RODDY BOTTUM Chats! Sasquatch, Faith No More and more!

Roddy Bottum is a man of many talents.  A multi-instrumentalist, Roddy might be best known for his bands Faith No More and Imperial Teen.  Roddy is also a composer and Sasquatch: The Opera is his first entry on that stage, but surely not the last.

An opera about Sasquatch?  What’s the deal with that?  It’s been a difficult journey. I had the chance to question on Roddy about it and his other projects.  Read it from the man himself.


Mike:  Sasquatch: The Opera has to be the most intriguing three-word title I’ve ever seen. I understand the story is about the misunderstood “monster”, but how did you settle on the Sasquatch for your monster? I’m a bit of a Sasquatch geek, and I’m curious if you are too.

Roddy:   It’s a character I always identified with. The ‘gentle giant’ aspect of him I kind of created myself. It’s a characteristic I always am moved by in literature and film. Elephant Man, King Kong, Frankenstein… the vulnerability of the misunderstood oaf, if you will. I’m also very sexually attracted to exactly that type.

Mike:   Would you ever go on a Sasquatch expedition?

Roddy:  I think I could entertain that voyage in a ‘social studies’ kind of way but I would be hard pressed to putting my best foot forward in the hopes of finding the monster. I want to believe. I really do. It’s like being taught religion as a child. I remain sceptical and needing of proof.

Mike:  Absolutely understood; I hope one day we find that proof.  How would you describe the music, is it a “rock opera”? I have to assume it’s a little different!

Roddy:  The instrumentation is timpani drums, drum machine, two synthesizers and two trumpets. It’s not exactly rock but it’s more rock than symphonic.  I kind of based the musical vibe all around the timpanis. The grandeur of that instruments spoke a lot in the presentation of the piece.

Mike:  Do you perform on stage in the musical?

Roddy:  I did, yeah, I conducted the piece and played a synthesizer. The one with the easier parts.

Mike:  Did you compose Sasquatch primarily on the keyboard?

Roddy:  Yes, first in my head and then on the keyboard.

Mike:   I read about the apartment fire you had while in the midst of working on Sasquatch. You had to recreate the Opera from scratch, replace props and costumes? Are you happy with how it turned out?

Roddy:  The fire gave me the opportunity to create from a clean slate something that I’d already done before. I like that process, actually. The fire was really and truly one of the worst tragedies I’ve had to go through. The cliche of the open window that happens as a result of a closed one, though. That rang true. Still, though I’m spooked by fire and I can’t eat barbecue or mescal or anything with a smokey after taste. Too soon.

Mike:  I can’t even imagine what that is like…I love barbecue.  Can we expect another musical from you?

Roddy:  Yes, I’d like to create another opera that’s about the fall of a nation. Particularly America in this political climate.

Mike:  I’d be into that.  Now, I was going to go and see Sasquatch with my mom. She’s in her 70s and maybe a little old fashioned. Do you think my mom would have a good time, or would I regret bringing her?

Roddy:  I got some of my best criticisms from people older than myself. I’m 55. I like to think of the themes as universal though there are some elements of incest and drug use that seem to disturb people. How open minded is your Mom?

Mike:  She’s pretty cool, I think she can handle it.  Could Sasquatch get a CD or DVD release?

Roddy:  I honestly like to keep the opera in the realm of ‘shrouded in mystery.’ In keeping with the allure and mystique of Sasquatch, the being, I would prefer that the only people who witness my monster and my music are the ones in the theatre who come to see it. It’s too easy for people to listen to something online. I’m not into the lazy attendant factor of that, if that makes sense.

Mike:  It does, I have heard stand-up comedians say similar things.  It should be just in the moment.  Moving on, can you update us on the next Imperial Teen record? I heard it was in the mixing stages.

Roddy:  We just finished the record, mastered it last week and are working on the album artwork. It’s got 10 songs, it’s called Now We Are Timeless and it will come out on Merge Records July 12.

Mike:  I hope you don’t mind a little fan-geek questioning. I am a music collector. I pride myself in having “almost everything” for many bands I love, but one “holy grail” item would be a live Faith No More bootleg with Courtney Love on vocals. I have been searching for years…decades! Does such a thing exist or is that era now lost to the sands of time?

Roddy:  I believe the only audio recording of Courtney singing with us is on a VHS recording of a daytime public access television show recorded in San Francisco in 1984. Courtney wore a dirty white slip and brought into the studio bags and bags of old flowers she collected from the flower mart. We decorated the stage and lit incense and performed in dashikis.

Mike:  If it exists, I will find it one day!  Regarding Faith No More, I think Sol Invictus is a fantastic record.  Among your best. I usually give the rare “5/5 star rating” to Introduce Yourself, Angel Dust, and King for a Day. Now I have added Sol Invictus to that list. You don’t strike me as the kind of band that puts out albums you aren’t happy with, but the reception to Sol Invictus was overwhelmingly positive. With a few years hindsight, how happy are you with Sol Invictus today?

Roddy:  I think it’s a strong record, thank you. I’m glad we were in a position to not have to pander to radio playlist or whatever. We made the record we wanted to make and really didn’t compromise at any stage.

Mike:  Is that you on vocals in the verses to “Motherfucker”?

Roddy:  It is, yes, and thank you for noticing.

Mike:  Do you have any other projects cooking currently that you can tell us about?

Roddy:  I’m in a band called Nastie Band. Our record will come out in April. It features an 84 year old singer, a pair of identical twins, a drummer and guitarist and many theatrical elements. It’s a performance band, very dark. Another band I’m in is called Crickets. We’re going away this weekend on a writing retreat. Michael O’Neil and JD Samson are both in that band and we liken ourselves to a wobbly dance sound a-la Tom Tom Club. We have our first show in New York in February.


It sounds like 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Roddy Bottum.  Be sure to check out the Nastie Band in April, and the new Imperial Teen record Now We Are Timeless in July.  Thank you Roddy for the chat!

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37 comments

  1. That first Faith No More is so underrated. We Care a Lot is almost as good as Introduce Yourself.

    So how did you conduct this interview? In person, over the phone? It’s cool that it still happened even after they cancelled the show.

    I love that he brought up The Elephant Man as a comparable character. That’s such an underrated movie for it being considered a classic. One of the most moving films ever made. What I find strange is that it was produced by the same guy that brought you Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs, The History of the World Pt.1, etc, and was directed by the man that brought you Eraserhead, Dune, Lost Highway, Twin Peaks, Mulholland Dr, etc. Both John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins deserved the Oscar, it was nominated for eight, but it didn’t win any because Scorsese’s Raging Bull dominated the proceedings. Total snub!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny. I just had a lively discussion with friend Dave over We Care a Lot vs. Introduce Yourself. My opinion is that Introduce Yourself was 100% better.

      He made arguments for tracks like “As the Worm Turns” and “Mark Bowen”, and surely you cannot disagree with that. I countered him with “Spirit” and “Death March”. “Fuck you, I’ll skate to the beach! And I’ll look better gettin’ there!” I think I made some good points! Also the guitar tone on Introduce Yourself is fabulous.

      Like

      1. I just listened to the first album some, I noticed “New Beginnings” sounds a lot like “The Hurting” by Tears for Fears. It’s really cool how they were totally indiscriminate when it came to musical influences.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d recommend giving it another go. It’s fantastic. I’d recommend watching Eraserhead too, there are definite stylistic parallels between the two, and it’s interesting given that they’re two completely different types of stories. Jack Nance does good in that one.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks man! Yeah, an 84 year old singer. I will definitely be checking that out, if only for the “WTF” factor! It absolutely sounds bizarre and that can be fun. Mr. Bungle is anything but normal yet that first album is amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yo, in case you care Mike Patton is going to sing the American National Anthem on T.V. tonight before the Rams vs Cowboys game. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do with it.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m waiting for him to fuck it up on purpose and turn it metal or something. He won’t do it though if he thinks that’s what we expect. He will do everything in his power to subvert expectations and anger as many people as possible. He will either sing it perfectly to piss off all his fans expecting him to Mr. Bungle it, or he’ll Mr. Bungle it to piss off all the people offended on the troops’ behalf.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Not saying Mike did this.

          However, a singer/band could get more press by signing up for big event. Then cancel. They get twice the press.

          Again not saying Mike because he’s awesome, but especially for an older singer whose voice is shot and never had any intention of singing. Just wants to remain in spotlight.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. That was a fantastic interview Mike! Loved it. Glad you got to ask about the Holy Grail item. Time to call San Francisco tv stations to find a copy of that show. Good luck with that search at least you know there is something out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No kidding eh! So it has to exist out there somewhere. Someone has it. That’s encouraging. I honestly thought he would have answered “no”. Faith No More had a lot of different singers before making an album, but Courtney is by far the most intriguing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent! The most interesting member of Faith No More, in my opinion… and it’s great to read that the new Imperial Teen album lands in July (what’s your favourite?).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe I’m biased but I think they’re all interesting! Billy Gould has done some offbeat side projects too. As for Imperial Teen I’m gonna go with the first one, I know it best. But I’ll be getting the new one in July.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. First one is great, for sure. My pal Dave and I were the only folks I knew who liked them… we used to sit and play those songs while we were attending many a post gig party back in the day. Just sitting in the middle of the room with acoustics. Good times. Though I dare say there were a few folks wanting us to shut up. We still play the odd riff and verse or whatever when we’ve met up and instruments have been nearby… When we were doing our Fringe Division thing we really should have recorded versions.

        Anyhoo, What Is Not To Love is my favourite, though. That one stays with me for many reasons… loads attached to it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great interview! I also appreciate your love for Introduce Yourself (my personal favorite FNM album…and yes it is Jim’s best guitar tone and I think his best solo on Anne’s Song). It is the only FNM album until Sol Invictus where you had all 5 guys involved and interested…Patton not really involved on TRT, Martin not really on AD, and Roddy not really on KFAD and AOTY. I think Roddy tried to be on AOTY, but he was writing songs that fit better for Imperial Teen and FNM just didn’t use any of them. And yes, The Elephant Man was intense. Favorite Imperial Teen…Feel The Sound followed by What Is Not To Love. Will be tough to top those 2. Also, I’m a bootleg trader…I know someone who says they know who has that VHS and they won’t give it up for anything apparently. Probably the best you can hope for is that they croak, will it to their children who hate their parents’ musical taste, and then they sell it and cash it…will any of us still be around who care by then??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Benrun! Thanks for this awesome comment. Thank you. Glad you agreed on the guitar tone! And yes, Anne’s Song…that solo is basically Thin Lizzy with Jim playing all the parts.

      I sure I’m still around if/when that tape ever surfaces. I get it. You have something unique and special and you’d like to keep it that way. I can understand that point of view.

      Like

  5. WOW!!!!!
    FUCKING WICKED is all I can say.

    I really appreciate that you held off on the Faith No More questions.
    As I was reading the questions I was thinking that either Roddy asked you not to mention any FNM or that you are just plain awesome. Obviously it was door number 2.

    Has there ever been a band with members that have such varying tastes and will go off into side projects that stray so far from what is considered normal?

    From singing in Italian, to operas about Sasquatch, to pairing with an 84 year old singer. This band is like no other.

    Roddy is awesome and so are you Mike. (Please convince him that FNM needs to do a Kitchener concert at a small bar and put my name on the list)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you man…really appreciated this comment.

      I can think of no one more diverse than Faith No More and its members. It’s one reason I grew to love them so much.

      People could say, “You suck, you don’t like rap.” Then I play them Faith No More.

      “You suck, you don’t like thrash metal.” Then I play them Faith No More.

      “You suck, you don’t like nu-metal.” Then I play them Faith No More.

      Liked by 1 person

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