Hard Drugs, Sexual Freedom & Musical Experimentation- Faith No More Members Reflect on ‘Angel Dust’ Creation & Legacy

Silvio Tanaka from Sao Paulo, Brazil, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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Along with being one of the most memorable records of the ’90s, Faith No More‘s Angel Dust is a record that would go on to reshape the landscape of heavy metal. Released in June of 1992, the fourth studio album from the alternative metal act was quite a surprise.

Angel Dust also represents a new sonic shift for the band. Compared to their previous efforts, Angel Dust is an explosive work, presenting a barrage of musical styles; from death metal to rock, to serene ambiance and chaotic tension, the album is a nonstop ride of intrigue.

With this record celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, we of course wanted to highlight this remarkable achievement. We reached out to several members of Faith No More and asked them a variety of questions about the album. We spoke with drummer Mike Bordin, keyboardist Roddy Bottum, and bassist Billy Gould.

The group ended up sharing with us tracks off the record that mean a lot to them, cool stories behind the record’s creation, their tour with Metallica and Guns N’ Roses, and much more. You can check out our full video interview featuring the members of Faith No More talking about Angel Dust below, along with an exclusive premiere of a new Hi-Def 4k version of the band’s classic “Midlife Crisis” music video.

What does this record mean to you? Where does it rank for you among the band’s discography?

Keep a look out via The Pit for more exclusive content featuring Faith No More to come!

Faith No More talk Angel Dust:

Full interview transcription:

Faith No More Talk About The Legacy of Angel Dust And Its Creation


The Pit: What are you most proud of regarding Angel Dust? What are your favorite tracks?  

Mike Bordin: Well, I’m proud of Angel Dust because it was maybe not the record that people wanted or expected, but it was the record that we came up with when we all put our shoulders to the grindstone and pulled on the rope and did the best we could. [We] challenged ourselves, challenged each other, and I’m proud of that.

Favorite tunes, I don’t pick favorites. I love how that album fits together beautifully when you put it on side one. I guess they don’t do that anymore, but the whole thing runs together with the sequence [the track list] beautifully from start to finish, from “Land of Sunshine” to “Midnight Cowboy.” You know, I love a lot of songs on there: “Caffeine,” “Be Aggressive,” “Midlife Crisis,” “Everything Is Ruined.” I like “Jizzlobber” a lot. So, it’s hard for me to play favorites. It’s an album I’m very satisfied with, very pleased with. It wasn’t accidental, we did it on purpose. It was us doing our best to follow up an extremely commercial record with something that wasn’t necessarily expected, and I feel good about it. 

The Pit: What was it like having Mike Patton more involved in creating Angel Dust 

Mike Bordin: If you look at the album before that, The Real Thing, it seems to be maybe a lot more linear and rock oriented with a few twists here and there, but a little bit more straightforward than Angel Dust. Angel Dust has some extreme, I think experimental and creative things involved in it, and he was definitely a part of that.  

The Pit: What does Angel Dust represent to you after all these years?  

Mike Bordin: It represents us sticking to our guns and believing in what we did to the extreme, and I feel very good about that. I’m pretty proud of that. I’m not one to keep favorites of albums, so I can find good things about all of them, and that is definitely something I feel really good about, because it was a battle internally and externally and I feel good about how it turned out. 

The Pit: Did you all know that the band would be taking a hiatus after the release of Angel Dust? 

Roddy Bottum: No, not at all. I think personally I was going through a lot of stuff at that time. I was doing bad drugs at the time and sort of getting involved in that and it was a struggle. I think talking about being gay in the public – though at the time, [it] felt just kind of like one of those bratty things that didn’t matter to me, shouldn’t matter to anyone – it was a difficult sort of tiptoeing through the process for me that I acknowledge now [as] something that was kind of forming who I was and forming the time that I was in. It was difficult and I don’t know if it was connected to drug use, but it was a difficult time and the difficulties definitely – for me -pushed my artistry in a certain direction with the record.

As far as the hiatus goes, I don’t really even consider what happened after Angel Dust – the cycle of that – as a hiatus. Losing Jim [Martin, ex-band guitarist] was definitely a big step and it took a lot to get from point A, being backed by Jim, to point B, being like, you know, what we were going to do next. We were always a band before Jim joined the band, we were always a band that was looking for a guitar player. Billy and Mike and I had such a strong sort of foundation, we were very precious about bringing in another person. Mike [Patton] came and he just fit naturally and sort of did what he did, but guitar wise we always had a hard time. So, when Jim left it was kind of back to square one and we couldn’t find someone for a long time that would fit the bill. And we were pretty precious about that decision, so I guess that was part of the reason for the hiatus going on… it doesn’t feel like a hiatus. 

The Pit: Why did the band take a stylistic shift in creating Angel Dust? 

Roddy Bottum: Most artists who embark on a new project will tell you that the impulse to change or the decisions that you make come on just naturally. So for us it was that – it was a natural sort of just transition into what Angel Dust was. But saying that, it’s also probably pertinent to point out the couple of years before we recorded Angel Dust; going into that process, that was pretty intense and changed us as a band. We’d been working as a band for a long time; [we had been] touring, making records kind of relentlessly, and we had our first kind of taste of success and our first taste of like, people liking us and talking about us and appreciating us and I don’t know – we’re kind of a fickle bunch of people.

I know Billy and myself particularly were super sarcastic kids and kind of had a lot of attitude; so when we were suddenly accoladed with a lot of like praise and attention for something that we had done, rather than just sort of take it and be happy with it, I think we took it further and kind of said too the people [who] liked us, “Oh yeah, well, how do you like this?”, in a kind of bratty way. So there was a way that we kind of stretched in making Angel Dust that was based on what had happened the past couple of years. Stylistically too, I think we just wanted to try new things and all of us collectively kind of leaned into a more darker sound because that felt bold and not weak. It felt like a strong stance to take to sort of double down and be not tough, but dark and challenging. 

The Pit: How do you feel about Angel Dust being a fan favorite? How did you come up with the title and cover?  

Roddy Bottum: That’s flattering, ’cause like I was saying before, it was definitely a bold move to make that record. So, when we sat down and started exploring in the studio and making decisions that weren’t traditional or orthodox, it felt at the time like a challenge. And it was kind of scary, for me anyway – I can only speak for myself – but it was like we were doing things that were dark and twisted and it didn’t feel like we were aiming for the mainstream, so to speak. In a cheeky way, [we] talked about addressing popular culture and making kind of hit songs, but it was just sort of tongue in cheek always. With Angel Dust I think we just set out to sort of explore and that was a scary place for young people to be, for us as a band, [and] for me as a writer, so to have people appreciate it as sort of like their favorite – it is really flattering.

[Regarding the creation of the album’s title and cover art], Kerrang mentioned it as one of their favorite record titles, which is cool. I think that was on me, I think I chose Angel Dust. I liked the sort of combination of sweet and scary, especially like that drug at the time was just coming out, angel dust. None of us were really like angel dust people, we never took that drug or anything, but the concept of it being this really sweet and syrupy, [having this] almost fairy tale sort of name for something that was dark and fucked up, that was definitely interesting. The record cover concept, I had always imagined [it] being more of like a pretty beautiful Hallmark card scenario, with a beautiful swan coming out of the water and then called Angel Dust  where we went was a little bit more on the nose.

I think we ended up using that cover art because Jim was really fond of that particular photographer and the darkness that I had kind of argued for. Just going straight beautiful imagery like a Hallmark card, like nature and then just having Angel Dust – I thought that would have spoken better. But that’s where we went. It’s like, you know, you compromise in those situations. 

The Pit: Can you tell us a little about that Metallica/Guns N’ Roses Tour?  

Billy Gould: There was a lot. I mean, there’s been a lot written about, you know, how frustrated we were, and parts of it were pretty frustrating because we had a lot of days off. We played like every three days, and we sat around and were left to our own devices. We’re all really different people and we’re all creative people, and sometimes without a place to put that energy, it goes into some weird places. It was a lot of fun also. We tried to get out of that scene a little bit because, you know, we were traveling the world and you’re seeing these amazing places. I remember in Germany somebody gave me a car and I did the GNR tour there in my car. I didn’t have it registered; I didn’t have insurance. I would go on with different band members and sometimes – I remember we [went] out one night on a night off and there were like 10 people in that car. Yeah, it was fun.

Like you know we were, I don’t know, in our late 20s and the world was open to us, and we were caught up in this period. Like with Angel Dust, where we were all about experimenting with music, but we were experimenting with everything. I mean we were, we were trying to take as much stimulation as we possibly could, and we gave it our best shot. So, I would say it in a really weird way, there were very frustrating parts of that tour, but there were also really amazing parts of that tour. I kind of feel happy that I got to live through it because it was a really unique period of time. I mean, the Berlin Wall had fallen, so I remember like we played in Berlin. The hotel was in East Germany, and it still hadn’t been developed yet and everything was still really like the Wild West and it was a blast. We loved it actually. 

The Pit: Any interesting stories about creating Angel Dust that fans don’t know about?  

Billy Gould:  It really began – we started writing it when we were on tour in Brazil, and [that trip] probably contributed to our approach to the album. We had just finished The Real Thing. It was done and we did a successful show in Rock in Rio, in probably 1990, and they asked us to come back in 1991, but they booked an entire month in Brazil, and back then, bands did not tour Brazil for a month. Definitely not bands from the States, so you know we were there for quite a long time and we played in a lot of places, and that was a serious adventure. We played in the Amazon. I mean, it was just wild times and Brazil was a wild place back then. We met a lot of people, it was just crazy and stimulating, like, we all got [caught up] into the adventure of it. The food, the people, just the madness of the country itself, which is completely a crazy country and we really bonded with that.

I think that’s when we started writing music for Angel Dust and actually, I think that the spirit of that trip might have contributed to the spirit of how we decided to go into making this music. Because I think, The Real Thing was this popular record in America at the time and we played it to death for about a year and a half, but I think that we were looking for something more. We were looking for something to get our adrenaline going and I think that we were geared in that direction at that time. I think that’s kind of probably a big part of the fuel of what got us into that state of mind. 

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