WHAT A DAY - ROCK IN RIO II
On January 20th 1991 Faith No More appeared live in Brazil for the first time and the particular show has become one of those legendary performances we, the fans, can't stop watching and discussing. Rock In Rio is one of the largest music festivals in the world with 700,000 attending in 1991. The line-up of this particular show including Prince, Guns 'n' Roses and New Kids On The Block!
At this point in time FNM had been on the road for nearly two years and were about to slow down to start work on their next album ( Angel Dust ), but not before a string of unforgettable performances in South America which would go down in history as greats. From the mesmerising rendition of Nestle's theme song 'Sweet Dreams' to Mike Patton's outrageous new hair cut, this show was definitely one to watch.
What follows is an article written by journalistic royalty Steffan Chirazi which describes events leading up to the show and in the days following.
Kerrang! Magazine, Issue 329, February 1991.
A little bit of trash never hurt anyone.......
Reckons chief gossip-monger and FAITH NO MORE keyboard player RODDY BOTTUM.
The man who topped the Kerrang! ivory tinklers' poll talks to STEFFAN CHIRAZI about his nose for digging the celebrity dirt, while BIG SICK UGLY JIM MARTIN tries to canvass
innocent Brazilian children for his own election for president and MIKE 'PUFFY' BORDIN fearlessly jumps off Pedra Bonita hill with a six loot wooden board attached to his back.
Yup, it's just another humid, jape-packed day in the wacky Faith No More camp...
"Hi my name's Roddy and I'm the keyboard player in faith no more, and I just wanted to say it's great to meet you because I'm a big fan of your music."
The small pimp-like space cadet we know respectfully as the talented and gifted musician prince, and disrespectfully as a basket case of major and incurable proportions, puckers his closed mouth and offers a small nod.
The Trap, a small club hidden in Rio de Janeiro, has become the black-lit haven for Prince and his six bodyguards to park their serene and important bottoms for a short while.
No there wasn't an alcoholic beverage in front of his highness. Yes I do now know why he was cast as a pimp on 'Miami Vice'. No he wasn't that friendly. Yes I think he might very well be insane.
Patton, Gould, Bottum and I retreat to our corner and think about what the most fucked up drink we could send over to the special boy's corner would be. Someone suggests a hot chocolate, and it seems about right for his tee total nibness until he blows out our fun and leaves.
"A lot of people have told me he's really shy, but I just think he's really clever and crafty," furthers Bottum, the man who's got closer to him than any media for the last few years. "He looked like he was so fucking bored and he's chosen this place to be bored, which tells you he's looking for some company. So I didn't feel bad at all for going up and talking to him. I think I asked him how his show went and he just said 'Fine' - all - one - word answers - and I told I went to see him once at Wembley and I was so far away I couldn't see him at all.....I even told him that was the day in my life I realised I needed glasses!"
He didn't even react when you told him he was responsible for a major realisation about your personal health?
"No, not at all. "
What a bastard.
"Well I thought it might bring him out if his shell, but he just sort of liked at me and smiled. But I wouldn't say he's an arsehole."
Did you feel the aura?
"I smelt the magic. He smelt very purple, lavender maybe. A strong smell but subtle at the same time. Not masculine definitely, but what fragrance is? Almost feminine but more spacey....
"I did come away from the conversation regretting I didn't ask him a little more, that I didn't just unashamedly ask him something off the wall like how big his dick is. It might well have brought him out if his shell, caught him by surprise."
Do you think he's a space cadet?
"He seems a little spacey, but he's up something."
It'd been a strange night already. FNM vocalist Mike Patton had had a few sips of a disgustingly sweet, very strong sugar-cane alcohol, and then bassist Bill Gould had decided inexplicably to pour some highly flammable sambuca onto his hand and set fire to it. Poor deranged man.
Brazilian MTV then attempted to take us to samba school in a hippie wagon VW, 12 of us jammed together in the tin sweat box screaming, yelping, pounding back at the hundreds of kids who pounded the outside of the thing, and generally driving the MTV crew crazy.
Gould in particular was behaving like prime Broadmoor material, pounding the roof in arm circling motions, eyes screwed shut, mouth wide open, a continuous yell roaring from it. The key then broke off in the ignition whilst we crossed a quiet, dangerous part of town. Gould was warned not to walk to far as he would probably be shot by gun-welding guards who don't like asking questions when they pack bullets.
Then we went to The Trap. As can tell, it was all go.
There's 95 degree humid heat and FNM are in Brazil to turn in their 110 degree performance at the Maracana Stadium. 'The Real Thing' has been out here for nearly three weeks and has already sold 10,000 copies. The Brazilian arm of PolyGram see this as an excuse to hire a small plane to circle Copacabana trailing a banner reading 'PolyGram welcomes Faith No More'; hospitable for sure but trying after a few hours.
"Jee-Zus it's cool an all, but we've had enough. Go away!" Grouches Jim Martin.
The prongs maybe longer, the spot maybe thinner, but in that mountain-man frame stills lies a demon and it's negative commentaries.
He laughs - "Fuck man, I dunno" - and I believe him.
The Rio Palace Hotel may very well be hell. Close your eyes and think dark enough for a few seconds, and it's a music - biz - whiz - kidz convention in any town, anywhere any country. The word circus does come to mind.
FNM do their bit for the world's massed media ranks and sit for a half an hour holding what is rumoured to be a press conference. The room is packed with shutterbugs and eager questioners, most requiring a translator. The whole thing drifts by, with Martin making a diligent effort to answer some of these things honestly, but to no avail.
Of course Mike Patton us asked the obligatory Mr Bungle question, after which they sit for some quick pictures and then head off for some personal interviews with specially chosen magazines. It's necessary groundwork grind-work.
Show day arrives, and it's not something I'll dwell too long on as a full account has already been written. But those hands waving all the time was a sight never to be forgotten....
Rock In Rio is, at times, like one enormous press junket and the bands get little escape from cameras or tape recorders or screaming fans camped outside the hotel. Mike Patton in particular is a target for the screamers: they love him, want to touch him, want to scream in his ear, want his signature, want everything they can from him.
Bodyguards have to hustle the band through converging crowds pretty much all the time. Patton is bemused by the whole thing, understanding now what it's all about yet still not knowing why they do it.
And when it isn't press or fans it's MTV. FNM are their latest darlings and they intend to get full mileage out of them.
Knowing it will make good footage, MTV have arranged for the band to hand-glide from a tall hill called Pedra Bonita in São Conrado. Watching Mike 'Puffy' Bordin strap up and spring off the six foot wooden board into thin, crisp air was quite a high in itself. And considering he isn't really a whole lot into the trimmings of success or doing interviews ("I'm only here to play my drums," is a famous and much-heard Puffism) he seemed more than fair game for a tape-recorded chat.
I start off by asking Bordin what he feels the sudden rush of success has done to the band as a unit?
"I think it's made us realise that we're probably the only ones who understand what's going on. We're all starting in the same circle and going our different ways, and because we're all starting out from the same central point we're the only ones who really understand what's
Creatively, does success cramp your style when thinking of future releases?
"It gives you a little more confidence, in as much as what we've been doing and what we believe in is good, so we're gonna head on."
And what has success done to Mike Bordin personally? Made him uncomfortable, perhaps?
"I feel like a snake that's shed its skin, but it isn't confusing, it hasn't made me question things I've never questioned before - there's new things to think about. That's all."
I shift gear to ask Bordin just what it meant to play to a crowd as huge as at Rio. Could he focus on the audience?
"No. I don't focus on the audience anyway, ever."
But you did tell me you noticed the crowd during 'The Crab Song'?
"During the quiet part? Oh fuck yeah, definitely, and I was excited. I could feed off the energy. We've all been in situations where we've played in front of two people and they've been real loud, and then two people and they've not been loud, and there's a difference.
"Same with 10, 100, 1000, 15,000 people, it's the same thing - and when your in front of 185,000 and they're loud, and you don't speak the language, you've never been there before and your records just come out and guy know that the crowd are totally getting into it...." He exasperates at the mere recollection, "that's a huge rush."
It's always been of interest to me just what someone who isn't really into being in the limelight makes of the whole fan phenomenon; the crowds, the screams (which were abundant in Rio)...
"Screaming is a wonderful tribute," admits Puffy. "It's nice that people feel excited when they see your face, but I don't take it personally. If you broke the band into groups, there'd be a certain assembly that wouldn't be screamed at and another that they would scream at. I feel guilty getting screamed at by association and it makes me feel very uncomfortable.
"I'm sure that if you got into thinking, I'm so bitchin' because people are screaming at me, it could ruin your life. But I don't see anyone in our band getting addicted to that screaming. When you meet peers who are addicted to that whole star-trip, do you learn front them and allow yourself a snigger at their expense, thinking of them as unfortunate human beings?
"You've gotta learn first of all that there are certain tools in this business and it's important to use them. And in response to the second part of your question, yes, that's the way I am. All the band members are different and that's my first reaction: to feel sorry for them, not to tell
them that I'm gonna stick a football up their ass the next time I see them or something... I feel sorry for them. It's a really sad, really lonely, really hollow existence for anybody like that."
Singularity is something Bordin's been thinking about for quite a while, and the constant schedule has certainly taught him a thing or two about home-life.
"If you commit five years to working, and you're lucky enough to work (by that I mean touring and making a success or trying to better things for yourself) you've gotta realise that however terrific you are, you can send flowers or call a lot or Fax or draw pictures and send them in the mail, but all the time you're not there and it's very difficult. It all depends on how it's set up, if you want this regular relationship where it's like one your parents might
have, I think it's unrealistic to think that can happen."
Are Faith No More's grass roots fans still with them or are they going to be inevitably lost as the band gets even bigger?
"I think a certain amount of that will be inevitable, but I don't see it on the whole. I don't think we've put off an awful lot of people. We don't even have a fan club. The fans see us out there, they see us touring for two years, they see us not saying the same raps between songs, they see us act a little foolish and a little silly and maybe say the wrong things and not look perfect all the time, but at least they see we're real people."
I wondered if Bordin was content with the 'Puffy' character he is seen as?
"Yes and no. Sometimes it's like a caricature, sometimes it's hilariously enhanced, but..."
You can live with it.
"I'm very happy being me,thank you."
The hang-gliding goes off without any casualties, and on our return from the site Gould and I decide it'd be a fine night to attend a Macumba.
This is the sacrifice of a chicken to the voodoo gods, so I'm told, but watch the film 'Angel Heart' and you'll see one starring Lisa Bonet.
We go to the Rock In Rio coordination office to find out the facts. The head of operations tells us that we must be crazy to think about going out to find one unless we're bent on loosing limbs. Gould and I are unable to find anyone who will take us, and instead we have to settle for an introduction to the infamous and disgusting paper O Povo, which shows in full detail the grisly undoings of cops and drug traders in graphic photos.
Next day MTV take the band out to the beach where they film them body-surfing. Martin, still waking around in army surplus gear, is trailed by a gaggle of small children and attempts to canvass support from them for a political campaign to become their next president. It's a sick thought.
I ask Martin about his feelings on the new FNM release, a live slap-together thing from the band's Brixton show last summer. He isn't impressed at all by it, forcibly requesting that I stress his displeasure with the release.
Bordin, whilst being less than ecstatic, doesn't see it as necessarily a bad thing at all, as
long as the price is kept low so as to make it very affordable, and wants it not to be seen as a live album but the live EP he feels it is.
Roddy Bottum, meanwhile, has this to say about it:
"We didn't authorise all the tracks. Four months ago London released a promotional CD of four live songs and that's what we thought they were releasing now. We didn't want them to do it at first but then we thought, 'What the hell, it's a live thing, four songs, doesn't seem like a big deal' - but now it's nine songs! And two of the cuts weren't released on the album - they were out on limited release - and it would've been nice to save them or thrown them away, but we didn't know they were gonna be put on this live record.
"I think London were just worried about keeping up the band profile because they know we're gonna be away touring for a while. It's almost crass the way in which we've pursued our thing. Maybe we should've stopped touring a while ago and done another album, but at the same time it was important for us to keep on going. But now I just wanna get started on another album."
Any particular ideas?
"Well, the stuff we've been working on is pretty ethereal and probably less 'rock' than the last album..."
Doesn't that change once Jim Martin becomes involved?
"Yeah, this is always the way it starts out and it usually follows on and changes a whole lot. Right now we're just playing around with ideas
that are totally different from the last album."
How much of a role will Mike Patton have in writing?
"I dunno. I mean, I'm totally willing to collaborate with him as much as he wants. It's hard to really say what his music is right now but it's a pretty comfortable situation. Other people maybe worried about it, not within the band so much as elsewhere. To me, everything's fine."
Whilst it's well known that Gould is into seedy underworlds and Martin could be in Deliverance , Roddy Bottum is a self-confessed trash gossip hound.
"A little bit of trash never hurt anyone! We can talk music shit all day long, but I want to know what's really going on! Who s doin' drugs, who's f**king up...?!"
Time to share some celebrity trash maybe?
"No, not right now! I'm still lookin' for stuff. But I'm especially into it -with different bands because we all share the same things in common and I want to see where they're coming from."
And are you prepared for people to snoop around looking for dirt on you?
"Absolutely- and for the most part I'll tell them what's going on! We're pretty open about stuff, we'll talk about each other behind our backs and totally spill the beans. Mike's pretty into the dirt-scene too..."
However successful they get, Faith No More will never get a personal washer and dryer. It s still too much fun doing their own dirty laundry in public.