Faith No More's eclectic sound


Some bands start making music in order to win friends an influence people, those being obvious prerequisites to superstardom. But as keyboardist Roddy Bottum explains, Faith More -- which will be opening for Billy Idol at the Capital Centre Sunday developed its approach to music largely to get on people's nerves

"When we started off in San Francisco, there was a lot of dreary, post-punk stuff going on," he recalled in a phone interview from Indianapolis recently, "and a lot of our friends were doing stuff like that.

"What we kind of did was just go totally against that grain. W were watching a lot of MTV then, when it was really unhip to watch MTV, and it was tongue in cheek but we were getting into a lot of the real cheesy music that was being played on MTV. So we would get on stage and kind of outrageously play, like, covers from MTV -- basically just to annoy all the people who were into that moody, post-punk thing."

As for its own sound, the band combined what Bottum describe as "hypnotic, trance-like riffs, over and over again for a long time" with an instrumental sound that seemed to come from four different directions at once. Musically, it was a matter of "anything goes," and it led to material as distinctively diverse as the 1987 underground hit "We Care a Lot" to the rap/metal groove of "Epic," the band's current top-20 single.

Faith No More comes by its eclecticism honestly. With membership that matches a metal-head guitarist with a classically trained keyboardist, a punk bassist, a reggae-fanatic drummer and a singer whose previous employment was with a funk band, the band's sound touches so many bases you'd almost suspect it was the result of a marketing meeting.

"But with us, it's honest," said Bottum. "That's the way we are We've got this guitar player who was pretty much brought up on heavy metal, and there's me, who's got more into cheesy pop stuff. And we've got this drummer who does really different rhythm stuff with the bass player.

"Everyone in the band is completely different. When we go int the studio, our approach is to make sure that everybody has their own say. That's what happens."

As market-friendly as Faith No More seems in retrospect, it ha taken more than a year for its latest album, "The Real Thing," to work its way up the pop charts. And, ironically, it was MTV -- the same music video channel that Faith No More mockingly imitated in its early days -- that finally put the band over the top.

Although Bottum admitted that the album's first video, for "Fro Out of Nowhere" was "real boring," the band got a second chance after being nominated for a Grammy in the hard rock/heavy metal category.

"We got together with the director, and he asked us exactly wha we wanted," Bottum said. "We told him, and he pretty much stayed really true to what we wanted to see. So that video came out, and that song, to us, pretty much sums up our sound more than any of the other ones. And that's what happened. MTV picked it up."

Nowadays, Faith No More is such a staple on MTV that it wa even invited to perform at this year's Music Video Awards program, an experience that utterly thrilled Bottum. "It was just a complete sensory overload," he said. "It was exciting, looking down in the audience and there's Madonna watching my band. It was intimidating, but it was great."

Faith No More

When: Sunday, Sept. 16, 8 p.m.

Where: Capital Centre, Landover.

Tickets: $21.50

Call: 792-7490 for information, 481-6000 for tickets.

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