when we were finished and gave me the thumbs up!"
"A great moment..." Mike Bordin chips in sentiments that sum up mine. "I really had no idea who they were. Actually, I took a guess and this is really embarrassing, but I honestly thought they were two of they guys from Living Colour. I had no clue." "But y'know what," says Bill, "I'm glad they did that because I was there to see them do it."
Don't ever let anyone fool you as to just who Milli Vanilli are now, okay?
WHILE I HAVE Bill and Patton together, I decide it's worth asking them a little bit more about being this 'hot shit' stuff all of a sudden. "I don't really think we are hot shit right now though," contests Bill. "We have a lot of work ahead of us and a long way to go. "I'm aware of the buzz and everything, but it's just so hard to judge from one show (the Roxy biz-bash). I know it was a good show. I would like to think it's something that is real and has been felt for a long time but in our position that train of thought wouldn't do any good. You have to think ahead, you can't rest on one show. It is a new thing to see all those business folk though, new
for me anyway."
Is there pressure to perform with these people?
"Not really, and with the new singer it really isn't a big thing playing a big gig anymore. We're not as intimidated by situations as we were. Now we don't feel that a show, any show, might not come together whereas in the past we did. You really used to wonder if you could pull it off. But now the shows are cool, and this one was really good."
THE NEW album, too, is much more fun to Gould than the last. "I get a pretty good feeling about 'The Real Thing'. It isn't five people competing and being five individuals it's much more a team effort. Another reason we probably made a stronger record and get better is because now we give each other much more space. I read an English press story recently that talked about us trying to 'exercise' and get over a ghost, which is really just a bunch of
Patton: "I also saw that and I really didn't think too much of it. I certainly wasn't put off. I saw it as a challenge, a thing I have to rise to. I can see the guy wasn't into me but f**k it. That's
great. It'd be pretty weird if I was going over there and it was all easy, no challenge. It'll be like courting a new girlfriend....wooing!"
Is it easy for Bill to look back from the half-way line and see the band that was once small and struggling boldly, then forward to the big wide stages that beckon?
"All I see when I look forward is potential to be big, the potential to play arenas. It's all just potential. We're playing the same venues now that we were three years ago so in many ways nothing's changed at all. There's certainly some good names into us, the business is much better, a lotta people are now quoting us but people don't change. We still work in very much the same say," he continues, "I still write relying purely on personal chemistry being all
there. Things that make me write good are usually realisations of some sort or another, something that seems to be absurd yet is true. All very abstract really. Then we still also seem to work with internal hostilities and aggressions."
Really? I always thought that was down to a bad link in the chain? "To a certain extent but more realistic is the fact that we really behave like school children. We are socially retarded people still, in as much as we do a lot of childish things to keep our sanity."
TALKING OF working, the last time I sat down with Patton to discuss his approach to his role, I had an LP with no lyric sheet and Mike consequently couldn't tells me much of what I needed to know.
Now it's different.
Having read Patton's lyrics, I'd have to say they're every bit as strange and interesting as his predecessor Mosley's, yet possessing a strong and different identity. For example,
a song such as 'Zombie Eaters' strangely enough deals with babies.
"Yeah, it deals with my somewhat absurd fascination with babies, and birth. In many ways it is of course very beautiful, but it's also so f**kinggross, grotesque: the way kids grow up and can be influenced by anything to me. Don't ask me why I think about babies and birth, it's just one of my subconscious thoughts."
What about 'Epic', 'Surprise! You're Dead' and 'From Out Of Nowhere'?
Come on Mike, what's behind those? "I pretty much write the words to fit the song, so with 'Surprise! You're Dead' type thing, I ended up writing lyrics that reminded me a bit of
Slayer. 'Epic' is much more about sex and sex, we had to change some words because they were considered too obscene. Things like, 'So you lay down and you do it some more' should've been, 'fuck some more' but I guess because they were being printed and everything it was thought to be too much. 'From Out Of Nowhere' is more about people who are obsessive and feel the need to fill up on somebody else,"
How difficult is it to lyrically replace Mosley?
"Not that tough at all," sighs Patton, "I was never told to write like him so I do my own thing. My lyrics are definitely wider and less depressing than his, I personally think, but remember I was a fan of the band too and I found his stuff pretty cool and nightmarish. It's not like I feel pressure though."
On that point of feeling pressure, let's get back to the present situation and this 'biz bash'. Was it really as relaxed for you as it looked?
"I had a lot of nervous energy before we went on, I was walking around shouting loudly," laughs Patton. "It didn't hit me how important the show as until the smoked intro shit and the fact that people were yelling before we even got onstage. C'mon, that shit doesn't happen! Then I turn around during 'War Pigs' - I didn't see GnR take the stage, I was probably jacking off or something - and bump into who I thought was Jim. Both have the hair, both look similar, both are pure primates. So then I turn around and see this blonde dude on bass, and I had no idea he was Duff. "I worked out he was the GnR bass player because I finally worked out Slash..."
THE REAL THING...
I'm sure that the message has hit home, I'm sure that the spiked mallet has left delicious rivulets trickling down your cheeks. So get up and get out to the show nearest you, check out the dates in the Gig Guide.Tickets will never by this cheap again.
I'm tellin' you so.