Kerrang | Issue 676 | 29.11.97 | Paul Arnopp
Gross Point Blank
THE IDEA was a good 'un. We would be a fly on Faith No More's wall for shows in Hamburg and Berlin, gorging ourselves on all kinds of wacky on-the-road antics, taking a cautious glance at legions of groupies, and keeping a careful record of the hideous amount of booze and drugs consumed. On paper, it's a peach. In real life, we are destined to fail, Faith No More have been gigging for 17 years... and the days of fire extinguishers splattering hotel walls are long gone.
It's late afternoon at Hamburg's Grosse Freiheit venue, just off legendary perv's paradise, the Reeperbahn. Yesterday, the band flew in from Japan, so half of them are asleep. Keyboardist Roddy Bottum identifies the general atmosphere as "mid-tour blues". "We've got a month left of cold European dates," shrugs Roddy. "It's hard for you to do a fly on-the wall, because everybody's un their guard. The best way would be to hide somewhere and catch people. I'm very into the hidden camera thing," he smiles. "It's neat." That's as maybe, but in reality it would get our heads kicked in. Part of us wants to refuse to leave until we've overdosed on tales of 24-hour boozing and welcomingly open thighs, but maybe life on the road really is all about headaches, foreigners, long flights, and boredom. Gentlemen, tell us it isn't so...
Sitting IN the production office of Berlin's Huxley's venue, FNM drummer Mike Bordin is easily the band's most intense member. Although good-humoured, he is steely-eyed, serious, and swings most subjects back to how all he cares about is hitting drums well. He also spits an the floor every minute or so.
"My take on touring is a little different from the other guys," he admits. "Faith No More's been out for six months, but I was out for 14 months before that, with virtually no break."
Bordin toured with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath on the mammoth Ozz-Fest. Four months ago, as Faith No More prepared to start their European tour in Poland, Mrs Bordin delivered their baby daughter. The drummer's spouse and child are here today. "It's nice that they're here," he says, "but i always discourage it."
At 34, Bordin has been touring half his life. As Faith No More are playing six nights a week, he's focussed himself solely on performing. "To me this is very personal," he stresses. "Very serious. I throw out what isn't necessary."
In Australia, Bordin badly twisted a couple of ribs, then played a show wrapped in gaffa tape, tears in his eyes. When this man plays a bad show, you wouldn't want to be in the same room with him. "As the other guys will tell you, I'm not a guy to be in the same room with anyway, a lot of the time," he smiles. Do you meditate? "I don't know," he shrugs. "Not something that
Brad Pitt taught me, or Richard Gere's f**kin' gerbil. I'm just into rest, peace and quiet."
Some ROCK bands seem contractually obliged to 'spit-roast' groupies and run around 'Hamburg's porn-drenched Reeperfaahn area like randy adolescents. Not Faith No More.
"I think it'd actually be pretty dull to live here," laughs talkative bassist Bill Gould. "It doesn't have much erotic value and the Germans don't do it well. It's like, 'Okay, you give me the money and you f**k this girl."
"And I don't think we've ever been the groupie sort of band," says Roddy Bottum. "I hear the crew talk about stuff sometimes. What is a groupie?"
Er, it's someone who wants to have sex with you because you're in a band? "Well," adds Bottum, "I try and only have sex with people who don't know anything about Faith No More. Having sex with someone who knew I was in a band would make me sick!"
"I bet a band like Marilyn Manson get hundreds and thousands of groupies," muses Gould. "But a groupie can go to Marilyn Manson knowing there's maybe a place for her. Why waste her energy coming to us?!"
AN HOUR or so later, we find Roddy seated at a table backstage, using a Discman to spin one of the CDs he's bought. Bottum often relieves the boredom of touring by visiting local gyms. "That's a way to see the different walks of life," he says. "When we started out touring, I used to do that by going to laundromats. You also don't really know a city until you do the public transportation. And eating, of course - except in Germany. I just fast the whole time I'm here..."
Roddy insists that he is genuinely 'into' almost every show FNM play. "It's an ego thing," he considers. "You get the rush of all these people clapping; you can't help but be flattered and enjoy yourself. That's what you wanna be doing with your life, right? Getting attention? Positive feedback?!"
THERE'S PRECIOUS little evidence of inflated egos, or, for that matter, hell-raising as the afternoon passes. "If had to party all the time, it would be like a whole extra job," marvels Bordin. "Being that glamorous pirate of the fuckin' road is a fab. Every night there's alcohol, exciting people, parties and chicks, but I don't have a social life on the road, and I don't give a f**k. Playing well gets me the closest to being happy - not a line of coke, a beer and a blowjob."
"It's great if you can get wasted and get the work done, but if you tour a lot, one's got to take second place," warns Gould. "Or you'll turn into a fat old f**ked-up piece of shit." "When Chuck (Mosley, former FNM singer) was in the band," he adds, "Those were our big party
days. We got in some serious fist-fights and did wild stuff. But I'm too old to party like that now! I can't do acid more than once a week..." "It's a misconception," insists ice-cool FNM singer Mike Patton. "When I first started, I probably looked for, or created, more of what I thought touring should be. All those rock 'n' roll myths are there it you took for them. But I'm glad I've changed,or I would have quit this band years ago."
After the Berlin show, Gould, Patton and guitarist Jon Hudson head over to a cosy bar to meet some friends. The drinking commences.They only stay tor a couple.
NEW KID GUITARIST Hudson, who's 29, joined Faith No More last year, having known Gould for years through a mutual friend. Born in Oakley, California, he spent live years in a band called Systems Collapse. While enthusing that he's "having a blast", Hudson maintains that "this is a job - not a f**kin' joyride". "These guys have been out hare for 15 years, so I don't expect them to jump for joy and mostly I don't either. But this has definitely jumped me up a notch. F**k, the last show I had with one of my bands, only 10 people came."
Outwardly the quiet type, Hudson shrugs when it's suggested that the tour bubble allows him little isolation. "I don't think it's any more intrusive than any other job I've had. Compared to those, this is nothing. Travelling around the world - how much of a drag Is that?!"
Perhaps THE lack of unwinding and general arsing around is the reason that there remains an element of tension in Faith No More. An argument breaks out today, during sound check in Berlin. "That was a great fight," grins Gould. "One of the better ones in a long time. I don't think Puffy's had much sleep - he's kinda wound up. He's right at the end, ready to jump off..." "I almost hit Puffy," laughs Patton. "I think It was probably circumstance, but it happens. No big thing..."
The singer stirred It up backstage one night, when he made a slightly drunken announcement about FNM's hit song 'Epic'. "I said, 'You know what? I'm sick of this fucking song and I don't wanna play it. That's my opinion and I think we should all vote', I thought that was very democratic and rational, but no-one said anything. Complete silence in the room. A couple of people left, even. I figured, 'Boy, this is sure taboo'."
IT'S STILL hours from showtime, and Bill Gould is sitting alone in the band's dressing room, Twiddling a weird green guitar. Besides having learnt Spanish (a major language in California), Gould's other on-tour goal is to make himself six string literate. "How do I keep myself sane?" he repeats. "I stay away from the rest of the band!"
According to Gould, approaching gigs as jobs is no bad thing. "That's when you do really good stuff," he maintains. "Since it's become a job, we've learned to relate to each other differently - not necessarily better at the time, but you just don't sweat the little things so much."
After Gould reveals his ambition to play the first ever gig in Albania ("I wanna feel like there's some mystery and some imagination left in touring"), we leave him to his own devices. "I think I'll have some booze and two fat lines of coke," he considers, his mouth forming a grin. "Or maybe I'll lust take an hour's nap..."
DURING AN excellent set in Berlin, where the band flaw from the heavy likes of 'Collision' 'to the stinky 'Evidence' and The Commodores' 'Easy', Mike Patton alternates between screaming his bollocks off and hilarious Elvis-style moves. About this cabaret phase... "I wouldn't say it's a phase!" he laughs. "I would say it's, 'Look, man, we're gettin' old!'. I don't need to jump around all the time - f**k it!"
Interestingly, Faith No More genuinely like 'Easy' and John Barry's 'Midnight Cowboy' which opens their set. "It never really was a piss take for us - that's the funny thing. We mean it!"
Does Patton intend to be amusing on stage? "I guess, but I don't know if it's making em laugh. It's sure making me laugh sometimes! It doesn't necessarily translate, so if there's awkward moments, that's why."
Patton insists on eating out before any of the band's shows. Tonight, he visited an Italian restaurant. "It's important to eat a f**king dynamite meal before the show," he stresses. "To get out of here and feel like a human being. I will not sit and eat catering. I like to show up at the last minute, satisfied, put on my f**king suit and walk onstage. That's an art - to spend the least time possible in this hellhole!"
Most days, Patton sits in his room writing music for bizarre ventures like Mr Bungle, or gets out and experiences the city. "Christ, Germany sucks, but there's some shit to do," he says. "What the the else is there? Do I sit in my room and beat off? Watch CNN?! There's nothing else to do!"
Corny though it sounds, Faith No More are united in their motivation to perform well. As a sweat drenched Bordin gasps after the show, "After all the shit we have to do during the day, our only revenge is getting on that stage." "After I spend my day trying to make myself sane," sighs Patton, "I come to this place and hope that it's gonna make my day worthwhile. Sometimes I don't know know this f**kin' dick is gonna stand up hard. Then three minutes before we're on, I get a hard-on. That's life..."
FNM's five must-have tour bus items.
Bill Gould: "My computer. It's an Apple Powerbook 1400 CS, with a CD-ROM drive. I can send and receive e-mail, no matter what city I'm in. I can take care of shit around my house, keep in touch with friends through their email at work, order books, shop. It makes me feel I'm still connected with where I live."
Mike Bordin: "For the last 10 years, I carried around a black shoulder bag, containing anything between a hundred and a hundred-and-fifty CDs. I've really pared it down since FNM started out again, to 12 CDs, which for me is a huge thing really letting go of the security blanket. Music really helps me..."
Roddy Bottum: "I like my phone book, because I like contact with the outside world. I used to bring an acoustic guitar, which was kinda fun, but left that behind."
Jon Hudson: "I have the same model of laptop as Bill's, except it keeps crashing on me. I end up transporting it through airports, on the bus and everywhere else, but I don't even use it that much. I might as well have brought my weight-set with me."
Mike Patton: "A four-track TASCAM four track recorder. I recorded an entire record on it, and maybe i'll record another one on it! If I didn't have that, I wouldn't be able to talk to anybody."