Facts Not Fiction
By Mike Gitter
Once upon a time, FAITH NO MORE were just a novel act. Then they sacked a singer, released 'The Real Thing' and rewrote the touring rulebook. It speaks volumes tor their current status that this Friday, they're due back in the UK for a second-on-the-bill slot at the Reading Festival. Singer and chief librarian MIKE PATTON asks MIKE GITTER to turn over a new page in his notebook, cos he wants to tell him a story. He wants to clear up will-he-quit? / will-they sack-him? rumours and give you, to borrow? a phrase...Facts not Fiction.
Caring a lot gets tiring. A year from the day 'The Real Thing' reared its ugly, multi directional head, Faith No More finally win the attention of their native land. It's been a difficult year in the spotlight: one of preaching honesty rather than cool; of exercising the ghost of original lead singer Chuck Mosley and adjusting to 22-year-old-frontman Mike Patton; of touring their brains out and still smiling for cameras. 365 days of this, with many months to go, and signs of strain are starting to show.
Keep in mind it was nothing compared to the days of bitter fist-fights with the dreadlocked and gesticulating Chuck, but it has been a year of non-stop road-wear: getting spat on for their Californian Metallica support efforts; spending a dead Winter bottom-ending the US
VoiVod/Soundgarden bill; six or seven European visits — counting this Friday's Reading Festival and other Continental outdoor shows; and a full-blown US arena slot with Billy Idol waiting in the wings. Add to that Patton's dogmatic insistence on keeping with his old outfit, Mr Bungle, and the grounds for disharmony and discontent more than slightly imbue FNM's mutant ranks...
All this as 'The Real Thing' turns Gold. The culprit? The brilliantly unpigeonholeable 'Epic', a sliver of imagination thrust up the arse of middle America every hour on the
hour by the great bastion of cultufral conservation, MTV.
Consider this: in the-space of a single sweltering June day, the damn thing outdid the business it generated In it's first six months of release. Seems
that somewhere deep in the machinations of industry, someone was starting to get severely embarrassed by the critical buzz-dom and overseas acclaim Faith No More were receiving - to say nothing ofthe meagre US record sales. 45,000 units does not a band of the '90s make.
"MTV is something we don't get to see everyday and record sales are just numbers," starts in Michael Patton with a conspiratorial sneer. To us, these accolades are a joke, a farce, something that's just not real. "We don't see ourselves prancing all over MTV - the truth of the matter is that we're still playing 200 seaters in the US. Europe is a bit better - we get to play festivals there - but then again, I shouldn't even say Europe. It's just England and that's got a lot to do with the amount of attention we've paid them.
"I think we re just perceived as a pop band there, a disco, dance-mix sensation - like Kylie Minogue or Bros."
Nevertheless, just a day back from Denmark's Ras Kilde Festival, the band find themselves with three weeks of sold-out US club headliners in front of them. An occurrence that would ordinarily thrill a band in their position. But Patton, no longer the sexy, svelte kid of a year ago, seems morose and unimpressed. It seems that for the most part, the past 12 months of back-breaking and proving themselves to generally apathetic ears have been, well... fruitless. "Right now, I've got to look back over the past year and ask myself 'How much of this has been a waste of time?', Mike reflects, staring out at the distant spires of Cambridge,Massachusetts Harvard University. "Now we're headlining a lot of the exact same clubs we opened for on the VoiVod tour. Couldn't this have happened sooner? Couldn't the video have been worked this hard a year ago?
"It's frustrating. Now that the album's starting to pick up, it's new to 90 per cent of the world. We've got to cater to this totally new crowd and for us, the album's a f**king year old. We've got to act like everything's fun and great and we totally love each other.
Does Patton fancy himself a changed man? Recipient of an education he never expected when drafted from Bungle-land and thrust into the world of magazine covers; and press adoration?
"I've grown to respect ; myself less and less," he admits, "and I feel bad for virtually throwing away the past year. I'll sit there sometimes and think, 'Okay, if this year didn't happen I'd be 21, not 22'.
"There's a year gone from my life and although I guess; that all this stuff happened, it doesn't seem so. I m not making any more money than I was, I doubt I'm any smarter than I was. I've seen a lot more and I've done a lot more, but it's pretty much the same thing every night.
"I've gotten myself caught up in this disgusting machine that's rolling down the hill, out of control and I can't get out of it. It makes me feel used."
Well, if that's the case why not pack your bag and call it a day?
"I really don't have anything better to do. Maybe, I'd be at school, enjoying about 30 per cent of it and the rest of the time, I'd probably be wondering 'Why am wasting my time?'"
Is Faith No More at all like being at school?
"Sometimes, yeah when I was at school, I'd also have a job and this is more like the job. Then again, sometimes it's just fast-food for me. It's nothing. A sub-nothing, actually. You're waiting to do the exact same thing that you did last night, sometimes say the exact same thing. It's just disgusting. Sometimes I feellike Steve Martin before he started acting and it really just feels like going through the motions all the time.
"I used to think that you should be up for every show you play and you should be ready to throw away everything that's happened to you and play a really great show for the people who've come to see you..."
Admittedly Patton has grown disenchanted. At the beginning of starship FNM's year-plus journey he tackled predominantly apathetic and uninitiated crowds with the force of a young bull. Months ago, a bundle of flailing, leaping spastic energy, it seems as if recent history has somehow buried his intense, emotional commitment.
"I used to watch someone like Iggy Pop or Henry Rollins and wonder how they were always so angry, so pissed off. Now, it's dawning on me that they're not always pissed off.
Maybe they had a great day that day and like me, sometimes, are going through the motions."
And of course, there's that absurd Anthony Kiedis business.
"That's a dumb thing I've got absolutely nothing to do with," Mike groans, "I don't care. I really don't. Reading that article gave me a good laugh - it sounded like old Anthony felt a little threatened, I dunno.
"If he wants to give me press instead of his band, his girlfriend or whatever, that's fine by me.
"I'm sure he didn't count on it getting slapped on the cover of Kerrang! Then, after that, they called me up right afterwards, asking me to do a rebuttal. What is this, Bonjovi vs Axl Rose?I don't need it." (Blame your publicist, who suggested it, not us - Ed.)
The bottom line on Mike Patton is plain to see. He is a victim of a common ailment of Americans born after '65 - has Sesame Street Brain! It's not out of wanton brattishness or dissatisfaction with the band that he gripes, but due to an attention span of milliseconds requiring constant diversion. Nevertheless, the fact remains...
"That I really, really like this band," he beams. "Still, I think the rumours are really, really healthy. They keep me on my toes. My favourite one is that they kicked me out of the band because I'm such a brat. Ha! I really like that one.
"The other rumour that's great is that they're gonna kick me out because I wear the Mr Bungle shirt all the time. "Admittedly, a lot of my interviews don't particularly help.
"Maybe people that interview me expect me to talk about how I'm such great friends with everyone in the band and how we go out together and drink beer - not to mention how, every night, I look over at Jim Martin and he really turns me on. He's so sexy.
"I don't say that kind of shit so people immediately assume I'm bitter or not completely satisfied and that is just not the case."
As for the self-labelled "frustrated spazz death disco" bone of contention known to the world as Mr Bungle, Mike, a self-proclaimed lover of uncomfortable situations" maintains: "Mr Bungle is something I've always done. Something I've done for six years and it's just not something I can break away from, ever."
He confesses to feeling more like an "employee" in FNM though flatly denies he has any plans to leave.
"Just the situation of being in two bands is cause for rumours," he furthers. "Being in two bands gives someone ammunition to write total bullshit about me. It's something for the press to pick up on, especially considering that was the case with Chuck, except we don't have fist-fights like they did.
"This is something else for the press; 'Oh, the singer's got another band, he's not completely loyal, he's cheating, he's committing adultery, the sonofabitch, brat, pig!"
Mr Bungle are white boy be-boppers with a serious porn fixation whose recorded output to this point has been a clutch of demos. They've had no shortage of record company suitors, both large and small.Bob Briggs, proprietor of Faith No More's own label, Slash, promises to indicate within the next few weeks whether he'll sign the band or pass them off to another label...
Would a Mr Bungle album and tour be the ever-elusive "time-off" forPatton?
"Yeah, definitely. It would be completely different for me - the music, the way we do business.
"I'm more in touch with all of that in Bungle. For Christ sakes, I'm the singer, roadie, road manager and I love it. It keeps me in touch with reality.
"I'd probably go crazy without it and I'm always calling the record label asking when I can do it- even thoughit won't be for months.
"The nice thing is that people at Slash are starting to warm up to the idea now that Faith No More's doing so well. Some people, especially the ones dishing out the money were like, 'Why are we doing this for you if you're not completely committed?' "It's not about commitment. It's about being stubborn, maybe being a dick, but ultimately, being happy."
.......And now for something completely different: just in time for the Reading Festival, BIG SICK UGIY JIM gives BIG BIG UGLY STEFFAN CHIRAZI some important tips on Bathroom Hygiene for all those queueing outside the portaloos....
Whenever using a lavatory seat on which other people's asses my have been placed, always be very careful to ensure that no part of your body touches the porcelain, explains 'Dr M' live from a secret Swiss hideaway somewhere in Lucerne.
"Make sure to carefully wrap a double-ply strip of lavatory paper around the seat so as to lessen the risk of infection.
"Place some paper down the lavatory and into the actual water, so that the risk of any diseased splash-back is greatly lessened. This will depend, of course, on the size of the turd.
"Be sure to wash your hands, as whilst wiping your asshole, you can never be sure that a small amount of faecal matter hasn't strayed onto your fingers. Use a brush under your fingernails whenever possible..."
Failing all else, Dr M advises festival goers to, "shit on the ground".
Some of these methods were originally seen by viewers of a Faith No More special on MTV. When asked why Martin chose to do this on MTV, he responded:
"As I have the opportunity to speak to millions of people, I figured I would give the young kids out there some advice on proper toilet procedures. After all, we don't really know what parents are teaching their kids these days."
Indeed, as the FNM explosion gathers pace in the USA, their magnificent team have received numerous complaints from parents. One anonymous letter posted in anonymous letter posted in San Antonio, Texas, stated that Martin's facial hair and glasses were "a corrupting influence on my kids. This is not a healthy fashion."
A management spokesman replied: "Jim's an easy target for some of these parents but hopefully if some of them saw the MTV special, they'll realise that you shouldn't ever judge a book by it's cover.
"Personally we applaud Jim's efforts to promote bathroom hygiene and wish more rock bands would encourage matters such as cleanliness."