Metal Hammer June 1997
FAITH NO MORE - THE NUTTERS RETURN!The best thing and the worst thing about Faith No More is that we are still a band concludes vocalist Mike Patton about the fact that the San Franciscans are set to release their deranged seventh album. With Jim Martin out and a selection of guitarrists filling his place since, Patton tells Ian Winwood that "as a band, we have a lot of mistrust of each other."
Faith No More aren't supposed to be like this. We're in the glorious Californian city of San Francisco, basking in 80 degree sunshine, taking photos of America's most dysfunctional band. Only thing is, today they don't appear to be dysfunctional at all. Today things appear to be normal, very normal indeed. Or perhaps even better than normal. Perhaps it wouldn't be over-egging the pudding to describe Faith No More as almost buzzing with happiness.
A nicer bunch of people you could hardly wish to meet, which is indeed perplexing. Considering Faith No More's reputation for being a collection of disparate, eclectic musicians, rather than _bona fide_ friends - an all-American _Unhappy Days_ if you like - to see the band chatting and joking, not only amongst themselves, but also with your reporter and photographer, is a pleasing, if puzzling, sight. Don't believe the hype, indeed. Watching a happy band goof around down by the bay of one of America's truly beautiful cities, your reporter is suddenly left panicking: _where's the story?_
Back at our hotel on the centre of the downtown district, things, briefly, appear to be getting abck to normal. In order to compile the sidebars around this feature with the other four members of Faith No More, Mike Patton had to wait until each of his cohorts had talked for five minutes into my tape recorder. Keen to be off, Patton could be seen tossing his eyelids and tutting to himself. Great. "Good luck with the singer," says bassist Billy Gould with gentle sarcasm, as he leaves the interview.
But even this isn't a problem. Sitting down with his four dollar glass of Newcaslt Brown Ale - small bottle - Patton is relaxed, polite and accomodating. Especially on his being part of the new, improved Faith No More. "Rock music is really a show, it's really Vegas and it's really not anything more than that," he says. "And it really shouldn't be anythign more than that, I don't think so. It's vaudeville.
"But people can think that we're crazy or at each other's throats all the time, if that's what keeps them happy. There's a lot in what we do and people have been trained to see certain things. You can have a lot of fun with those things and use them to your advantage and God knows we've done that, but I thinkmaybe now we're over it, we've moved onto new amusements.
"You never know, maybe we'll be shitting in interviewers' tape recorders six months from now. Who am I to say? But it feels now like there's no need to do that.
"We haven't done this in so long, we're happy being in a reharsal studio together and then going on tour."
This is no small beer. Rumours that Faith No More are about to split - or, indeed, have split - have been rife, on and off, since the release of the fractious 'Angel Dust' in 1992. But in the last 12 months, these rumours have managed to reach a pinnacle of intensity. Fact, they said, Faith No More are about to split. Nonsense, say Patton, Faith No More are about to do nothing of the kind.
"It's all bullshit," is the line. "We've been hearing these rumours for years now, almost everytime we're not working. About the only time we didn't hear them was between 'The Real Thins' (1989) and 'Angel Dust'. But it's like clouds in the sky for us., we don't even notice that shit any more.
"We always have problems, we always will have problems - bands always do. All bands do. You take five strangers and put them in a room and take them out on the road together, make them sleep together, and then you see what happens. It's a disaster.
"But one thing I think we're getting better at is maintaining a working relationship with each other. Like it or not, this has become our lives. And it is a ridiculous job, but it's what puts food on our tables. No matter what you're doing, you have to take it seriously, because it is your life."
Are you happy about this having become your life?
"You have to be," says Patton. "Or you're going to become a miserable son of a bitch. It is your life, whether you want it to be or not. You can't choose."
Can you imagine life without Faith No More?
"Oh, I can imagine it," says Patton, giggling. "I can imagine it, put it that way. This isn't the only piece of green grass, if you know what I'm saying."
But just in case you're thinking it's all sweetness and light...
"The best thing and the worst thing about Faith No More is that we are still a band," is Patton's opinion. "And as a band, we have a lot of mistrust of each other, too much mistrust. I would say that some of it is for good reason, and that's healthy. But if there's one thing that has always been counter-productive, then I would say that it's that mistrust. It's inherent, it's there. I mean we're friends, but it's just that there's this healthy disdain for each other. But whilst we talk about this, I think maybe we talk about it too much. That's why everyone thinks we're weird and why everyone thinks we're about to break up.
"And sometimes you do wonder if it's still worth it," he continues. "Having breakfast, you know, looking down at your eggs and asking yourself whether this is still worth it.. But when it's over, you know it's over. You don't have to ask questions."
Does it bother you that people think you're crazy?
"That's taking an awful lot for granted," comes the tense response.
Okay then, talking of things being over, do you ever see Jim Martin these days?
"Never," is the flat reply. "But then I hardly saw him when he was in the band, so you're asking the wrong guy. But that was a really ugly time for us. In fact, it was real ugly. But we knew it was over. Whether he knew or not, I don't know, cos people are able to convince themselves of anything."
The reason we're in town, by the way, is to discuss Faith No More's rather spiffing new LP, the cheekily titled 'Album Of The Year'. As heavy, eclectic and versatile as we've come to expect from the San Franciscan quintet, 'Album...' might well reacquaint the band with some of the listeners they lost on the (actually much underrated) 1995 set 'King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime'.
But 'Album Of The Year'...is it?
"It's your job to tell us," laughs Patton. "All we know is that it's a cool title. And we know that the music we're making these days feels really natural to us. It feels like good music we're making."
Were you aware that your last album met with a cool reception from many Faith No More aficionados?
"No, I didn't know that a lot of people didn't like that record," is Patton's response. "I did meet with some criticism, but then we get that every time we put something out, that yin and yang thing. And if you're getting good and bad opinions, then how can you take any of it to heart? How do you choose what to believe?...What can you do when you hear such diverse opinions, but chuckle to yourself? Cos it's a fucked up world we're living in. But it does make you think, 'God, what did we write here?'"
It's also no secret that 'King For A Day...' failed to set the charts and listings on fire the way its far more uncommercial predecessor 'Angel Dust', did. And whilst it's not fair to portray Faith No More as being down on their luck, it might be true to say that they hardly exude the impression of a star in the ascendant.
"You know, I hardly pay any attention to that kind of stuff," reveals Patton." I did hear that the album didn't do quite as well in the United States, but I also heard that it did better in Europe. All I know is that we had a good financial year last year...but I'll never never cease to be amazed by what people think of us and our music. And people listen to music for all sorts of different reasons: you get the one guy who listens to music in his car on the way to work and then you have the guy who buys an album and just pores over every single note on there. And they're both insane."
Which ones are the Faith No More fans?
"I don't know," screeches Patton. "I don't know what a Faith No More fan is, what he looks like, what he eats. No idea. But we're known for extremities, so there must be all sorts of crazy people. All sorts of weird people must listen to our band."
"Mister Bungle are going to make another record in the not too distant future. We actually came to England for the first time on the last one. I'm sure it went down like an anchor in a fuckin' stream. But it's a completely different thing from Faith No More. The most difficult thing that band has had to come to terms with is, we get a lot of rock 'n' roll kids coming to the shows wanting to hear Faith No More. And they find out very quickly that it's not Faith No More. We kind of get off on that!"
"I'm working with a lot of bands, one od which we're not going to talk about." (Billy is referring to Brujeria, his 'secret' band.) "For example, I just got back from Russia last week, where I produced a punk band called Naive, a great band. They're one of the oldest punk bands in Russia, they kinda sound like the Ramones and the Toy Dolls, that old pogo style of punk... They formed in the army, back in 1988. But they really are a great band and I really hope you're going to be able to hear the album over in Europe and in the States as well. They're a totally original band and their music's great."
"Aside from Faith No More, I'm in a band called Imperial Teen, a band from San Francisco. Our last record ('Seasick', released through London Records) was a really formulatic pop record, sort of with a sick subtext. But we're working on a new record now that sounds really sort of trancy-trancy and druggy. I'd say we're sounding a little less like the Breeders and a little more like Spacemen 3."
MIKE "PUFFY" BORDIN
"After we're finished up this European Faith No More Tour, I'm going to head back to the East Coast (of America) for the Ozzfest tour. Every night on that tour, after Ozzy's finished his solo set, he's going to do 45 minutes with Black Sabbath - Tony Iommi, Greezer Butler and me on the drums. Sor for me and Ozzy, it's going to be like playing two sets a night. I think he (Ozzy) feels comfortable doing the Sabbath thing now, because he feels he's proven himself with his own material. And I think that I - as well as the other members of the band - have halped in a little way in making him feel more comfortable."
"I used to be in a band called Systems Collapse, but I don't have anything to do with them now that I'm in Faith No More. This is the only band I'm in right now, this is the unit. I got to be in the band from knowing Billy (Gould) for about eight years, since about the time of 'The Real Thing'. He suggested me to the rest of the band and it just worked out this time."
Thanks to Agatha Samborska.