The bassist is Billy Gould from Faith No More. He is one of the few musicians who understood the importance of actually communicating to fans online way before artists obliged (or failed) to do so on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Here is what he had to say during a time when sending letters to a fan club was pointless when you could get what you want from an online discussion group.
Concerning Soundgarden’s guitarist (whose forename rhymes with Faith No More’s guitarist) being featured in the FNM 1996 calendar:
“Yes – Kim Thayil is the May picture.”
If FNM were around nowadays, what would have been your stance on Napster? Support or fight it:
“That’s a VERY good question, and I’d have to say…I’d probably have supported it. In fact, I am not anti-Napster.”
Why two songs whose titles should not have been switched were not placed on the first Mike Patton album (The Real Thing):
“The Cowboy Song was one of those songs we recorded that just…didn’t…quite…seem good enough to put on. The Grade was a Jim instrumental that he kept pestering us to record.”
Why wasn’t Ricochet the first single released off King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime? Also, why was the video not included in the Who Cares A Lot compilation?
“Ironically, the band saw Ricochet as a leading single, but the record co. in the U.S. didn’t. I don’t know why the video didn’t make the compilation, but in any case we had no say in the matter. It was the European company that made the video, and they only allotted a miniscule budget. “
A fan named Kyle talked to Roddy about the band’s contract and he claimed they were done because they owed nothing on a contractual level:
“That’s not correct. I believe we owe 2 albums to Slash Records and one to the publishing company.”
What’s the time frame on this kind of thing then? Do you have to do it in a certain amount of time or what? This must mean rehash stuff or outtakes, huh?
“I think it has to be new stuff; there might be a time period but I haven’t read the contract in a while. There aren’t as many outtakes as you would think. Furthermore, it wasn’t easy for anyone to even find the extra tracks on Who Cares A Lot due to master tapes scattered all over the place (different studios, different band guy’s closets, etc.); so I think it’ll be a while before a compilation of more outtakes and so forth happens.”
The start, hiatus and future of the band:
“The main line-up got together in 1983. They didn’t release a record until well into 1985. The FNM you’re talking about (with Patton) began around ’88. It took years of work and output for us to become the band you talk about today. Now that the band has split, the individual members are back to 0. Almost, maybe more like 1 or 2. Patton is getting a good run out of the gate, but then again he started earlier. How many years has Mr. Bungle been around? My point is, everything seems stupid when the spotlight isn’t on – and anyone in this newsgroup that’s in a band will definitely agree with me. For things to start working, they have to take time. Especially the more interesting things, because often they don’t seem so obvious in the beginning. It’s only been a couple of years since the split, so give it some time, and let’s see where everyone goes.”
Detailing who disputed with Chuck Mosley in a way that led to him being replaced by Patton:
“It WAS me!!! BUT his recount of what happened is totally skewed. Believe me, there was no Judo involved. The fight was not about money OR a contract. HE was probably the most difficult person who I’ve ever had the displeasure to work with. I’m not sure why it had to be so difficult; I do know that for every positive direction which the band made, he would find a way to put things two steps back. Financially, it was a fractured fraction. The manager who he refers to was someone of whom we kept for 13 years. To this day, he handles my affairs, as well as Puffy’s and Roddy’s, so there has never been a conflict within the group on the terms of his commission. Furthermore, to imply that I would resort to blows over the signing of a legal contract, is not only ridiculous, but downright insulting.“
A need to clear the air is boiling to the surface:
“As far as “wanting to be me,” I was of the same opinion. I had hoped that, outside of FNM, he could be the person who he wanted to be, and had he become successful at that, it would have been the best of all possible outcomes for everyone. Whether he has done so is a matter of debate. But over the years, when curiosity has gotten the best of me, I’ve read an occasional interview by Chuck, and see a new interpretation of the events which transpired while he was in FNM. Each time, it’s a new fiction. Each account is entirely self-serving. By that, I mean self-aggrandising.”
A sting in the tale’s tail:
“HE has no regard for dragging other people down, only in making himself look good; and if you follow what he says, he takes absolutely no responsibility for his role in any of this. If I hate him to this day (which I don’t, but I do not respect him), it has as much to do with his attitude after he left the group as when he was in it. To tell you the truth, it makes me grateful that he was fired in 1987, and that we were spared being chained to a partner with so little regard for our collective well-being. Incidentally, Chuck was fired unanimously. Sorry for the outburst, but I just had to comment on this bull from the raging bull.”
Did the group have the feeling that the show in Lisbon on April/7/98 was going to be their last?
“We didn’t. But it really was a great show, anyway.”
Bill’s first Q&A session, post-split (circa July):
I| What are your future plans, music-wise? Are you going to devote more time to production, or are you going to get back in the performance gig? If you plan to play, do you think you’ll build a band, or do you think you will join an established act?
“I’m in the process of starting an indie label called Kool Arrow Records. The way that it’s looking, it’s going to be a cross-cultural label that’s going to deal with American bands, Mexican acts, Mexican-American ones, etc. We’re looking to release a compilation right off the bat (called Spanglish 101) that will also include bands from Spain and Argentina. It will also contain new Brujeria unreleased tracks from their forthcoming album.
Taking a brief breath before typing:
Also, I definitely plan on getting a band together and recording an album this year. I’ve been talking with Roli Mosimann and we’re going to get a battle plan together in the next couple of months. It would be really cool to do bass work on some projects with other people, including established acts, but I’m not sure if I’m too interested in joining one permanently right now.”
II| What is the best way for a band to get noticed, especially in a minimal music scene like, say, St. Louis? Should the band record a CD (which is very possible), and send it to record companies, or is there a better way (with better results)?
“Getting noticed can be just as hard in L.A. (where the industry mostly is) as in St. Lou, especially if you’re not in the right crowd.”
Leading by example:
“FNM had a hell of a time getting noticed in the beginning. In fact, the only reason we got signed at all was complete luck – Ruth Schwartz of Mordam Records heard our demo tape while she was record shopping (my room-mate was working behind the counter). SO if you’re asking me, I’m afraid all I can say through my experience is play anywhere and everywhere, forever. It may take longer than greasing palms, but the gains which you make will be your own. If you start creating a vibe in your own city, it will get to the labels much better than sending another demo tape.”
III| From the “interaction” between Patton and Puffy live, it would seem that they didn’t get along well. Was this because of your band’s expected high standard of each other live or was it just personal? (source: 1990 to 1997 vids/auds of shows).
“Actually, it was a mixture of both. Patton has a very high standard, and Puffy has a special talent of getting under everyone’s skin. Add some serious adrenaline to the mix and you’ve got that special interaction.”
IV| What influenced you to play the bass? Why not guitar or keyboards?
“I began playing bass in something like 1976, when guitar was the ultimate instrument. Everyone wanted to be a lead guitarist. To me, bass felt better to play. I could get to a band level fairly quickly, and it was never hard to find people to jam with.”
V| I read that because of the lack of American support of FNM, you broke up. I understand that you have been together along time, but did the Americans break you up?
“Well, it’s true that the only support we seemed to get in America was from the fans themselves, but that’s not what put us away.”
VI| Any regrets from the last 16 years? Anything you’d change if you could do it all again?
“If you would have asked me that question a year ago, I would have said “yes”, but with all the changes that have happened, I’m really happy the way it’s all gone.”
VII| Has anyone ever considered re-recording the Chuck Mosley albums (especially Introduce Yourself) with Patton?
“Do you mean re-recording the vocals? I like them the way they are, and I think Patton does too.”
VIII| What kind of guy is Patton offstage? Is he as crazy as everyone says he is?
“He can be. He can be cool, and he can be a very tough guy to work with.”
IX| Do you feel you got the promotion from TV and radio that you deserved for your last two albums? I don’t!
“It was a struggle getting promotion on the radio, but it had less to do with record companies than the program directors and the radio programmers. Unfortunately, things have become pretty corporate, probably worse than in the Real Thing era, when we toured for a year and a half but didn’t sell a record until MTV decided to play the video. But in my mind, the worst degeneration has come in the music press, which used to take a more independent stance on things, but now will tow the corporate line completely.”
X| What affect did Roddy’s lack of writing contribution with the band after Angel Dust have, and to what extent did this cause difficulties amongst FNM?
“It made things harder. I think of Roddy as a pretty creative guy, and I definitely would have appreciated more of his input. His sensibilities often contradict some of ours, but if we could find a way to resolve those contradictions, the music often benefitted. Not being involved just made the burden the rest of us had to carry a little heavier, and took some of the fun out of things.”
XI | What advice would you give someone about being a success in whatever they do?
“Well, we’re a strange band to use as an example, because we’ve been a success and a failure, often at the same time.”
XII | When will the Greatest Hits album be released and which tracks will it contain some rare recordings with Courtney Love?
“The only recordings which I have with Courtney are horrible quality cassettes from live shows. I’ve promised Courtney that I wouldn’t release them, and, as the quality is so bad, they probably wouldn’t be fit for pressing anyway.”
XIII | Will there ever be another FNM home video?
“At this point, it isn’t a band decision, but a record company one.”
XIV | Do you think you would have still broken up if Album of The Year would’ve done as good as The Real Thing?
“Yes. I realize now that if AOTY had become hugely successful, the break-up would not only have been inevitable, but would have been much more personal.”
XV | If the band was asked to perform for a festival or event, would you do it for a price?
“Not at this point. We had to cancel some pretty good ones this summer, and some of them were headlining.”
XVI | Is there any chance of FNM getting back together in the future to tour or record?
“Scott, we just split up. Let me enjoy it for a while, will ya?”
XVII | Could it be that FNM lost lots of fans after KFAD because the metallic riffs of Jim Martin weren’t there anymore?
“I never really considered us as being a metal band, though I guess we always had metal leanings. I guess it really depends on your definition of metal. To me, a lot of Trey’s and Jon’s riffs were heavier than Jim’s, but not in the classic sense. Whether that’s the reason that FNM lost fans on KFAD is anyone’s guess. You’ve gotta understand that KFAD was a vision that we were following, just as we understood that we definitely weren’t going to please everybody.”
XVIII | Do you think that you will ever work with Patton again?
“I wouldn’t rule it out.I definitely respect him as a musician, but right now it’s hard to say, as we only parted ways a few months ago.”
XIX | In all your travels around the globe with the band, what made the biggest impression?
“Well, my favorite places to play are the places where they don’t have so many concerts. Unfortunately, it’s hard to motivate an agent to book you there because it isn’t cost effective to get there; and to me, that’s a shame.”
XX | Is there any chance of you performing live (and touring) as a ‘solo act’ or with any other bands in the future, or is it mostly studio work for you from now on?
“The word “solo act” turns my stomach a little. I do plan on getting something together.”
XXI | My band (drone) has often been called a cross between Faith No More and Crowbar, and now we may be in need of a bass player. Would you ever consider playing with us degenerates?
“Being in a rock band at 35 would make ME the degenerate, I’m afraid.”
XXII | What is this somatomax that you speak of?
“A slimming drug which was the name used to market GHB before it was made illegal. Believe it or not, I used to buy it in health food stores. What a kick THAT was.”
XXIII | My question deals with a song called Arabic. A friend and I both swear we saw a Angel Dust studio interview on MTV where that song was mentioned. Is this a real song and is it available somewhere?
“We used code names for everything, so that word has been the name for about 4 or 5 songs. I’m not sure which one you’re referring to, but I would guess that it’s Smaller and Smaller.”
XXIV | I’ve always admired the strength of your bass playing, so interesting yet relevant and solid. How can I be as strong? Do I tell guitarists to back off, or do I attempt crazy stuff, or is it simply maturity? How did you come to be so strong?
“Well, I’m not a technically fast or proficient bass player. I like to say more with less notes, and using strength is one way to find expression without playing too much. There are ways to really hit the strings, where you can get a very solid, STRONG tone, where the bass almost sounds like it’s in pain.”
That’s not the end of it:
“Also, I like to play either along with, or counter to, the kick drum. That’s my style, and happily, the more years I’ve played in this way, the stronger I’ve become. I can even tell a difference between the KFAD times and now in terms of power. As far as telling guitarist what to do, rather than telling him to back off, find the holes and fill them in. Even a single note in the right place can bring a whole song together. From my perspective, attempting crazy stuff just to stand out is counter productive. But feel free to disagree.”
XXV | How important is band bonding? I know you guys had your ups and downs, but you were still a unit. Now that the band is bust, will your relationships with each other change?
“I don’t really know the answer to this one. Sometimes I wish I would have hooked up with different people, other times I feel like it was a real accomplishment to have brought all these different elements together to make the albums we did. Who knows? I don’t. The day the band split, our relationships to each other changed. We don’t NEED to get along anymore.”
XXVI | Did you guys know about the breakup for a while or was it something that just happened? If the breakup was initiated by Puffy B (or any one member actually) why not continue without them?
“We knew that either we were going to take a long break or split. That part was inevitable. As far as the actual split, there were two reasons why it initiated with P.B. First of all, how many people can you replace and still call yourself Faith No More. After all, Mike Bordin was a founding member and a big part of our sound? Secondly, having to cancel a really big tour because of him and his “career interests” after 17 years of working together really killed the spirit for all of us. I feel very ashamed about his decision.”
XXVII | Other than yourself (the video for Surprise You’re Dead), of the esoteric filmmakers that you have worked with on FNM music videos – who do you feel best had his/her finger on the pulse of what FNM is all about and really put out a piece of work that you felt really good about?
“Even though the video had little to do with the song, I think that Joseph Kahn – the guy who directed the Last Cup of Sorrow video (inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo) did an amazing job capture our spirit, and sense of humour.”
XXVIII | What are you and Jon Hudson working on currently?
“Well, I’ve spoken with Jon about doing stuff, but nothing has materialized yet. I hope that something does. He’s a great guitarist, and a good guy to work with.”
XXIX | I’ve been playing bass for a few years now and would like to know what you used to get you bass sound on The Real Thing? I can never seem to come close.
“I was an old Peavey Mark IV amp, with a 6×10 speaker cabinet. Most of the speakers had hole punctures.”
XXX | After 15 years, how would you look upon that period – was it a fulfilling experience etc.?
“Well, like I said before, we only split about 3 months ago, so it’s probably too early to really make a correct assessment. If I put my mind to it, I could still become frustrated with some of the events that have transpired over the last year or so. I’m increasingly becoming more convinced that the split was the right thing to do and happened at the right time. To be honest, I am really proud of the quality of our body of work. None of it came easy, and to me, none of it sucks.”
XXXI | What’s the story behind the song “Patton I”, and what does it sound like? Will you release (or add to the “Who Cares A Lot” CD) the rarities that you recorded? I and probably thousands of other FNM freaks really hope for that.
“We’re not interested in a “Greatest Hits” CD containing songs we already have the Who Cares A Lot CD is, for the most part, a re-co-initiated (record company) project to include all of our better known stuff on a single CD. Right now, I’m in the process of compiling our older, more obscure stuff, for a different release. But the bottom line will be whether the record company will be interested in putting something like that out or not.”
XXXII | I live in Brazil. In the 95 tour, there were some rumours abound and around that you were going to produce a band called Party Up; is that true? Why didn’t FNM tour in South America (especially in Brazil), in the AOTY tour?
“I was asked to produce the band but I couldn’t work it out. As far as touring Brazil during the AOTY period, we were constantly speaking with promoters, and even had a tentative tour set up, but if I remember correctly, the promoters were having a difficult time with their sponsors.”
XXXIII | Did you enjoy your visit in Warsaw and Cracow? What made you guys go with your Album of the Year producer? What other work has he done?
“Cracow and Warsaw are awesome cities. I can’t wait to go back, even if only as a tourist. I was a big fan of Roli’s work before we chose to work with him. He’s probably best known as the producer for all of the Young Gods records, but he also did interesting stuff with Foetus and Wiseblood.”
XXXIV | I want to ask you why as Faith No More you never played in Greece, my country, although you expressed your interest into touring in Albania?
“Very good question. First of all, we’ve been trying to get to Greece since the Real Thing days, but for some reason, either with scheduling, or the promoter, we haven’t been able to work it out. In fact, I’m pretty sure that we were trying to incorporate Athens in our tour last year, en route to Israel. In fact, I pushed hard to get us shows in Belgrade, Sofia, and Skopje and Athens, so that each show would only be a day’s drive from the other and we could justify a drive to Greece. I think we were all a bit disappointed that it didn’t work out.”
To be continued…
“Albania is a different story altogether. I don’t think it would be possible to “tour” Albania. I was trying to organize a single free concert in Tirana. It would have required a lot of work, but I think if we hadn’t split up, we might have been able to pull it off. You have to understand, even though a lot of my favorite places to play are the ones off the beaten path, there’s very little money playing some of these cities, so not only is it tough to convince an agent to go through all the risk and hassle of getting there, but it’s hard on the band because our overhead is very high and we begin to lose money as well.”
XXXV | What does Pristina mean? Is it about a city in Europe or possibly a girl?
“Shame on you, you should be reading the newspapers, though they don’t give the most accurate description on what’s happening out there. Pristina, in Kosovo, is a very heavy place, it has a lot of meaning to a lot of different people, and there is much suffering for it. You can learn more about how the world really works just by observing this small city. When the song came out, Pristina was a dirty little secret, ignored by the media in general. Now it cannot be ignored.”
XXXVI | This is just fine of you to do for us aching fans. Here’s my questions (two heavy ones at). I love the Sparks singles, so did it occur to anyone in/associated with FNM that this kind of upbeat tempo was (fairly largely) missing from the albums that FNM put out, and might have been damaging to sales? Is that Rod performing the keyboards on these tracks, or is that Ron Mael?
“As far as the correlation to tempo and sales, in our case that was never a consideration. We wrote the way which we wrote. I think that a lot of uptempo numbers on AOTY would have killed it’s atmosphere. But I agree with you, we could have tipped the scales towards a few more uptempo numbers, and had we stuck together, that’s the direction we would have probably followed. As far as playing on the recording, Roddy played a little on it, but most of it was Ron. I don’t know if the record is released in the States or not, but Sparks did a great job with that album. These guys are truly pioneers in my eyes. I think that Queen owe their success to them.”
XXXVII | I felt that the singles selections from Angel Dust on were all pretty weak. Midlife Crisis is okay, but Be Aggressive could have made for a more interesting release. Evidence should have been the first single off of King For A Day, and Mouth To Mouth might have gotten a better response than the much melancholic Last Cup of Sorrow (swinging balls to whoever bet money on that one – damn good song, of course, but not single material). The question is: “Who decides these things, and what the hell were they thinking?”
“In our case, the record company would say I think this song’s a single and we would usually answer fine, go for it.”
XXXVIII | What point (if any) in your career with FNM did you want to try something new?