By: Michael D. Vogel –
© May 22, 1997. Michael D. Vogel. All Rights Reserved.
Is there an archetypal locale in this great country of ours from which hardcore rock bands are formed? First responses might be Los Angeles, New York, Detroit or maybe even Washington D.C. But wherever this mecca of aggressive rock may lie, the humble and quaint surroundings of San Francisco, most probably don’t pop up very often in hard-edged comparisons. After all, the bay area is the home of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Journey to name a few. Although most of the members are involved in various side projects, a team sense of pride is deeply rooted within the band. It is a fierce energy that has bonded these men together for a career that has spanned fifteen years and seven albums to date. But this is not a happy band. The members of Faith No More feel they have not fully realized their potential nor have they received the attention they deserve. Plenty of rock and metal bands have incorporated different musical styles into songs, usually in very small doses. With Album Of The Year, Faith No More have taken the next step on the road to darker pastures. Battling constant rumors of a split and the ever- present battles in the court system, bassist Billy Gould took some time out to discuss the state of Faith No More and set the story straight. Faith No More has always been about explosive music, yet as of late the rumor-mongers and fortune-tellers of the music business have predicted the eminent implosion of the band. Let’s set the story straight! Billy Gould: “In a nutshell, here is our history – Faith No More have been together for almost fifteen years, releasing seven albums to date, one every two years. When any group of people are together for that long there is bound to be some turmoil, but nothing that was to overwhelming to resolve. As for rumors and insignificant gossip, we have been dealing with those kinds of breakup speculations since we recorded our first album. Our last album, King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime was somewhat of any angry record. The material came out of the firing of our guitarist, Jim Martin. We all thought the band was lacking in guitar heaviness in the past. So our intention was to record an extremely guitar heavy album. Once the record was completed, we hit the road touring for a short nine months. Not wanting to be too burned-out, we stopped touring a little early and went immediately back into the studio to record a new album. “The way we work musically is a democracy. This process is a little harder because the album needs to be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction. As members of the band, we all realize there is a need to compromise, but at that same time there is also the desire to be able to exercise your own artistic vision. It is that reason, (Mike Patton has Mr. Bungle; Roddy Bottom started Imperial Teen; and Mike Bordin has been playing with Ozzy Osbourne); they all have their side projects. Each of these other projects is completely different from the others. “Once you get the demons out, then your ready to come back and face the war with a clear head. Each of our albums has been a logical progression. As far as a particular formula for our sound, we don’t follow any particular guidelines. A formula is not something that we could really hold onto. We are a real band: An organic entity that matures, experiences changes and gets older. As we see it, our responsibility is to grow in the most natural way as possible. Album Of The Year expresses that growth. Although, for a definition of the album, its’ meaning will probably not be evident for a couple of years – until we can all look back and see how it fits into the rest of our chain of records.” As an anti-formula band, Faith No More seems to thrive on the philosophy of concentrating on areas that are lacking from past albums. Is there a certain point you are trying to get across? BG: “The Real Thing might be unique and a little different from the mainstream, but for the most part it was a pop-rock album. Unfortunately, as a result, we had developed into almost a cartoon type band. In order to show a different, darker side of the band, we recorded the Angel Dust album. Although this was a heavier record, with a lot of atmosphere, it never really smacked you in the face. King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime was really where we attempted to do just that. “We always try to do strengthen those area’s we feel are shallow. King For A Day was the release valve. An explosion of music that we really felt we needed to express. Our new record, Album Of The Year, is somewhat of an after effect. The debris has settled, leaving the exposed the wreckage. In all, it is a post explosion, moody album that deals with the topic of death.” Is this a manifestation of the D.i.Y. (Do It Yourself) philosophy? “If you think about the process of maturity, there are certain point where adolescence ends and adulthood begins. There are always certain things that signify each of these stages. But, for the most part, growth can be a very intense process. Bands of today are not encouraged to grow and develop, taking chances with their music. It is a very painful thing to do. So we took it upon ourselves to push who we are as a band and what we are representing musically. In more simple terms, we record what we heard inside of our heads and not necessarily what outside influences are dictating. “It is impossible to classify Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd; they are in a group unto themselves. Similar to that, we want to create our own category, where there are no comparisons of any kind. People have always tried to classify our music. Some say we are metal while others say we are more funk oriented and still others think we are the perfect crossover mix. We would prefer people to say instead, Faith No More recorded a new album and it sounds like Faith No More! To be creatively satisfied is the ultimate goal of any musician. “The same can be said for the name of the album. It has really taken on a life of its own since coming up with the title Album Of The Year. On one hand it took a whole year to record, so it really is the ‘album of the year’. But is also a tongue and Cheek joke. It is a response to the way things are over-hyped these days. This level of hype and the threshold of a person’s credibility has been taken to such an extreme that the title becomes a relevant statement of the times.” Over the years many artists have been labeled wild cards – renegades that are outside the fringe of conventional music. Do you feel Faith No More is now caring that flag? “We have been ignored over the last couple of years. For a lot of people, especially in the music industry, everything would probably be better if we just went away. Our music makes it very difficult for radio programmers to categorize because we the wild card that doesn’t fit into any one format. If the world were orderly and neat with everything fitting into its’ predetermined slot, the whole business would run much more efficiently. But that is fantasy and this is reality. For better or worse, people today are on the bandwagon where everyone belongs to a particular group. So by giving the record the title Album Of The Year, it is our way of injecting a little obstinacy into reality.” In the past, Faith No More has shied away from the over use of toys that modern technology provides. Has the band now embraced the new age? “Our philosophy has always been that the more stuff you include on a record, the smaller the album becomes. As a result, we have always tried to keep things as minimal as possible. But then again there is nothing wrong with pro-technology either. The most important thing is that it works well with the music. “The beauty of modern technology is that it puts the power back into the hands of the musicians and away from studio tech’s and engineers who have, for the most part, made themselves a necessary part of the recording process. In the past a few thousand-dollar investment got a band a three-song demo tape with no flexibility for creative input from the band. Now, for that same investment, a band can buy a computer hard drive recording system and make demos to their own specifications. There is a certain amount of pride that goes with doing something for your self. For example, we edited this record in my basement. That’s not something that could have been accomplished five years ago.” You once said ‘The music business is disgusting’. Do you still feel that way? “There is a lot of hypocrisy in the industry. Most of today’s music mirrors what is going on in the business right now. This irresponsibility comes from the corporate nature music has evolved into over the last several years. A major reason why records aren’t selling is due to the lack of connection people have with the music. The industry is out of touch with what is written and recorded. In short, there is so much control over what is being released that the music tends to suit the needs of the people who are promoting it rather than those who are recording or buying it. “If you don’t sell records, the band is eventually going to get dropped from the label. A record companies vision is on a quarter-by-quarter basis. They are very short sighted; it’s part of the business. So, if you are going to pursue the path where you are self-reliant, you then run the risk of losing everything you have worked hard to achieve. There is also the realization that there may be no rewards at all, other than the self-satisfaction of enjoying what you are doing. For better or worse, we have taken that path. But I am relieved that, like this interview, it hasn’t all gone for nothing!” ^m^ Line-Up: Origin: Mike Patton – Vocals San Francisco, CA Jon Hudson – Guitar Mike Bordin – Drums Billy Gould – Bass Roddy Bottum – Keys About The Current CD: This is the seventh album from a career that has spanned over fifteen years. Other notable successes of Faith No More – 1989′s double platinum The Real Thing and 1992′s gold album Angel Dust. Discography: Album Of The Year (Slash/Reprise, 1997) King For A Day, Fool For A Lifetime (Slash/Reprise, 1995) Angel Dust (Slash/Reprise, 1992) The Real Thing (Slash/Reprise, 1989) Introduce Yourself (Slash/Rhino, 1987) We Care A Lot (Mordam, 1985) Produced By: Roli Mosimann, Billy Gould & Faith No More Label: Slash/Reprise Website: www.fnm.com © May 22, 1997. Michael D. Vogel. All Rights Reserved. This originally appeared on the Vogelism blog at http://www.vogelism.com, authored by Michael D. Vogel. 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