Faith No More ‘Angel Dust’ Inside the Album with Producer / Engineer Matt Wallace – The full in bloom Interview
INSIDE THE ALBUM:
Faith No More
This is PART II of the full in bloom interview with producer / engineer Matt Wallace. You can read or listen to PART I of our interview with Matt, where we talk about Faith No More’s early days and their breakout album, The Real Thing, @ this location.
LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW VIA THE EMBEDDED YOUTUBE CLIP / SOUNDCLOUD WIDGET BELOW.
YOU CAN ALSO LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW VIA APPLE PODCASTS.
The audio gets a bit sketchy at times. As a result, the entire interview has been transcribed below and includes subtitles on the video.
Matt talks about Faith No More’s 1992 album, Angel Dust.
Matt Wallace Interview via YouTube
Matt Wallace Interview via Soundcloud
full in bloom: When the guys go in to record Angel Dust is there a different dynamic in the band?
Matt Wallace: Yes, a wildly different dynamic because the band was going through a different direction, musically, pushing some boundaries and they weren’t quite in sync, Jim Martin wasn’t quite in sync with them. That was a difficult record to make because people weren’t working together. Jim was just on a different wavelength than the rest of the band, so that’s kind of what happened. So yeah, pretty challenging.
full in bloom: So what happens to Jim? I read that it was because he didn’t necessarily like the direction of the band but the direction doesn’t seem that off. I mean, I know it’s different from The Real Thing, it definitely is more Mr. Bungle-y. Is that what he didn’t like about it?
Matt: Yeah, I think Jim….I mean, I’m speculating, I think Jim would have gone for The Real Thing Part II and just kind of continued that, to find that vein of what they did for success. Because the rest of the band, I know for a fact, really chafed at the idea of being rap metal, or they really did not want anything to do that and did not want to do Part II of that at all. So I think the band was going through a different direction that Jim just didn’t get; it wasn’t his cup of tea. I used to say, ‘man, we need your heavy guitar, bring your heavy guitar in there and it’s going to sound more like Faith No More,’ but he just heard different kind of parts over it. His dad also died two or three weeks before we did the record. I said to them, individually and separately, ‘hey, why don’t we just take a break and wait for the emotional dust to settle from your dad’s death and we’ll come back around,’ which was tough for me because I had already slotted out that two or three months of time and I would have been just sitting with no work. But I understood the major impact…and Jim just basically told us to fuck off, like, ‘nope, don’t tell me what to do, let’s just make a record.’ I think that was a mistake. We should have waited until he was on board one hundred percent because he really wasn’t present for the rehearsals and he wasn’t that present for the recording. I don’t think he was feeling it. I don’t think he was feeling the music and he was dealing with the emotional side of his father dying.
full in bloom: Is there any story or does anything stand out from the Angel Dust recording sessions?
Matt: Just huge, horrible in-fighting and bickering between the band and Jim Martin, I mean, that was really the big, big thing. They were just on such different…Their approach was just so different. I still had fun recording guitars with Jim. We’d record and go to the nearby bar, play some pool and come back and do our guitars. But he just felt like the odd man out. I think his approach was different than we all were anticipating. That was really the big difference, that was a big challenge. They weren’t working as a unit. You know, when you’ve got twenty percent of your band not quite pulling in the same direction, it creates quite a bit of friction and creates a drag on the creative process. And then, of course, Roddy (Bottum) had a much better sampling keyboard, so he could explore things more than he was able to with The Real Thing – he was able to really dive-in. He made a huge library of samples and cool stuff that we ultimately used on the record. There’s that and (Mike) Patton was also more himself. He dove-in one percent; he was fully invested. It was the first record that he was there during the writing of the songs, which he wasn’t during The Real Thing. But Angel Dust he was there while the songs were being written, so he had more input – they were more joined at the hip, whereas, Jim had kind of fallen out.
full in bloom: You guys recorded Angel Dust in San Francisco (Coast Recorders and Brilliant Studios). What kind of board did you use on that one?
Matt: That was a Neve…8048 or something like that. It was a Neve console, so that was pretty cool.
full in bloom: I’m assuming the budget jumped on that record?
Matt: Yeah, it was definitely more. I don’t think it was crazy but I think we had like $100,000 or $125,000. It definitely went up, so we had more time and we went to 48-track. We spent a lot more time on that record because we were trying all these esoteric and unique musical approaches. We definitely spent much more time on that record, I think, at least another month to get that record done.
full in bloom: So it took about three months to make?
Matt: I think so, three…three and a half, something like that.
full in bloom: I still remember reading an interview that Mike Patton did with Spin Magazine, during the success of The Real Thing but I think just prior to Angel Dust. Patton’s talking about jerking off and that he’d rather jerk off than be with a woman. Do you think that kind of stuff limited their success overall?
Matt: It may have limited their success with a certain group of their audience but I think it really increased it with another part of their audience. I think Patton was the first…first time ever that I can ever recollect that a guy in a band who could get laid with anyone there at the show. He said, ‘I would rather jerk off than be with someone I don’t know,’ and, to me, that was a bold statement. I think it was absolutely one of the boldest things I ever heard a rock singer say. Because all the other guys are like, ‘dude, you can get laid by anybody you want to and you’re going to go home and jerk off?’ He’s like, ‘yeah, because I don’t want to be with someone I just don’t know.’ That, to me, was one of the most groundbreaking things I’ve ever heard a lead singer in a rock band ever make. All the other heavy metal hair metal bands were like, ‘dude, we get laid like three times a night’ and blah, blah, blah. You know what I mean? It was a whole machismo thing. And Patton was like, ‘no, I just not into that, that just does not appeal to me, that’s not what I’m looking for.’ I think Patton was looking for something different. His perspective was so unique he wanted something different, he wanted something more genuine and not just random sex with somebody you don’t even know. Physically, sure, that’s a good idea; it makes a lot of sense. Yeah, that sounds great. But, for him, he’s like, ‘nope, I want something different. I want something more. I want something genuine. I want something with some lasting value to it.’ I think that was, seriously, one of the biggest, most bold statements ever said by a lead singer. To me, that was one of those moments that was really impressive.
full in bloom: Obviously, you remember when that interview came out.
Matt: I remember distinctly because I’ve talked to people about that moment…that there’s no one like Mike Patton. Just imagine, he could have easily…it would have been so much easier to say, ‘yep, I get laid all the time. Chicks dig me and I can’t walk out of my door without getting my dick sucked.’ It would have been so much easier to say. It would have been quote-unquote cool for all the guys who are in the band like, ‘yeah, Patton’s getting laid by all the chicks, woo-hoo.’ But I think all the outcast people that are part of the Faith No More group and maybe even some of the women are like, ‘wow, that’s amazing.’ Because here’s the thing, getting laid in a rock band is like shooting fish in a barrel. Honestly it’s just an unfair advantage. You’ve got a young girl, who is like totally enamored with the lead singer and they basically just give themselves up because they just want a piece of that for a moment. And it’s really, at its fundamental core, just a horrible thing. That’s just like Harvey Weinstein, or people in power, where they can just try to have sex with these chicks because they are in a different power level; they are in a different place. It’s not an even exchange, where if you just meet a gal in a bar, you guys are one on one, yeah great. But Patton, people would do anything for him. Whatever he wanted. He could have said, ‘do this, do that’ and they would have said, ‘ok.’ Patton is incredibly bold for doing that.
full in bloom: Yeah. I just thought as far as that little freak occurrence where they kind of went pop culture for a minute, you know, it might have affected that. Like you said, the people who love Faith No More and Mr. Bungle and Mike Patton, as far as that goes, everybody probably liked him more.
Matt: I think that’s exactly who Faith No More was. They were kind of, originally, like these weird, outcast art rockers that find their way through music. They were kind of just weirdos. And I just think it’s great that they, you know, we’re not going to take advantage of some young, underage, or some young girl who wants to have sex with me because I’m singing the song “Epic.” That’s fucking crazy, you know. I tip my hat to them for that; I think that was one of the more impressive moments.
full in bloom: There’s certain singers that could have done all kinds of things and sold themselves out and many guys would have done it differently. Like a Chris Cornell, you look at these guys that don’t play that card when they could have.
Matt: And, to me, that’s what’s impressive. It’s true spirit when you could lay anybody in the audience and you’re like, ‘you know, I know you’re just fucking me because I’m having to sing some of your favorite songs but it’s just not an equal exchange. ‘You’ll do things because I’m a star’…and I’ve talked to women who’ve done that, ‘yeah, I slept with so and so and it didn’t feel right, but in the moment, I wanted to be with him.’
full in bloom: As far as working with him, is he improvising a lot or did he already have his parts hammered out?
Matt: His parts were hammered out. On Angel Dust, he had every single thing hammered out. He had some kind of 4-track, or some kind of recording thing at his house. He had it all mapped out; he was absolutely prepared.
full in bloom: Do you do a lot of punching-in to get those parts?
Matt: We’d punch-in but he would sing certain sections, like he’s singing more melodic, that would go on one track and then if he wanted to do the more crazier stuff, that would go on a different track. So not so much punching-in…but he built it very specifically and methodically.
full in bloom: Did he ever blow his voice out with the screaming stuff?
Matt: No…no, I have to say he’s the most unique man I’ve ever met in my life. A couple of times I’d seem him at a show where he’s doing all that screaming stuff and yelling and everything he’s doing. I’d go, ‘man, Patton how’s your voice?’ He’d go, ‘oh, I’m fine.’ Everything, he would croon, he would scream, he would do everything and sure enough, at the end of the show, he would still have his voice. He’s literally built to sing, that guy is absolutely one hundred percent built to sing. He can croon in an artsy voice, go to full cookie monster, hamburger-metal scream stuff, back and forth without a problem. He is seriously built to sing. He’s like no one I’ve ever worked with before.
full in bloom: Wow. He’s doesn’t do vocal exercises or any of that?
Matt: Nope. He doesn’t do any warm-up (laughs), he doesn’t do anything, which is just mind-boggling. He just steps up and there it goes and there’s no, ‘I got to warm-up.’ It’s just, ‘ok, let’s go.’ He’s like, ‘alright, let’s do it.’ He is seriously built to sing. He’s got the throat, the chest…whatever it is…and his pitch is really good. He is a singer, even though he won’t admit it. He’s like, ‘oh, I’m not really a singer,’ or ‘I shouldn’t have been a singer, I just kind of fell into it.’ I understand all that, but man, that guy is built to sing. He is an amazing vocalist. He uses his voice as an instrument, which very few people do. He does all kinds of weird stuff with it, it’s very inspiring…He’s just pretty incredible.
full in bloom: Does anything stand out when you think back on “Jizzlobber,” “Midlife Crisis,” or “Land of Sunshine?”
Matt: “Jizzlobber” was obviously pretty heavy, that was Jim’s song, that was pretty dark and everything. “Midlife Crisis” I just thought was an amazing song. It was kind of the poppiest thing they had on that record. I will say, I never anticipated seeing them play that song live twenty / twenty-five years later and the entire audience singing the entire chorus. Where the band just stops playing and they sing the entire chorus. That’s incredibly powerful because that’s not a straight up pop song and the whole audience got it, sang all the lyrics and it was just really, really impressive.
full in bloom: What’s the reason you don’t do King for a Day?
Matt: After doing Angel Dust I said to the band, ‘you guys need a new producer, a new guitar player or both.’ That record was brutal to make. It was really truly, honestly brutal. I stopped producing for a couple of months after that record because of all the in-fighting and the stress. It was just really, really tough to put together. And I had been with those guys since day one. I had worked with them for like a decade, when we started in my parent’s garage on 8-track. I felt like I took them as far as could and I felt like they needed new blood as a producer and a guitar player, too. That wasn’t even my choice to make, that was their choice to make, anyway. But I just said, ‘you guys got to do something different,’ because it was really like grinding gears, that whole record was just brutal to make.
full in bloom: If there wasn’t the tension with Jim, is that record not that hard to make?
Matt: Ummmmmm, it was difficult to make because it was pretty outside of my comfort zone, trying to keep up with all the stuff that they were trying to do. It was really my milieu. I mean, I did a good job and worked really hard at it but it wasn’t easy like, ‘oh, I get this.’ It was like, ‘oh, shit.’ Some of the stuff I like totally get like “Malpractice” and stuff like that. When it gets to be more Mr. Bungle(y), I’m like, ‘I’m not sure what to do here.’ Yeah, it just seemed like it was time for everyone to move on to different things. I mean, that was kind of my feeling. It wasn’t out of any ill will, we still are friends…I still liked them and hung out with them but I just felt like I had taken them as far as I could. I didn’t want to stymie them; I didn’t want to be the reason they couldn’t go further. I didn’t want to be that guy where you’re just dragging me along out of habit. I wanted it to be like, ‘yeah, you should try doing something different, you guys are a vital band,’ maybe fresh blood could take them further.
full in bloom: And in retrospect, do you still feel the same way?
Matt: Absolutely. Yeah, I think that was the right decision. I think I certainly got worn out because it as INCREDIBLY stressful making Angel Dust. It was really, really stressful. Let them do their thing. I didn’t want them to feel obligated. If they’d come back and said that they wanted me to do it, maybe I would have considered it, but I just didn’t want them to feel obligated. I did their first single, their 7-inch single. I did all their demo recordings prior to that. I did the demos for We Care a Lot; I did the We Care a Lot album. Introduce Yourself, I did The Real Thing and I did Angel Dust, and I mixed Live at the Brixton Academy. I felt like, you know, they got plenty of Matt Wallace in there, they should probably get someone fresh that might be able to take them a little further.
full in bloom: On that Maroon 5 record, Songs About Jane, did you get that record based on your work with Faith No More or how did that album come about for you?
Matt: That’s an excellent question. I have no idea because, obviously, listening to Faith No More would not make anyone think that it’s a good idea for me to do Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane. I mean, I think I was just really persistent with Maroon 5. I had done the first Train record by then and I was just really, really persistent. Nile Rodgers was actually asked to work on the record but the budget on that one was, like Faith No More, really low. It was like a $65,000 or $75,000 record and Nile Rodgers said, ‘I can’t make a record for that kind of money,’ and I said, ‘I can make a record for that kind of money,’ and that’s what we did. I think I was just very, very persistent, very driven, very determined. I was actually offered another at twice the money and I took Maroon 5 at a fifty percent pay cut as a producer because I was like, ‘man, these are great songs, I’m going to do this.’ So that’s what I did.
full in bloom: What was it like recording Adam Levine’s voice?
Matt: Easy, he’s an amazing singer. He doesn’t have the range that Mike Patton has but he’s got incredible pitch. He know exactly who he is. When he steps up to the mic, he’s really good.
full in bloom: Do you recall what vocal chain you used for him?
Matt: I was in a Satellite room, it was actually the room that had the pool table at Rumbo (Recorders). I think we had like a Satellite / Pro Tools setup with probably like a Neve preamp, probably a 414 (AKG) or something like that. But again, it honestly, truly, one hundred percent doesn’t matter, that stuff just doesn’t matter. It’s just all about the vocalist and what he or she is singing about. You listen to the first three U2 records, that’s Bono with a hand-held 58 (Shure), you know, those are not studio microphones. That’s a live microphone and he just wants to hold on to it and sing it. And you know what? All the way to the top, those are hit songs with a hand-held 58. It just doesn’t matter. I know we all work so hard to get good gear and we all get all anal about this chain and that chain but the bottom line is, it’s a guy or gal stepping up to the microphone and spilling their guts. If you believe the story and you love, then you buy it. Listen to Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, that’s got digital distortion all over it. They recorded on ADATs for most of that record and it sold like fifteen million records. I mean, that stuff just truly, one hundred percent doesn’t matter. And I know people are going to be upset hearing that because people want to sell equipment and stuff like that. But honestly, it’s eighty-five percent the musician and great songs and then the rest of it is like, oh yeah, we’ll make it sound a little better with a little better mic preamp or whatever it is.