FAITH NO MORE | May 1997 | Zillo
Translated from German
In 1985 bass-player Billy Gould, keyboardist Roddy Bottum, drummer Michael "Puffy" Bordin, guitarist Jim Martin and vocalist Chuck Mosley released the first FNM album called "We Care A Lot". After the second album called "Introduce Yourself" , Chuck Mosley left the band and went on to work with his band Cement, while Mike Patton, the new singer helped them to get a breakthrough with their album "The Real Thing" and the single "Epic". After their fourth album "Angel Dust" in 1993 the change of guitar players began. Jim Martin was fired and for the recording of "KFAD" Trey Spruance from Mr. Bungle joined the band. Trey was replaced by Dean Menta for the tour who had worked for FNM as a keyboard technician before.
Now their 7th album (if you include the live cd "Brixton Academy") "Album Of The Year" will be released and presents Jon Hudson on the guitar.
With the 14 tracks of the new album FNM go back to the style of "Angel Dust" instead of following the no compromise guitar style of "KFAD": songs with melody are more important for the sound again and the keyboards are back and are just interrupted sometimes by hard riff-attacks, what doesn't mean that "Album Of The Year" is soft and gentle. Patton & Co still use unconventional arrangement ideas, to be honest FNM are far away from average top 40 crap , even more than on 'KFAD', because this time the country, Latin and gospel sounds are completely missing. The colleagues of INTRO and VISIONS (I sent that BJOERN) didn't like the promo tapes but I think that was because they had to work with a tape that was just recorded very fast for some journalists (I had one like that too): now I heard the new stuff from CD for the first time and I heard lots of things that I didn't hear on the tape (because of the not very wide frequencies of that tape).
The new FNM album is released during a time where Roddy Bottum has some success with his band "Imperial Teen", Mike Patton releases not just records with Mr Bungle but has just released his second solo album, and Puffy is on tour with Ozzy Osbourne.
This is enough material for an interview. Patton and Gould were really nice partners who really know what they tell and what they do not tell (if they do not like the questions they just start satanic laughter attacks)......
ZILLO: Why did the new album become so different compared to KFAD?
BILLY GOULD (BG): KFAD was kind of living out frustrations that we had with Angel Dust, with recording and touring. After all those problems with our former guitarist we wanted to do a record that was really guitar orientated.
MIKE PATTON (MP): It was also frustrating how the songs on Angel Dust had been arranged: it was really hard to play them live because they were so complicated and so busy. We wanted to write some straighter songs then.
BG: After going through that and being on tour with the material for a while we started to write "Album Of The Year". there was no special motivation to be simple or to be complex. It all turned out very natural.
ZILLO: When did the new guitarist Jon Hudson join the band?
BG: About one year ago. I think I was May or April, was it?
MP: Yeah I think so.
ZILLO: And why did Dean Menta leave the band?
BILLY: When it came to songwriting it didn't work. We found no compromises when we wrote songs, because we come from very different directions. I was pissed, because Dean is really ok as a friend...
MP: A great guitarist...
ZILLO: Doesn't it get on your nerves to have new guitarists all the time??
MP: Yeah it's kinda Spinal Tap sometimes
BG: You start to look like a bunch of assholes. the journalist before said that we seem to be the guys who have the problems, 'you've had so many guitarists and every time you said that he is the one'... but that was right at that point in time. What the hell can we do about it? We just try to make the album sound good in the end.
ZILLO: Did john take part in the songwriting?
BG: Kind of 50%. We wrote some songs after he joined and he brought some of his own songs that he worked on himself and then we started to to work on them together. That was really cool.
MP: We didn't know that behavior so that gave him a little bonus.
BG: Before most of us knew Jon a little better we already spoke the same language when it came to music. It was incredible how his song ideas fit together with FNM. If we didn't tell you, you couldn't tell what songs are originally by him.
ZILLO: That's right. Will you tell??
BG: No of course not ! (laughs)
MP: I think his are some of the best songs on the record.
ZILLO: And the songs you wrote without him? Had they been completed when he joined?
MP: Some yes some not..as far as I can remember
BG: Some of the songs are from September one year ago. It all takes some time for certain reasons.
MP: We did about 7 or 8 songs that won't appear on the album. I don't know if they will ever be released. It's like making coffee...you have to throw it away when it's kinda bitter. The main problem all of the time was: are the songs good enough for the album or should we write some more. It's difficult to find the right balance. First we had too many commercial songs...then there were too many heavy songs.
ZILLO: For example the keyboard orientated "Stripsearch" - seems to be one of the songs that hasn't been influenced by Jon.
BG: I understand what you are saying.
MP: You are on the right track
ZILLO: There are more keyboards on AOTY than on KFAD. Is that because Roddy had more input this time?
BG: Hard to say. it just turned out to be that way.
ZILLO: When I did the last interview with FNM Roddy told me that he hasn't been to the studio that often.
MP: And you heard that, didn't you?
BG: But on this record there are more keyboards again definitely.
MP: That doesnt mean that he was in the studio more often (laughter)
ZILLO: You could read in the internet that you had problems to be in the same town for more than just three weeks. is that true?
MP: Not really
ZILLO: What have been the real problems?
MP: To find a musical compromise...to decide what kind of album we wanted to do.
BG: Yeah. We all had different ideas and had to find something that was good for everyone.
ZILLO: Do you decide what kind of album it should be before you start to write it?
BG: You have to do that. FNM is a band that has already been around a while and the band members all move in different directions....What is natural for the individual, the others in the band maybe don't wanna follow your direction or cannot follow it that's because you do it as a solo-thing. But it can be very hard to come together after a certain time and find a level that everyone can agree with.
ZILLO: Did you already start to practice for the tour? Are the songs easier to play as the ones on Angel Dust?
BG: Not Really
MP: No we had no time yet....but I think they will be easier. On Angel Dust there were so many samples and one keyboard wasn't able to play all this shit the same time.
ZILLO: But there are also some samples on AOTY.
MP: Yes some
BG: No there are no samples
BG: Not even one
MP: What??? Oooooops
MP: Yeah ok you are right,..that's all such triggered stuff , loops and stuff like that.
BG: It all comes from synthesizers
ZILLO: What kind of influence on the album had Roli Mosimann who already worked with artists such as The The , Young Gods, Smashing Pumpkins??
BG: Until now we every time we did an album...we recorded that on tape and mixed it then..Roli changed our point of view. He copied all the stuff to the computer and we started to edit it then. We didn't do to much of that...we just really fucked up one song in the computer. Most we did were little things that really improved stuff. and Roli also mixed the album and his extreme mixing style was really good for us.
MP: I think most of the stuff you identified as samples have been things that Roli added, little effects that have been very satisfying for us. We know these songs since we wrote them and what he finally did was something like: "yeah finally it sounds like it should"
BG: and the things he did were no heavymetal stuff. Andy Wallace is a great producer for the stuff he does but he never would have mixed the way roli did. that was a new perspective for us
ZILLO: So who produced the album? You yourselves?
BG: You could say that. ..well...it's really hard to answer that..
MP: Let's say: Roli and Billy did it.
BG: Roli joined us for the computer stuff and mixing. But during the recording process I was the one who did it .
ZILLO: Why did you do it on your own, except for Roli?
BG: It just turned out to be that way. We didn't need a producer. We haven't been to the studio very long and then Roddy for example had to go on tour with Imperial Teen again. During that time we recorded other stuff and when everyone was back again the record was nearly finished so we could start mixing. I'm the one who was always there,I knew the recordings inside out...so I became the producer (laughter)
MP: And some of the stuff was recorded in Billy's cellar on his hard disc recorder.
BG: We did all the editing at my cellar. Roli lived at my house for months.
MP: We never really thought about who was the producer until it came to write something in the booklet.
BG: Another reason why we didn't look for someone was, that we were not interested in a guy who doesn't know us very well and who has something to say about the budget for our record. We wanted more control over our own record. This whole process is not a secret to us anymore...we know what we want now.
ZILLO: So have you been to a real studio at all?
BG: Yeah, to record the drums and some other stuff
MP: But it's really cool how you can record albums nowadays. You can record an album at home. And if you compare it to a record that was recorded in a studio there is no real difference. Most of the time the record you recorded at home sounds even better.
BG: But the mixing has to be done in a real studio.
ZILLO: AOTY was that just a funny idea or is there a reason for the title?
BG: Forget about it...next question
MP: Good marketing isn't it?
BG: You are the journalist..this title makes your job easier doesn't it? We just wrote that for you. It's a present for all reviewers in the world
ZILLO: With all these side-projects...doesn't it become hard to organize all the stuff for your FNM work?
BG: Ok: FNM has been around for 15 years now. there HAVE to be side projects. That's not something against FNM. FNM WILL BE THERE FOREVER...but the people in the band have to do their personal stuff. We aren't kids anymore that think that one band is life. We do it when we want it, that's why it turns out good. If we hated being in FNM the result would be different.
MP: Side projects help to see FNM not just as a job. Every time you can find out new reasons why you like to do FNM. For me it's a question of the perspectives you have. If you build a cage and spend your life in it..then you need at least one door that you can go out sometimes.
ZILLO: And why are YOU still in FNM?
MP: I am still trying to find out (laughs). No I think it's a beautiful cage and you can do lots of stuff in it.
BG: We are very extreme as persons...so FNM is a very conservative thing for us. But it is the ground from where we can see our solo stuff. Mike`s solo stuff for example has nothing to do with FNM. It's great! But if FNM didn't exist you couldn't see how far it is away from that. Same with Imperial Teen.
ZILLO: You really think that FNM is a cage?
MP: No....I just said it that way...It's good to be in a band with different characters where you have to compromise.
BG: Right. To work with people and being in need of communication is a certain cage.To go to work can be a cage. Relations between humans are cages.
ZILLO: Billy, what kind of side projects do u do?
BG: I just produced a band called NAIVE, a Russian punk-band. I knew the guys for some time and after we finished our album I just wanted to go out of town to relax a bit. So I did the maybe hardest "pain in the arse" project that I have ever been involved in....It was unbelievable..really surreal. I was the first guy from the west who ever produced a Russian band over there. Music industry there is completely different to here. We recorded in one of the best studios but they had nothing. It's really weird....they don't know how to use the equipment ... there is nearly no information flowing between musicians.
MP: Wow that's cool....there are no idols then.
BG: A friend of mine who is a recording engineer was asked to stay longer to do a video where he shows how to use a soundboard! It was incredible but really fascinating. I really learned a lot about how our world works.
ZILLO: Does your guitar player do our things than FNM?
BG: He just works on Puffy`s house
MP: Yeah right. He paints the house while Puffy is on tour with Ozzy.
BG: He played in a band in San Francisco before but he never has been on a real tour. But I've known him for 7 or 8 years
MP: He was your roommate wasn't he?
BG: Yeah for a while. But he is just a friend of has who hangs around in the same city.
MP: But we don't really know him yet...except for Billy. I met him in bars some times but I don't know much about him,....
BG: We will find out more on tour
ZILLO: The band that he played in was called SYSTEMS COLLAPSE, wasn't it?
BG: Yeah but they never recorded something except for some demo tapes
MP: Has he been with them when they were that kinda electronic-industrial band???
BG: No he joined them after that period. But the guy who gave us the name FAITH NO MORE was also in Systems Collapse....he said: you have to call the band Faith No More...so we did
MP: Oh shit I didn't know that
ZILLO: This combination of different elements in certain songs...for example the combination of acoustic guitar and rock-chorus in "Helpless" how do you do this
BG: That's just the song
MP: That's what the song is like...to say more about it is voodoo...bad voodoo....we don't know why.
BG: It's like colors in a painting...you take some red , a little blue and try to do a painting out of it. That's it. We thought it is interesting and natural.
MP: Some people always think such as: you always need to do weird stuff to shock the consumers. But that's not what we want. For me this acoustic guitar needs to be there. It makes sense. It's interesting how many people don't hear it. They think it's an accident.
BG: For me its so natural that its nearly weird. But some people don't think so. Some people ask me if I am not a bit crazy.
MP: It's really interesting..you really start to think about what kind of music these people are usually listening to.
BG: We don't wanna shock with our music. We just hope that it doesn't sound boring but interesting...So we like to listen to it too.
MP: Me I like to be shocked when I listen to a record...I think that's cool. I want to raise my eyebrow and think...'wow cool that's incredible, it's great.'