We have become almost habituated to Faith No More interviews in recent weeks but Barcelona-based free magazine RockZone has come up with a brilliant angle in their interview with Bill Gould. They arranged for David Gonzalez from Basque punk trio Berri Txarrak to interview his fellow bass player.
We reproduce the full interview here from the free publication but would strongly urge you to download it too to help support the publication.
The standout quote from Bill for me is.
“We have some other very good ideas, I think. I hope someday they will convert into Faith No More music.”
Translation is by our very good friend Pablo Fernandez.
First of all some nuggets from the introduction from David: “Billy Gould was one of the reasons why I’m in the music business. The first time I listened to FNM I had my head blown off. The solid rhythm section, this voice and the way to create basslines changed my life forever. FNM are one of these bands ahead of his time, misunderstood at his time (luckily this is over) part because of their eclecticism and capacity to develop themselves amazingly in any musical style. If there’s something pretty hard FOR a band, it is to develop its own sound and trademarks that differentiate it from the rest, that make you identifiable at any instance. That and other virtues are precisely those that makes FNM so unique.”
Hey Bill, how are you? First of all, I’d like to thanks for and congratulate you on the new record.
Hey David. Well, thanks. We’re very happy, we just started the tour and we’re very thrilled with the new album.
Since I’m not a journalist, I’ll take the opportunity. I know that you were never that much into being interviewed and promotion. How is your relationship now with the press? How is the reception to the album?
It is very interesting. I think that the reaction from the press has been very good. I don’t know what we were expecting because this record, without being a FNM record, is very different from the previous ones. We used to make records that people didn’t understand and the response for this one has been very positive and a nice surprise. We presumed that the record will appeal to a certain group of fans.
How was the writing and recording process of Sol Invictus?
The whole priocess took a couple of years. We started writing little by little. First we made one song, than another…Without thinking of an album, really. We had a lot of ideas, but it was about to reach a point where everyone is ready/keen to make a record. And this took a while. Since we decided to make the album, the next step was to not say anything about it. We thought “let’s start to work and see what we got”. There were no expectations; we didn’t have any obligation to make an album. We just put ourselves to write music. As soon as we were in the rehearsal place I started to assemble some mics I had around there, in a casual way. And everything was pretty human, we were just the original members and no one else. It was brilliant.
You’re the main FNM writer/composer. Where and how does a song come to you?
It’s like a big puzzle. For me, making music is like architecture and all the pieces have to fit together. Like a big machine. There’s a little of everything. Sometimes we just jam and other times we worked with ideas that we brought from home. For this record, the process wasn’t so different from the others. At the end, what it matters is to write a song. It is like to fight a war: you use everything you have. If you have previously some ideas, brilliant if it comes from some jamming, brilliant too. You can use anything because at the end what matters is how good the song is.
One of your most notable characteristic is the rhythm section that you make with Mike Bordin. Do you write the bass first, for instance?
In some of the songs yes but not at all. The rhythm section is the skeleton of a song and it always was an important part of FNM because if you think about it, I’ve played with Mike Bordin since 1981. It’s pretty easy to compose with someone that you know very well. We know what we do. We’re not the best musicians in the world but we know each other very well.
After some listening it could be said that the keyboards are way more integrated and there’s a lot of piano on Sol Invictus unlike in previous records…
Yes, that’s what we wanted to do. It feels more natural. It feels more like a real band playing together on a stage with a real piano. It’s not like a sampler or a synth. And for us it is like when you drink a wine that was in a barrel for a long time: the piano was woozy, it feels more real.
What were the major influences at the time you made Sol Invictus?
Today there’s a lot of music that i don’t like. When I listen to something new, much of it doesn’t impress me at all. What I think is: “what would I like to listen to, what is missing?” There’s something that doesn’t connect with me. That’s how I think I want to write music that has this thing that is missing in other bands”. It makes me feel better. Music that we’re missing in our lives is our major influence, really.
Could you name some today’s band that are apart from this or a name that or that inspired you?
The Fall, The Cramps, The Kinks.
I know that the album is ready but are you still working on new things?
We have some other very good ideas, I think. I hope someday they will convert into Faith No More music.
Which one is your favorite song from the new album? Is there some that you’d like to highlight?
It changes everyday. Last week it was Sunny Side Up. And this week, probably Sol Invictus.
And the coolest song to play live?
At the moment we just played a couple live. Tonight, for instance, we played “Separation Anxiety” for the first time. I’ve always said that it’s weird because when you play a song for the first time you don’t feel confident about it yet. I’d say that I feel very comfortable playing “Superhero”, for instance.
Do you have any ritual before/after going onstage?
We don’t do anything special. I feel like crap 20 seconds before going onstage. And then it goes.
Yes, to me feels the same way…like to shrink before exploding onstage…
Yes, yes… it always feels the same, doesn’t it? Once you’ve played everything is cool but before it’s always hard to play. I can’t talk with anyone, it’s a bad feeling.
I’ve been aware that the person most against putting out something new was Mike Patton. What’s right about that statement?
Not only him. Everyone had their own concerns about the idea to make something new. But it is right to say that, without being the only one, Mike Patton had his own individually.
Ten years has passed by since when, in 1998, you guys decided to leave FNM and regroup for the reunion in 2009. What difference did you find in the music scene, industry, audience, since then?
You know what i see. I see even though business is making less profit than in the past, the mindset is more conservative. I think that the way the media works regarding music is more money-oriented than ever. Perhaps because there’s less money behind it.. There’s less romanticism in the way music refers to itself. You talk a lot more about social networks, the business…bands making all kinds of bullshit related to social media, mailing lists, etc…But this has nothing to do with playing music, there’s no lifestyle, there’s no culture, the cultural part of music is fucked.
You’re back with a self-produced album and you’ve produced lot of others. In fact, you were in charge of recording and producing. What are the benefits and the inconveniences of this?
The benefit was to only work with band members and anything we did was exactly what we want it. This is fantastic and gives you a lot of power. This is like you have an restaurant and in the back you have your own garden to cultivate the vegetables you’re going to cook and serve. But the bad part is that you have no one to help you out! (laughs). And the final result has to be very good and you have to sort things out to solve all your problems because we even didn’t record in a professional studio. It was only a rehearsal room. There were some challenges in the time to make it sound good because it wasn’t developed for recording. This was complicated but in the end it worked. We found a way to make it and to me, as sound engineer, has made me better and taught me a lot of new things.
At this time of band reunions i think that you’re one of the bands in better shape than back when you split. Is it just me or do you feel the same way?
I think so. I think that now everyone here is very focused on it. In the past there was always someone that wasn’t happy about it. There was always someone unhappy. And now it’s not like that. It is true that we’ve only had three concerts on this tour…so you should ask me this again in couple of months (laughs). Perhaps someone is unhappy. It could be me, I don’t know. At the moment the band is very focused as a team.
I had the opportunity to see you three times in the last tour and you communicate a lot of consistency and confidence…
Yeah, I think we’re better musicians after all these years.
Did it come in your mind to call Jim Martin for the reunion? Are you still in touch with him today?
I didn’t talk to him directly…but I think that we had to make a decision about if it was just something nostalgic or something with a future. And it’s right to say that we stopped being creative with Jim back in 1992 and 1993. We could make it since the money offers were very high but we were pretty different from the other bands that reunited to play. There was this energy and we didn’t want that. It could be reliving the past instead of the present.
You’re a very influential bassist to us. Besides your way of playing and writing, you have a unique sound which is very personal. Zon has part of the blame – could you talk about your bass gear and the new bass model?
Zons guitar is a manufacturer of bass and guitars from San Francisco, where I live, and that’s how we met and they made me a bass in 1991. They told me that they would give me an instrument that I’d like but I didn’t think the same way because I was very happy about the bass I was playing back then. When they gave me the Zon it became something very personal. It is the only bass I’ve been using since then. And this year they told me: “You know we think that we should make it to sell it so people could buy it”. And I thought it was a good idea and they’re actually making my model. I had the idea to put a pre-amp inside the bass that it’s called a parallel drive circuit. What it makes is that it gives you the option to have a little more grit, which is what I used to do with amps. So that way, it is possible to have my sound no matter which amp you use.
So you don’t have concerns about the amp. And whenever you go you always have the same sound…
Amps sound so different from each other and there were a lot of times that I’ve played with amps that didn’t make me happy…so in that way I think its good to have the sound, closest possible to the source. At least the sound that comes out of the bass is the way it should be.
I follow you on social media and you are a person who is very social and politically committed. Specifically with a lot of conflicts in Eastern Europe. I know that you love the Balkans. What is the relationship you have with those countries?
I’ve spent a lot of time there and I’ve a lot of friends there. I think that what happens there affects the rest of the world and since there’s not so much news of it in the media, when you see how people there act, that’s how you understand your own situation. America maintains a very ignorant position about the Balkans area. Despite the fact that they’re very involved in what happens there, in the USA none writes about it. And I think that it is very fundamental that people know what’s going on there and how they neglect things on purpose. What happens there is symptomatic in a way to what happens in other places. The difference is there they don’t hide what they do.
What has Bill Gould been up to all those years where FNM was done?
I was producing records all the time. I’ve a label called KoolArrow that releases international music. I’m not referring to world music, but international music because when you live in America you only get music from here or the UK. And in my opinion music from America is the worst music in the world. The music from today is awful. So I created an “oil pipe” to bring interesting things that are happening in other places in a way that Americans can see that there’s something different outside.
Yes, I know some of the KoolArrow bands…
The bands are different from each other. It’s a tiny label and it’s me trying to keep an open view on the world.
What happens in Chile with Faith No More? You are huge there.
We played in Chile a long time ago and we were one of the first rock bands to play the Festival Vina del Mar. And everyone hated us, hated us so much that most of the audience left the concert. But they rebroadcast it on television to the whole country and a lot of youngsters, who never saw anything like that, saw us. And for them it was like it opened the world. In Pinochet’s time everyone was very conservative and we’re this weird thing appearing on national television. And that’s how the connection has born. Later I lived there for a while during the King For A Day time..
The last time you played there was at Estadio Bicentenario, true?
Yea, it’s crazy, right? And I did some concerts with Talking Book. We really have a big connection with Chile.
And in America?
This time we’re going have more concerts there. There’s a lot of people we like in America. I think in the past they really didn’t get this band and I don’t blame this people. I think that the fault is with the media and the magazines here, which are very conservative. I don’t know which crap they like or is trendy right now here but everything they said about us wasn’t correct. They didn’t understand the band. But I think that now, 18 years later, they understand us better and appreciate us more. There were hard times for us here but everything now is better.