FAITH NO MORE | RIP Magazine | 12.07.1992
Our favourite Faith No More journalist Steffan Chirazi writes here for RIP magazine in a classic article from 1992.
Rip Magazine | Issue July 1992
The Slings and Arrows of Faith No More
By Steffan Chirazi
You wouldn't expect it to be any other way. Chaos is abundant, voices are constantly being raised, people are destroying their apartments in anger, and the music is wickedly diverse and loopy.
"There will be no middle ground for this album," states FNM bassist Bill Gould. "It's either gonna be absolutely huge, or it'll bomb wildly, be a total fucking flop."
Faith No More are mixing their fourth album, Angel Dust. The whole lot of them are fretting over nothing, guitarist Jim Martin's been in the doghouse since before Christmas, and the inner turmoil the band has always been eager to dismiss as "media hype" in the past is a huge, dirty fact, inescapable and intrinsic to FNM's work. They need to piss each other off, and manage to in consistently fine fashion.
In a small dive bar around the corner from San Francisco's Coast Recorders, Bill Gould, keyboardist Roddy Bottom, producer Matt "Beanhead" Wallace and I sit at a table, drinking cheap beers and engaging in cheap talk. I first ask them about the pressure involved in following up a hugely successful album.
"Everyone's pretty much left us alone," sighs Roddy. "I think it was from ourselves more than anybody else. The record company and management were worried about what we were going to do, but they kept their worries from us."
"In the past we've always stuck together because we were totally broke and we needed to put out another album for the union scale money," furthers Gould. "After this last tour we split and went our separate ways, and we haven't been in any real rush to get back together. Part of the pressure in the past was economic adversity, being stuck with these people and knowing you had to stick with them because it was your only way out."
Isn't there pressure to avoid doing the same record you did last time, taking the easy option?
"No, no," Gould continues. "That was easy, because we were sick of doing that stuff. We'd just toured it for the last two years, so we knew we didn't want that."
So when it came to putting the material together for this album, you tended to keep it as far as possible from what was expected?
"I don't know if you can think about it like that," says the fired-up little Gould. "You just get sick of doing something for a year-and-a-half, and reading--look, even if you don't pay attention to what they say, this whole 'funk metal' thing is really disgusting. The last thing I ever want to be in is a funk-metal band. So it's not like we're gonna try to do exactly the opposite, just anything except that, y'know."
People will still want to hear the old songs live, though.
"But those are just songs," Gould emphasizes. "They're not funk metal--fuck that! It's a disgusting label for a band, and I would say that any band that plays funk metal, I hate. I would safely say that most of the band feels the same way."
When it comes to Mike Patton's lyrics, do you get involved? Do you want to know what he's writing about?
"We pretty much leave it to him," says Roddy. "I mean, that's his job in the band. Everyone has their input, and words are his."
"He's really into his words," Gould adds, "and as long as he's into them..."
You don't care?
"No, I do care," Roddy adds quickly. "I care what he sings about, sure. He's probably gonna get a lot of flak this time around for what he's singing about. He's gonna offend a lot of people, and I think it's great. I think if singers wanna do something like that, then they should be able to, in the same way that actors who take on really sleazy roles don't get shit for it, don't get shit for portraying some sort of derelict, bad person."
What songs could be considered offensive?
"Well, I wrote some good lyrics for him on one song, which he'll probably get some flak for," Roddy says. "It's about swallowing." Time to cough.
"It's more along the lines of a character thing," he continues. "It's not even about offending anyone. It's just trying out different characters and being challenging."
"Characters can be offensive to people, but entertainment as a medium really can't be offensive, because it's aesthetics," Gould explains. "It can't be wrong or right, only offensive or inoffensive."
How has the writing come together? Have you found that you've been bitching at each other like you always do?
"Some things are easier than before," says Gould. "Actually, it was a lot harder when I think about it."
"Jim's getting a lot more comfortable with the songs now," furthers Roddy. "He's uncomfortable rehearsing the songs with us. He'd rather have a tape of the finished product and work on it at home. He likes separating and doing it by himself."
"It makes for a weird tension," Gould says. "You visualize everything, including the guitar, when you write the song, and then it comes back different from your perception. I guess if the person isn't there from day one, they can't be expected to read your mind."
It seems like you lot always bicker like grannies at the bus stop.
"Yeah, it's just another manifestation of the same old story," Gould sighs. "It'll all work out though."
Leaving the bar, I track down the aforementioned Mr. Martin, ace guitarist and sometimes grouch. He's more than ready to offer up his thoughts on the new album. First off, has it been a plesant experience, recording and all?
"Absolutely not. It's been an unpleasant experience from the very beginning," Jim says. "It's been very unpleasant, which is not really much different from my experience in making records with FNM before. It's always been an unpleasant experience--a lot of people scrambling to get henchmen on their side, to play silly games, to blow smoke on a situation, to diffuse situations, amplifying situations that don't exist, manipulationg others..."
That's always been the way things are, huh?
"More than ever now."
Is it pressure showing itself?
"I'm not sure if it's that, or if it's more one's desire to be a teen idol. Things really don't seem that much different. It's a little worse, because certain members of the band seem worried."
You're not worried about things though, right?
"No, not at this point. I was at one point. There was a problem, because everyone seemed so frightened, I wondered if we'd be able to do anything. At this point there's no worry on my part at all though."
How is it that you don't work with the rest of the band in person when writing and rehearsing?
"Because usually I have to drive a long way. I get there, and we'll play something, then all of a sudden someone decides they wanna leave, or somebody decides they're not having a nice day, or whatever. They decide they wanna blow it off, and I've driven all that way to get there. I dunno. I'm not to agreeable to begin with, so that stokes the flames a bit."
How do you view the band's musical direction?
"I'm just trying to play these songs the way I see 'em, the way it should go. It's not like we're trying to do anything 'different'. We're not reinventing ourselves, I'll tell you that. Anything we play will pretty much sound like us, if y'know what I mean, so don't let any of that 'doing something new' bullshit creep in, because that's a load of fucking crap!"
Without this pushing and shoving, though, FNM would cease to exist, right?
"I dunno, man, I guess so. It's the nature of the beast. As long as these people are around, that's the way it is. Some people are spoiled, filthy, little brats with rich parents. They've been handed everything on a golden platter."
Be careful, Jim. They could just as easily sling mud back at you.
"That's bullshit! Anybody can say anything. Anybody can sling shit at anybody they want! What's the point of doing the interview? Come on, guy! But it's pretty much that guys sometimes act like spoiled children, and this is an industry and a job that encourages and permits that sort of behavior."
Thank goodness they hate each other right now, because that just means things are clunking along like they always have. And if they sometimes seem like monkeys trapped in a cage, tossing shit and screeching at each other, well, you know the old saying, "If it ain't broke..."