The Rock n' Roll Circus Of 1992. Faith No More, Guns N Roses, Metallica, Soundgarden

In July 1992 Metallica and Guns 'N' Roses set out upon their ill-fated double headliner tour. Faith No More were along for the ride and to undermine the whole thing. 
"It's gossip that keeps this band alive. We're like a bunch of old ladies. It's the only thing that's new when you're travelling in a time capsule. All you can do is talk shit." - Mike Patton 1992
Stories have been told and retold in music publications focusing solely on the two rock behemoths with little or no mention of the supporting acts. However FNM played their part well, enough to promote their album Angel Dust but not too much as to lose their dignity and become obvious rock 'n' roll clichés. With the help of interviews from the time we will discover how it felt to be the insignificant support band, and the itch on Axl Rose's balding head. 
"It's a total spectacle, a sick circus...We're not even involved. We're just watching it. Guns 'N' Roses are the circus... it's amazing... it's just a lot of money and way too much time to spend it in." - Mike Patton 1992
The foundations for Faith No More's place upon the 'tour that they thought would never happen' were laid much earlier than 1992. FNM have always been close to members of Metallica, their roots entangled from the very genesis of each band [Faith No More / Metallica connections]. It seemed inevitable that the two bands would be on the same bill at some point in their careers and FNM's first taste of stadium shows were with Metallica during fourteen dates across the States in 1989. The metal head crowds were on the whole unresponsive to FNM's unique blending of the genres and the band were glad to get back to more intimate settings of club nights. At the end of 1991 the two bands would reunite once again for Metallica's Day On The Green festival. 

As for GnR, Axl and Slash were both vocal about their love for Mike Patton's 1989 debut record with FNM, The Real Thing. Something that FNM's record company were quick in utilising to boost album sales and huge billboard posters were pasted onto walls all over Europe featuring the grammatically inaccurate slogan 'Slash says: Faith No More is fucking brilliant...'  Unfortunately the band themselves did not share their record company's enthusiasm and spoke about the poster campaign Rolling Stone in 1990. 
"It's like, 'Can Axl loan me twenty bucks?' I mean, it's cool that those people gave quotes to help us out, but it doesn't change your life." - Mike Bordin 1990
"They made up these posters in Europe. It was so embarrassing, man." - Bill Gould 1990
"That's the worst. When you drive into town and see that poster and you're in your fucked-up van, you just want to get out and rip it down." - Mike Patton 1990
Two years later GnR hit the road with the ostentatious Use Your Illusion world tour and Axl personally invited FNM and SoundGarden to be a part of the extravaganza. Not for tactical reasons but simply because they were his 'favourite bands'Opinion was divided on whether or not the decision to add FNM was a good idea. Members of the band had reservations however it was an opportunity to promote their new album Angel Dust on a huge scale. 
"It's fucking amazing that we even got on the tour, one of the biggest tours in the world. I don't know... I mean, aesthetically we're different! I think it's good though. I've gotta give Guns 'N" Roses credit, and give Metallica credit, too. Right now it's really responsible of them to pick bands that are different because they didn't have to do that. They could pretty much tour with anybody." - Bill Gould 1992
It would seem that it was not only FNM's intention to make a buck but also to undermine the greatest tour on earth from the outset. As a unit and as individuals FNM have always had an imaginative and disturbing sense of humour and were no strangers to publicly berating fellow musicians, which more often than not landed Patton in trouble. Lenny Kravitz, Sinead O'Connor, Poison and Aerosmith were all previously on the receiving end of Patton's wicked tongue. In 1992 the new sport of Axl bashing became something that the press would focus on during interviews, and the FNM boys ( Bill Gould, Roddy Bottum and Patton ) would hold nothing back, brutal honesty and cheeky creativity. 
"Basically, we are a small band. We are a pubic hair in Guns N' Roses' shower!" - Mike Patton 1992
The taunts came before the band had even packed their guitars and keyboards on the bus. In fact in the May of 1992 Patton suggested that the 500 strong crowd at The Marquee in London shouldn't bother attending the Wembley Stadium show and instead ring in bomb threats. 
"We haven't really experienced anything like that yet. This is our first time going out on the road with a band like that. We did do the Billy Idol tour and we were a little bit uncomfortable with that. It'll be interesting to see exactly how many bodyguards Axl Rose has, I want the inside story. More than anything it's just something to poke fun at. Not to say that's what we're going to do, but..." - Bill Gould 1992
 "Big shows and a lot of people, sorrow and agony, soap opera acting. I've never heard them to tell you the truth." - Roddy Bottum 1992
Pretty much as soon as FNM hit the road with GnR venom spilt onto the pages of countless music publications under headlines such as 'Making Friends With the Devil', 'A Real Ugly Experience' and 'Touring Hell'. Spurred on by exposure to the off-stage antics of Axl and co, disgusted and irritated members of FNM felt the need to unburden themselves to the press and also during their stage performances. Jim Martin alone seemed to enjoy the spoils that touring with such rock monsters would provide, his actions would widen the rift between himself and the other four band members. While the rest of FNM had soon realised that they were not comfortable playing stadiums.
"Unfortunately, we're used to much more relaxed situations, just being able to hang out after the show and not having to worry about our fans shooting us or anything. Getting thrown into that atmosphere was really uncomfortable. Plus, with the security so intense, what can you do backstage? Get drunk and look at strippers? Oh yeah, that's real exciting." - Bill Gould 1992 
"It's like this. For the past 10 years, we've been playing in this band as professionals. We get offered this huge stadium tour, and we figure that this is where it all leads to, the highest point. But to be on that level, you have to WANT to be on that level. Touring at the highest level is a disappointment, because you see a tot of unreal things, a lot of bullshit. And whether it's conscious or subconscious, you wonder to yourself, 'Is this where I'm headed? Is this where it all leads to? To this bullshit?" The conditioning of this industry is that that's where you go - you head for that level, as opposed to doing something that you're happy with. If you headline stadiums, you've gotta WANT to do that. It's great if you're into it, but we learnt that we aren't people who could do something like that..." - Bill Gould 1993
"I'd thought our presence there would be totally misplaced. We said: we may not like GNR, we may not like playing in open air stadiums in broad daylight, where we sound like shit and look like shit on a much too large stage that wasn't built for us, and we may not like the fact that people are paying too much money for a ticket...that's all true. But the fact is: it's a very good opportunity to reach a large audience that otherwise wouldn't have come to see us. And that's good. The other side of it is that we want to headline again. It will happen in October. Playing with a roof over our heads. We're at our best like that." - Mike Patton 1992
The band were not playing to 'their crowd' and were constantly 'trying' to win them over. When this failed Patton resorted to insane acrobatics and hurling insults at the headlining act. 
"I always feel a need to provoke, especially if we're supporting some band like Guns N' Roses and people aren't really listening. By insulting them, you make them at least look: it's the lowest common denominator. When I do flips, I always land correctly, I only bruise myself. But I do have an ongoing fight with glass which I keep losing. Once my arms were flailing and I cut four tendons and the main nerve in my right hand. It's practically numb now." - Mike Patton 1992
"It's difficult playing every night to people who aren't interested in us. Maybe some of them do hate us, but that's cool. If they didn't hate us a little bit we'd feel like we were kissing ass." - Bill Gould 1992
FNM received their first spanking from camp Axl after Patton encouraged the crowd to throw beer at Jim Martin one too many times, the temperamental singer was worried about getting his feet wet.
"We're not the kind of band that's made for this kind of stadium show. It's just not what Faith No More is about. It may be good from a business point of view because our record has just come out, and what better way to promote it than to get on a big tour like this? But if we had our way we wouldn't be doing this; I'd rather do ten nights at the Newcastle Mayfair than one at Gateshead Stadium. I mean, it's cool to be out there in front of a lot of people, but man, the sound is shit, the place is too big, the crowd is a fuckin' mile away... It just lends itself to more of a cabaret act, the kind of band who want to indulge in all that theatrical bullshit, with costume changes every other song. I mean, we do change our clothes too, but usually only once a month." - Bill Gould 1992

FNM would travel thousands of miles on a bus while the headliners chartered private planes to get them to the next show. FNM would be on stage at 6pm prompt for their 45 minute set while GnR would show up late and be ferried around in limos backstage. They were used to relentless touring schedules of six shows in a week, on this tour they would be lucky to perform twice. This led to FNM finding new ways to fill their time and alleviate the boredom. Sometimes FNM would give a little insight into how things worked under the GnR regime.
"GNR and their management are like a small government. Axl's the president, and his manager's a personal advisor. A couple of the other more visible band members are vice-presidents. Then there's the little guys who come underneath, to make sure only the right information is leaked out. They're dependent on the band for their living, so they will police themselves. Support bands are like other countries with whom they maintain a diplomatic front. Like, keep your mouth shut, enjoy the ride and everything will be cool. Open your mouth, and jeopardize your own position. It's an interesting thing to experience first hand." - Bill Gould 1992
"Knowing their beliefs and the sexist, racist, homophobic things they've said in the press, the fact that they were touring with us - a band with someone gay in it kind of tickled me. But talk about crass sexism... the actual experience was disgusting. On the road the band would send their video crew out to roam around in the audience during intermissions. They'd comer pretty girls in the audience, and everyone would scream and yell at her until she lifted up her blouse and showed her tits. [If she refused] The whole audience would boo her. It was awful. and it happened every night. And at each stop on the tour, before Guns N' Roses would come to a town, they would have their crew arrive a day early and find the local club, where they'd give strippers backstage passes. Every night, the whole scenario was like millions of stripper chicks just hanging out waiting to do one of the band, or a roadie or whoever." - Roddy Bottum 1992
Sometimes they were a little more inventive. 
"There was a rumor that Axl brought his psychic on tour with him. And it would be bad luck in any city that started with the letter M. So he cancelled Manchester, Madrid, Munich, and he did Montreal, and that's when the riot happened." - Bill Gould 2006
"A juicy tit bit I heard the other day was that Warren Beatty was fucking Axl's girlfriend. I think he knows because we had a show cancelled the other day and maybe - just maybe - that had something to do with it." - Mike Patton 1992
"[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 lose 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? 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." - Mike Patton 1992
It was this story that earned FNM their second roasting and almost cost them their place on the tour, this time it was serious enough to warrant Axl himself to reprimand the band who didn't take kindly to being described as follicly challenged.
"Halfway through the tour, we realised it wasn't the kind of scene we wanted to be involved in. We'd been talking shit in the press about Axl, and he got wind of it. So one night, we had to stick around and have a meeting with him after the concert. He was really upset and talked to us for an hour. At the end of it, one of his people came into Axl's trailer and said, 'Axl, come on, I want to show you something'. So Axl gets up, all serious, and says to us, 'Come on' - we'd just been raked over the coals and felt obliged to play along - so we all had to follow him. We went into this other trailer. It was filled with guys but dead silent, no one's saying a thing. Everyone was looking at something going on in the back. We're following Axl like idiots, but as we all get closer to the back we see what everyone's looking at - lying on a bench are these two really out-of-it women, stark naked. One was eating the other out, but it was anything but sexy. The girl who was being eaten out... she looked like she was dead - just lying there. It was so creepy. And absolutely silent. All you could hear was the whirr of the video camera. Axl walked right up in front and we freaked out. Mike (Patton) started yelling, 'Oh my God! I cannot believe you people would do this!'. Everyone just shushed us, and we all just left immediately." - Roddy Bottum 1993
"He read all the bad press we said about him and asked us about it! We actually talked to him for a while, and y'know what? He was pretty cool! One day we came to the concert, and Axl was there waiting for us. Like, 'What's the deal?'. And we just said we tried to stir up as much trouble as we could. We told him we felt like that was our job, and he just laughed. He just sat and explained his position to us a little bit. He's an easy guy to take pot-shots at, and we definitely went for the easy thing. "He was cool about it. He likes to see the system shook up as much as anyone, but he's in an awkward position. We left the tour friendly. It was like making friends with the Devil. I thought all hell was gonna come down, and he let us off with, 'Aw, right, you f"kin' idiots'. That was a cool response. Most people in his position would have been real uptight dicks. I can think of 100 other bands we've done a lot less to that have freaked out 10 times as bad!" - Bill Gould 1992
"We said a lot of shit, and didn't realize how bad it was until we got caught. Axl was real straight with us, but it was an ugly scene. He said: 'It's like I went away and came back home to find you guys fucked my wife.' We were thrown off the tour for five hours, but we apologized. It was like being in the principal's office. He said, 'I only like you guys, Nirvana, Jane's Addiction, and two other bands, and all of you hate me. Why do you hate me?'" - Bill Gould 1992
According to Slash's 2007 autobiography he too was present for the reprimanding.
"We had a much more antagonistic situation on our hands with our other support band. Faith No More, once their front man, Mike Patton, started talking shit about us onstage. We let it go once, twice, but after that, that was it. We had to have a talk with him. Axl came in with me, as did their guitarist Jim Martin, because Jim was as fed up with Mike as we were "Listen, man," I said. If you don't like it here, just fucking leave. It can't be like this. Either let's do this thing and make it great, or forget it, go home." They ended up finishing the tour and that was the last outburst we heard from Mike during their set." - Slash 2007
With FNM badmouthing Axl at every opportunity in the press it was a miracle that FNM were still on the tour, yet two months down the line in July they were invited to continue as part of an even bigger ....but were joined by the mighty Metallica. 

The stories became more outrageous Bill heard that Axl hired an exorcist because he believed he was possessed by the spirit of the dead AC/DC singer Bon Scott. Roddy sampled Axl's voice and would play sections during their set. Patton's toilet antics became legendary: pouring urine over his head whilst stood on Axl's monitor, threatening to crap on said monitor  "....take a shit right on top of those TV screens, in front of tens of thousands of people.", and basically crapping where ever he could. The most infamous story involving Axl's orange juice now debunked "We had fun, bringing those images to the mainstream. But the Axl carton story wasn't true." [Diary Of A Shit Terrorist]
In the end all the taunts aimed at Axl were in good fun, maybe not for the GnR singer himself but certainly for FNM. 
"Being able to talk shit in the press and have a lot of people read it! That was really fun. That was how we got our amusement. We like to create dissension. It was this gigantic body of people that travel just like some big circus, where no one ever really communicates with each other. We thought that if we could stir it up just enough to where we wouldn't get in trouble, it might make it more interesting! After all, it's kind of uncool when a band invites you on tour and you diss 'em a little bit just to have some fun."
"I hate rock music. I've always hated it. Like Led Zeppelin and stuff like that. I mean, my dad used to listen to that shit. It's the least interesting thing in the world, the excess and all that stuff, it's so boring. The world has gone through its period of exploration in that area. A stadium gig is fun to do once in a while, but that Guns N' Roses thing really got me down because it's as rock as it gets. It's the mentality I don't understand. I think it's disgusting. It's not natural, it's all role-playing. complete bullshit and I hate it when our band reflects things like that." - Bill Gould 1993
"When is this interview going to be printed. You see, I have to watch what I say...but hey, fuck that, just print this: I hate the whole circus thing, we all hate it. But at the moment we don't have the power to do what we want to do, so we still have to eat a little bit of shit. (Seems were back to the catering lady again) We almost have the power to control what we do, but not quite, so we're just gritting our teeth and getting through it best we can. Every band in the world might think they want to open for Guns N'Roses, but lemme tell you, it's been a real ugly personal experience, having to deal with all the shit that surrounds this fuckin circus. I've always hated that aspect of rock music and I've never wanted to be part of it, so to find myself being associated with a tour this big kinda sucks." - Bill Gould 1992
"I'm getting more and more confused about who's who in Guns N'Roses, and it's blowing my mind. There's Dizzy and Iggy and Lizzy and Tizzy and Gilby and Giddy... Shit man, onstage now there's a horn section, two chick back-up singers, two keyboard players, an airline pilot, a basketball coach, a coupla car mechanics..." - Roddy Bottum 1992
The Guardian 2015 
“If it hadn’t gone on as long it would have been OK but we did it for about six months,” Gould says. “It got to be like this was our life. It’s like working in a job with people you don’t understand and who don’t understand you.”
“We were smart-alec obnoxious people,” Bottum says. “We shit all over that camp. We had to prove that we weren’t that.”
“It makes you examine yourself,” Patton says. “‘Is this who we are now? This isn’t my deal.’ You overdo it sometimes. There I am, peeing on [Axl Rose’s] teleprompter.” He looks rueful: “I didn’t really have to do that.”


  1. Even us die hard GnR fans know that the Illusion tour(s) were a circus. That said no said you had to be there. Much like Cobain, Patton seems to have some " unresolved " issues when it comes to Axl. Even BonJovi had questions about the popularity and love affair between Axl, Guns, and fans all over the world. Love him or hate him, ( both ) Axl is just one of those people who transcend music. He will always be more popular, loved, and talented, even if he is a bigger asshole than most.

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