"It was like making friends with the devil:" When Guns N' Roses took Faith No More on tour it got messy, to the point where Axl Rose confronted his support band to ask, "Why do you hate me"

Guns N' Roses and Faith No More
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage | Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

May 14, 1992. The band onstage at The Marquee are billed as Haircuts That Kill, but no-one crammed into the famous central London venue is fooled, which is why tickets for Faith No More's not-so-secret 'secret' gig to launch their fourth album Angel Dust were changing hands outside for three or four times their face value. Before the night's encores, bassist Bill Gould reminds the audience that the San Francisco band will soon be back in the capital, this time in a supporting capacity.  

"We're playing Wembley in June," he says, then adds, "Don't come".

"Yeah, stay at home and phone in some bomb threats," advises vocalist Mike Patton.

It's fair to say that Guns N' Roses and Faith No More did not make ideal bedfellows. Axl Rose loved the oddball San Francisco band, but that love was not reciprocated. In fact, Faith No More openly mocked, belittled, abused and laughed at Guns N' Roses' frontman at every given opportunity, both in media interviews and on-stage.  

“Every band in the world might think they want to open for Guns N’ Roses,” Bill Gould told Select magazine in the summer of 1992, “but lemme tell you, it’s been a real ugly personal experience, having to deal with all the shit that surrounds this fuckin’ circus. I’ve always hated that aspect of rock music and I’ve never wanted to be part of it, so to find myself being associated with a tour this big kinda sucks.”

"I'm getting more and more confused about who's who in Guns N'Roses, and it's blowing my mind," added keyboard player Roddy Bottum, Gould's best mate since the pair attended the same Catholic school in Los Angeles as children. "There's Dizzy and Iggy and Lizzy and Tizzy and Gilby and Giddy... Shit man, onstage now there's a horn section, two chick back-up singers, two keyboard players, an airline pilot, a basketball coach, a coupla car mechanics..."

Gould would later describe the group's spring 1992 tour in Europe with Guns as "like making friends with the Devil." So when GN'R reached out again to ask if the San Francisco quintet fancied opening up shows on their co-headlining stadium tour in America with Metallica that summer, one might have expected that they would politely decline. Contrary bastards as ever, they did not, and signed up once more to the "circus". And this time around, they hated it even more.

"Backstage at every show they had jacuzzis and fake beaches populated by strippers the road crew had given laminates the night before,” Roddy Bottum told MOJO in 2015. "It was bananas. We just laughed at how fucking ridiculous they were."

Eventually, Axl Rose decided he'd had enough of their bullshit. On September 2, backstage at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl stadium, he and Slash confronted their support band.

"Why do you hate me?" he asked bluntly. "It’s like I went away and came back home to find you guys fucked my wife."

“If you don’t like it here, just fucking leave,” Slash added.

"[Axl] read all the bad press we said about him and asked us about it!" Bill Gould told Kerrang! "We actually talked to him for a while, and y'know what? He was pretty cool!... He likes to see the system shook up as much as anyone, but he's in an awkward position.

"I thought all hell was gonna come down, and he let us off with, 'Aw, right, you fuckin' idiots'. "That was a cool response. Most people in his position would have been real uptight dicks."

Talking to this writer in 2022, Bill Gould revealed that, when the band took a vote as to whether or not to remain on the tour, he personally voted to leave: the fact that Faith No More didn't quit makes it clear that he was out-voted, but Gould declined to break down who voted for which option. Drummer Mike Bordin's opinion on the tour suggested he took a different view to his partner in FNM's rhythm section: “I love Guns N’ Roses,” he told me, “and I’m eternally fucking grateful to them for putting us on their stage, and allowing their audience to get a two by four right across the teeth every fucking day.”

In the end, business logic won out, with the band realising that they would have to play 20 to 30 headline shows in order to present their music to as many people as they could reach in a single night on a stadium tour. But the trade-off came at a price.

"It was really good for the band," Bill Gould acknowledged. "But it wasn't really good for our heads."

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.