FAITH NO MORE | 26.07.1989 | Raw
What is it that combines elements of Punk, Funk, Metal, Hip Hop and Thrash? The answer is a five-piece from San Francisco called FAITH NO MORE, a group whose third album, 'The Real Thing' (just released), suggests that they are right in tune with the crossover consciousness of the times...
Raw Magazine | Issue 24 | Phil Alexander
"PEOPLE ARE getting sick of that Heavy Metal crap! All that shit! There's a million-and-one Heavy Metal bands now and only two of 'em are any good. That's the truth!" states Faith No More guitarist 'Big' Jim Martin with a hint of irritation in his voice. An inflammatory comment certainly, and one that goes some way towards explaining the radical changes that have affected the Faith crew recently regarding their profile and apparent popularity.
Whereas two years ago the San Francisco five-piece were looked upon as little more than an anomaly, incorporating a gamut of influences including Funk, Thrash, Punk and, er, Metal, today's musical climate appears to have finally caught up with 'em. We're talking in step and in tune, guys n' girls!
Sitting around in a West London alehouse, it s easy to detect the air of confidence currently coursing through the FNM camp. A swift spin of the new Faith brothers opus, 'The Real Thing', and it soon becomes obvious why. Not only is it the band's first album in two years and their most accomplished offering to date, but it also ranks as one of the most challenging and invigorating releases of the year; the type that journalists waffle on inanely about in their sleep and actually play at home!
The songwriting (handled by Martin, keyboard player Roddy Bottum, bass thumper Bill Gould, and backbeat driver cum-drummer Mike Bordin) is as cohesive yet diverse as ever, but the all-important difference between 'The Real Thing' and its predecessor, Introduce Yourself, is the arrival of new boy and ex-Mr. Bungle vocalist Mike Patton in place of the volatile Chuck Mosley.
WHEREAS MOSLEY possessed what can only be called a Punk edge, Patton comes from an altogether more soulful background (influences include, "A lot of old Funk stuff", Thrash Metal, Hip Hop, Soul singer Sly Stone and Funk crazies Parliament), allowing the Faith sound to bristle with a sophistication and breadth previously only gestured at.
Essentially, Patton possesses the type of voice that should succeed in taking Faith No More from the independent ghetto into the major league. To many staunch fans the departure of such a vital component of the band's sound and persona as Mosley will certainly come as a shock. It s something that the guys are rather reluctant to discuss, preferring to meet the present and the future head on rather than look back at the past. "It just didn't work out", states a cagey Martin over a welcome pint of Ruddies County beer.
"We finished the tour over here (in May '88) and the day we got back it pretty much ended," explains Bottum. "Then we just started writing songs without a singer for a coupla months."
"That's the way we've always done it, though," states Bordin. "We've always written the songs, just the music before doing the lyrics."
"Plus, on the last record Chuck wrote a lot of the lyrics in the studio which was real frustrating when you consider that he had almost two years to get em ready!" elucidates
Gould. "Mike (Patton) came in when we had some songs demoed and within a week he had seven of 'em finished with all the harmony parts worked out."
Bottum: "He wasn't winging it like Chuck. He did properly. He wrote it all down and he didn't rely on multi-tracking either."
Patton's involvement with the other four following Mosley's exit was almost instantaneous. An acquaintance from three years back when he turned up at a FNM gig in Humboldt County, Calif., with a tape of his then group, he was the band's first choice, and according to Bottum, "It just clicked". But has filling Mosley's shoes placed him under undue pressure?
"Well, I haven't really looked at it that way, I've just done my own thing," states the 21-year old vocalist. "There's been very little pressure on me to be anything other than myself."
"As far as lyrics are concerned, we just told Mike to go ahead and do what he felt was right," affirms Bordin.
"A lot of bands rely on one person, but with us it s not down to a single vision; it's more a chemistry where people trust each other and do what they really feel. We definitely want to keep that open quality so that we can all feel good about what we're doing," states Gould rather philosophically.
DESPITE PATTON'S relatively recent arrival, the lyrical twisters of yore remain. 'Surprise! You're Dead!'
(originally part of the soundtrack for a film made by Bottum whilst at school. About a couple who torture animals in strange positions and want to adopt a little girl! ) seethes with typical FNM menace, while 'The Morning After' (originally titled New Improved Song and available on a free Sounds EP) explores similar unsavoury avenues. The light and shade of the likes of 'Epic', 'Zombie Eaters' and 'Edge Of The World' (a bonus CD/cassette track), however, is emphasised by Patton's silky vocal delivery. What's more, this time around the quintet had the luxury of more time, slightly more money and a greater say in the production than previously, with Martin in particular being heavily involved on this front.
"We even got to record 14 songs so we had four left over!" exclaims Bordin.
So far, the aforementioned 'Edge... and a cover of the old Black Sabbath chestnut 'War Pigs' (We played that song over 150 times live so it seemed a shame to waste it" — Gould) have surfaced on CD and cassette versions of 'The Real Thing'. The remaining two tracks — 'Cowboy Song' (not the Thin Lizzy classic) and 'The Grave' — are set to appear on the flip side of future singles, the first of which should be album opener 'From Out Of Nowhere', apparently due out in the not too distant future, although nothing is so far scheduled.
THE RECORDING itself was immensely quick. According to Bordin, 'The Real Thing' was ready to roll into the racks by January of this year.
The extra five months of waiting was due to delays with artwork, personal problems (Patton Buffering an untimely accident and Martin undergoing surgery) and label stalling, although the latter situation was eventually resolved with Warner Brothers lending their muscle to the album in the US (the band are signed to Slash Records with distribution through Warners' subsidiary Reprise Stateside and through London in the UK).
Furthermore, the quintet's latest whirlwind UK visit is to be followed by a lengthy bout of US touring ("We expect to be on the road for at least a year" — Bottum) and a return visit to these shores and major venues in the Autumn.
It appears that Faith No More's time has come. 'The Real Thing'. Accept no substitute.