FAITH NO MORE have grown up (or so it sez 'ere)! According to bassist BILL GOULD they're "children running out of talk". But are they sick 'n' tired of juvenile guitar-slingin' Metal mutha JIM MARTIN? Is he just misunderstood? Could they survive without Jim? And who cares anyway? Sugar-loafin' STEFFAN CHIRAZI gets to the point!
Kerrang! | Issue 452 | 17.07.1993
"YURRR MENSTRUATING heart, it ain't bleeding enoof for two...". Almost half of the 60,000 Europeans packed into the Werchter Festival in Belgium have blasted back the chorus of 'Midlife Crisis', leaving even the normally unflappable Patton dumbstruck. He shuffles a few steps and takes in the rising screams of the crowd, "Hang on, hang on, I've just gotta do something so as I can tell my kids I did it...."
"I was convinced he was going to shit onstage," laughs Bill Gould afterwards. "We'd just been talking about it the night before, how no one's taken a shit on a big stage - GG Allin in the clubs, but not places like this."
"I'm glad he didn't," sighs Puffy Bordin. "It wouldn't have suited the day at all; it wouldn't have been a nice thing to do." In the end of it, Patton dropped his pants and took off on a gleeful bound around the Metallica 'snake-pit' (Metallica being the headliners of the festival), balls flapping in the wind, face twisted into a gleeful grin of freedom. You've gotta love it.
The 'Angel Dust' tour is winding its way to a close, and the FNM rubber band of tension is wound to breaking point, beyond which they cannot go without entering into a shitload of
trouble, grief and strife. The much documented disagreement between band and Jim Martin continues dancing the knife's edge.
There is an obvious polarisation onstage between Patton/Gould/Bottum and Jim Martin. The tension is deliciously painful; visible from all points of the show, impossible to ignore. At one point Patton, with his back to the crowd, picks up a bottle of water and hurls it over his head in the direction of Martin. It misses by only a couple of feet.
Yet, surprisingly, this tension does nothing to detract from their performance. Driven maybe by anger, perhaps by professionalism and most certainly by a superbly balanced set. Faith No More will be finishing their current stint of road-work on a high.
BILL GOULD and I sit down to a civilised cup of coffee in our Brussels hotel. As jolly as Gould is, he seems happy at the thought of getting home soon. I wondered what the psychological wear and tear had been like, touring the evenly successful 'Angel Dust', compared to the explosive nature of The Real Thing'. "This tour's been better, because we knew what we were in for. We knew 'The Real Thing' could break right around the comer, and then in the eighth inning it did, so we were exhausted when it finally happened. "This time, we worked at our own pace, and we saw that what we put in, we got out. We felt we had a little more control of our destiny than before, when we were just in the right place at the right time, with a new kind of music that people were more than happy to categorise instantly. "This record saw us get over the category thing and we liked this record better than the last one, because it was more interesting for us, so it was nicer to tour. It's still been hard."
Describe the hard parts.
"It's physically hard; I'm four years older than I was when I did 'The Real Thing', and it's harder to wake up with neck ache and backache and all that. Patton's got really bad shin-splints where he pumps himself full of aspirin before every gig, and takes antiinflammatories for his legs. They say if he keeps playing he'll have to be in leg braces for six months, so fortunately we've only got another eight shows. It's physically wearing; that's the hard part."
GOULD EXPLAINS that enthusiasm for writing the next album is already high.
"On the last tour, we needed to take a six month break from each other before we started writing songs, but we'll probably start writing three weeks after this tour's finished, because we're looking forward to it.
"I think we're all starting to see the same thing, which is really good. I don't know what that'll do for diversity, but we had a hell of a lot of diversity on 'Angel Dust', which is good and bad.
"But I think this next record is going to happen very quickly and very easily, I don't think we need that much time off. We're in a really good mood!"
It's been a tour during which the band have learnt to de-bunk myths and cut out the bad chatting of other situations.
"The myths are more powerful than the reality," he sighs. "We don't talk as much shit as we used to, and it's a conscious effort - we're children running out of talk. There's nothing the matter with talking shit about anybody, but you've got to be smart about it."
Is the band more confident in its ability to wildly go anywhere, musically?
"We never really had a design it was run on a 'chaos theory', and we've taken things as they've come. We're kinda like a blind guy running through a pit of snakes and not getting bitten. We're still as vulnerable as we always have been."
You think so? "Completely. Otherwise, where would the challenge be in what we're doing? There's absolutely no security at all - and if there is, maybe we're deluding ourselves. Maybe we don't want to see it. Most of the behaviour in this band has always been more on
intuition - it's done us well, yet I really don't think we've completely understood why it
has. Which is fine!"
THE MARTIN/FNM situation is obviously bad, but curiously in limbo. That neither party is particularly interested in using this magazine's pages to blast one another with damning insults is one sign that perhaps the Summer could see a truce. That no one actually knows what will happen yet is a further sign.
Puffy's having none of it.
"How can you know when we don't know?" he asks, accurately enough. "We're still on tour, we're still playing good shows and, as I said last time (K! ish 431), we'll all see what's going on when we've finished touring."
The level of communication between Gould, Patton, Bordin and Bottum is strong right now. Will you and Martin have to have some Summer discussions?
Gould: "Yes, without a doubt."
Is it fair to say that you're in a stalemate situation right now? "Well," he continues, "you like to give people credit that they can see what's going on. You have to approach a situation like this as one individual talking to another individual, with the respect that they have enough of a brain to see if something is or isn't working. "As far as our history's concerned, up to 'Angel Dust' it's gone pretty well, but, y'know, chemistry's always changing. Musicians live together more than married couples!"
DO YOU think that musically, you guys and Jim are in the same place? "I don't think he has any idea what we're doing; I don't think he understands our music at all."
Well, can people expect to read about a 'D-Day' this Summer between you lot? "Who cares? This is something that's already like an over-ripe piece of fruit; it doesn't really matter. We've all got gripes with each other, no doubt about it, and after the end of this tour we'll air our individual gripes with each other. "But in the end, who really gives a fuck? Life goes on. Sometimes writers really get upset. When we got rid of Chuck they got upset, because we were breaking up some kind of consistency that people depend upon for their everyday lives. People want consistency in things that they look at, and we feel the effects of that."
What can Bill Gould say he's learnt from touring on 'Angel Dust'?
"I dunno... I think that the learning experience for me will be dealing with conflicts in a non-antagonistic manner. When we've had problems, we've attacked and fought.
"Like, with Chuck it was a shit fight, because I hated him. I'll admit it - I hate him now. But it got ugly unnecessarily; things could've been on an acceptable level. I would like to think that maybe we can learn how to deal with our problems a little more maturely, and not have so many hard feelings."
So, what you're saying is that any discussions with Jim this Summer will be gentlemanly?
"As far as I'm concerned with Jim, we've had a lot of great times with him. If Jim did leave the band, it would never be the same without him - it would be something else. And to all of a sudden write that off and say, 'Fuck him, blah, blah, blah', is not realistic; it couldn't ever be that simple. We just want to get something that works."
JIM MARTIN sits quietly. He's been a bit mellower these past few weeks, and some fear that Big Sick Ugly Jim may have gone off on vacation, and left 'Old' Jim Martin in charge. What the hell's going on? Tell the Big K! that ol' BSU's still around.
"Nothin' much is happenin'; I'm just sittin' around drinkin' beers. I have my scrambler, so I can listen in on private conversations - mostly these old bastards calling young girls. And I have my binoculars. I was watching hookers in Portugal with them right outside my window!"
Ol' Big Sick Ugly doesn't seem so excited about the playing.
"Well, it's so easy, the songs we're playing. I thought we could've done a better job on this record by not thinking about it and not trying so hard.
"Maybe I didn't try hard enough. I dunno what to attribute it to. I felt that way before it was recorded, so what could've changed about it since then?"
Well, you could've talked about this. Then again, you're notoriously bad communicators.
"It's all the way down the line, not just this particular thing. It goes all the way down to messages being passed on, and so on."
You would acknowledge that a meeting will be necessary this Summer?
"Even after a meeting it may not get sorted out - we'll have to see; it's all a matter of opinions and beliefs, I suppose."
HYPOTHETICALLY, HOW far would you be prepared to compromise in order to keep the band stable, even if it meant personally taking blame for a lot of the stress?
"I personally wouldn't feel right saying it was such and-such's fault. Who the fuck is anyone to say it's somebody else's fault?"
Bill said he feels you don't understand the music on 'Angel Dust'. Is that accurate?
"It would be if they'd had something in mind, all ready for to play. On the other hand, I would say they they don't much understand The songs I've brought in, because I pretty much tell everybody what to play."
Do you think about what will happen after this tour? Will change be forced?
"No,I haven't thought about it yet, because I don't really know what's going to happen. But I'm willing to see how it goes."
Thoughts on the 'Angel Dust' tour? What have you learnt?
"Glad we're almost done. It seems like it's been a long haul - not as long as last time but it seems really long. It's very different to what it was with the last record. Last record, it seemed like there were more feelings of honour somehow, through the whole thing.
"The thing that really got me down this time around, is that we seem deliberately to have tried to make it more of an at random, playground, circus affair. It's hard to say what I might have learnt from it all. I'd have to think about that for a while."
WHAT ABOUT musical ideas - have you been working on stuff whilst touring?
"Oh sure, I'm always foolin' around with something, but probably very little of it is suitable for Faith No More, so I'll have to write songs suitable for Faith No More. It requires writing in a very particular way."
But it can be your band as much as theirs; you can vault as many ideas as they can.
"Sure, but they're mine!"
It just seems that you're unhappy with 'Angel Dust' material. "Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to be doing this. I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing - digging ditches or going to the office every day.
"But in my opinion, it's definitely time to do something new, because this last record didn't work out all that great and didn't measure up to what it could have.
"People were so insistent on doing certain things that I sat back and said, 'Okay, do whatever the fuck you want'. I didn't want to argue about little things that aren't that much of a big deal but collectively add-up. I think everybody's feeling the same kind of shit; a certain confusion at times."
There's no big secret that Faith No More are stomping around with in their back pocket? "If there is, I don't know about it..."
And he doesn't know about the it, because it doesn't exist. WE want it to, WE want an easy answer, but that just never happens with this band.
For all the tensions and all the strain, Faith No More's furious five are simply focussing on their job of being the best live band around. They will blow the Phoenix Festival to pieces and who stand in your way to get there!