As the custom-made rock of FAITH NO MORE goes into overdrive in Belgium, ROY WILKINSON is on hand to meet them.
Sounds | 21.05.1988 | Neil Perry
No More Mr Nice Guy
IN BRUSSELS, Belgium, on Bank Holiday Monday, a UFO (Undesirable Fashion Object) is sweeping across the Ancienne Belgique's hitech stage.
Gliding menacingly on a jumbo jet's worth of bat wing collar, camouflaged in a disruptively patterned safari suit and topped with a platinum perm wig, this unfeasible demonstration of '70s fashion technology might, just might, be Chuck Mosley, Faith No More's self styled front man.
But, for now, this band are through with introducing themselves. Instead, they're thrusting an awesome persona known as Tom Dixon on an unprepared Belgian audience. Immediate investigation of this apparition is thwarted when the band disappear apres gig. Bassist Billy and keyboards man Roddy head for the city's outskirts to check out The Ex, Chuck skateboards into the sunset and guitarist Jim gives vent to the Neanderthal rocker that lurks just beneath his cartoon-like, gonzoid exterior, making for the red light district. Meanwhile, drummer Mike's whereabouts remain uncertain.
Next morning, as Chuck croaks from a hotel bed of previously unknown luxury, the evidence of last nights sartorial excess bursts from a suitcase. The sack load of gruesome togs that
took part in he show's clumsily enacted costume changes He there in full polyester, technicolour awfulness.
But, thankfully, British audiences may never have to suffer the full effect - as you read this, Faith No More will be halfway through the UK leg of their European tour and the Tom Dixon wardrobe will probably be the only element of this fossil fashion collection still creeping on stage.
Chuck warms up his drawl in explanation .
"Yeah Tom Dixon's the one....snappy Tom Dixon, 1970s homosexual used car dealer."
Surely a character beyond reality?
"No he's real, there's a bunch of them but they're just not as rampant anymore. He's the one though, Tom. He used to take care of me when I was a kid. But he got me addicted to cocaine and started making me give him massages and things. So I shot him in the back of his head and his personification in the form of this outfit."
With S'xpress topping the British charts, Faith No More are well aware of the noxious fashion time warp plaguing these isles, as Billy Gould - a man who last night outbid the Chili Peppers with some sockless action full frontal activity - elaborates.
"There may be a 70s revival in Britain but in America it never went away. He (Chuck) drove up dressed as Tom Dixon and started honking his horn. Well, I just thought it was some old homosexual guy from Hollywood. People still look like that."
Chuck: "In, like Fairfax, West Hollywood with the senior citizen swingers. When I was buying this stuff in a thrift shop, these two old ladies were getting excited every time I found a new bit of gear. Wow you're one snazzy dude."
Anyway, as Roddy Bottum says, Jim 'big guitars, big women' Martin, a man with vital understanding of HM's delight in dimension, has always found his look in the depths of that
decade. It's Jim whose guitar turbo pushes Faith No More's custom-made rock slab into overdrive and Jim who provides the band with another accidental fashion hook.
While bands like Butthole Surfers, St Vitas and, to an extent, Gaye Bykers are delving into the swamp of Ozbeast and dredging up distinctive Sabbath residues. Faith No More have long since made a habit of topping their live show with a thrash through 'War Pigs'.
Billy: "As with '70s clothes, some people like Jim Martin have been listening to Sabbath all these years."
Roddy: "I think Sabbath was the only band he'd heard of before he started playing with us."
Billy: "Maybe Led Zeppelin, Metallica and Hendrix as well. Mike and him used to play Black Sabbath covers all the time as kids."
Almost as much as when he's present, in his absence these three are apt to mock big Jim.
Sure enough, when I clumsily describe the excellent guitarist as some sort of additional extra, they quickly rev through salad dressing, mayonnaise and condiment before deciding that Jim is a condom-ent. But, even if the serious fight that Mr Martin recently had with a long time Faith No More roadie resulted in the roadie's sacking and less than flavour of the month status tor Jim, the rest of the band aren't, going to belittle his contribution.
Billy: "Jim's real important, we would be something else without him. We play real hard but he has the real heavy sound. It's hard to find a guy like that, that's for sure. We looked for years for guitar players."
When Faith No More consciousness during last January's tour it seemed that a back slapping moment like that would never usher from this lot's mouths. Then, interviews tended to degenerate into verbal ugliness as each member battered his vision of Faith No More against the other four, shouting to be heard. It was a wonder that this sprawling mass of personality disasters ever got past one rehearsal session let alone two albums and touring.
As Roddy says, Faith No More went for sound not people. Indeed, there's something approaching altruism about this arrangement, an altruism as addled as that displayed on the 'We Care A Lot' single maybe but some kind of selflessness, nonetheless. Here were five people prepared to tolerate each other for the sake of a larger whole - the sound these five
disparate elements could forge together: the noise of the beehive.
On this sunny morning a thread of concurrence runs through these three Americans' speech and any feeling of imminent explosion is lost.
But then again, this trio always were the most compatible - and the apparently cantankerous Mike is absent. Perhaps their time together has shown that arguing is a waste of
Chuck: "Naah, with us it's just kinda like the same thing as the United States and Russia. They hate each other but no one really wants to press the button. The antagonism comes
"It'd be best if we were richer, though, because then we could afford to never see each other unless we wanted. Hey, I'm missing Mike, haven't seen him for a while. Think I'll make an appointment and go over to his tour bus today."
Billy: "We're kinda like prisoners. We're contractually bound to one another in a certain sense so we play prisoners' games with each other pick on individual members at random."
Does any band member continually play the butt, the punchbag for the others' frustrations?
Billy: "It might seem like it's Mike who comes off worst, but everyone takes a turn."
Chuck: "Ratty (a roadie) hardly ever gets ganged up on, though. He's smart about whose side he takes and when."
Faith No More's current single 'Anne's Song' sees the band at their most light-hearted. It's a straight ahead conversational song dedicated to, if not hedonism, self-fulfillment. If there's a message. Chuck says it's to do what you want, trying not to step on too many toes while you're doing it. The song hints at the partying fratboy element in Faith No More, belying the cool, if seemingly unapplied, intelligence that combines with the very US blend of cynicism and apathy at this band's core Similarly, there's more than initially meets the ear to songs like 'Chinese Arithmetic', a title provided by a friend of Chuck's with a "cock harder than Chinese arithmetic".
Lurking beneath trad adolescent angst is a brooding darkness and some ugly psychological scars, as if some monster's about to cross over from the subconscious with awful consequences. This element recalls the dual themes of good and evil that reside in man's nature. Dr Jekyl And Mr Hyde beneath the Hammer horror tack that's been layered on the book. If America is an empire on it's last legs, Faith No More and their ilk would seem to be the decadent souls who prefer to spend their time nursing their own psyches, moshing while Hollywood burns. One more set of demons crawling out of the City Of Angels.
Billy: "Years ago if somebody insulted you then you could have a duel and kill them. 500,000 years ago you'd kill somebody just because they got in your way. You can't do that anymore, you can't do a lot of things anymore. You're regulated and music is one of the only outlets available."
On the back of Billy's leather sits the visage of Charles Manson, the ultimate, if by now slightly tired, anti-hero. Along with the rest of the band, Billy was engrossed by 'investigative
journalist Geraldo Rivera's unbelievably crass TV murder special, which featured an interview with Mr Manson along with the interesting spectacle of live link ups between mass murders and the parents of the murdered children.
Billy: "Yeah, if we re-recorded 'We Care A Lot' I think we'd include Geraldo Rivera. Manson got a lot of fans after that show - he came out looking pretty good."
Chuck: "The next thing they'll be showing on American TV will be real murders in real graphic detail, cos that's what we want. We've seen all the gunfights and people getting shot with big holes and blood pouring out but we know it's false. We're all desensitised so we need something more: the ecstasy and tragedy of other people's personal lives."
Billy: "I watched the murder programme with my family and when it came to the bit where you saw the guy getting shot, well, we all burst out laughing. I guess that says something about entertainment."
And is there desensitisation and impoverishment of imagination in rock music? In Slayer's desperately excessive lyrics, for example.
Billy: "Sure, music has got more extreme."
Chuck: "At least Slayer's lyrics fit in with their music. It would be just as funny if they sang (adopts death metal diction): 'Flowers that bloom in the Spring warghhh /Garfield and
Cabbage Patch doll Waaarrgh!'"
Aside from desensitisation, Billy and Roddy are seemingly keen to break into more, errm, rarified sensory fields.
Roddy: "We want to branch out into a New Age concept. Billy wants to make the music and I'm thinking more along the lines of designing a couple of cities with a New Age theme."
Billy: "We'd have piped music everywhere, like Amsterdam to the tenth power. Lots of crystals and rainbows. The rainbows would be real, not painted ones like they had in the '70s. Hologram rainbows."
Sounds like something out of Logan's Run.
Billy: "Yeaaah, I think we could get some financial backing on this one. We'd get all the middle aged housewives who've nothing better to do with their time. It's an easy way to shake off Christianity in a nonthreatening way and we wanna be the ones to take the credit.
"In LA there's a New Age bookshop and there's a line of about 20 people all day, buying New Age books and records. Just buying, buying, putting down bucks - they can't get enough.
"I went into an isolation tank - y'know, Sensory deprivation - just to see what it's like. The only thing is you have to do it a lot of times before the brain will accept it and it costs $35 a session.
"Salt water kept getting in my eyes so this really sleazy guy goes, Let me hook you up to the Mind Gym. He put these goggles with strobes in on me, along with these headphones playing a Pink Floyd CD.
"For half an hour I sat there and then afterwards he goes. Here are some diaries for you to write in, here's some herbal tea. It's going to be gigantic. But remember we're all one big body of light - never go to the white light, always the cool purple and blue lights. The white light is death and you might have to come back in another form such as a household pet."
Roddy: "And what a tragedy that would be. I tell you man, this is going to be bigger than aerobics and we're going to be in there cleaning up."
In view of this entrepreneurial slant and Chuck's skateboarding activity, surely a Faith No More skateboard is on the way.
Chuck: "Nah, I think that would be kinda lame because From the only one who really skates. We would do it if we could have a Tom Dixon model. It'd have a dude on the back with white shoes, a martini in one hand and the other on the ivories."
Roddy: "And a little platform kickturn thing."
Suicidal Tendencies, eat your hearts out.