Courtney Love

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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Part 225: Bait & Switch

WEIRD FOO EP_0001

RECORD STORE TALES Part 225:  Bait & Switch

One Wednesday afternoon in 1997, I was working alone. A gentleman in his mid-20’s walked into my store. He browsed the hip-hop section and I asked him if he needed any help finding anything. He said no, and was pleasant enough. About 10 minutes later, he approached the counter to make a purchase.

I knew immediately there was a problem. In his hands was a used copy of Puff Daddy’s brand new smash hit album, No Way Out. It had one of our Bargain Bin stickers on it, priced at $5.99. However the album was a fairly new release, and any used copies we had were always priced at $11.99. I’d never put one of them in my Bargain Bin, ever at this point. You just didn’t throw a new release into a sale bin. As Puffy said, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”

I couldn’t rule out staff error, so I double checked. Each price tag had a stock number on it. That stock number told me the location of the actual CD; the discs were all kept safely behind the counter.

Sure enough, I referred to the stock number which led me to a completely different CD, one that was common for our Bargain Bin. It wasn’t staff error. This meant that somebody switched the Puff Daddy price tag with another CD, from our Bargain Bin.

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.

“OK, I have a problem here,” I began, as gently as I could. After all, I had no way of knowing for sure that this guy switched the tags himself. It was probable that he would, very few people would switch a price tag and leave it. I could even see where the tag was peeled off and re-applied. “This CD isn’t actually $5.99. It’s supposed to say $11.99. It looks to me like someone switched the price tags. I’m not saying it was you…I’m sorry about this…but I can’t sell you this disc for $5.99. $5.99 is less than we actually paid for it.”

He shrugged. “That’s not my problem. You have to honor the price tag.”

“This price tag,” I countered, “links back to a CD by Hole. I can sell you that CD for $5.99, but not Puff Daddy. This is a brand new release, we never put new releases out in our Bargain Bin.”

Then he got fancy. “Are you familiar with the Bait & Switch law?”

I was. From Wikipedia:

First, customers are “baited” by merchants’ advertising products or services at a low price, but when customers visit the store, they discover that the advertised goods are not available, or the customers are pressured by sales people to consider similar, but higher priced items (“switching”).

“This isn’t a Bait & Switch,” I argued. “Somebody else switched the price tag. Like I said, this tag right here links back to Hole, not Puffy. I can sell you Hole for $5.99, for Puffy, you’d pay $11.99. Again, I’m not saying you switched it. But somebody did. I’m sorry about that but I can’t lose money on this CD because somebody switched a price tag on me.”

“Legally, you are obligated to let me have that CD for $5.99. You’re in violation of Bait & Switch laws. Do you want me to get the cops involved?”

I knew he wouldn’t do that. “You can do that if you want, but what’s to stop me from going over to Walmart, taking a price tag from a $2 bag of chips, and putting it on a CD myself? Would Walmart have to sell me that CD for $2?”

Cool as a cucumber, he just shrugged.

It was at that moment that my boss walked in.

“What seems to be the problem here?” he asked.

I explained the whole situation, how somebody switched the price tag, and how he wanted Puffy for $5.99. I explained how I was 100% certain of the situation, and how the stock code on the price tag led me to a $5.99 Hole CD.

One issue that I had with my boss was that he didn’t always stick up for store managers in situations like this. I could never predict if he would stick up for us or cave.  So what did he do? He apologized profusely and he rang in the CD for $7.99 or something like that. The customer was happy as could be, so polite.

He strolled out knowing he’d won. I wonder who he scammed next?

I walked over to the Puff Daddy section to see if I could find evidence of the missing but correct price tag. Sure enough, what did I find? A Hole CD, with a poorly applied $11.99 price tag on it, in the hip-hop section not far from Puffy. And what did that $11.99 tag’s stock code lead me to? The spot that the Puffy disc occupied.

An $8 scam was hardly going to break the bank, but I felt about two feet tall, because I knew I was right. I never let anybody else scam me in that way again.  But that’s another story…