FAITH NO MORE | 24.05.1997 | Kerrang!
You've no chance of being a top rock band if you: regularly indulge in fist-fights, frequently throw hot coffee over your singer, and conduct interviews whilst crapping. Unless you're Faith No More. Paul Brannigan invites the 'Spice Girls with testicles' to tell us just how they do that.....
Kerrang! | Issue 649 | 24.05.1997
Strangers In a Strange Land | Paul Brannigan
FAITH NO More's keyboard player Roddy Bottum looks across at his band mates downing vodka shots and playing pool in a San Franciscan bar, and smiles weakly.
"We have pretty much nothing in common at this point," he sighs. "We're all in the same band, and that's it."
From a member of any other rock band on the planet, this would be an extremely strange comment. But Faith No More are not just any other rock band. Popular perception has it that they are the Spice Girls with testicles; five disparate, fun loving individuals bringing a widespread range of attitudes, ideas and influences to the band's eclectic sonic melting pot.
Unlike every other rock band, there were no faceless 'thingammyjigs' or 'wothisfaces' in Faith No More. Onstage, they effectively had five Captivating front men. There was the insanely talented pretty boy-turned-Mexican-pimp vocalist (Mike Patton); the red-bespectacled, drooling porno-freak guitarist (Jim Martin, long since departed and whose shoes are now filled by Jon Hudson); the sarky bassist player who brought the funk back into rock music (Bill Gould); rock's only cool keyboard player (Roddy Bottum); and the hard-hitting, dreadlocked drummer rejoicing in the nickname 'Puffy' (Mike Bordin).
Today, the quintet are together tor the first time in months, as they begin rehearsals and promotional duties for their forthcoming album, the cockily-titled 'Album Of The Year'. So, being in the appropriately named Philosophers Club (Bill Gould's local boozer), we want to isolate each of these unique characters and find out their thoughts on their own personalities, each other, and life in Faith No More circa 1997.
"If you ask any of us a question, we'll tell you straight up what we think," promises a smiling Puffy. "Regardless of how any of the others might feel about that answer."
This could be interesting...
OUR FIRST surprise of the day comes with meeting Mike Patton. Countless outrageous quotes about shit-eating, masturbation and snuff movies have given Mr Patton a reputation as one of rock music's sickest individuals. But it's extremely difficult to reconcile this image with the utterly charming young man who's sitting smiting on the other side of the tabletop Ms Pac Man (only in politically correct San Francisco!) arcade game.
"All those comments came out of on-the-road boredom, having your brain fried and having nothing to say," he says.
"Hopefully, you don't want to talk about shit-eating today..."
His band mates describe Patton (on one calls him 'Mike' at any point) as "sombre, sheltered and paranoid" (Roddy), "confident, creative and easily distracted" (Jon), and "intense and gifted" (Puffy). "His heart is always in the right place and I trust him completely," says Bill Gould, "But it took a lot of head butting to come to this position, because he and I have very different outlooks sometimes."
Coming from a nice middle class family (Dad's a sports coach. Mum a welfare officer), and joining FNM only months before their breakthrough 'The Real Thing' album, Patton initially had a hard time coping with fame. He tells of fist fights and hot coffee spat into faces, but insists that although still uncomfortable with the spotlight ("no one likes being in a fucking fishbowl" ), he's getting better at dealing with it.
"If you're a little bit difficult and won't play the game, you're a fucking asshole,"
Shrugs Patton, discussing his situation.
"So maybe I'm an asshole - but I can sleep at night and I'm not going to suck anyone's dick.
"Being a singer is a f**king drag." He sighs. "You're expected to be a spoilt baby prima donna I wouldn't recommend it to anyone."
At the moment Patton is jet lagged, having flown in yesterday from his wife's home in Italy, but says he feels "like it's time to work".
With Mr Bungle and his own, as-yet-unreleased solo vocal album out of his system for the time being, the avid music fan is excited about the upcoming months. He's derived some especially twisted amusement from the prospect of seeing how things will work out with the new guitarist and the new songs.
Of his own role in the band, Patton says, "I try to be another instrument, nothing more important than that. Billy is the band's most important member. He keeps FNM together while we're all off having our little fantasies."
The other members agree that Bill Gould is the band's driving force at the moment.
"It's not a position I enjoy,'' says Bill. "And, I don't want it but it seems to have been thrust upon me this time around. But there is no real leader in this band, and I can't tell anyone what to or make any decisions on my own."
Bill reckons that his defining characteristics are his strong will and stubborn streak, but he considers himself a friendly, easy-going bloke, an impression we share as he drives us around his neighbourhood. Roddy, his oldest friend, describes Bill as "erratic, jumpy and impatient. We became friends because he was as much of a smart ass as I am".
The others see him as "the level-headed caretaker of the band"
(Jon). "A good, solid guy" (Patton), and "super creative but scatter brained as Hell", (Puffy).
"Happy but serious" at present, Bill believes that 'Album Of The Year' is FNM's best album to date, being both more cohesive and accessible than their last album, 'King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime'. The only ever-present member of the band during the recording process, Bill claims that it's hard for Faith No More to work as a democracy.
"But we're not like the Village People," he adds, "where I'm the construction worker and Puffy's the cowboy. We have a shared vision of the music we want to make as Faith No More."
Oh, and Bill hates eggs. Just thought we'd mention that.
ALTHOUGH BILL has known Roddy Bottum since fifth grade in school, he confesses:
"I'm not sure about Roddy, he's complicated."
Everyone else seems to share this view, but Puffy sees him as "sensitive, easy-going and a deep thinker", Jon Hudson reckons "he's a funny guy, a real character", while Patton says simply: "He's there when we need him."
Roddy describes himself as "erratic and unstable but convincingly level-headed." Right now, he's feeling optimistic - or, as he puts it:
"I've got a full plate, and it all seems pretty good."
He's also in love, with his boyfriend of the last 18 months. Oh yeah, Roddy's gay in case you didn't know.
'Coming out' a couple of years ago wasn't a big deal for the amiable keyboard player.
"Someone offhandedly asked me if I fucked men and I said 'Yeah'," he shrugs. Having spent most of last year touring with his subversively sugary pop band Imperial Teen, Roddy admits that perhaps he didn't treat FNM's return as seriously as the others.
"But then, I'm becoming more childish as I get older," he says. "I like being in this band, though. I like being forced to deal with the others perspectives, directions and intuitions. Being forced to compromise is a way of opening
windows for me."
But you wouldn't say you're all best friends?
"No," he smirks, "that ended years ago."
"But I think giving each other space is more respectful," says Putty of the more distant relationships the band have these days.
"We don't need to throw up in each other's arms to prove our commitment to one another. These guys are part of my family."
This summer. Putty's actual family will increase by one, when his wife gives birth to their first child.
"I have no idea how I'm going to feel," he admits, "because it's not like anything I've ever experienced. It's a big responsibility, but I'll be a good Dad. Being a musician, I haven't had to grow up myself."
Putty's commitments to Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath on this summer's Ozz-Fest US tour will mean a disruption of FNM's plans. "It's kind of a touchy subject," nods Patton. "If I'd done it I might have been crucified. Patton describes Puffy as "a strange, mysterious
fellow". Bill agrees, calling Puffy "complicated". While Roddy assesses him as "very patient with Incredible amounts of self discipline". Jon simply says that "he's a good guy.
"I don't look in the mirror ton much, but hopefully I'm honest and you can depend on me," says Puffy.
We reckon he's the least self conscious man in rock. Since no one else has ever conducted a Kerrang! interview whilst having a shit.
JON HUDSON doesn't find his new colleagues weird at all. Although he only joined the band in April '96, he's known Bill Gould for years, having shared a house with the affable bassist. Bill actually produced a demo for John's previous band Systems Collapse ("A good band who never got anywhere, like millions of others," says John). and sees the guitarist as "confident and dependable". The others agree: Roddy adds that Jon seems like "an eager, intelligent loner", Patton admitting that he "should have been cautious like him at the start", and Puffy concluding, "He's the strong silent type - that'll piss him off."
Coming across as the "friendly, accommodating" person he reckons he is, John acquits himself well in his first ever interview. He's pleased that for the first time he's a full-time musician.
"I've got a shot and I'm taking it," he says quietly. He also claims that he has "no expectations" about life in Faith No More, pointing out that although he appreciates his new position, there are times when he's been equally happy ("loading trucks or painting houses", for instance). "But I have a feeling that things are going to pick up pretty quickly for us," he beams.
FOR ALL the rumours about FNM's volatile nature, the five musicians look pretty happy and relaxed in one another's company today: laughing, swapping anecdotes and catching up on developments in one another's lives. The long months ahead on the road promoting 'Album Of The Year' will test their camaraderie, but everyone is confident that the band are embarking on a bright new start to their illustrious career.
There's no danger of good songs drying up with the creative people we have in this band," Puffy shrugs. "On the surface we're entirely different people, but we remain committed to creating together, which is a very delicate, difficult process. All these f**kers like to twist the knife, but we have a history and there 's a relationship between us. "When you start a band it's like putting a tree in the ground, then you have to either grow and change or die. For all our problems, we're not ready to die yet."