FAITH NO MORE Kerrang! Issue 410 cover story. September 19th 1992.
KERRANG! | ISSUE 410 | 19.09.1992
Testing The Faith
By Chris Watts
It is a fucking massive tour. It is reputedly the hottest North American rock for years. It looks like it. The luxury trek has crossed Europe and most of America. It will grind to a halt this week, and Faith No More will breathe a sigh of relief. It's not easy touring with Guns N' Roses and Metallica.
"It's not a rock n roll tour really," muses bassist Bill Gould, surveying the Texas Stadium in Dallas. "It's a mini empire."
Some redneck asshole strolls past. His T-shirt says 'Shut Up Stupid Bitch'. Two micro-skirted starf**kers emerge from one of the 40 equipment trucks on the tour, closely followed by two grinning riggers. The girls are clutching passes for Metallica's backstage complex. It's funny.
It's not bad going for a bunch of five upstart Californian pranksters. It's okay that Faith No More go on stage at four o'clock in the afternoon and only get to play for 45 minutes. It's okay that they have to drive 1,000 miles to the next gig in a bus when Metallica and Guns N' Roses fly in a privately chartered 747 and DC10 respectively. It's okay that the band are afforded just one paragraph in the local papers. It's okay that the girl in the ticket office of the Houston Astradome has never heard of them, and it's okay that no one seems to be wearing a Faith No More T-shirt. As Jim Martin comments:
"People who buy Faith No More T-shirts just don't like to wear them in public!"
It might just be okay that Faith No More are the Support Band That AxI forgot.
AXL ROSE is invisible but his presence is overwhelming. The backstage outer circle is a heaving paranoia of publicists, lackeys and diplomats. Everybody claims to know the little singer. Well, they've never actually met him, but... GN'R arrive at the stadium mere minutes before they are due on stage. As usual they are late. Slash is the only member of the band to walk to the sprawling arena stage. The rest are driven in a transit van to the stage ramp, emerging with minders in tow, then disappearing into their limos almost before the dying chords of 'Paradise City' have been struck. Axl has only ever spoken to Faith No More once, via tour managers. The surly missive relayed a message that if Mike Patton ever asked the crowd to throw beer at Jim Martin again then the band would be off the tour. The crowd take this as a sign of approval and spend the concert hurting projectiles at anything onstage. Axl doesn't like getting his feet wet.
"We've had a few close calls," Patton admits. "We're lucky to still be here." "This tour is like a crowning glory for both headline bands," says Mike 'Puffy' Bordin. "There hasn't been a tour like this for years. We're not used to the atmosphere. To me, the atmosphere is not really conducive to this band playing well. It's like the Village People syndrome. Show Business. Mass entertainment."
Bill Gould: "It's difficult playing every night to people who aren't interested in us. Maybe some of them do hate us, but that's cool. If they didn't hate us a little bit we'd feel like we were kissing ass."
"I feel like a zoo animal up there," Patton comments.
"It's like when you fart in the presence of someone you shouldn't. You laugh. It's like a nervous reaction to the whole scale of things out there. It's embarrassing. "You have to take a certain amount of reality out there with you. We just walk out without an intro tape, in the middle of the afternoon, and play stuff. It's like, 'Here we are, people' Time to start!'.
"Basically, we are a small band. We are a pubic hair in Guns N' Roses' shower!"
FROM THE stage of the Texas Stadium the crowd looks terrifying. The sound is haphazard, but Faith No More cope. Combating indifference is something that Patton enjoys. This afternoon he rounds on Jim Martin. The singer catches the guitarist throwing a plectrum into the front rows. "Is he throwing shit at you?" Patton asks. The crowd cheer. "I think you have the right to throw shit back at him! This is an open invitation to f**k Jim"
"F**k me!" growls Jim, standing alone in the middle of a shower of plastic glasses. Behind the scenes, Faith No More's reputation for personal animosity towards each other is starting to get ugly. The enormous scale of this tour is affecting the band. Their reaction to the "Village People syndrome" differs drastically.
Patton, Gould and Roddy Bottum return from a backstage walkabout to discover Jim Martin in heaven. The guitarist is standing on a table, trying to persuade a vacant blonde to remove her top for the camera. The band stride past the couple and slam into their dressing room. Patton's furious.
"That is f**king vile!" he shouts. "F**k that! God, what an asshole! I don't want anything to do with that. That sucks! Goddamn it, man! F*'k him. That's Bullshit."
"It's kind of a hard thing to say," sighs Roddy, "but that's kind of anti what we're all about. All the bad things about this tour are outside the window right now. It's disgusting. It's ridiculous."
"Hey, Jim," Patton sneers, "who are you pandering to? Shit. Next question."
WHAT'S WRONG with Jim having his photograph taken with a large breasted female?
Bill Gould: "Nothing's wrong with it. It's just such a cheesy way out. It's the easy way out. It's the cliche."
But the girl volunteered. She wasn't press-ganged.
"But that doesn't mean that we have to go along with it," says Patton. "I cannot take that seriously."
Bill Gould tries to rescue the situation.
"I think you're right," he says. "That is the real world. To 50,000 people in the audience that is the real world of rock 'n' roll."
Roddy doesn't care. "But we've never catered for that in the past, so there's no reason why we should pander to it now."
Bill: "And you just know that you're gonna pick that shot for the cover! It's not a true picture of what this band is all about. It is of Jim, sure."
This from a band who reputedly tied a groupie to a hotel bed and let their road crew piss on her.
"Where did you hear that?" Patton exclaims. From someone she now works with in London.
Patton: "WHAT? NO WAY!" "We didn't tie her up," admits Bill. "It wasn't the road crew either. Maybe we just look like the road crew!
Anyway, she was in the shower. Jim couldn't piss, which is surprising for the amount of beer he drinks! I never thought we'd hear about that again."
Patton: "How did you hear about that stuff?!"
Bill: "She didn't mind. I think there's a difference between doing that - for whatever reasons - and doing what Jim is doing outside for the benefit of a photographer. It means different things to Jim than to us. That is exactly what Jim is. Jim is the token rocker in Faith No More!"
FOR HIS part. Big Sick Ugly Jim Martin is having a ball. In Houston, the guitarist is reunited with his cousins. Bob, Marie, Robert and Wanda are backstage at the Astradome, obviously thrilled with Jim's performance. They take snapshots and swap stories of the band's first appearance in Houston at the infinitely smaller Warehouse club. Robert has never seen the band perform until tonight, but is nonetheless full of praise.
"You can tell Jim is an innovator," he says proudly. I do believe Jim blushes.
"We're all copying something." "Bullshit!" retorts Robert affectionately.
Over a meal of steak and jacket potatoes, the family are full of good old Texan bonhomie. Jim gets his steak doggy-bagged. Marie worries about the crime rate and Wanda tells this joke about back-masked messages in Country And Western music.
"They say if you play Tammy Wynette records backwards, you get your girl
back,your car back,your dead mother back, your beer back...!"
The table groans. Jim looks happy.
JIM IS always happiest when he's got a beer and someone to talk to. He genuinely doesn't give a shit about much. He's playing guitar on the biggest rock tour of his career, and sees nothing wrong with embracing the lifestyle with open arms.
"It feels like there's the four of them against the one of me. Whatever opinion I take, I end up as the minority. Sometimes I hate those f**kers."
He's not kind in his assessment of FNM. Bill is "Patton's personal thug!".
Patton blows with the wind and Puffy, he says, could do with a cold bath. "Look at him now," he says, pointing at the drummer talking to fans at the backstage entrance across a wooden barrier.
"Puffy's People! Notice he never crosses that barrier. There's always that barrier to remind us that he is a star."
When Puffy and Jim are in the same room together, the atmosphere is icy. "Want a beer, Puffy?" Jim asks. The drummer shakes his dreadlocks. "Why not? You always used to drink. What happened to you, Puffy?" "Nothing, man. I just don't want a beer, okay? I used to drink beer, but I was 14!"
He leaves. Jim shrugs and cracks open another can for himself. "See what I mean?"
SOMETIMES IT'S difficult to figure out why Jim Martin is still with Faith
No More. He recently told Guitarist magazine: "I don't think the difference between the parts they wanted me to play on 'Angel Dust' and the parts I actually played was enough of a difference to affect our careers."
Without Jim, Faith No More would be half the band they currently are. Jim Martin is a foil for Patton as well as supplying the killer grunge which has always been at the root of the quintet's sound. Jim Martin is a top geezer. I tell the band that Jim thinks they don't know how to enjoy themselves.
"Fine," Puffy snipes, "but we're not alcoholics!" The others cheer.
Bill: "We're just from different backgrounds. When Jim first Joined the band, it was kind of an art statement."
Patton: "I think Jim should get a medal. Jim works really hard at being the official party animal for Faith No More! He does enough work for all of us. What a guy!"
SO THE tour is coming to a close. After each of the most recent concerts, GN'R's crew have been throwing parties for themselves. Last night in Houston they organised 20 strippers. Tonight in Dallas there are rumours of a strip-fest involving 50 girls! Jim tries to manipulate a vote to stay in Dallas. He is unanimously out-voted.
"I hope you will go in my place and be my official party delegates!" he grunts. We never did make it. The local reviews praise FNM's performance. The Dallas Fort Worth Star reported that 'there was no great outcry for an encore, which seemed to suit Faith No More just fine'. The same paper is less kind to GN'R. Adjectives like 'self-indulgent' are bandied about.
The final verdict? 'The Gunners' show has too many stadium rock touches. Faith No More don't care. Ahead of them are 1 ,000 miles of road before another brief appearance and more audience humiliation.
"Our job is just to be ourselves and not to suck corporate dick," says Patton. "But I'm looking forward to playing the smaller venues on our own tour after this. I just can't imagine this band becoming as big as Metallica. I don't think I'd enjoy it.
"This tour is not a real thing. The best thing about it is that at the end we can all just pack up and walk away. from it. The other bands on the bill have to live with it."