Faith No More are back with a new album to showcase at Westfest. But Roddy Bottum tells Chris Schulz they’re still dealing with issues from their past.
When Faith No More broke up in 1998, they did it properly. "We didn't really like each other anymore," admits keyboardist Roddy Bottum. "It wasn't the best circumstances." A statement issued at the time said the decision was mutual. But the real reasons behind the San Francisco alt-metal act's late '90s demise haven't been revealed in public - and Bottum answers an inquisition by TimeOut today by saying simply: "It's personal stuff." Whatever it was, it must have been major, because despite reforming in 2009, touring extensively and recording a new album - due for release in May - Bottum admits Faith No More are still dealing with issues from decades ago.
"When I was in San Francisco for rehearsals last week we were talking about things that were difficult that we'd never talked about before.
"Stuff that went down that I don't feel good about (just) comes up naturally. It's like a marriage or friendship that you keep working on."
With charismatic frontman Mike Patton at the helm, Faith No More earned themselves a cult-like following and several chart-topping hits with swelling, metal-tinged singles like Epic, Falling to Pieces and Midlife Crisis in the early-to-mid '90s. Fans will be happy to hear their new album - Sol Invictus, out May 19 - sounds a lot like those glory days.
"The consensus among the band is it sounds like the way that we started," says Bottum, "(It's got a) back-to-our-roots sort of vibe.
"It has some really sombre tunes, some really high points of energy, lots of peaks and valleys, some lyrics that I'm really fond of, and lots of piano." But he admits the album's creation, over the better part of a year, hasn't always been the easiest process for the five-piece.
"There were good days and bad days," says Bottum. "It started off really good: Billy (Gould, bassist) wrote some songs and I was like, 'Wow, it sounds just like we used to sound'. We all jumped on board then it took a million different turns and directions." Tensions arose when it came time to whittle down their 25 songs to a more manageable 10 for the album.
"We wrote a lot of songs, and a lot of songs never made it on the record, a lot of decisions were made and they're really painful to make. A lot of people had songs they wanted on the record that didn't make it on the record.
"It's a lot of work and a lot of angst and a lot of opinions being thrown around and they're sensitive issues. That part's not always fun but that's part of the challenge - the democratic process of the band."
Fans were surprised by first single Motherf*****, which has Bottum singing the lead. But throwing curve balls is part of Faith No More's appeal, he says.
"A lot of people were like, 'That's a weird one'. My friends were like, 'What's that all about?' It's different - it's sparse and repetitive, it sounds to me like stuff we did when we were younger.
"People expect us to surprise them. And when we do, it's like, 'Oh yeah, that sounds like Faith No More'."
Who: Faith No More
Where: Westfest, Mt Smart Stadium, Tuesday, March 3
Also: New album Sol Invictus, due out May 19