8 August 2015

FAITH NO MORE | OOR Magazine | 08.08.1992



Revealing interview with Mike Patton from 1992 with some insight into the lyrics on 'Angel Dust'.

OOR 16 |  8 August 1992

Sperm and Cuddly Toys.

Recently, Faith No More's repulsive fourth album, Angel Dust, was released. To the displeasure of the rock establishment, this revolting product of bombast, symphonica, and hardrock went up the charts like a comet all over the world. An interview with singer Mike Patton, a chameleon in a field of fritters.
If U2's Bono says pop music should become primitive and wild again and parodies a rock star, something's going on. And something is going on! A much too great predictability. Everything that was developed in the past, has been divided in genre boxes. Once, surveyability was needed to direct the public to the CD market, but now the same CD market suffers from it. The public is getting saturated and there's no ready-to-go new adventure. Artists have learned to adapt. Out of fear to loose their audiences they have unlearned to seek musical adventure beyond "their" boxes, "their" genres, "their" market segments. And because laziness and complacency go hand in hand, they have developed the annoying quality to take themselves much too seriously. All those rappers, singer/songwriters, housers, hardcore-grinders, and whatever, they keep preaching for their own church. All of them so damn sure of themselves, each his own bible under his arm, full of truth, like elders of obscure communions. But, excessive seriousness, religious conviction, and seeking financial security are the worst enemies of playfulness and creativity. It's not easy to admit, but pop music is becoming a rigid medium, with no place for freedom, eccentricity, and against-the-grainness. And if Bono recognizes this, it is to be expected that soon the public will not want the fast food the record industry is feeding them.

This is the problem that faces the pop music of the 90s: how to freshen things up? Open things up? How to get rid of all those tangling conditions? Answer: mock the old and look for newmusical freedom. There's one group who have taken the front stage on this: Faith No More. Their music provokes, banters, puts you on the wrong foot, balances on the brim of tastelessness, and basically does what has not been done before.

Hangover

There is little reason to remember the night Holland lost to Denmark through penalty shots [this was the European soccer championship of '92, FL]. Except that Faith No More played the Paradiso when Schmeigel stopped Van Basten's fatal run. "Did you guys loose?," singer Mike Patton teased the audience. A kind of national hangover hung across the room. People weren't happy, in the words of Mike Patton the day after, "a bit fed up." An yes, he did fight a guy who came on stage. It shouldn't have happened, but it's a fact that the guy shouldn't have been there at that time (I know some people who know this guy. He was an avid FNM fan, but sold his entire collection of FNM albums memorabilia after the incident, FL). After that, while the band played an almost endless bombastic instrumental salvo (Woodpecker From Mars, FL), he laid on the floor like dead for minutes on end. "I couldn't go anywhere, so I decided to take a rest." And when the room was boiling and bad vibes were in the air in the form of countless heated stagedivers, the band played a neat soul ballad by The Commodores, Easy. "Let's pretend we're visiting our grandmothers. Let's all be very polite now," Patton spoke to the crowd [you can check the actual words in the video from this gig that circulates, FL]. Noteworthy: Mike does know how to sing ("If it ever gets to the point where I find it necessary to prove my singing abilities...I would like someone to bash me in the face and stop me"). And when Easy was finished: "Now let's pretend we're at a Slayer concert and fuckin' break everything." After which the hardcore violence started again. "No man, I wasn't angry," Mike evaluates the gig. "I had a great time."

Horrible

Why did you call your album Angel Dust? Is the band on drugs? 

Not that I am aware of. No good drugs anyhow. No no. We were delighted by the idea that angel dust is a horrible drug that makes you aggressive and paranoid. And the title together with the picture of a beautiful, restful bird, that you would normally see on an easy-listening sleeve. That contrast has a disturbing effect on people. The average rock fan will put a sleeve like that aside: bluh, I don't want to listen to this. That's what we like best.

There is a very divergent `country song' on the album: R.V. What is it about?

R.V. means recreational vehicle. A typical part of American culture: people live in holiday caravans. We call them white trash. In America, everyone knows someone who lives in an R.V. These people are looked down upon, while everyone knows they're part of society. These people are usually fat, watch TV all day, and eat TV dinners. The song R.V. is almost a mark of honour to those pigs. My family's like that. The kind of people who stay inside these caravans all day and complain: nobody speaks English anymore. No one listens to them, they're only talking to themselves. The song is a profile of the average redneck mentality.

It was immediately called your Tom Waits song. Any problems with that comparison?

Not at all. Tom Waits is great.

And Jizzlobber, what is that about?

`Jizz' means sperm, and `to lob' means to throw (remember this was originally for a Dutch audience, FL). The title is comic, but hasn't got anything to do with the rest of the lyrics.

It is the song in which you speak about `dirty mattresses.' We thought about sperm immediately.

Well, the song is more about being caged than anything else. It definitely is not an orgasmic song. But the title is okay. Fine image: sperm flying through the air. Triumphant.

A while ago your (hobby) band Mr. Bungle released an album (a giant flop). You said in an interview: I want to go with Mr. Bungle. I don't want to be in a band that is going downhill any longer. But now you're here again.

I might have said something like that, but it all seems a bit exaggerated. That was in the period I gave a lot of interviews that I shouldn't have given. I was fed up with Faith No More. Nobody bought our albums and we just kept touring. I was disillusioned. When you're touring, sometimes as a band you get the feeling you're living like rats. You're kept busy and stupid temporarily. You're treated like a pimp treats a whore. And if you don't want to be a part of that, it gets frustrating. We needed people to bang our heads against the wall. I wanted to crawl away. That's why I was delighted to record an album with Mr. Bungle. The interviews I did during that time were pretty negative. I said things like: Faith No More is like a job to me. Because I felt like that. But I don't think I portrayed myself correctly; It made me look like a teased son-of-a-bitch more than anything else.

But you never thought: I quit Faith No More and go on with Mr. Bungle?

I had responsibilities towards the record company, because they were worried. Worried that I would leave the sinking ship. To convince them that that was not my intention I had to defend myself in what looked like a law suit. In the end I got what I wanted. And that's good, because being in two bands at the same time is great. It isn't a threat. It's more like a physical need: I found I had to do more. You eat a little too much and then you have to shit some more.

Target

It seems to us that the bands of which it was said a few years ago that they would determine the future of rock music, bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica, have set out to sail a safe course. Therefore, we had expected the new Faith No More album to feature at least one commercial rock ballad. But no.

That's the most pathetic thing you see other bands do; tog et entangled in their own success formula. If you see bands do that...it's hopeless. It's no good for anyone in any way. I mean: they fill their pockets for some two years and then...The only way to keep Faith No More together is to motivate ourselves. And you can only do that by experimenting. We stay happy that way. If you don't do that you become a sun-burnt rich bastard, a target...Fuck that.

Is that the idea behind Faith No More? To stay elusive? Faith No More doesn't seem to be so much as a crossover band, but more a collage of all kinds of styles. As a listener you never know what you're up to.

It just happens like that, without us being aware of it. All five of us are rather stubborn personalities. So we all know exactly what we're up to. Most of the time, musicians get too fucked up when they listen to too much music at the same time. They get over-stimulated and the end result is garbage. Curiously enough, it turns out good for us mostly. I guess it's our merit.

Do you use the lyrics as a connecting element? Do you use them to make clear what Faith No More is about?

I don't think we have an obligation to clarify ourselves through our lyrics. Or even take a standpoint. All five of us simply couldn't agree on any standpoint. If one of use gets a little too outspoken, he's probably lynched by the others. About the lyrics: it's almost a pitty they're printed on the sleeve. Because the public expects a revelation. That the lyrics will say something about our past, our lives. And to make that kind of connection via some lyric is almost dangerous.

That's what we want to get at: to us, Faith No More is a band that deliberately doesn't provide any clarity, both musically and lyrically. You don't give the audience the opportunity to identify with you. Isn't that the idea behind the band?

The reason we appear like that is that we're bored easily. We have to entertain ourselves. And give the audience a challenge. That's important to me. People shouldn't feel at ease about what they hear. Therefore, it is almost our duty to provoke.

Is that where the element of parody gets into the concept?

Absolutely.

The rock press often reproached Faith No More of `tastelessness'. You would ridicule rock 'n' roll.

I think people who look at us as a joke band take an extremely superior point of view. They look down on us and say: Oh my God, it's nothing. They're snobs. Maybe critics ought to be snobbish, it's their job. But I don't have to agree with them just because of that. I think it's easy to see it as an insult when a band uses parodying elements. They get confused about it. They think: does this band really mean this? Or not? They don't know, get frustrated, and the next thing you know is they don't want to have anything to do with you. I know that feeling: when bands leave me insecure...it's frustrating. And that's exactly what I like. For me it's one of the few things that are fun: you should be confused. You should think: what the hell is going on?

During your performance in London you advised the audience to smoke crack.

Yeah. It's one of those things...as a singer you are in a position of power. You're a media figure. You have an obligation towards your audience. You have the responsibility to be positive. That's trendy these days, it sells. When I advise people to smoke crack it's only a reaction to that trend. I only want to make clear that I never want to be the spokesman for whatever cause. Sometimes the only way to get your point across is being negative. What's wrong with that? As a matter of fact, it's only getting really interesting when everyone has a crack pipe with them at our next show. But all joking apart, you just shouldn't go on stage thinking you're a king. That would be really boring. The best shows we've done were under the worst conditions. At places where no on wanted to see us. We were supporting Metallica, somewhere in Utah. It's swarming with Mormons there. They hated us. Threw bottles. Spat at us. Fourteen, fifteen thousand people. Then I made a remark about Mormons and they hated us even more. Then our bass player played a fifteen minute solo. One note, dang dang dang. Bottles flew over our heads. War. But those circumstances, when you don't feel at ease, are often the most inspiring.

And how inspiring is it to be a support act to Guns 'n Roses?

Better than I thought. I'd thought our presence there would be totally misplaced. We said: we may not like GNR, we may not like playing in open air stadiums in broad daylight, where we sound like shit and look like shit on a much too large stage that wasn't built for us, and we may not like the fact that people are paying too much money for a ticket...that's all true. But the fact is: it's a very good opportunity to reach a large audience that otherwise wouldn't have come to see us. And that's good. The other side of it is that we want to headline again. It will happen in October. Playing with a roof over our heads. We're at our best like that.

Cuddly toys

Faith No More's lyrics often seem to be written from a child's perspective. Is that important to you? Does it keep you fresh, optimistic, etc.?

Well, I don't know what exactly is childish about this band...whether it's the lyrics, or parody, it stems from the fact we enjoy childish things.

But we don't ask how childish the band is, we ask how important the child's point of view is to your music?

Hard to say. I think most of us have had a lousy youth, and maybe we are still stuck in it. [Long silence]. I think we are fascinated by little cuddly things. We're like old ladies: we like cuddly toys. Strange thing is, the only things I can get really upset about, are tiny trivialities, things I shouldn't get upset about at all. But it happens, and that is childish. Whether you explain it positively or negatively, it remains childish. To tell you the truth, I suspect I got stuck in the anal phase. It's all about shit, assholes, etc. I think we all got stuck in peculiar phases.

You keep changing the way you look, that's for sure.

It's because I am bored. You're touring. You have a lot of days off. So you get bored. We found something to it: haircuts. Haircuts that kill! We give one another new haircuts. To fool around with the way you look is great. To give yourself a new face every once in a while.

Childish! Easily Bored! Another look each time!

Boredom stems from watching TV too much.

Children get bored easily too. Your music changes shape so often you can listen to it as if you were a two-year old yourself.

Isn't that a bit over-romanticized? I don't think we give people that much! I think we arouse primitive urges.

Two-year olds exist by the grave of their primitive urges.

Absolutely. But you have to be careful to say you feel like a two-year old listening to our music. There are listeners who have been raped as a child. They sure don't want to be two years old again.

What do you think of people having Mike Patton posters in their bedrooms?

I've been in a room like that once and it scared the hell out of me.

Translated and transcribed by Frankco Lamerikx.

Frankco:
"And interview from the Dutch Magazine OOR that provides some insight in the apparent reasons behind Faith No More. Mike is very co-operative for a change. If you find of his sayings awkward, it's probably due to my limited translating capabilities."

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