INTRODUCE YOURSELF 30th Anniversary | EXCLUSIVE Matt Wallace Interview
Faith No More's second studio album Introduce Yourself was released in April 1987. This album was a key player in mixing genres and creating something fresh and unique.
It's legacy lives on 30 years later and it influenced whole new generations of music. The music on the record fine tuned FNM's uncategorizable style and solidified the backbone unit of Bill Gould, Roddy Bottum and Mike Bordin. Even though it would be Chuck Mosley's last record with the band he gives the performance of his career which ensured his place in music history. The production of IY is outstanding and ahead of its time, a clear and instantly recognisable sound.
Introduce Yourself celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. When was the last time you listened to the record?
It’s been about a decade since I listened to IY but, I must say, it sounds really good to me. It’s a solid, foundational record. Interestingly, after I worked on that album for almost 3 months, Anna Statman, the Slash Records A&R person, said she hated the way it sounded and my feelings were hurt and my eyes were watering. She and I had a great working relationship and I still maintain that she had some of the best ears in the business (she was one of the first people to recognize the talents of Jane’s Addiction and Pearl Jam, just to name a few) but, at the time, it really hurt my feelings.
How does sound to you now?
It sounds great. It’s thick and heavy and really good. Interestingly, it was the last 24 track record that I mixed by hand… as in, there was no computer assisted automation and every single move was done by me and/or edited together on the 2 track tape recorder. I really like how the record sounds, even more than how The Real Thing sounds.
If you were invited to go back and remix songs from the album (similar to the recent WCAL mixes) would you?
Of course I would! I would love the opportunity to go back and see if I can make it even better than it was way back when. Now that’s not saying that I’d actually be able to accomplish it but I’d like to try.
Are there any changes you would make?
I would try and make it ever stronger, ‘punchier’, and heavier. I am ready to re-mix it (in my mind) right now!
Were there demos recorded at your own studio?
I don’t remember doing demos for IY at my studio (I DID do the demos for WCAL at my studio) but believe that the demos for IY were done at Dancing Dog Studios, which was a 1” 16-track studio.
Do you think the environment contributes to the sound of a record?
Of course the environment contributes, that’s the reason why we recorded IY (and TRT) at Studio D in Sausalito because it had a really good sounding live room and the mixing desk was a Trident TSM and it was stellar!!!!!
It was FNM's first album on a major label what luxuries did this afford you as a producer?
Well, instead of recording (and mixing) an album in 6 days, as we did for WCAL, we were afforded somewhere between 2-3 months (including rehearsals and mixing) to make the record. Also, we were able to actually NOT have to have all SIX of us stay in the same one room lodging (as we did for WCAL). We were also able to work in Los Angeles, have rental cars, and even stayed at the famous and storied Tropicana Hotel and got into all sorts of trouble there.
What kind of trouble?
The Tropicana was, at that time, in a kind of sketchy part of town (and the hotel itself was pretty run down) and people coming into the office had to be buzzed in as the door was always locked. So, Bill and I found the circuit breaker box for the main office and turned the power off which cut their lights, heat/air conditioning, and the buzzer to remotely open the front door. Panic ensued and he and I watched from a safe distance.
Jim and I decided to throw lawn chairs into the pool for some reason or other, probably out of boredom or general, mild anarchy. Somehow we were ratted out and the management threatened to kick us out (Jim, Mike Bordin, and I were all sharing a room) if we didn’t remedy the situation. I don’t recall it entirely but believe that Jim got a little drunk, put his shorts on, and then he and I went into the pool and retrieved the pool chairs. I believe you can hear a reference to it during the group vocal on “Death March”.
Bill decided to come into our hotel room at the Tropicana and, without warning us, see if our television set would work if a cup of water was poured inside it. Well, apparently water and electricity don’t work too well together and we were left without a television for the remainder of our stay because we certainly weren’t going to report it to the management.
There must've been a lot of excitement surrounding the band at this time?
Not really as they were only marginally known via college radio for their song “We Care A Lot”, which was kind of popular a couple/few years prior.
What did the day to day process of recording involve?
Depending on the day, we would either be:
1 tracking the band live in the studio in an attempt to get an acceptable and exciting take of a particular song.
2 we would do any necessary bass guitar performance corrections and then do the same with guitar and keyboards.
3 eventually we would get onto vocals and background vocals.
4 at the end of the recording process we went to Studio D where i did the mixes
Were the whole band present throughout the recording?
Only during tracking days. Generally, only the guys who were needed on any particular day or time frame would be present. There might be some overlap and, for those of us who were staying in a hotel here in Los Angeles (as Jim, Mike and I didn’t have family to stay with nor friends in LA), then generally, out of boredom, as much as support, some of the guys would hang out in the studio.
Was this last time it would happen that way?
No, pretty much the way it usually goes, to greater or lesser extent.
The stories of Chuck's behaviour during this recording are typical to FNM's turbulent history. It's amazing to think Chuck wrote lyrics and vocal parts in the studio as there is such emotion and raw energy in his performance. How did you coax this out of him?
Because Chuck generally wears his heart and thoughts on his sleeve, all I had to do was to set the stage, to create the environment, and encourage him to do his best work. I reminded him that he was a talented vocalist and songwriter with something that was important for him to say… and for people to listen to.
Do you think the record would have captured this without the inner band tension?
Tension is always present within bands and during the making of records. The essential push and pull, the strong opinions and desire to express themselves in the most authentic and genuine way, will inevitably bring tension and conflict to the surface. Out of that, comes beauty.
Was Bill a natural leader even back then, how much was he involved with the production?
Bill has always, to me, been the ‘engine’ of FNM. He’s always had the drive and focus to move things forward in terms of capturing the band’s music through recordings. I can’t remember how much or how little he was involved in the making of IY and can’t say for sure that he was more or less involved than the other band members however, his 4-track demo for the song “Epic” (for TRT) had pretty much all of the essential pieces in it, including the ending piano piece. And, in terms of Sol Invictus, he was the sole engineer and producer (and co-mixer) of that album. During the time when FNM was disbanded, I visited Bill in San Francisco and he had amassed about 60-70 songs/pieces of music. I asked him what the songs were for and he replied ‘they’re songs for Faith No More’. So, even when the band was defunct, he was still making FNM music.
It's a great story that Slash brought in Steve Berlin to help because they didn't trust you with the money! Did he actually have any input?
Well, Steve Berlin was brought in primarily to make sure that the band and I didn’t screw up the recording. For Slash Records, Steve was a sort of ‘insurance’. I think that Steve sincerely tried to give input and there were times that we probably used it but, to be fair, both the band and I were pretty ‘closed’ to outside input because we had already made records previously and we knew what we wanted to do. I will forever be indebted to Steve for sharing the production credit because he easily could have kept the entire credit and credited me solely as engineer. He was a good guy with his heart in the right place and was already a talented producer in his gown right.
I believe this is the album on which the core section of FNM (Bill, Roddy and Mike B) perfected their unmistakable signature sound. We're you conscious of this at the time?
Not sure I agree with that statement as their signature sound, which kind of started in my studio in Oakland, CA, ware actually refined during the making of WCAL when we placed Bill’s bass guitar amp in an ambient room, thereby capturing some of the ‘roominess’ that has been a big part of Bill’s sound. That, coupled with Mike Bordin playing very, very unique drums (off beat kick drums and African rhythm inspired tom tom parts) and me sending the drum sounds into the large, live chamber, also contributed to the sound. But, along with that, and the fact that Bill’s bass was generally a bit distorted, the addition of Roddy’s sense of understated keyboard playing (considering the fact that he was classically trained) added a wide, cinematic atmospheric backdrop behind the rolling thunder of the rhythm section and Jim Martin’s guitar.
Unlike some bands FNM have such extremes on every album. IY is no exception, this must be challenging and exciting for you to have so many diverse sounds / moods to produce?
It is exciting (and challenging) to try and capture all of the facets that make up the diverse music of Faith No More. Fortunately for me, my tastes are very eclectic, too, and so the approach of shining a light on their vastly different types of musical influences and inspirations was not only exciting for me but it felt natural. I was raised on Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kool and the Gang, and pop radio so I was always up for pretty much anything they wanted to do because I, like them, got bored if I stayed in any one genre for too long.
The Real Thing is credited with changing the face of 'metal' which often overshadows the importance of IY. Did you realise while mixing this album that this album would be so unique and inspire a wealth of new music?
TRT overshadowed IY and WCAL for the diehard FNM fans. For new fans, there was no ‘overshadowing’ because TRT, and specifically “Epic”, was their first introduction to FNM. It was the first time that many people heard them.
Both the band and I hoped and believed that TRT should be heard by the masses because, to us, it was ‘pop’ music. We believed that it belonged on the radio and on MTV. However, Warner Brothers said that, while they were all fans of the band and their album, ‘radio doesn’t play that kind of music’ and, for a moment they were right. But, thanks to the band’s incessant touring in a van back and forth across the US and multiple trips to England, they created such a groundswell that the gatekeepers (radio, MTV) eventually had to give way and put “Epic” out on the airwaves.
I read that you sang some backing vocals on this album, is this true?
I don’t recall singing backing vocals on IY or even TRT (my brain is kind of rusty) but it’s possible that I did. However, I did sing background vocals (with Roddy) on “Easy” which was included on the album Angel Dust.