Herald Sun Issue 1997
KEEPING THE FAITH
Faith No More hang together, despite massive differences. Lauren Zoric writes
FAITH NO MORE is "five really different personalities banging heads, hashing it out and working out a middle ground". That is how keyboardist Roddy Bottum describes the band. And from this point of view, the outside musical pursuits of his fellow band members don't exactly coincide with where his interests lie.
When it comes to Mike Patton's side project, the avant-garde jazz-punk-pop outfit Mr Bungle, Bottum admits: "It's sort of the antithesis of something I would do.
"I have a lot of respect for music like that (complicated, experimental genre clashing), but I would never listen to it and I would never even attempt to make music like that." idiot (me)
If he is talking about drummer Mike Borden's (sic) touring involvement with Black Sabbath, Bottum can't stop himself from chortling cryptically, "I really like to say his name, 'Ozzy' ", as though it was the world's funniest joke.
Comparing his own very pop-oriented side project, Imperial Teen, with Faith No More "is sort of night and day, pretty much", Bottum says.
"It seems like the people in Imperial Teen are all of a more similar mindset, the thoughts and ideas flow a little more congruously. Imperial Teen is really important to me because it's more people that are friends that I feel comfortable with. Enough to sing."
When it came to the latest FNM collaboration, Album of The Year, nothing went the way Bottum anticipated. He, Borden and bassist Billy Gould began doing demos while Patton was on tour with Mr Bungle.
"We decided we'd just write a bunch of songs and keep the songwriting as simple as possible and just go into the studio and record as quickly as possible," the keyboardist says. "That was the way we used to write stuff when we started the band, just really simple repetitive riffs without a whole lot of thought. And Mike came back from his tour with Mr Bungle, and he only liked about half of the songs, and only felt like he could sing on about half of the songs."
Did you respect that?
"Not really. It sort of turned me off," Bottum says.
"I was really p...ed off about it. He's more inclined to n o t do something that's a little poppier. The first songs that we wrote, I was really happy with because they were really simple, sort of, effortless.
"I like that; I don't like temp changes and time changes. It's just confusing and it doesn't speak to me in any pure way.
"At the time he kind of wasn't into doing it. I imagine if I really pushed it, I could have got him to do something to those songs. But at the same time, if it isn't effortless for him, then I would really rather he didn't anyway."
After the initial demos, Bottum went out on tour to support the Imperial Teen record, Borden left to tour with Black Sabbath for six months, and Patton flew to Italy where he lives with his Italian wife, leaving Gould to work on songs.
When the members finally reconvened, sorting through Gould's work, a couple of new songs from Patton and the earlier demos, they enlisted engineer/producer Rob Mosimann, known to them for his work with European industrial outfit The Young Gods. Mosimann's influence on the sound is apparent.
"He really works a lot with computers, and when all the sounds were down on to the hard drive it gave him capabilities to cut and paste, switch 'em around a lot, toy with them and treat 'em," Bottum explains.
"It's most typical for FNM to go into the studio with a big chunk of time and just hash it out and make a record. But we took all the songs we'd recorded and put them onto computer and this enabled us to take the sounds and songs to Billy's house and work on them there.
"With all of that, it's virtually free. As opposed to spending a lot of studio time and money playing with the sounds."
With such disparate energies involved in Faith No More and a willingness to try different approaches, each new recording is a musical and emotional adventure that deepens their decade-long bond.
DESPITE outside pursuits, Bottum is committed long term to FNM. "you know, it's a sound and an entity that we built from scratch over such a long period of time, that it's hard to let go of it.
"And it's always interesting to me to see what we'll do next and to see what'll come out of what we've been doing. There's a lot of time invested in that, a lot of emotions, there's a lot going on with Faith No More.
"There's something masochistic in the way of making records over the course of a career."
Album of the Year is out on Monday. Faith No More will play Festival Hall in October.
Thanks to Robert Roemer.