Bassist Billy Gould digging into his signature Zon Sonus BG4 bass during the band's initial reunion shows alongside longtime singer and collaborator Mike Patton. Photo by Lindsey Best.
Were the Sol Invictus sessions similar to how you worked on Album of the Year?
Gould: I’d say pretty similar. We have a certain way we work and collaborate with all of our personalities. What did change is that all of us have become technically better at what we do, so we can actually work better independently than we used to. Also, because we’re all better at our craft, it allows us to openly tell each other what we’re thinking. It’s not about being right or better, our goal has always been to just put out the best album as a collective unit. With everything up to and including Album of the Year, we were always working in the studio with a producer and an engineer—I learned so much from Andy [Wallace], Matt [Wallace], Roli [Mosimann] and others, but I think we’re now to the point where we can work amongst ourselves and avoid any outside coloring.
Hudson: This time felt much more relaxed. We’re putting the new album out on Mike’s [Patton, singer] label Ipecac Recordings, so we had unlimited time and no expectations.
During the Sol Invictus sessions I always had a DI track of guitars running, so we had additional options during mixing. I never did anything like that on Album of the Year. We actually took the DI track and ran it through a Kemper Profiler. We’d listen to how those rhythm tracks sat in the mix, and then use the Kemper to reamp the DI track and fill up the sound.
Early on Billy and I decided that I’d basically use my live setup for recording—my old Marshall head and cabinet with a Les Paul Standard. We set up a few different tones on the amp’s various channels and then ran a few mics on the cabinet. We really dialed in the sounds beforehand, as opposed to over-EQing those tracks later on, which can sometimes cause phasing issues.
Billy, you’ve produced other bands and have co-produced some of Faith No More’s earlier work, but on this album, you’re the sole producer. Describe that experience.
Gould: It’s definitely been a challenge. I felt like the bar was set pretty high by the other guys we worked with, so that made me step up a little bit. It was fantastic because the band gave me a lot of confidence and support through the whole process. At the end of the day, we’ve all been making records for so long that it’s now just a group thing—I’m driving the car, but we’re all on the same journey together. I’m kind of just the engineer or the manager of the technical side.
Do you think the band’s broad musical palette made it easier to make a Sol Invictus after a long hiatus, since you couldn’t be pigeonholed into a specific category other than Faith No More?
Gould: I’m glad you hear that! That’s what we were hoping to accomplish—it was definitely one of our greatest concerns. It’s kind of common that at some point, bands we loved growing up mature, write some good stuff, but their sound and dynamic changes. Sadly, more often than not, they kind of suck—I think that’s more often the rule than the exception. We never wanted to be one of those bands. I don’t think it’s happened yet and I’m very happy to say that.
Hudson: Mostly I think it came naturally. I don’t think that it was like pulling teeth or anything, and it wasn’t a particularly arduous process. We just kept working and before you knew it, we’d made an album and it’s 100 percent Faith No More.
Jon, in the opening title track it sounds like you’re really trying to make the delays or reverberated parts musical.
Hudson: You’re right, the guitar parts in that song are delayed pretty heavily throughout. I don’t really play many notes, but the objective was to make eerie, ghostly notes through the reverb and delay trails.
Do you recall what you used for delay?
Hudson:We used plug-ins. I honestly don’t remember which one because Billy handled a lot of that business behind central command [laughs]. I know in live settings I’ll be using a Zoom Multistomp that has three or four delay presets on it—each setting is just a little bit longer of a delay time. Delay has never been an integral part of my sound. It’s just a little added effect.
In the last song, “From the Dead,” are you playing a lap steel or a slide guitar?
Hudson: Billy actually played slide guitar for that song after everyone else thought it was done. I was pretty floored when I heard it and felt it added to the song so much.
Gould: I just felt that outro part needed a little bit more emotion. I heard it in my head, so I tried it and it worked out. The guys responded really well to that addition. It’s really just colors and textures I’m adding—I’m a shitty guitarist [laughs].
Do you recall what guitar you used or amp you used?
Gould: I believe I used a Jazzmaster into the Kemper.
Are there any other guitar parts that Billy played?
Hudson: Bill plays the solo on “Superhero.” It’s really great. The arrangement had changed, and Bill recorded that at the last minute after I tried tracking it, but what I played didn’t add anything and his take has a great vibe and meshes really well with the song. Sometimes you have to concede and be happy he’s in your band and your producer [laughs].
Gould: I wrote that song, so I threw that part together as a placeholder to show Jon what I was going after. When he came in he had a few runs at it, but ultimately he told me to just use my original recording. I was like, “Are you sure, Jon?” He was totally supportive—that’s just an example of how everyone has matured and we can work for the greater song rather than worrying about who played every note on the record.
Jon, are you playing at the end of “Separation Anxiety” where the solo carries out the song?
Hudson: Yeah, I played that. The song continues to slowly build to that point and the solo kind of becomes the catalyst for everything else happening in the track. I really wanted to nail that frenzied little part to continue pushing the song right up to the end.