San Francisco Chronicle Datebook Issue Fevruary 16-22, 1997
FAITH NO MORE GETS REBORN
Edited by Joel Selvin
Chronicle Pop Music Critic
Amid rumors of a breakup, Faith No More is celebrating its 15th year of togetherness with the June 3 release of its seventh album. The band just delivered the yet-untitled album to Reprise Records and is concentrating on getting everyone in one spot to begin discussing a summer tour.
"We began recording this album a year ago at Brilliant Studios. Very rarely are we all in the same city at the same time. If we were lucky, there'd be a three-week window and then we'd practice as much as we could and record at the end of the period," explained bass player Billy Gould.
The fact that most of the five-man lineup has been engaged in various side projects has provided grist for the gossip mill, sending up flares that the quirky band was packing it in. Keyboardist Roddy Bottum has had a healthy measure of success with Imperial Teen, a band he founded in 1995 with Sister Double Happiness drummer Lynn Perko, and is due to record a follow-up in April. And drummer Mike "Puffy" Bordin has spent considerable time on the road with Ozzy Osbourne's latest outfit, after Osbourne's touring drummer left midtour.
Singer Mike Patton has been crisscrossing the country, flying in and out of New York to perform with avant-garde jazz man John Zorn as well as touring with Mr. Bungle, the bizarre outfit FNM plucked him out of in 1989, after it parted ways with original singer Chuck Mosley. Patton is also due to release a second solo album this spring, with appearances by Zorn and William Winant.
Another indication that Faith No More was travelling down a rocky road was the fact that it had shed yet another guitar player. Since founding guitarist Jim Martin left in 1994, the band had been through two guitarists -- Trey Spruance from Mr. Bungle and Dean Menta from Duh. "Dean was fine as far as touring went; he was a friend of ours. But when it came to writing it just wasn't working out," Gould said. After Menta returned to Duh, FNM recruited a former roommate of Gould's, John Hudson from Systems Collapse.
And then there were the less-than-stellar sales of 1995's "King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime," an album Gould staunchly defends. "I'm proud of that record. I think the biggest criticism that it gets is that it didn't sell. It's really ironic. If you judge a record by that kind of logic, then the Ford Taurus would be the greatest car ever made in the history of mankind because it's the highest-selling car ever sold."
The musicians didn't record the new album as an anti-"King For A Day," but it did cross their minds that they should be more consistent in their sound. "We did try to keep a little more consistency because we did realize that not only are we writing it, but people have to listen to it, too. But I think the quality is right up there with anything we've done."
Record company president Howie Klein concurs, gushing that the album is the best thing the band has done since "We Care A Lot," a disc that he debuted when he was a disc jockey at KUSF. "I knew that was a smash the minute I put it on, and 'Another Cup Of Sorrow,' the first single (on the new album), has got that same magic."
The new album is not a departure from Faith No More's signature sound. Instead it's a refinement. The musicians have produced it themselves, using programming and sampling for the first time -- although that had more to do with engineer Roli Mosimann than the band. "Roli is the guy who did the Young Gods stuff, and he really added an interesting dimension. He's coming from an angle that we haven't explored before, which is a little bit more on the technology side. There's a little bit of programming, but the songs are still really heavy. The programming just puts the sound in a new light," Gould explained.
by Jaan Uhelszki
Thanks to Heather Leah Kennedy.