FAITH NO MORE | M.E.A.T Magazine | May 1995
M.E.A.T. Magazine | Issue 56 | May 1995
by Drew Masters
Strange career this Faith No More act. After releasing two basically unheard of at the time albums in '85s We Care a Lot and '87s Introduce Yourself (with ex-singer Chuck Mosely), they changed singers to then-rock-god looking Mike Patton and hit fame and fortune with '89s The Real Thing. They then make a near career-ending mistake with the ill-received, unfocused Angel Dust from '92.
How then does a band go from up and down the ladder of success, and then recapture it again? Simple: Release an incredible new record, titled King For A Day, Fool For a Lifetime. Containing 14 psychotic yet entertaining tracks, the revamped Faith No More (out is original guitarist Jim Martin, and in for the recording was Mr. Bungle axeman Trey Spruance) is a much more tolerable, likable act than that of just three years ago.
On the phone from Italy, where FNM were on tour, Patton began his conversation with a retrospective view of Angel Dust. "It was the right thing to do," he states. "We wouldn't be able to make this record without doing that one. A lot of frustration went into it as we'd been touring for way too long on The Real Thing. We wanted to write some difficult songs and challenge ourselves. That's the way we keep ourselves happy by keeping ourselves entertained."
In The making of KFAD they've gone through two guitarists, first with Spruance doing the recording, and now Dean Menta--formerly keyboardist Roddy Bottom's road tech.--in as their live guitarist. Why the original split with Martin? "We voiced our opinion, years before all this happened," contends Patton. "We always hated each other, and finally we decided to do something about it instead of griping like fucking children."
Martin, for the record, was informed of his firing in the way of a fax. Remarks Patton, "When communication breaks down--when you can't look someone in the eye and make them understand you--it leaves you few options."
Was Spruance their first choice as Martin's replacement? "No, it was too obvious and probably a little too close to home," claims Patton. "we wanted to try other people first and we did. I had my doubts as to whether it would be a happy marriage anyway. Musically he's really an adept musician, but there are a lot of other things that are part of what we do that aren't easy, like touring for two years. It's a hard concept to really grasp. We're glad that he didn't have to grasp it because he probably couldn't handle it. At the last minute he realized this and we all sighed in relief."
But Spruance's involvement did have its merit. "Trey came in kind of half-way through when a lot of the songs were already written," recalls Patton. "some of the stuff he helped with writing as a lot were gearing towards guitar. It was nice to have a guitarist who could play and had some input. It was like being reborn."
Yet out went Spruance and in came Menta, who as a roadie was ready and able. Quips Patton "He's been playing fine. He's our secret weapon--definitely the cutest guy (laughing)"
Menta has already participated in recording, as FNM laid down some cover songs by such diverse artists as the Bee Gees to GG Allin that will be released as B-sides of singles. Rumour also has it that he is marrying Jennifer Finch of L7.
Getting back to the music, how did they ('they' also includes drummer Mike Bordin and bassist Billy Gould) approach the writing of KFAD? "We didn't really have any concept or idea," states Patton. "we don't know what it is we do, we just know how to do it. It would be pointless for us to sit down and have a career discussion on what we should sound like or where we should take this next record. It's kind of like if we're feeling it it's going to come out a certain way. Yet we all knew that we wanted to make a record with short, concise statements--three minute songs and that's just it. To analyze it or come up with a plan or philosophy would kind of kill it for us."
From over 20 songs recorded, the final product is a more rounder, full-bodied record compared to Angel Dust. Agrees Patton, "It's probably because for the first time we haven't been playing head games with each other. We were actually a band--we recorded and listened to each other. Not to mention the fact that we're getting better at writing songs. We're improving."
Did their long break positively affect this recording? "Depends on how you look at it, as it was a miserable two years," attests Patton. "There was a lot of worrying. When you fire a member it's like a divorce--a lot of lawyers, papers; sort of like cutting off a limb. There's a lot of talk and a lot of nothing going on. It's bullshit; it's frustrating. After a while your ears shut down--'I don't want to hear this. Let's do something!' So needless to say it was a trying time. I'm glad we went through it, but I'm fucking glad it's over."
He adds, "Doing the record was kind of like taking a really satisfying shit."
A remarkable difference in KFAD is the growth of Patton's multi talented voice. "It comes from necessity. I think we'd feel trapped if we kept doing the same thing over and over. We wouldn't be able to do it. We get bored easily. We're a rock band; we tour for a long time and the only bone that we can throw ourselves when we're in the cage is interesting songs."
During their last tour, Patton was notorious for getting more and more outrageous, if not offencive, on stage, which alienated a lot of people. What caused this? Answers Patton, "I don't know, I'm not a psychiatrist. It's nice to have a place to go and not be held totally responsible for your actions."
Has then the public gotten the right or wrong perception of FNM? "I don't even know if _we_ have the right perception of us," contends Patton. "The best you can do is just record your music and hope for the best."
KFAD was recorded in Bearsville NY with Andy Wallace, known for his work on some of thrash metal's top masterpieces. How did this differ from working with previous producer Matt Wallace? Explains Patton, "When you work with one guy for too long it can become pretty stagnant. Even if it does work, you should put yourself in a new environment. It's the only way you learn and grow."
Currently Faith No More are in the midst of an 18 month world tour, scheduled to come to Toronto on May 22 and the Warehouse. Amidst this gruelling schedule, Patton will find time to record a new Mr. Bungle record, possibly for a summer '95 release. As for FNM, their first single/video "Digging The Grave" is burning up the airwaves, while "evidence" is on deck for their second single. With a revived band and spirit, what expectations do they have for KFAD? Repeating TRT's success would be great, but whatever happens, we'll be working just the same"