Faith No More have been being “kind of stupid in a different way” for over three decades now. From the commercial highs of ‘The Real Thing’ to the avant-garde genius of ‘Angel Dust’ and the dark, end of days ‘Album Of The Year’, they’ve done things their way. About to delve back to their inception with the upcoming re-release of 1985 debut ‘We Care A Lot’, we caught up with founding bassist Billy Gould in the bar at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards in London, to discuss their remarkable career, and find out what the future might bring. Ugly in the morning: Eamon O’Neill.
How are you today? That’s a nice cold Guinness you’re holding.
I am. They only exist out here [in the backstage bar]. It’s the highlight of my night.
Did you get to watch any of The Golden Gods’ performances tonight?
I got here in the middle of it and then I met these guys actually in the bar, so by the time it was time to go on, I didn’t see as much as I would have liked to, especially Gojira. I’m really sad that I missed that.
This time last year you were here in London playing at The Roundhouse.
That’s right. We did a few more shows, but that was towards the end of the tour. We went to South America after that.
You’re on down time now. Is that a prolonged bout?
I couldn’t tell you, because if I told you then the band members would be mad at me for telling you without telling you properly.
2015’s ‘Sol Invictus’ was a fantastic comeback for the band.
Well, we were happy when we released it, so everything that came after that we’re kind of grateful for. We’re just happy that we got it together to make some music.
What are you focusing on right now?
One thing we’re doing is we have the first record that we recorded like in 1985 called ‘We Care A Lot’, and we’re going to re-release it. It turns out I had the master tapes in my basement, and I forgot that I had those. So we remastered them, and we’re putting that out as ourselves.
So you’ve been involved completely in the production of the reissue?
Absolutely. The one that was out, it was digitised from the vinyl back in the nineties or eighties, and we actually went into the studio in Berkeley and re-baked the tapes and re-digitised the masters and remastered them, so they sound more like they should sound.
Did listening back to the tapes make you think about revisiting some of those songs live?
I don’t think about it like that. I just think about this really cool record that a lot of people don’t know about that hasn’t been out in twenty years. I’m just really happy that we’re putting it out ourselves the way we want it to be. Roddy [Bottum, Faith No More keyboard player] wrote a bunch of liner notes that are awesome. It was a different world back then, and we were different people back then. We even had a different singer, and a different guitar player, and people don’t realise that this band goes back a long way. I didn’t even realise until I heard the music, it was like; “oh my god, I forgot we were like that too!” And you can even hear what we are now in that back then - the beginnings of it, so to me it’s really interesting.
The other guitar player that you mentioned there is of course Jim Martin who made a massive contribution to the band in the early days.
What’s your relationship like now with Jim?
I do try. I try, that’s what I can say. I hope for the best.
Wasn’t he approached initially when the band got back together in 2009?
He gets approached on a yearly basis. *laughing* But you know, things are the way they are, and things happen for a reason. We’re cool with ourselves, and we’re cool with our deal. Everything’s good with the band and extremely positive.
Was it really tough when things kicked off in 1993 on the ‘Angel Dust’ tour, and Jim was kicked out of the band?
It was a slow process that took place over a long period of time. By the time it happened, I mean, if you look back at stuff that was written, people were like; “for god’s sake, kick him out of the band already!” *laughing* This is killing us! Because it just really broke down.
You’ve got Jon Hudson in the band now, who’s been with you since ‘Album Of The Year’.
Yeah, Hudson’s cool. He has. He wrote a couple of songs on it.
That was kind of a dark period for the band as well.
It was, because we knew we were splitting up. I still think I like that record, personally. I actually feel like, for where we were, it’s a dark album but we worked on it, and it is what we were, that’s it.
I don’t think it’s really been explained why the band split up in the first place. Was it record company politics? Were you sick of each other? What was it?
Some day, I will tell you. *laughing* But not today! I don’t know, I’m not ready to talk about that, because actually, you know what, the band isn’t over, and at the end of the day hindsight, twenty-twenty hindsight, when it’s time, then we can look into what we did. But I think what we tried to do, even when we were having tough times is try to be honest with where we were. I mean, a lot of people don’t like where we were and that’s fine, but we were there, and we tried to put that in the music.
Turning to a more positive note, and it must have been something pretty special when ‘The Real Thing’ took off in the U.K. back in 1989.
Right, because nobody cared about us anywhere else! *laughing* I think we did five tours on that record, because every time we came [to the U.K.], we’d pack these places and they wanted us back. It was like five times in like, seven months. I think what happened was we did the Astoria [in London], and the barrier broke and it was like chaos, and somebody from Warner Brothers was on vacation there and was at the show, and they freaked out; “oh my god, this band that nobody cares about, something’s happening!” And they called home, and that’s kind of when things really started.
So it was a smart choice to re-release ‘Epic’ as a single.
Yeah, but it was our choice actually; that was a band choice. They just said: “The album’s done, it’s not going to work, it’s finished. We’re going to do another single just to keep the thing alive, roll out; what song would you pick, because we don’t know”. And we just picked ‘Epic’ because we liked it the best. That was what it was.
Another big single from that period was ‘Falling To Pieces’, which never seems to make it into the Faith No More set list.
That song sucks, let’s face it. I don’t know, we don’t groove on that one. Also, when you play it live, it just kind of gets boring.
What are your personal favourites?
Can’t do that - it’s all different. There is a time, and different headspaces. Even this first record, this ‘We Care A Lot’ record we’re doing, I mean, in a weird way it’s kind of embarrassing because we were really young when we did it, but there’s some really cool stuff on there, you know? But it’s really a different band in a different lifetime. I mean, you’re talking about over twenty years – people change, and every time I did it, I was kind of stupid in a different way. *laughing* If that makes any sense! It’s all embarrassing, but it’s all something I was proud of. It was honest when we did it.
Chuck Mosley, your singer from that album got up and did ‘We Care A Lot’ with live you a couple of years ago, didn’t he?
We did it once in San Francisco about three years ago, and then we did it again in Detroit. I mean, the first time it was very strange hearing his voice, on the P.A., because we toured a lot with him, and it was in really sub-comfortable conditions, so hearing his voice gave me like weird shell-shock affecting. But no, it was great, it was very positive, and it brought us closer together with him.
Time was the healer then.
I would say, and playing together again; yeah, throwing your baggage out of the way and just reconnecting as people.
You were given a copy of Mr. Bungle’s demo, and that led to Mike Patton replacing Chuck Mosley in the band. What did you make of Mr. Bungle?
It was a cassette tape. It was ‘Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny’. That’s a lot different that the next one that came out. I mean, what can I say, that band’s what it is, and they went through changes like we went through changes. They’re all brilliant musicians, they’re great.
Finally, FNM are on a break right now, but it’s not over, is it?
Not that I know. Nobody told me! I didn’t get the memo! *laughing*.
Faith No More's 'We Care A Lot (Deluxe Band Edition)' is released on 19th August via Koolarrow Records.