A few years ago, Greg Prato had an unscratchable itch. He wanted to read about Faith No More, one of the most influential bands of the last couple decades, but no such book existed. Well, back in the 90’s Steffan Chirazi wrote The Real Story, but the band had a lot of life left to talk about after that book was published. Since he was in between projects, Greg decided to pool together old interviews he had done with the band members, various interviews from other media outlets, and he conducted new interviews with current rock musicians to get their thoughts about Faith No More and Mr. Bungle. Popdose recently caught up with Greg to discuss concert riots, dressing in black, and a man they called Big, Sick, Ugly Jim.
Douglas Esper: So what made this the right time to release a book about Faith No More and Mr. Bungle?
Greg Prato: Well, so far all the books I’ve put out, whether it was about the Meat Puppets or Shannon Hoon or the whole grunge movement, dealt with topics that, at the time, there weren’t any books about, or if there was, the book was outdated or didn’t tell the whole story. I know there was a FNM book in the early 90’s, by Steffan Chirazi, but it cuts off right after Angel Dust and with Jim Martin leaving the band. It doesn’t touch on the last 2 FNM albums, or Mr. Bungle, and it didn’t have an update into what Chuck (Mosley, former FNM vocalist) is doing with VUA.
DE: Billy Gould (Faith No More bassist) recently posted at FaithNoMoreBlog “I haven’t read the book, though it should be said that this book is NOT band authorized. Based on a previous experience with Mr. Prato (who to his credit genuinely considers himself a fan) I would hope that this will be a fun and interesting read, but also advise FNM fans to keep a critical eye in regards to it’s content.” was there ever a thought toward working with the band on an official book or did you want to d this on your terms, your way.
GP: If I remember correctly, I emailed Billy Gould and Mike Bordin (Faith No More drummer) right around the time FNM started working on their reunion shows, to see if there was any interest in an official book. They felt the timing wasn’t right. I was in between projects, so it gave me a chance to experiment. All of my previous books were in oral history format and I wanted to try a book in a linear format with a narrative. The other thing I thought would be interesting was having the story told with a three pronged approach.
It has quotes from the band from previous interviews done through the years by me and several others, quotes from brand new interviews I conducted with fans of the band from all these different bands like Jason Newsted from Metallica, Devin Townsend, Kim Thayil from Soundgarden, Gilby Clarke from Guns ‘N’ Roses, and then the third prong is from my point of view as a fan discussing my experiences seeing FNM and Bungle over the years and my thoughts on their albums. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out and the feedback I’m getting has been pretty positive.
DE: Back in Jr. High all my friends had to have eyebrow rings because we saw FNM members get them. Was there ever a fashion trend you and your friends did because FNM or Bungle did it?
GP: No, the only band I copied was Metallica. I went through a phase were I was wearing all black. Though, I guess if you were a Cure fan you might have thought I was a Goth instead.
DE: All it takes is the right eyeshadow.
DE: So what did you learn about Bungle and FNM while working on this book?
GP: I probably learned the most when I interviewed the guys a few years ago. I always found the Cliff Burton (former Metallica bassist) friendship and connection fascinating. So hearing the stories Jim told about going out to a remote house that his parents built out in the middle of nowhere and jamming with Cliff with their amps cranked to ten outside. Also, talking with Matt Wallace (Producer) about the first two records being recorded. I didn’t know that the first record, We Care a Lot was half demos and half album session.
DE: Yeah, I didn’t know that until I read it in the book. And it is hard to stump us rabid FNM fans with new info.
GP: You know one thing I wanted to mention about Chuck and his era in the band is that in recent years, I think there has been a greater appreciation of those albums. For instance, my wife prefers the Chuck era to the Mike Patton (Faith No More vocalist) era. Now, I like both equal, but I can say those first two albums are great.
GP: Exactly, you know, it was The Real Thing that got me into FNM, but I can say that I listen to the first two albums more often. It does sound dated, not to mention that Patton sings through his nose on that disc. Though he more than makes up for it on Angel Dust.
DE: Why do you think FNM is so hesitant to release another live disc/dvd?
GP: I remember I talked to Billy Gould for that Classic Rock article a few years ago and asked, why not gather up footage from each era, the early years, the Chuck years, The Real Thing, Angel Dust, and I think it would make more sense than ever because now they could include these reunion shows as well. I know on Youtube there are a lot of clips. Just with Angel Dust alone, they did the massive tour with Guns ‘N’ Roses, then they headlined theaters here in the states, and did some arena shows and festivals in Europe, and that would be three cool viewpoints of the band to see.
DE: On the one hand, I’m disappointed that Mr. Bungle was only able to release three albums while on Warner Brothers, but on the other hand, how did a band, so left of center ever survive so long on a major label. If they were just starting out now, would Bungle find the same success?
GP: Yeah, I think the question could be asked about both bands. If either band came out today it would be tough to attract a major label because everything today is so one-dimensional. The only things the majors put it out are things they know will be a quick hit that sounds like every other thing out there already. It seems like everyone in metal today, for example, is just copying what came out before. That being said there will always be bands trying to buck the trends and to sound original.
I have a soft spot for the early 90’s grunge movement and there were some great bands but there were also a lot of shitty bands, you know. Same with the first wave of punk, but back to your original question, Mr. Bungle and Faith No More would have a hard time being pigeonholed enough to fit on a major label. Both bands could exist today, as a lot of bands are not going the traditional route anymore. Instead, they could promote themselves on Twitter and Facebook and Youtube.
DE: What songs from these bands would you love to see live that you haven’t yet?
GP: “Faster Disco.” That’s one that I’ve never seen live. For Bungle, when I got to see them during the California tours, I saw most of the songs that I’d want to see, so I’ll choose their cover of Billy Squier’s, “The Stroke”. And, you know, even though I saw it once, It’s always a blast to see “Jizzlobber” live.[youtube width=”602″ height=”350″ video_id=”79dZmxhzfDI”] [youtube width=”602″ height=”350″ video_id=”RSzGKJ4GwHA”] [youtube width=”602″ height=”350″ video_id=”fWsG-4V31Ns”]
DE: That is on my list, I didn’t see FNM live until ‘95 and they didn’t play it much after the Angel Dust tours.
GP: Yeah, I saw them in late ‘92 at the Roseland when they played it.
DE: One of the highlights of Faith No More’s reunion was a new song they played several times, but there was never any news about it. Did you learn anything while researching for this book?
GP: No, the last interviews I did were from a few years back, before the reunion shows, but, I think if they decide to put out a new disc it will be good. Kind of like the latest release from Soundgarden. Though it didn’t sell as well as I thought it might, it was a good disc. I think Faith No More and Soundgarden are two bands that could keep putting out good music for years. Bungle as well. It would be really interesting to see what they would put out.
DE: When Faith No More came back, they avoided interviews and feature stories by the media except for a few blogs like faith no more 2.0. As a media member yourself, how disappointed were you to not have a chance to interview and promote a band you really enjoy?
GP: I also do news articles for the Rolling Stone website and I remember at the time I emailed Billy Gould and Mike Bordin and asked if they would want me to ask Rolling Stone if they would be interested in having me do a Q and A with them to discuss the reunion, but they got back to me and said they made a decision to let the music do the talking for them. It obviously worked for them as they played to huge crowds in Europe and the show I saw in Brooklyn had a big crowd. Back in the 70’s and 80’s there were bands and musicians like Prince and even Led Zeppelin that could shy away from the media for long periods of time. I can see their point. Back then a lot of bands shunned the media whereas nowadays, they all want to talk.
DE: Why should people who aren’t huge fans of Faith No More give this book a read?
GP: For this book I was able to talk to members of Metallica, Guns N Roses, Soundgarden, Madball, VOD, and more bands, so there are some cool stories from their point of view. When I talked to Gilby Clarke the former guitarist for Guns N Roses, I couldn’t help but ask about the riot that took place when Axl wouldn’t play the whole set after James Hetfield got burned up in Canada. His story was really interesting.
Faith No More played that show that night but were probably long gone by the time it went down. I don’t think they witnessed it. But if you’re a fan of Guns N Roses or Metallica and Soundgarden specifically there is some interesting things in there. Also, Faith No More was one of my favorite bands of the early 90’s, so I think it’s a snapshot of what was going on back then. If you’re a fan of that era, this book will take you back down memory lane.
DE: You’re telling me. I recently pulled out an old tape I had used to tape stuff off the radio and there was a point the station played En Vogue, Faith No More and the Sneaker Pimps in a row. What a weird time for music. So will big, sick, ugly Jim Martin ever share a stage with Faith No More again?
GP: It’s hard to say. As Roddy and Jim mentioned on the FaithNoMoreBlog site, there was an attempt early on to reach out to Jim to get him onstage for the reunions, but it fell through. If they took that step, I guess there’s always a possibility. Just as a fan, I would love to see that Angel Dust era of the band again, and also the Chuck era line-up as well. I’d also like to see Mr. Bungle get back together. Trey Spruance got onstage with Faith No More a couple years ago to perform King For A Day in its entirety, so hopefully he and Mike Patton have sorted out their differences.
DE: There’s no label to get in the way, why not do it and have fun with it? During the book you pull a Stephen King in The Dark Tower series and insert yourself in the story. Do you think you will be able to add to your chapter of the story by seeing these bands again or hearing new material by either band?
GP: There are a ton of options. FNM could tour the Chuck era, the Patton and Jim era, the Post Jim era. Bungle could tour with FNM as well, bring Chuck and Jim along.
DE: Where is the best place to learn more about your books and buy them?
GP: Amazon.com. All of my books are available as paperback and as Kindle downloads. Barnes and Noble has them as paperback and Nook. iTunes has all of them except the Faith No More book but I’m working on that now. You can also follow me (on Twitter) @gregpratowriter I post my latest articles that I’ve done for Songfacts.com and Rollingstones.com and updates with book reviews.
DE: What are you working on next?
GP: Well, I can’t say much, but I have a project that has some major publisher interest. All my other books I have put out myself, so I could control the editing, coverart and all that, but I can say it is for a well-known band. Hopefully I can make an announcement soon.