Any other band in the world would cream their jeans over being asked to support Metallica and Gun n Roses on a megatour across the USA. Not Faith No More. They fuckin' hate it, maaaaan! Come to that, they fuckin' hate just about everything. Matt 'Tex' Smith gets in the firing line.
Violence Is Golden
'LAY YOUR WEAPON DOWN NOW!' The electronically distorted voice, barking out orders from somewhere behind the flare of a police searchlight, is in no mood to disobeyed. I swear, even from here, I can hear fingers tightening on triggers, "It's down, man, it's down!" shouts back Faith No More's guitarist. Big Jim Martin.
"Both of you down on your stomachs and keep your hands above your head," the voice commands, "Now slowly cross your legs behind you." "Fuckin' hell." I whisper. "Is he shooting us for a Jane Fonda workout video?" Jim laughs. "Let me do the talking, Tex."
IT seemed such a good idea at the time. Nearly two in the morning, pissed out of our heads in some hotel car park. The perfect time to do a bit of shooting. Y'know, shooting at something (anything as far as Jim was concerned) to relieve the tedium of touring America as support group to Metallica and Guns N' Poseurs.
Welcome to the real jungle. A world where chicken porn videos, celebrity crank calls, blocking hotel hairdryers with shit, pissing on willing groupies, sticking up fake hotel rules -
"No colostomy bags in the swimming pool" - and shooting up your hotel room is the norm. Where Tuesday night is pill night and, when, according to Roddy, "Anything white is swallowed."
"The object of the game is to collect as many pills as you can through the week, then take them all on a Tuesday night, but only if we're travelling. Then you get off at gas stations and stagger around buying shit you don't want.
"It Gives us a sense of superiority, and something totalkabout the next day."
When you've had enough of that, punch the words "Gay Nigger" into Bill's lap top computer and play Psychotic. The object of this game is to escape a high security mental
hospital in California raping and killing as many people along the way as you can. IF you're lucky, you won't flag down a car driven by Charles Manson. The game comes with a health warning.
"Welcome to Psychotic. The game that destroys decency, massacres morals and ruins righteousness, if you find it in any way sexist, racist, anti-social or offensive, good!
Psychotic lets you do the undoable. Go ahead, make your day. Release yourinhibitions on an unsuspecting world."
Why, to do any less would be a breach of Faith No More's tour etiquette. And the tour manager tells me he's a born again Christian!
JIM'S NIGHT IN
WHAT did you do last night Jim? "Nothing. I stayed up all night doing fuck all, really, I had the TV on but I wasn't watching it, I had my scanner going. It's great. The scanner enables you to listen in on all the cellular phone calls in the area. I was listening to this guy, talking to these two girls he wanted to fuck."
When Jim speaks, imagine a gruff monosyllabic grunt with every other word beginning with F.
"The guy was in the hotel on the next block and I got the whole thing on tape. One of the girls he knew and the other he didn't. And he's going to the one he knows, 'what is she
like? Is she fat? Has she got a Big ass? How tail is she?' After a few more questions he said, I'm gonna have a few more drinks, get a little more fucked up and then we're gonna have fuck fest', she goes, 'Get the hell outta here. I ain't never done that!'
"I bought a pistol yesterday and I shot up my hotel room. I started off going for the little peep holes they put on the door. That's my favourite. Shoot that thing. And I got the extra bars of soap and set them up on a garbage can by the door. It's not real obvious what I've been doing in there but, if they found the soap they'd guess. So I couldn't figure out what to do with it. I couldn't get out on the balcony cos it's a pissy little window. So I stuffed it up on the smoke detector. It'll take them a few days to find it and, by then, it'll be too late.
"I used to get Kung Fu stars in Texas and throw them all over the hotel room, right? There'd be big fuckin' holes everywhere. I'd get a fuckin' tube of toothpaste. Man, fill up all the fuckin' holes and it looked fuckin' great. Nobody knows."
THE ROAD TO NOWHERESVILLE
"HAS anyone seen a compilation tape I made called 'Six Hours Of Hell'?"
Billy is rummaging tdrough the video box as the sleek grey Faith No More tour bus pulls away from the grounds of the devastated hotel. He neither expects, nor gets an answer. Instead, Brian De Palma's brutally explicit "Scarface" flickers onto the monitor above our heads. Billy sits in the armchair of the Front of the bus, holding a curtain across the window behind him lo ensure that the sunlight doesn't mar everyone's enjoyment of the most violent scenes. It's 10 in the morning and Jim is drinking his breakfast - a can of Coors beer. He's happily engrossed in a dermatological text book. Pausing over an all-too-graphically illustration section headed, "Diseases Of The Genitals", he cackles to himself. Cheers ring out up and down the bus as the TV monitor suffers another bloodbath. Roddy's reading Jan Savage's version of punk, "England's Dreaming". "Toilet philosophy", as drummer Mike "Puffy" Bordin calls it.
"Billy has the most beautiful book on suicide victims," Christine, the bassist's gorgeous girlfriend tells me. "There's a photograph of someone who landed head first on some pavement grating. The grooves are cut perfectly into the top of his head!"
I resist the desire to pull out my dog-eared copy of "Wuthering Heights", and talk to Patton about Guns N' Roses instead.
AXL'S GOING BALD
"He is, he really is! They were playing one night and Duff walks up to Axl and pats him on the head like a loving comrade-type thing and Axl Rose immediately brings the show to a halt, this is in front of 80,000 people, and be screams, 'Don't you ever touch my head again, motherfucker!' Duff just walked away, wounded. We found out later that it was cos he's going bald and he's worried that, if you touch his hair, it will fall out. Every follicle counts.
"He came up to me the other night and said, 'Hey, man, your song really helped me through some really heavy shit in my life'. I said, 'Really? What song is that?' He said, 'Midlife Crisis'. 'What kind of shit?' l asked, He looked at the ground for about an hour then shook his head and said, 'Mmm, just a lot of shit, man'. I tell you, I was biting my lip so hard trying not to loose it. 'We've given up trying to be quiet about their stupid games. It's gotta come out somewhere. For a while we were a little cautious of saying anything, but we were uncomfortable with that. Did you know about the Warren Beatty thing?" !!!CENSORED!!!
"Then, for the last show of the European tour, Axl's psychic (who has her own bodyguard) went out and blessed his microphone and blessed the stage."
I ask Jim, who seems to have taken on Puffy's role as group loner since the recording of the "Angel Dust" album, whether he'd join the headliners given half a chance. "I sure would!"
What? No loyalty to the rest of the band? "Absolutely not."
"And more than that," Roddy interrupts. "We'd be happy to get rid of him. Tie him up in a bow and put a stamp on his ass."
What do you think you could bring to them, Jim?
"Nothing," he replies. "I'd just take from them. All these guys are
implying that they hate Guns N'Roses, but they actually admire Slash as a guitar player."
"That's probably true," Billy acknowledges. "if we hated them a little more we'd probably be more forthright.
"I'd fuck Slash in a minute," says Roddy. "Trouble is, I think he'd nod off and be a bit dozy I think he'd be very romantic, take me out for a nice dinner and pay for my cab back to my hotel and say, 'See ya tomorrow'. Actually, I'm being sarcastic. He's not my type at all. Who is? Actually, I kinda like the look of Kriss Kross."
Patton warms to the idea in a most unprintable way.
"I'd like to mastermind a group of retarded rappers. Who would give a bad review to a retarded rap band? You'd be a villain! People would buy it for that reason: Morbid curiosity, guilt, sympathy. You could play on every emotion."
AXE MURDERERS Of THE WORLD UNITE
AS we enter the environs of the stadium, the bus glides past 32 Mac trucks, their silver bodies glinting in the Pittsburgh sunshine.
"Guns N'Roses use 'em to stash all the money," Roddy sneers. The stadium car park itself is a mass of sweaty, human flesh. As they walk passed its occupants hidden behind tinted windows, pieces of meat in an attempt to be a part of whatever rock n roll dream they think is being enacted inside.
"Look at those fuckers," Roddy snarls. "I hate you,and you,and I'd like to shoot you in the mouth," he adds, as one particularly bloated example wobbles past.
"I don't wanna go backstage," Patton screams. "I'm not getting out of this bus 'til one minute before we are due on"
"GOOD EVENING FORT LAUDERDALE" Billy screams to a confused Pittsburgh crowd as "Caffeine" crushes them mercilessly, courtesy of the biggest PA ever yet assembled for a rock tour. "Death March" continues the assault, Patton throwing himself around the stage and cradling the mic like it's a Judo opponent he's trying to throw over his shoulder. "This is for all you future axe murderers of America." Billy shouts, as they crunch into the redneck midwest cocktail barsleaze of "RV", On the side of the stage, the blonde one from Metallica whistles his approval.
We're standing in the wings next to the steering wheel that drives Lan Ulrich's drum riser around the stage during his solo.
"It's manually controlled, man," Puffy had told me earlier in the day. "Before this tour's over, I'm gonna grab it and drive him off the stage full speed into the audience! "Just what is it that's so fantastic about you people?" asks Billy. "I just can't put my finger on it." Eighty thousand people go apeshit, unaware of just how much urine they are being relieved of. "Land Of Sunshine" pounds in, threatening to blow out your eye sockets, Puffy smashing the fuck out of his drums before the tribal stomp of "We Care A Lot" finally gives the crowd what they want. As the dying embers of "Epic" fall around the stadium, the band are already off the stage, into the dressing-room and beginning the slow winding up, not down, process, "James Hetfield was rooting for you, man." Patton says to Jim. "I saw him whistling every time you bent over."
"I heard him cheering every time you were slamming yourself on the ground," flashes back the reply.
"YOUR drummer's asked for a Pirates baseball, fellas." A stadium employee exclaims. Patton takes the ball, pulls out his penknife and systematically rips it to shreds, dumping it into the rapidly melting ice tray with the knife still poking out.
"By the time Puff's back it'll have swollen like a corpse dragged from a river," he laughs.
Meanwhile, Jim picks up the jumbo-sized bottle of Jack Daniels and slyly bundles it into his flight case when he thinks nobody's looking. In the corner, friends of Roddy's are talking about a girl they know who can't get off during sex unless she pretends she's a retard and that her boyfriend is a doctor. Puffy comes back, inspects the cheese board, notices the ball and doesn't flinch. He pulls out one that he bagged earlier, making sure that everyone notices, In the cab to the restaurant that evening, the driver asks: "Did you come in on those buses?" "Yup." Says Bill. "Are you a group?"
"Nope," says Jim. "We're a sub-aqua team. We recover people who've drowned."
"Noway!" says the cabbie. "Yup," says Jim. "When they've been down there a while and you grab 'em, they sometimes disintegrate on you. The meat comes off."
The cabbie flinches. "Jeeez!" He crumples his face in disgust. "Nasty work." "Pays well," says Jim.
WRECKS ON THE HIGHWAY
KERSMEAAASH!! A load of margarita glasses are lobbed over the bridge and hit the highway below with a sickening noise. As cars swerve and brake, Billy pulls out his doodah and pisses over them. Welcome to the photo shoot. As he adjusts himself, a cop car crawls by. Shit. Jim gives the occupants a rather optimistic thumbs up sign, and the blue suits return tge compliment and drive off. Another near miss.
"Actually, I think we've got more mellow," Billy lies. "Cos, when I pissed off that bridge today, I was thinking, 'It's been a long time since I've done this.' Along time ago I used to do all that stuff all the time."
"I've gotten angrier, I think," Roddy counters. "Sometimes the only thing that gets me off onstage is the thought of jumping on people and hitting them.
The other night we were playing, and I got to hit someone. It's the greatest thing just to be able to jump on somebody and hurt them. It was a security guard - he grabbed some kid, and me and Mike just leapt on him and pummelled him."
"The kid was just an excuse," says Billy. "It didn't really matter. It could have been anyone. It was just fortunate that it wasn't a fan."
"I'm really glad that the kid was getting punched," says Pafton "Serves him fucking right. It gives us something to watch when we're playing.
"I HATE that rap stuff- 'Jungle communication' I call it." Another cab driver is holding forth, uninvitedly. "The trouble with modern music," he continues, "is that there ain't enough guitar solos anymore."
"I hate guitar solos," Patton hisses. "Every time our guitarist tries to do one, we stand in front of him."
Patton wants to print a t-shirt featuring Jim in familiar thumbs up pose, bearing the legend, "Jim Martin says Techno's OK". There's not much the guitarist hates more than Techno. The band have just heard the Youth mixes of their new single, "A Small Victory", and they're happy as pigs in shite. Roddy is even planning to record a Techno track with AnneMognusson and the Freds' Richard Fairbrass.
"Now that we've found Youth, he can make us what we've always wanted to be. I know everyone, repeat everyone, will be really into it." He fixes Jim with a beaming smile. The guitarist ignores him.
FATSO'S NIGHT OUT
"If you got anything in your hotel room you want to destroy bring it down," chuckles Jim. Five minutes later, we're perched on a low wall blasting away all the cans of Coors that the guitarist has sunk that day. "When you shoot, hold perfectly still, take a breath, relax, line up your sights, and squeeze the trigger real slow so that you don't know when the gun's going to go off. Don't jerk it, cos you'll miss."
After a few goes, I send a can flying into the air. "Good shooting, Tex," Jim exclaims, proud of another convert. And then it happened. Seems that, whenever you try and have a little bit of fun in America, the cops aim a gun at your head.
"Where you from, hairy?" the fat one says, once he's convinced that we're just about incapable of harming ourselves, let alone anyone else. "Haywood, California," says Jim, with a mixture of pride and arrogance. "California, huh," the cop says, swilling the word around his mouth like it's an all encompassing explanation for this kind of behaviour. His colleague is frantically going through the citation book while he lectures us about gun safety.
"You know, if you had pointed that thing, I'd have shot you both dead," he says. "I wouldn't have done that, sir," says Jim, "The first rule of gun safety is that you don't point your gun at anything you don't intend to shoot. I didn't intend to shoot you, we were just having fun."
The other cop is now on the radio. Someone up (or down) there likes Faith No More and The Maker cos there doesn't seem to be a punishment to fit the crime.
In the bar, an entire vat of Glenlivet is drunk in celebration of our small victory. An air stewardess from Atlanta sidles up to Jim. "What do they call you?" she drools.
"Fatso," he replies. "Gonna be in Pittsburgh long?" She asks.
"Maybe, maybe not. Wanna talk about it in my room? After all , it's not as if I have a gun anymore."