Brilliant Studios, San Francisco|
Friday, November 18, 1994
This is the original transcript (in English) of an interview submitted to the Italian music magazine Rockerilla. Faith No More had just completed their album King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime. Thanks to Piero Scaruffi for setting up the interview and Italian translation/editing.
JK: The new album sounds awesome. Can you fill me in on
what's happened since Angel Dust?|
RB: We went on a really long tour and through the process of that tour kind of decided that Jim, our last guitar player, wasn't really working out. And we had kinda reached the end of the road as far as creativity and working together goes. So by the end of the Angel Dust tour we were pretty much out of our wits and were looking for someone to kinda help us out and start something new and take us in the direction that we felt we kinda wanted to go, and Jim was stopping us from going.
So we finished that tour and just went through a lot of shit basically. I had a lot going on in my life. I had a horrible year. Finding a guitar player wasn't really easy. The whole process of making this record took a little while, because we had to find a new guitar player and we had been on the road for a long time.
I think the initial impulse in making this record was to kinda keep things a little more stripped down this time around and keep things simpler. 'Cause I think at this point in our lives simpler seems to say a lot more to us than complex does. So we try to keep things to a minimum and try not to be so indulgent in what we were doing. We're keeping in check where to stop adding things to the sound that we were making. I think a lot of that was taking part in the songwriting process. So we wrote songs for maybe six months and wrote more songs than we'd ever written for any other record. I think going into the studio we had 20 songs.
We also wanted to do something new as far as producers. We'd always use the same producer on all of our previous recordings, Matt Wallace. And we wanted to try someone new - we had a new guitar player, we wanted to try something new, something with a new sound, just someone who would give us different soundscapes, some place to go. So we tried this guy Andy [Wallace, no relation to Matt] and recorded in this studio in upstate New York that he was really crazy about - Bearsville it was called. And we went there, we just got back from there, we were there for five weeks in Bearsville, kinda isolated ourselves up in the woods and made the record up there which was a lot different for us, and mixed the record over the past month in New York City. And that whole process was really different for us too. So hopefully I think this record and the process of making this record... it was a lot different from any other record we've made. And it sounds different, to me.
JK: So with getting Trey Spruance, was the choice obvious since he played with Mike?
RB: Yeah, it was really obvious. The point when we came back and we knew that he was an option it seemed too obvious and it was the easiest way to go. You know, I mean - there's Trey, he's a great guitar player, Mike knows him, and I played with him and knew he would work - and it seemed so obvious and so easy that I think it just made more sense for us to try out a couple different options before we settled for the most obvious choice. So we did. We played with a lot of different guitar players, trying different things. And a lot of them were really great. But when it came right down to it I think Trey had the most diversity.
JK: Compositionally also?
RB: Compositionally, yeah. He has a really good ear for writing stuff, he has a really good ear for what sounds great, he understands keyboards really well, the bounds between keyboards and guitars, and he's really diverse. We've never been wanting to limit ourselves to one particular kind of music or one particular anything. And it was clear from the start that Trey was the same way. He can do anything, from classical to whatever. Not that we're trying to imitate any genre, but he just has a lot of diversity that way. So when we played with him it was just really apparent that that's what sounded the best.
JK: And so how did the songwriting method change?
RB: It's always been really democratic. Most of the the songs this time I think started with Billy [Gould, bass player], playing with his computer setup, bringing in ideas, and we'd all kind of work around them. Billy has a really good ear, for keyboards especially, and he plays a lot with guitars; he wasn't bringing in just bass ideas or anything.
JK: The song "Acoustic Groove" [renamed "King for a Day" for the album] - when I first heard it, it reminded me some of some Angel Dust stuff: very well textured, big keyboard chords. The sounds were amazing.
RB: Yeah, I like the textures of that song a lot. I think the textures are what's really gonna eventually make or break that song. The string sound was really nice, and just the breath of the acoustic guitars was really important. It sounds great, the strumming of that guitar. And the intro and the outtro are my favorite parts - the simpler parts, going into the song, coming out of the song, I really like a lot. It gets really dense in the middle, which is a part of the whole journey of that song, but my favorite parts of the song are going into it and coming out of it. It's very Roxy Music to me, almost David Bowie, sorta like a surreal sort of traveling composition to me.
JK: What music have you been listening to lately?
RB: Mostly independent, smaller bands. I really like this band Team Dresch [from Portland/Olympia].
JK: Oh, I'm planning on seeing them tonight...
RB: Are you? I saw them last night. They're really good. I think I'll see them tonight too. I saw them in New York, and I saw them last night. They're really cool, I like that band. Have you heard the record by that band Low? It's really cool. It's like on a Virgin subsidiary, can't remember the name of the record but it's a really amazing record; really, really slow stuff, but really nice. Good harmonies. I'm big on harmonies in pop music.
[Trey Spruance walks in.]
JK: So we were just talking about what we've been listening to lately. I know I saw you at a Boredoms show a few months ago. What kind of stuff have you been listening to lately - recorded and live?
TS: You really want to know? Okay, well, I've been listening to a lot of... there's a group called Runzelstirn and Gurgelstock from Sweden that I'm really into. And Voicecrack from Sweden is really really good.
JK: So you're into like this Swedish...
TS: No, no, I'm just starting in Sweden for some arbitrary reason. But I love Runzelstirn and Gurgelstock, they're really good. There's plenty of Japanese bands I've been listening to a lot of, aside from the Boredoms. There's like, you name it, just pretty much "the plethora." I got into that for a while. Things in that vein, but got kinda tired of that. Sorta branching out into other areas of fucked up music. And probing back into early soundtracks to different movies, and stuff like that.
JK: What influences does this new album have that earlier Faith No More didn't have?
RB: Musical influences? I don't know... I think it's best probably not to have any musical influences. I would hate that something would have some sort of point that we would have looked at and tried to somehow emulate or imitate, I don't know. I've never done that. When things are all done, I think some times, "Oh yeah, it sounds a little bit like something else," but I don't think we ever set out with an influence going into something.
I think it's a really overused statement that something that someone is listening to is somehow gonna translate into something that they create later. I never think about things in those terms. I don't think any of us really think about things in those terms. Like maybe Trey's listening to a lot... you know... I don't think he's gonna come in and try and get Mike to sing in Swedish or something.
TS: Exactly. Is not applicable.
RB: I think sometimes the mood of things maybe will put you in that mood, but I don't think anyone sets out, like tries to imitate something that they've been into. Or I would hope not, anyway - right?
TS: Certainly there are unconscious things, otherwise we would probably be playing something a little less tangible. But we don't talk about it, you know? It just ends up that way.
JK: So what do you guys discuss in the creative process? Let's say you had a disagreement about how some part of a song would go. How did you guys follow through with different points of views?
RB: Someone usually gives in.
TS: Sometimes you end up living with something - for a long time - that not everybody is entirely excited about that suddenly somebody will have an idea where to take it to. We sat on some of them for a while in various states of completion before we actually were gonna record them. So they really evolved more than having like a whole lot of conscious application thrown on top of them.
JK: Okay. We were discussing "Acoustic Groove." How would you describe it?
TS: I like the regal feel of it... Not so much regal - it does change its ambience, but - it sorta maintains a largeness to it, like a presence, like you're inside some sort of large chamber of some type, and without a bunch of reverb. It's not effects that are causing that, it's the mood of the music. I think it's very moody. It reminds me of a Peter Murphy solo album or something like that.
JK: Okay, the song "The Last to Know."
TS (to JK): Yeah, I have similar feelings on that one. I like the space that that song creates. Very large space.
RB: Very dense. Texture's very dense.
TS: Oh really? Jimi Hendrix, right? [More laughs.] Thanks, yeah, that was a fiveinthemorning one, for sure.
JK: All right. "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies."
RB: Angstridden. Good punctuation. Good definition and instruments for me. No keyboards.
JK: So what'd you do on this song?
RB: I like that song, it's pretty different for us. It's very laid back, groovy. There are some real strings on it, the punctuating sort of strings... a sort of Soul II Soul vibe.
TS: Yeah, it creates a pretty viable, alternate world to me. There aren't too many holes in it. You can actually get lost in that world without having something obstruct your visit that would remind you that it's what you would call a rock band playing it.
JK: "Cuckoo for Caca" - that's the one that starts with these tribal kinds of drums and launches into this headbanger freakout.
TS: Yeah, it's very headbanger.
JK: "Digging the Grave" - that was the very short,
TS: Youth Brigade?... Not even that really. It's Youth BrigademeetsGreen Day. The attitude is Youth Brigade though, more than Green Day. [Chuckles.] Just throw your punk references around. Now that punk has plenty of conventions, you can go ahead and milk its value.
JK: If you could compare Faith No More to a 1970s' rock band, which would you choose?
RB: [Long pause.] ELO?
JK: "Ricochet" - I liked how there were moments when it
was exotic and droney.
TS: We just work with these arbitrary titles. They don't mean anything. Don't pay any attention...
RB: It was written the day that Kurt died. That's just why it was called "Nirvana." [Pause.] I like that one. The vocal harmonies are really really great. And those are my favorite lyrics on the record.
TS: I could concur with that: "It's always funny until someone gets hurt/And then it's just hilarious."
JK: Okay, "Star A.D." Those were sampled horns, right?
RB: No, those were live, real horns. Horn section came in.
TS (incredulous): Could you actually think that that saxophone solo was actually played on a sampler?
JK: Yeah, well there's this new digital instrument that...
TS: I know what you're talking about. Virtual Acoustic or something? That thing's fuckin' amazing! Yeah, I know what you mean. [Cracks up.] That's funny, competing with the Virtual Acoustic synthesizer for sound quality!
JK: That's some statement about the state of the art in technology today.
TS: Sure. The best thing about that synthesizer is taking those sounds way the fuck out, though. More than making them sound real... God, man, you can take it to some pretty nice places. You could have a 30foottall bassoon player playing a 500foottall bassoon. I mean, really, it's fuckin' incredible! [We're all laughing.]
JK: I love that song by the way. That 3/4 meter, the Motown drums, that '70s funk thing, the organ, that bass line straight out of a spy movie theme...
TS: Yeah, those are the elements. You got it. You got
JK: What do you like about that song?
TS: I like the chords that the horn guys did during the verses; they sound really thick. That's my favorite part. That and that little spy section... That's a nice little breath of fresh air. It opens up into a space that the album never touches upon anywhere else.
JK: I like how this album changes spaces, from one beautiful space to another.
TS: Yeah, discrete.
JK: Like in comparison, "The Velvet Hammer" [renamed "Caralho Voador"]... what language is Patton singing?
TS: That's Portuguese. What other language would you
speak for doing a Bossa Nova?
JK: Any samples on this album you can identify?
RB: I don't even think there's any samples on the record.
JK: Oh yeah, most of the keyboards were piano, strings,...
RB: Instrument sounds for the most part. And some noise stuff.
JK (to Trey): And what kind of guitars were you playing?
TS: A Seville Les Paul copy, my roommate's guitar. That's about it. I played a Fender Stratocaster, a real cheap one. I'd tried other guitars to try and get different sounds, just figuring that just because I was picking up the things that were closest at hand I could probably do better, and it wasn't the case. It just happened that the stuff I started with was what I ended up with. I really couldn't improve on those sounds very much.
JK: When you go back to recording with Bungle, will your guitar sound be different? Is your approach...?
TS: One hundred percent tailspin different. Definitely. And that's a good thing for all parties involved. [Pauses.] Actually some of the heavy sounds on this record are really good, they're better than anything I've ever gotten. I wouldn't really want to mess with that, I kinda like where these are at.
JK: How were you approached by Faith No More?
TS: I knew they were trying out different guitar players. Yeah, once the Jim Martin spot opened up, there was a whole bunch of auditions happening. The obvious thing that people think is, "Okay, now Mike has a chance to get his friend in the band." It really actually is pretty opposite of that. I think Mike was the one who was most against it. 'Cause for whatever the reasons, there's plenty of reasons...
JK: Like some kind of incestuous thing maybe?
TS: There's part that, we hadn't been getting along absolutely perfectly in the year before, and... You can just see how complicated the whole thing becomes with people's perceptions, they don't really understand that I have no intention on "Mr. Bungle-izing" Faith No More in any way, but that's the automatic thing people are gonna think.
JK: Well you don't want to go in there sounding like Jim Martin either.
TS: Right. I feel like my job in this whole thing has been to find... Okay, they weren't happy with Jim Martin, and nobody fucking wants this thing to sound like Mr. Bungle. What could really bring out... what's good about Faith No More? What could really help this band achieve the heights it wants to go to? Or do what it needs to do? So I just thought that way, without thinking about what I would do. Initially what I would do is what comes naturally to me. I just kinda learned the language of Faith No More and tried to emphasize things.
JK: How was Andy Wallace different from Matt Wallace?
RB: He's a lot older, he wears glasses, he has a wife named "Sweetie," he likes the east coast as opposed to the west, he wasn't as good at kissing our ass as Matt was, he didn't use drum samples without us knowing,... He seems to get different sounds on different projects he works for as opposed to Matt, who I think carries the same sound from project to project. That's what initially drew us to him [Andy] I think. He has consistently good sound but a different sound with every band he works with. I like that about him. And he's kinda like my dad. Very well versed. And a little insane.
RB: He's a little bit crazy, which is good. Worked well for us, the crazy part.
TS: The guy has so much experience behind him. He's
done a wide field of stuff...
JK: What's the touring plan?
RB: I don't know. We're gonna start touring in March. The album isn't coming out until March. It's gonna be a huge world tour. We'll tour for probably a year, everywhere we can go. We'd like to take it to as many places as we can. Start out in Europe, and then probably come back and do America, then probably do Europe again, and Australia, and Japan. Probably Europe a couple times. I bet it'll take about a year. Unless of course the record's a big flop... and just end it. Quickly.
TS: It'll bite the dust in Istanbul. And we'll all just take it from there. We won't even be able to afford plane tickets home.
RB: Go to Ishtar.
JK: So when you play in San Francisco, what venue would you do?
RB: Bottom of the Hill, I think we're talking about? Some place small, hopefully start out, you know, backtoourroots sort of vibe. We would like to do a really cheap show some place, very inexpensive, maybe a bigger place. Make it really affordable.
JK: Would Trey object to coming out and disco dancing before the first song?
TS: I'd love to do that. If you had the proper lighting system and the right kind of music...
RB: Thematically, if it works, I don't know. You'd have to ask Trey...
TS: Absolutely, I'd love to open the show with my moves. I'm a little rusty; have to give me a week to brush up...
JK (to Trey): When you toured with Bungle, you were always covered up.
TS: I'm covered up now too. It's very subtle.
JK: Have you guys been doing other jobs in the past year?
RB: I have another rock band, Star 69 [later changed to Imperial Teen]. We've been bringing in a little income. Made $200 last week. Opened for Hole.
TS: I've been doing a bunch of stuff, musical things. Stuff that I can't really say that I do it all the time. What I mean is, we have products out, and I'm not really a personality in the products. But I keep pretty busy.
JK (to Trey): Do you spend most of your time composing away from other musicians, or do you do a lot of your composing on the spot?
TS: Pretty equal variety of both, it depends. Depends on what's called for.
JK: But do you go through cycles where you try to avoid people just so that you can...
TS: Absolutely. I'm in one of those right now.
JK (to Roddy): How about you?
RB: Same way. I think I can take certain songs to a certain point, and then I start questioning myself, and then I'll usually look for someone else's input. I always like a drummer's input. Dynamics really interest me.
TS: There's really only two different fuckin' ways - in my opinion - and the only thing that works for me is having total control or no control at all. And at the beginning you decide which way it's gonna be. There's no halfway, in my view. I couldn't like take something to a certain point and then go, "Okay, you guys take over now." I can take input, but something in me drives me really fuckin' crazy until that decision's made and it's gotta be seen through on either side. That's my own personal little quirk.
JK (to Roddy): Was this album any easier to make for you?
RB: Yes and no. It wasn't an easy record to make. Considering what we were dealing with, it took the right amount of time. I'm glad we didn't spend any longer on it, that's for sure.
TS: Didn't seem like there was any time being wasted or anything. Everything that was being pursued ended up being in the final thing that you're hearing. There wasn't a whole lot of wasted motion really.
JK: What's the story behind "Take This Bottle"?
RB: One of "those" songs; you've seen the video, right? The road cases, the guitar, packing them up, the bus, coming, going, the chicks, the backstage... you know what it's about.
TS: And you've seen the commercials of the man beating the woman violently, all of that too...
RB: The telephone, the question marks,...
TS: People listening underneath, the fear in their eyes, they know something really awful is happening... It's all there.
RB: It started out like almost a country/western sort of ballade, rock ballade thing. It sounded so much like that, that we were calling it the Guns'n'Roses song.
JK: What did you guys think of Guns'n'Roses after touring with them?
RB: Probably the same that I thought before we started the tour. I just didn't like myself as much. I felt the same about them.
RB: I would have to say the same. Nothing changed for me. I knew what I was getting into, I knew what they were about, and when I left, I feel like I still knew.
JK: Were there any bands you toured with where your impression did change of them through the course of the tour?
RB: Babes in Toyland I liked a lot more musically. They've improved a lot since I'd known them before. Robert Plant, you would think he would be a jaded rock star but he was really a cool person, really humbled and friendly, a good person. I thought a lot of him.
JK (to Trey): Are you psyched about touring?
TS: Well, everybody has been pointing out how horrible it is or how much of a trying task it is. That point has been made to me repeatedly ever since I began. So I don't know what to think really. I like the idea of touring, I like the idea of seeing things and meeting people and being in places that I've never been and playing music. But I've been warned so much I don't know what to think.
RB: People like to ham it up. It's their life, you know; if it isn't really torturous, then what have they been doing all these years? To say that it hasn't been torturous means they haven't been working hard. So of course they have to act like it's really horrible. That just implies that they've really been working hard all this time.
TS: I suspected that angle. So yeah, I'm looking forward to it. A nice thing too is that it seems with all the time on the bus and doing things like that, I don't really mind that so much. I feel like I'm really distracted here in San Francisco; I have a lot of friends and I have a lot of fun here, and sometimes it takes me away from shit I should be getting done. And I feel like in a way it'll help that aspect; I'll be somewhat detached. Of course there'll be plenty more shit to deal with, but not as much a variety of it. It'd be easier to get that into perspective I think, working on stuff. It's easier to tear yourself away from drudgery or repetition than it is from fun things that are stimulating. You're inspired to work out of boredom more than you are out of when every day something amazing happens. Who the fuck needs work? Life is really enjoyable. Why do you need to work at it? So, that angle, I'm excited about too.
JK: What country are you most psyched to see?
TS: I don't know; I've never been to any of them, I've thought a bit about it, but they all hold sort of an equal luster to me. Everybody's been talking about Turkey as a place that this band's never been to. That sounds pretty interesting. And Israel, they've been saying - that sounds really amazing to me. I'd love to see those places. Surely.
Shit, I mean, what can you say? When this band tours, they tour everywhere. That's one of the greatest things, that the band seems to really go out of its way to branch off into places that bands don't normally go to; they make the effort to go those places. And that's really great. That's exciting to me.
JK: If you've looked on the Internet recently, you would probably be shocked at what you saw, these huge "newsgroup" discussions with people saying good and bad things about Faith No More, or arguing about who's in Mr. Bungle, etc., and providing totally incorrect information, if not just plain stupid.
TS: Actually, yeah, I've seen that. It's amazing.
RB: On America Online I go into the files and tell them what's what; they're way off sometimes. And then I'll just post something, and trying to set some...
TS: My dad's been telling me he's been seeing Roddy on the board and he's been really happy with what he's been saying; he's been clearing a lot of shit up. My dad follows all of that stuff.
RB: It's very interesting.
JK: Seems like a lot more of people on the music newsgroups that I read are all these clueless millions of high school students and what not now. So the IQ of all the discussion groups seem to be going down...
RB: Yeah. That's the impression that I get on the computer. It's really dull. It's few and far between that you have like any meaningful conversations or that you learn anything new. Not that those people don't have anything to teach you, but it just seems like very C+ conversations, just like... boring.
TS: I never wanted to touch that shit with a tenfoot pole. I mean, cyberspace, alternate worlds and all that - it sounds great, but I don't think that's what the Internet is. I think it's fuckin' jackoff pool.
RB: It's just a big bathroom wall. Stupid comments... But there's some specialty groups that are pretty interesting. I went into these literary groups a couple of times, they were interesting...
TS: Yeah, and leaving messages for major physicists in their mailbox and getting responses and stuff like that could be exciting...
RB: Yeah, you can talk to anybody. I wrote the president of Warner Brothers the other day, he wrote me back. I wrote the president of Kill Rock Stars, he wrote me back. Same day I got a response from the president of Warner Brothers and the guy from Kill Rock Stars.
[They split, Mike Bordin comes along.]
JK: There aren't any cover songs on this new album, are there?
MB: No. No cover songs, no samples. I'm excited.
JK: Yeah, that's what Roddy said.
MB: Exactly. We were busy making music rather than... I don't know. I think in a way samples can really be shortcuts, rather than just getting your sound, getting something interesting and unique. If you do something with it that takes it further, great. But do you really need to sample somebody else playing the flute when you can make your own, take your flute sounds and do it yourself? I don't know, for us I'd rather do it ourself.
JK: So this new album... is awesome.
MB: Thanks! We feel that it's the best album we've ever made, and we're fuckin' thrilled.
Angel Dust was us trying to tell people that we really were a band that did different things rather than just whatever people expected us to be - a pop band or whatever. It was a reaction against a lot of people saying that Mike Patton was a fuckin' teenybopper and we were a pop band, and that was not true. It was like, "No, it's not like that."
And this album I think is somewhere in between. There's heavy stuff, but there's also a lot of melodic stuff, which is important. But I appreciate that - I mean, we put a lot of fuckin' work into this record, no joke. We're a band that jokes around and has fun and doesn't take ourselves too seriously at all, but we fuckin' took this record superseriously because we said to ourselves, "If this is gonna be the last record we ever make..." When we changed guitar players, we only did it for one reason: We knew that we owed it to ourselves to be as good as we thought we could be, and... there's not many regrets on this record. Everybody's pretty fuckin' proud of it.
JK: Words I would use to describe the album are "brilliant" and "crisp" and "sparkling."
MB: Andy Wallace is a bit of a shiny type of producer; there's always that sheen on the top end, whether it's a Slayer record and the ride cymbal, or the Nirvana record with the guitar, he definitely does that. The drum sounds are very clean, very direct, very uneffected. It was recorded in a huge room, a big catherdrally room, in the mountains, in the woods; it was beautiful. It was a very superlive room.
JK: Were most of the takes recorded at the same time?
MB: Because of Andy being such a perfectionist, we kept a lot of stuff that was recorded simultaneously, but he always went over it, with guitar and finetuned it, and did specific sounds because we had that room and the drums were in that room. So naturally, to record a lot of guitar in there... Put it this way, the drums were feeding back through the guitar pickups while we tracking the drums. Quite a bit of the vocals were scratch vocals; he was singing along with me. Quite a bit, a lot of the vocals. And that was great. Definitely.
But honestly, the guy's a real specific guy... fuck, he's a scientist. And he wanted to make sure that all the sounds were there that he wanted to be there, so he redid a lot of stuff, too.
JK: And he's not related to Matt Wallace...
MB (smiles): I thought so at first, but no. Strange, isn't it, after all this time? Twelve years with Matt Wallace and who do we go with? Fuck, I don't know... But no, we really wanted to work with him. That's why we went to New York, 'cause everybody liked Slayer, Reign in Blood. And the Nirvana record sounded great. [Andy Wallace mixed Nevermind.]
JK: Let's talk about the songs. Tell me about "Evidence."
MB: God, that's weird, I knew you were gonna say that one first. Smooth cabaret. Al Green. Sade. Real nice mood, you know? I'm real happy with the way that song turned out. It's very smooth, and I like that. Great singing.
MB: That's my favorite song. I was sort of a fuckin' weasel, and... that wasn't gonna be on the record, but that song turned out so great that it pushed another song off the record. I think it sounds great, I love that song. I really love the choruses, where it gets really big, and it really takes off... I love that song. And that was the last song we wrote, as well. That was the 20th song that we wrote for this record. So I think it's really fitting that the first song that we wrote for the record and the last song that we wrote are both on it.
JK: What was the first?
MB: "Cuckoo for Caca," which is a silly title for a heavy song, but the working title, the fake name, that everybody knows that song under - it was called "The First Song."
JK: Stylistically that song has a lot of elements of "vintage" Faith No More.
MB: Yeah, we picked up where we left off. I don't know, it just worked out that way. And that song "Ugly in the Morning" too - that to me is also really Faith No More, with that drumming. And even that song "Star A.D." has got that kind of drumming; I love to play like that, but you can't do it all the time. It would get real boring.
JK: "Take This Bottle."
MB: I really dig that one. It's a song where I sit back and play and I almost don't even play, it's almost like autopilot, and I listen to everybody else. It's very minimal. Kinda reminds me almost of Bob Dylan or something, kinda country, twangy, or something. I'm really excited that we're doing a song like that, and I bet it's gonna surprise a lot of people. Again, the singing is great. It's my wife's favorite song.
JK: "Acoustic Groove."
MB: We had that in Billy's house on his computer. We worked on that song for a long time, to keep the balance between the lightness and the loud parts. It took a lot of work; that was a difficult song to work on. Really glad the way it turned out. It kinda reminds me of early Roxy Music, which I was a really big fan of. I loved Stranded, Siren, Country Life, and all those albums. It's got that elegant, suave tone, but it's still like a rock song. The middle of that song is cool, too, because we waited 'til we were in the studio, and we wrote it in the studio, so it was kinda like a jam. Which is also really exciting, we didn't really do that very often.
JK: If you could compare yourself to any '70s rock band, who would it be?
MB: That's kind of ambitious... I don't know... In the 1970s, the most important thing in my fuckin' life was rock music. Moreso than anybody else in this band, embarrassingly so. If you talked about '70s songs, I could tell you who did it or what it was. When I was 10, in like 1972, that was it for me. That was it. So that's where I really grew up knowing that this was a huge addiction in my life.
I don't know who I would compare us to...
JK: I thought Queen...
MB: That's an honor. That's a compliment. Theatrical, innovative, heavy... I saw them and Thin Lizzy, at Winterland. Amazing fuckin' show. That's a great compliment. I don't wanna say comparison, because I don't know what I would compare us to...
Tommy Bolin. 'Cause Tommy Bolin mixed all kind of shit: rock, soul, calypso, everything. I don't know.
Growing up here in San Francisco and listening to FM radio, you could hear Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, Queen, Allman Brothers, Lynrd Skynrd, or whatever. They played tons of different music; it wasn't a big deal, like, "You gotta listen to Metallica, or you listen to Smashing Pumpkins." There was diversity in San Francisco radio.
JK: What have you been listening to lately?
MB: The stuff I'm most interested in is the stuff that's long gone and stuff that nobody wants to sell me, that nobody wants to fuckin' put on the charts. I've been listening to a lot of Louie Armstrong, I've always liked Mingus, and I like Art Blakey a lot, and people I'm just discovering, like this saxophonist Tina Brooks. I've been listening to R & B a lot lately, a lot of Wilson Pickett, Marvin Gaye, I like Dr. John a lot. I'm even listening to some old dance hall reggae records that I've had back in the early '80s, some really amazing stuff. But all of us in this band share the fact that we all have a lot of records, and a big thirst for a lot of different kinds of music.
JK: But back to the new album...
MB: We didn't even know if we were gonna make another record. It was very difficult, changing guitar players, and all the things that go on when you're having down time. We wanted to make sure this record was absolutely the best record of our lives. This record, what you hear, is our blood, and it's no joke. This is us saying if we only have one more record to make, how is it gonna be absolutely the best record? 100%, which it's gotta be that way, you gotta do it like you mean it, you can't bullshit around, you can't be selfsatisfied and fat. You gotta do it like that. You got to. And that's the only way to get a special result.
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