Why I walked away from Faith No More
As they were: Faith No More with Martin, top left, in the early 1990s
Former Faith No More guitarist Jim Martin has broken his 15-year silence on why he left the band at the height of their success – and why he didn’t take part in their recent reunion.
Martin walked out while FNM were enjoying acclaim for their album Angel Dust. It’s long been believed he didn’t like the musical direction the band were taking. Now he explains it was more than that.
In a fan Q&A – which was destined not to be published until Billy Gould intervened and said it should be run as had been planned – Martin says: “My publicised ‘not being into’ Angel Dust was all about the way the whole process went down. There was a lot of weird pressure to follow up The Real Thing, and as a consequence, Angel Dust was more contrived musically than I thought was necessary.
“I wanted more of the record to happen in the studio and Billy Gould wanted every last tack nailed down before we went in. I wanted to spend time with it; management and the record company wanted to rush it out the door.
“Producer Matt Wallace was calling me, complaining about Mike Patton’s performance. Management and the record company were calling me complaining about Mike Patton’s performance and desire for outside projects.
“The record company president came in the studio and said: ‘I hope nobody bought houses.’ All the air got sucked out of the room. That was one of those great moments when reality slaps you in the face. Some of my associates had bought houses.
“The pressure was on, and everyone wanted to be in the studio with me while I recorded, endlessly tinkering and fucking with me and fucking with Matt – and Matt is a really fucking wound up guy already. I had to kick everyone out, and even though it was not a new concept it really pissed everyone off.”
But Martin maintains he worked hard to enjoy playing live. “From my perspective, we came across a lot heavier than the records,” he says. “Over time, the chord progressions and the arrangements would morph in subtle ways that would make the set heavier than the studio version.
“I was unhappy; individuals were making decisions which would prove to be damaging to FNM. However, despite these distractions, real people paid to see a show and we were able to deliver thanks to the support of a great crew and a great sound man. I actually really enjoyed those shows.”
The guitarist describes his current relationship with his former colleages as “an emotive subject” and says he prefers not to comment in order to avoid negativity.
But when the idea of an FNM reunion was raised in 2008, Martin decided to keep his distance – because he’d heard about it before the band chose to tell him about it.
He explains: “I had been receiving information with increasing frequency that ‘we’ were booking a tour, festivals, Europe. I was informed the promoters were selling it as the original lineup.
“In February 2009, Roddy Bottum called and said they were just beginning to think of putting something together, and just now feeling out everyone, and what did I think?
“I said I was interested – I also told him I knew the tour was already booked, they were on the eve of announcing it, and it was time to sign the deals. I told him to send over the contracts so I could review them and started pressing management for details.
“Several days later, I was able to get management on the phone who told me they decided to use someone else. I know it’s odd – no, you didn’t miss anything. It happened just like that.
“In an effort to preclude any sloppy misinformation, I made the announcement that I would not be participating in the rumoured reunion dates, several days before they made their announcement.”
Martin rules out a guest appearance in the future, saying: “I do not feel that would do anyone justice.”
And while he’s considered a new musical project, he’s not yet found the time. “Most of my associates have families and projects taking up their time, and I’m very consumed with the things I am doing,” he says. “I hope I can get to a place where I’ll be able to do something pretty soon.”