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Trey Spurance: une entrevue avec l’ex-guitariste de Faith No More et Mr.Bungle – DEUXIÈME PARTIE

Kristof G
9 décembre 2011

Après une introduction à saveur Faith No More-esque, cette fabuleuse entrevue fleuve avec Trey Spurance se poursuit avec une DEUXIÈME PARTIE, portant sur le phénoménal mais défunt groupe Mr.Bungle – et sur le tout premier band de ses vieux collègues Trevor Dunn et Mike Patton (une exclusivité que vous aurez pu lire en premier ici-même sur LE BLOB!).

BangBang: So, how did it all started for you, music-wise?

Trey Spurance: I was playing trumpet in elementary school, when I was 12, I guess I think I heard a Devo song that made me want to play guitar. When I got that guitar, I started practicing, playing a lot… and I formed an instrumental heavy metal band when I was 13 or 14, sort of power metal, early thrash, this was 1983.

Lorsqu’interrogé sur sa ville natale (Eureka, CA), on en est venu à parler de l’influence des petites villes industrielles sur les artistes les habitants, comme Voïvod versus l’Alcan à Jonquière : We were getting Voïvod records in the eighties and we were massively influenced by them, since we started as a metal band.

There was another band in town [Eureka, CA] that was called Fiend; they were playing cover songs, like from the first Slayer album, the first Anthrax, first Metallica record, there was Mike [Patton] and Trevor [Dunn], and Trevor played rhythm guitar, he didn’t play bass, and they were kicked out of their band, so the drummer from my band [Jed Watts] and myself were not happy with our bass player at the time, so we formed a death metal band that we called Mr. Bungle. That was like 1984.

The old demos were pretty aggressive. So death metal was the goal?

Even then, like, we were playing to metal audience around Eureka and they were expecting us to stick to the sort of metal thing, and we played hardcore songs, we played ska songs, and they flipped us off, wanted kick our asses…

You were messing with the style just to piss them off?

No, because we didn’t want to just play death metal, but I think that when we did played death metal, we were committed to it, and it wasn’t a joke at all, y’know… well, it kind was a joke…

Like with Faxed Head [Spurance’s death metal parody band]?

That was much later. At that point it needed to be made fun of it. It was ’91. By that time, the whole black metal thing was already a parody of itself, so it needed a parody like Faxed Head. But Mr. Bungle kept on changing styles over the course of the next few years, and sort of evolved, I guess you could say that.

When did you realize that you could play music for a living?

It was around 1989 I think, that we started to do tours and leaving Eureka to play… Actually, Faith No More, they came to our hometown. And usually, Mr.Bungle would open up for bands that were coming from out of town. And this promoter – for some reason – decided when Faith No More came, that he wouldn’t have us open up. So Mike and I were the only two people at that show watching them (laughs!). And I gave them our demo, y’know. And that’s kinda how that contact was made. And only years later, after we’ve been touring around a bit and after they got rid of their singer, they contacted Mike based on our death metal demo, they haven’t even heard him sing, they just heard him screaming.

And by then, there wasn’t much screaming in FNM; that’s pretty odd!

It’s a very strange thing, ‘cause we were already, y’know, making it south enough to San Francisco to be playing with Primus and stuff like that, so all the stuff was starting to happens simultaneously.

And by the way, I have to say that you look a little bit like Les Claypool [Primus’ leader]… have you ever such comments?

When Secret Chiefs has toured with them recently, and fans of his come up to me and think that I’m Les, I make sure they believe that I’m his demented little brother.

(Laughs!) And they bought it?

Oh yeah! And they’re usually tripping on mushrooms anyway, so it’s really easy to convince them of anything.

OK, so you were saying about Mr.Bungle opening for Primus…

So that was around the same time that Mike was… cause, y’know FNM asked him to record with them, and all of us in Mr.Bungle, and I was a big FNM fan at that point, that was their first [We Care A lot] and second [Introduce Yourself] record…

So you weren’t worried your singer was going to be less available by accepting that kind of gig?

He [Mike] wasn’t even a fan, and I was like ‘dude, this band’s great, you should do it’. And then, after they got their album [The Real Thing; 1989] released, it didn’t take off right away. He went on tour and it was fine. We were all busy doing our other shit and then, the whole thing took off. It seemed that that was going to interrupt the momentum that we had, but none of us were really worried about it, because he was always really committed to our band.

That was clear that he was going to do both at the same time.

Yeah. And at that exact moment, Relativity Records and other record companies were interested in Mr.Bungle and essentially Warner Brothers didn’t want to let him out of their sight…

So they gave you a record deal?

But we didn’t even know if that record was gonna come out, like, he was important enough for them at that point, that they could be paying, they could be funding our record just so they have control…

Man…

Yeah, so there is all sorts of things even on that first record that are subtle hints about the fact that we don’t know if the record is gonna come out…

So you were that worried?

Well… we were making the record and that guy – from a division of WB that had FNM – was coming to try to get us on his division because he wanted to control everything… and we told him to eat shit. Our relationship with WB has always been complicated because it’s essentially for bullshit reasons that we were on the label. However, the records would sell, despite this weird arrangement… they invested nothing in it. Every album we put out, we were hoping they’d drop us, since they were dropping bands like Mudhoney, that were doing really well; that’s because they spend money on them and they didn’t spend any on us. They didn’t assigned product managers… so we were just getting lost on their shuffle… but there was enough fan demand and the records keep fuckin’ selling, and they keep us on the label time after time after time, cause we wanted to drop!

You wanted a label that was more into your stuff? More supporting?

Yeah, or even to put albums by ourselves, but honestly, in retrospect, I’m glad that we stayed on Warner, it was such a unique and weird situation, and they gave such a huge budget for the recordings. It’s like you make no money ‘cause you spend every dime – you don’t have an option to take the budget money, you have to spend it. But they let us self-produce! I learned how to use a studio thanks to WB, funding our fuckin’ albums.

They let you have John Zorn [who produced MB’s eponymous first album]…

They didn’t care what the hell we did, they were ecstatic, as long as the records were selling, they didn’t give a shit what we were doing… it was such a weird situation but kind of a good one. There is no money, ‘cause you owe them money they advance for the recording, and then they pay themselves back out of your percentage.

That’s why they [the record companies] are crumbling right now… bad karma I guess…

I don’t even look at them as been the bad guys and any of it, I think we had a very good deal out of it. Objectively speaking. There’s not much to complain about.

Let’s go back to that Zorn connection.

That was right when Torture Garden [Naked City; 1990] came out; that’s when we became aware of John Zorn (…) So for our first album, WB was saying to us ‘we need to find a producer’ (…) and we were never listener of Frank Zappa but it was the only thought that occur to all of us, well ‘maybe Warner would accept that too, let’s ask Frank Zappa’… and he was in bad health, he decline – we found out later that he regretted that he was sick, y’know, during that time cause he really wanted to be part of it after he heard it. Which was really cool, was a nice compliment.

So you guys weren’t into Zappa? That’s surprising.

No, we never listened to Zappa. I sort of missed the train on it. After doing that first album and moving to San Francisco, and doing that stuff with Zorn, getting inviolved with a lot of avant-0garde underground stuff, I was like ‘how am I gonna start to list to Zappa y’know?’.

It’s never too late!

I know… it just never grabbed me at that moment… I heard Lumpy Gravy, which I really liked. I’d say that I really like that.

I saw his son [Dweezil] a few times already and he’s doing a great job with his homage [Zappa Plays Zappa].

Yeah-yeah! That’s how we ended up with this booking agent that we have; the ZPZ they were playing the Secret Chiefs’ CDs before their shows!

Nice! So back to Zorn.

So since Zappa couldn’t do it, we approach Zorn. And Zorn was totally cool about it. We already recorded at this point. And for the mixing session, he would come in, and he would help us do the final presentation of it. Which I’m really glad since I didn’t know about the studio, y’know… He’s not like super technical studio guy but he knows – I mean, his ears are from Heaven… and he knows the basics of what should be done and he know how to tell the second engineers how to pull certain things off. And his hands, in my opinion, salvaged what would have been a terrible sounding record, in retrospect. The record sounded like absolute shit. Just the few little things that he did, they seemed, like, subtle, but they’re not. I mean. He cleaned up a big mess.

Wow. Et effectivement, on peut effectivement entendre la différence (cliquez ici écouter els démos et comparer). Restez branchés, suivra sous peu la TROISIÈME et dernière PARTIE, où Spurance parle de son prolifique groupe actuel Secret Chiefs 3.

Un commentaire
  • olivier fontaine
    14 janvier 2012

    bonjour,
    bravo et merci pour votre interview, mais par contre je ne trouve pas la première partie de cette interview !
    bien à vous
    of

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Kristof G

Exilé du Saguenay, Kristof G. est un reporter, mais surtout un spectateur, que ce soit de shows hauts en couleur (de musique qui rap’, qui frappe ou qui décape), d’expositions d’art fonceur et/ou racoleur et de films d’horreur comme d’auteur… bref, de tout ce fait vibrer cet authentique rêveur (et parfois ‘gameur’), qui critique et rime – en crime – sans reproche ni peur.