For a while there, it looked like FAITH NO MORE were about to become...no more. The band Just weren't getting on with singer CHUCK MOSELY, the situation was tense, and a full-scale split seemed on the cards. But then Mosley was kicked out, MIKE PATTON was appointed in his stead, and a brighter future began to beckon. STEFFAN CHIRAZI details these near-tragic trials and tribulations, and tells you why the band's 'crunchy' new album is most definitely the real thing...
Kerrang! | Issue 242 | 10.06.1989
Faith Healers | Steffan Chirazi
FROM THE DAYS of mouldy soup encrusted in Jim Martin's facial hair, from the days of dossing upon the Metroplex's floor in Atlanta, from the days of having a highly undependable frontman, Faith No More have come a good few thousand miles. I'm not quite sure how much of a sin it is in Europe to say that Faith No More, complete with new singer Mike Patton, are 'The Real Thing' this time out. But - heck and blimey - I suppose I'll find out.
There is no soft way around this tough old piece of leather, so maybe I'll just plough on. It's like this. After the lightning pages of Kerrang! zapped you full coverage of Faith No More and clued you in on on their abundant potential, it seemed that the rest of the British press quite correctly felt it their duty to perform the same function. But somewhere (and this is where the whole issue gets sticky) they put on the wrong lens. They focussed on the wrong object. I was amazed to see that neither 'Big Sick Ugly' Jim Martin nor the other pivotal FNM - Bill Gould, Roddy Bottum and Mike Bordin - were on the front pages.
The press had chosen ignore the very heart of Faith No More and concentrate instead on its all too obvious exterior.
Let me tell you that many a marriage has collapsed under those very conditions. And this, friends, was the case with Faith No More. Whilst the band's album 'Introduce Yourself and the subsequent tour were crisp, sharp whip crackers, they were just tasters for the pleasures to come.
Yeah with the 'all too obvious exterior' (in other words, ex-vocalist Chuck Mosley) ousted and the more compatible Patton now securely in place, Faith No More's latest album 'The Real Thing' is... well, 'is' pretty much covers it.
MIKE PATTON is barely 21. He hails from a part of Northern California which can be described as 'dark', and he has become the true binding factor and unifying element of Faith No More.
The songs on 'The Real Thing' take the usual dips and swerves that are FNM trademarks, but the feeling is truer and the writing so much sharper than before.
One track from the LP, 'From Out Of Nowhere', boasts a guitar sound that's fat without being bloated. Whilst another, 'Surprise! You're Dead!', contains one absolute crunching skullyard of a riff.
Jesus, we could spend a whole lot of time here explaining just why this album is so crunchy, but there's an LP reviews section for all that shit. Instead, at this stage I will force an opinion on you - and it's a warty, wrinkled, ugly one if you are a fan of the band's former singer, Chuck Mosley. Face the facts, bucko. 'The Real Thing' would never have been as good if he'd remained in the band. Indeed, if Mosley hadn't been replaced, Faith No More would probably have become...no more.
In Mosley's latter days with the band, tensions were so high that, at one point, almost every member quit within a one month period. Walking into a Faith No More dressing room in those days of ugly horror, you needed a chainsaw to cut through the toughened, stale old shit. So let's plough into this dark and steamy subject, starting with comments secured from an earlier chat with drummer Mike Bordin.
"We all really felt that touring was helping us develop. We were getting all these great ideas and just expanding as a band, but Chuck was lagging behind.
"He reached this plateau about two years ago, and just never seemed to build or develop any further from it. "He was never involved in the music on any LP, he was simply the lyricist. It was a case of: 'Chuck, here's a cassette, don't lose it, go and write some lyrics'.
"So it was a situation where he could've developed and maybe got much better, but he showed no signs of having the inclination to do that."
Of course, this didn't help to alleviate inner-band aggravations...
"We always knew where our point of conflict was. When I would hear Chuck do an interview and say he wasn't into our music," Bordin snorts a disgusted snort, "I would say that's a point of conflict. He was a member of our team, but we were going in a different direction."
Speaking to Jim Martin later, in the big brown truck known as 'Flypaper', the sentiments run along the same tracks.
"I actually thought that Chuck was a good singer who had the potential to be great, but the fact remains that now we have a better guy, and we work better with him.
"Now that Chuck's gone, it's easier for us, without a doubt. We can count on our new singer to do the job fully. With Chuck, you never knew what sort of a show you'd have."
LET'S GET back on to the music. In particular, the upsurge of guitar on the new record, which will help any of you stragglers out there to hook into this monster (and wait until
you hear Faith No More's version of Sabbath's 'War Pigs'!). How? Why? "Well, Matt Wallace (long-time producer/maestro) has always been real good at getting rhythm sounds, which are vital for us. But he could never get guitar. So, as he was ready to listen, I figured I should take over matters and investigate the possibilities.
"I went down to LA and met up with Rick Rubin while he was doing a session, which was very helpful indeed. But maybe the thing that helped the most was attending a Metallica session. I watched James Hetfield get his shit down and he showed me how to explore, y'know? To get a good guitar sound is an art in itself."
And believe me when you hear the band's rendition of the aforementioned 'War Pigs', you'll notice that the guitar sound is so close to Iomi's original tones it's untrue!
"It's certainly easier now that. Chuck's gone," furthers Jim. "We have a much better idea of what to expect from each other, because that aggravation element is missing. We trust each other a whole lot more as far as songwriting goes."
Earlier, Mike Bordin had offered the following comments regarding this better, richer musical blend.
"This album sounds the way we always wanted to sound. You hear a lot of 'pros' talking, but basically we're just a bunch idiots learning.
"We work much better together now. Jim's a dick, that's his job. We're all dicks. .. but we're dicks that are part of the same team and we're heading for the same goal.
"We picked Mike Patton to replace Chuck because we believed he could do his job well. Remember, we knew about him. I'd been listening to his tape for two years (Patton used to be a member of a band with the unlikely name of Mr Bungle; their tape 'The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny', is a classic). We wanted something different, we wanted to look to the other nine-tenths of the universe out there."
What was required from the rest of the universe? What was the first directive?
"I wrote this note," sighs Bordin, "and gave it to Slash of Guns N' Roses to distribute throughout their network which of course he didn't do.
"The note said: 'Faith No More need a f**king singer. Must not have huge ego, must not stuff sausage down pants, and must be able to go for throat'."
Which reminds me of the moment that 'Krusher' Joule informed me over the telephone that he was going to
be the new FNM singer, because he'd pass the audition with ease. However, 'Krusher' was instantly disqualified due to his penchant for stuffing large salami down his denims...plus there's the inevitable question of 'ego', of course. Thankfully, FNM never actually got wind of the mighty Krusher's tape!
LYRICALLY, THE band have obviously taken a different direction on the new LP. But musically, it could be construed that Faith No More have headed more in a Metal direction than before.
Bordin: "For the last three or four years, I've said we're a rock band. If you can fit Metal in there too, then.. .fine. We play rock music, though, by my understanding."
Martin, of course, has his own wide-angle opinion of the comment. "The writing certainly isn't any more hard rock than before; at least it wasn't written to be. It might sound like that. If that's the case, it's because you can hear a bit more f**king guitar now. It isn't really HM."
Jim takes half a moment. "Depending on who you talk to, HM means different things to different people. I know people who think Poison are a Heavy Metal band! Personally, I always think of bands like Metallica and Slayer as Heavy Metal."
Whatever Bordm and Martin think, the fact remains that the new LP 'The Real Thing' is nothing more than highly accessible to all but the most narrow-minded of Metalheads. And there can be no doubt that Faith No More are a stronger, leaner beast, a stealthier animal than at any time before.
Jim Martin wishes to finish our conversation on that very vein of feelings, defining clearly where Faith No More are today.
"Before, it was all inner conflicts with the band. Now it's just inner conflict within each individual in the band. I get real hateful of things these days, and it's my own deal.
"I get real hateful about the Guardian Angels in the Tenderloin (a poor part of FNM's hometown of San Francisco, where bum kicking goes on, crime is rife and street volunteers patrol to try and keep the streets safe) and I don't know why. The tax on cigarettes, I get real hateful about that, too. The screen in O'Farrell Theatre's Ultra Room, that makes me real hateful..."
With Faith No More so together, the bitterness had to end up somewhere...