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Under The Sun Of Faith No More


Mike Bordin - Faith No MoreAll it took was a reunion at keyboardist Roddy Bottum’s wedding: the members of Faith No More remembered the good old times and the strength of their personal and artistic relationship, and in 2009, what we’d all stopped hoping for (because 12 years is a long time) happened: one of the most unique and liberated rock bands ever to grace this planet was back. It took 18 years for us to enjoy the successor to Album Of The Year, but Sol Invictus is finally there for us to savor – just liked we savored the band’s strange but classy show at the Hellfest a few weeks ago, with white-clad musicians and heaps of spring flowers.

It was during the festival that we met drummer Mike Bordin, who seems genuinely happy about the band’s situation. The word “proud” keeps coming back whenever he mentions the new album. Bordin shares with us the spirit that has motivated the return of Faith No More and the writing of new songs, gives us a few clues to understand his own positive personality, and explains the band’s relation to business and the unique character of their music.

Faith No More by Dustin Rabin

« Maybe that’s my religion: I give a shit. »

Radio Metal: Until you actually began recording it, the band denied there would be a new album. And even though there was some music written pretty early, everyone in the band seemed to be afraid of the word « album ». Why?

Mike Bordin (drums): Afraid… I mean, you definitely got little kernels of truth in there along sort of other pieces that make up the story, but the fact was that we didn’t know what to expect when we started playing together again. We really had no idea, and we wanted to just see what it felt like, see how this journey sort of actually happened as it unfolded. After we had enjoyed playing some shows for awhile, we figured that we had to do something or stop. Because that’s just how it was, it wasn’t going to be an open-ended revisiting… We weren’t gonna do that. That’s not us. I don’t know if we were afraid of recording it. I definitely would say not afraid, no. But we had to figure other things before we even could get our minds around that. That’s the best way to say it. That wasn’t the first thing in the sequence of advance. The first thing was playing together, getting along personally together, feeling good about the music together, enjoying what we’re doing and then feeling like we were interested in going forward into the future together. That’s really what it was. Once we started making music, I loved it! I knew it was there! We all knew it was there, we could feel it! You know what I mean? And that was the thing that really erased any doubt, and we all knew it was the right thing to do because we love the music! That’s the bottom line here: it’s about the music. It’s about what it is that what we’re playing. If we like it, we like it. If we don’t, it’s not gonna happen.

Sol Invictus was recorded in the band’s rehearsal room and produced by Billy Gould with no engineer, no budget, no label. Was it important to have only the band involved in this? That there was no one around except the band?

I wouldn’t say it was important but I would say that it was fantastic, it was liberating, it was exhilarating, it was fun, it was freeing as hell! And that’s how it worked out, and it worked out great! It sort of felt like back in the day when nobody gave a shit and nobody knew who we were and it didn’t matter. We were doing what we wanted to do because we wanted to do it, and just because of that, I believe you get our best effort. It’s pure. It’s untainted by: “Oh, you have to think about more melody” or “Everybody’s doing this now, so you gotta have a little bit of this in there.” We didn’t have to do anything! We did our best! That’s the best way to describe it: you got our best effort and we’re very happy with it. But yeah, our fabulous bass player, he wore like sixteen different hats! He did way too much work! He did more work than five people should do! But the truth is: maybe that’s the only way this could’ve happened. It’s a labor of love! Paying so much personal attention to it to make it happened, maybe that’s the only way it could’ve happened. I don’t know but here we are! This is here and now, and all five people in this band really like this record, we’re all proud of it and that an awesome feeling! That’s a great feeling! To be able to sit here and say that, I’m really proud of that. And we didn’t have to convince the record company that it was any good! Because it’s us! That’s the difference.

Billy Gould said that it´s way more civilized in the band compared to back in the days. Can you tell us what changed?

Well, shit! I mean, just being fifty instead of twenty is gonna be a change, you know. Maybe the things that piss you off or get into your skin, the things that are important to you, maybe they are different at fifty than they are at twenty. Maybe the world has worn you down a bit on the edge, you know? I don’t know but it would have to be! We’ve all been different places since the band stopped in 97. I also think it’s powerful to be able to come back because we want to, and it’s every single five of us’ decision to say “yes, yes, yes, yes I wanna come back” rather than saying: “You have to come back and this is what you have to do!” We heard a lot of crap like that when we were younger, whether it was from a label or a manager, whatever, it’s no different than anybody else. But we feel like we’re in control of this and that feels really good. You know, if we make a mistake, if we screw up, okay, it’s on us but we get to make the decision, it’s our thing. And I think that that’s fair because we’ve put so much of our lives into this! That’s the important thing to remember: all of this has meant a hell of a lot to us over time, so to be able to revisit it and sort of do it the way we wanna do it, it’s awesome! It’s a gift! And it’s fabulous! It’s all good.

Faith No More by Dustin Rabin

« The business is weird and it takes your soul if you let it or if you’re not careful but if you do it right, you can remember who you are and do it your way. But it’s a fight. »

It´s said that there was always tension when you guys made albums before, especially with Album Of The Year, and some people say that´s the reason why you made great records. Do you agree with that?

I can’t agree with that! I know what you’re saying. I’m too close into it to know that. Like I used to know somebody that’s very, very famous and used to talk about making records back in the day being loaded, like: “Oh! It’s better to make records when you’re loaded! It’s more creative!” “How do you know?” You can’t know. I leave that for other people to decide. All I can tell you is: I’m very proud of this one, I’m proud for all of the other ones too. It’s all part of a journey, man. It’s all part of the story. And I don’t wanna fight with anybody. Just to get down to the question at hand: no, I’m not a fighter, I don’t wanna fight with anybody. I fight for what I believe in and I’ll fight with my guys to do my best but I’m not a me-or-you guy. No, no, no. That’s not me.

It´s still not very clear why Jim Martin has t been part of this reformation…

It just didn’t work out! I mean, physically…

Yeah, but what do you mean by “it didn’t work out” actually?

Jim’s a very unique guy. Jim had his own way of doing things. He had his own vision for how this band should be, that was very much at odds with where we left on the last album that he was on. We reconnected with him. We opened up the line of communication and it didn’t feel like much had changed, and I don’t think any of us… We weren’t looking to go there. I wanna have respect with him. I’ve known him a long time. I have respect for the work that we’ve done together. I have respect for who he is as a person. It just didn’t work! It didn’t work! I mean, you can ask that question a thousand million different ways but that’s just the fact. The fact is that we had moved on, we made two albums without him and nobody was ready to go back. Had we have gone back, this album would not have happened. Had we have gone back, we would have done a handful of shows, trying to sort of revisit what that was at that time and then we’d be done! There was no possibility for new growth with that. And that’s, I think, what we were all kind hoping for without even talking about it: to be able to have something to say. It’s very important, you know. None of us want to go around just saying the same thing over and over again. There’s no “Epic part II”, there’s no “We Care A lot part III”, there’s no “Midlife Crisis part VII”… We don’t do that. It’s very important to us do have something that we feel is worth saying. And again, the matter at hand: we’re here because we made an album and we’re very proud of it, we wanna share it with people. If it doesn’t answer your question, my apologies. It just didn’t work! It wasn’t gonna happen. No disrespect thought. I hope you remember that or print that, whatever it is: no disrespect, it’s sort of moved on and we’ve all moved on in different directions. Maybe that’s the best way to put it.

You once said that you were fed up with the rock business. How can you still blossom today artistically speaking? Do you have any kind of spirituality?

Me, myself, yeah. I do. I wouldn’t know what to call it but very much so but it’s super individual and very personal. I don’t know. I mean, it’s definitely not a church but it’s human beings, it’s about the heart of the soul in the nature and the animals and… I think being a parent, for me, you gotta take a stand about something, you gotta know what’s important to you because as a parent you past that on to your kids, whether you say literally “this, this and this” or you just do it by example. So yeah, I think so, I’m a positive person. I believe in being good to people. I believe in giving you absolutely everything I can in my best effort. I believe in looking you in the eye when I talk to you. I believe in saying thank you for people to make an effort. I give a shit. Maybe that’s my religion: I give a shit. And that’s all I can do, but that’s what I should do. And there’s a big difference between thinking you can do everything and fix everything and fix everyone, and just doing your best consistently. To me, this record rolls into that. For my twenty percent of this record, my one fifth of the contribution, you get my best. Absolutely! Every single time, no matter what, a hundred percent! And I’m very proud of that! And I’m grateful to be able to do it. Yeah, the business is weird and it takes your soul if you let it or if you’re not careful but if you do it right, you can remember who you are and do it your way. But it’s a fight. Angel Dust was a fight for us. Putting out Angel Dust after The Real Thing was a fight. The business people didn’t want that album; they wanted more of the same! But we weren’t gonna do that because it wasn’t honest. That’s sort of how we’ve been. And I think now, if you forward twenty years later, people like the records we’ve made in the past. And Billy, our bass player, said it at the beginning of the 09 2.0 reformation: it kind of proves to us in our mind that we were right to fight for what we believed in all along, it wasn’t easy but it was right and it was worth it. Have hope, man! Do you best! Believe in something! It’s pretty simple right?

Faith No More by Dustin Rabin

« I would hope, for whatever one song you’re looking at, that we’ve done that song well and we’ve done it well enough not to have to try to repeat the damn thing. That’s the point, right? « 

Do you think it’s difficult nowadays to have a freedom of speech, a freedom of creation, etc. like you have on your albums?

Yeah, I do! Because I think so much other shit gets in the way. There are shortcuts. You might make another dollar if you do this or you might make ten more dollars if you do that, or if you just hurry up and get it out because then you can go on tour… Yeah, there’s any number of different shortcuts and compromises along the way, and I don’t think that’s any different than it’s ever been but maybe we’re different now. Maybe we’re more solid with what work for us and what doesn’t. And that’s a good thing. I think it’s like with anything… Look at your relationship with whoever you think about in your mind first: there’s always compromises. There’s always the bigger picture. So, yeah, definitely. But this record, nobody knew. It was awesome! And we just worked on it until it was ready. And that’s a gift, you know. It’s a gift when my singer says: “God damn, this music is good! I really like it! I really wanna do this!” Rather than somebody, not our singer but anybody, saying: “Well, I don’t really care. I don’t know. I’ve got something better to do.” I mean, fuck that! That’s not what we’re about. It’d be dishonest. I’m only speaking for our world: it’d be dishonest; it’s not what we do. This record feels pretty pure to me. It feels really clean.

On the album you have the two songs « Sunny Side Up » and « Separation Anxiety » back to back, one is very bright and the other s dark and brooding, they sound like some sort of opposites in their moods. Do you think « lunatic » is a good word to describe your music?

Did you ever hear Angel Dust? I would say schizophrenic, multi-personality, bipolar extremism… Again, we’re not gonna do the same think over and over again. I would hope, for whatever one song you’re looking at, that we’ve done that song well and we’ve done it well enough not to have to try to repeat the damn thing. That’s the point, right? Eat your tomato, then you can eat a potato and then you might eat some salmon, they all work together if you do it right. No you don’t agree? She doesn’t eat tomatoes or potatoes [Laughs].

[Laughs] The album is called Sol Invictus, which mean “undefeated sun”. Could that be a good symbol for the band, meaning that not only Faith No More is still relevant but also remains undefeated in its genre?

That’s up to you. To me, that’s the beauty of it: it’s not ours anymore, it’s yours. It really comes down to what it means to you, what images are triggered by a song or a lyric or a musical piece. That’s what’s important now. For us, it’s like you have a child. The child grows up, you do your best with the child, you raise him right, you teach him to give a shit where appropriate and they go out and make their way in the world and you see what happens, and then it’s their relationship with the world, not yours. I think there’s a lot of meaning in that title at a lot of different levels, and that awesome! I mean, the more that you dig or the more that you sit with it, the more that the music sits with you, I hope the more you get out of it. None of us aspire to work at McDonalds. None of us aspire to make fast food. It wasn’t fast to make this record. I mean, every record we’ve ever made has been like three years. As other people used to always say to us too back in the day: “Why three or four years between The Real Thing and Angel Dust? Why three or four years between Angel Dust and King For A Day?” We pour what we have into it and hopefully there’s enough for you to get something out of it. But for me, I can’t tell you what it all means, especially with regards to title or lyrics because I think that that does a disservice to our singer who really enjoys putting things out there and letting people have their own relationship with them. I think that’s a big component of it. That’s the best answer I can give you!

What the future holds for Faith No More?

We’re gonna get on stage after Killing Joke, which is awesome, and we’re gonna play a show. I’m gonna get really sweaty and tired as hell. I’m gonna give you a hundred percent of what I have in my gas tank right now, and you’ll get my best. It’s a good time to be in Faith No More right now. Again, we enjoy each other, we enjoy the music we’re playing, we’re grateful for the reception that this album has gotten, we like the album a lot and we’re excited to share it. You add all of that together, that’s enough for now! That’s enough! Because there have been times in the past where we maybe didn’t have all of those elements, and it’s a gift. We’re very aware of that, and it’s something to be very thankful for. But that’s just me. Glass’ half full, dude. Hey, I mean, it’s like… This is not a really question, right… Why won’t you rather be happy for what you have than be pissed off for what you don’t have? Come on! Let’s go! You know, we’re human beings! We’re all fucked up! We’ve all got problems. We all do our best. As little as we’d like to admit it, we all need each other.

Interview conducted 20th, june 2015 by Nicolas Gricourt & Virginie Mardirossian.
Retranscription: Nicolas Gricourt.
Pics: Dustin Rabin.

Faith No More official website: www.fnm.com.



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