Freelance music writer Jeremy Allen is our latest (and may be last) expert interviewee. The UK-born and Paris-based freelancer has written for The Quietus, NME, The Guardian and is a Serge Gainsbourg fanatic. He has written two recent features on Faith No More: a The Quietus tribute on the 20th anniversary of King for a Day… and a 10 of the Best feature for The Guardian.
1/ You wrote that Sol Invictus was at least 300 times you expected. Care to expand on that?
I did say that didn’t I? I was really nervous it was going to be shit, but the fact Billy Gould had mentioned Roxy Music as an influence in an interview gave me hope. When I finally heard the record, I’m glad to say that I didn’t just feel relief, I was actually overcome with excitement. I don’t think many bands have managed the trick of returning and recording something worthy of their oeuvre, but I think FNM have thankfully. It doesn’t sound much like Roxy Music though.
2/ Does it come off as the democratic affair that AOTY wasn’t?
I think more so, yes. Album of the Year just sounds so half arsed to me. The clue I think might be in the fact that this time they’ve credited all songs to Faith No More… I’m not sure if they’ve done that before. You can tell there’s a lot of enthusiasm within the band, and they actually appear ostensibly at least to like each other now, which is a by-product of age more than anything. It’s interesting though that Mike Patton has done hardly any press for it – which makes you think the main musical thrust might be coming from the rhythm section. That might be idle speculation though. I’ve interviewed Patton a couple of times and both times FNM was off the menu. It seems even when he’s in Faith No More, he doesn’t like talking about Faith No More. Perhaps FNM is his personal Fight Club.
3/ There is a lot of variety in Sol Invictus but it doesn’t appear as schizoid as KFAD to use your words…
Did I use the word schizoid? Blimey. I don’t think it is, no. In 1995 when they brought out King For A Day they were full of ideas and they had a lot to prove with Big Jim having made his exit to Pumpkinland. I think here they were getting back on the horse – not heroin, I mean the metaphorical horse. Where a band has returned and made a decent record – and I’ll use Suede as an example – it’s somehow because they’ve managed to distill a little bit of everything that makes them Suede into that record, and you suspect the next one will be a lot more expansive. The new Faith No More record is a very Faith No More record – which is what they needed to do – and I don’t think it takes risks like KFAD did. You have to remember that when bands come back together to record, it must be going through their heads fifty-fold that they might be taking a giant dump on their legacy. You can see why bands are so tentative about it. Anyway, this one is very solid. I hope they make another one.
4/ Do you hear any Introduce Yourself echoes in Sol Invictus?
Not really. Introduce Yourself is probably my favourite Faith No More record, but coming from the perspective of 30 years on (during the 90’s it was Angel Dust). Introduce Yourself is a lot more poppy and new wavy than anything else they’ve done, which makes it sound very contemporary, and I guess there’s that lightness of touch here and there on the new record, but nothing about it reminds me of IY to be honest. Also, Chuck Moseley’s voice is so distinctive (as is Patton’s) so that makes it harder to draw sonic comparisons.
5/ You said that IY and KAFD sounded of their time. What about SI?
That’s hard to say. You’d probably need some distance from it to make that judgement. It’s certainly not anachronistic, but given how influential Faith No More have been, they’ve earned the right to sound like themselves. I certainly didn’t turn it on and think “fuck, it’s the early 90’s all over again”.
6/ Are FNM still relevant/where is their place in modern music/rock?
They’ve been massively influential for good and bad. People often blame Nu Metal on them, ergo Limp Bizkit and Korn, but I think it’s time to stop doing that. Limp Bizkit could have just as easily been influenced by a lot of nefarious bullshit, glam metal, Extreme, aspirational mainstream hip hop… to blame it on Faith No More is a red herring I think. Faith No More were always artful, brave, funny, intelligent, deliberately obtuse at times… I like the strength of character that comes through their records and I can hear it in others, though I don’t have the time to name names particularly… If the character was a real person then that person wouldn’t be a whiney fucker or an arrogant dickhead, it’d be someone you’d probably like to hang out with and take drugs with. I think they’re still wholly relevant in modern music, although I don’t think anyone’s really doing any drugs now.