THE BEGINNING

GOOD GOURD: Reef Younis investigates what rock stars do next. No.2: Faith No More’s Jim Martin

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You can touch it, smell it, taste it so sweet
But it makes no difference cuz it knocks you off your feet
You want it all but you can’t have it
It’s in your face but you can’t grab it
– Faith No More, ‘Epic’

As the lead guitarist in Faith No More for over a decade, Jim Martin sold millions of albums, inspired thousands of fans, and even earned the lofty position as Sir James Martin, Head of the Faith No More Spiritual and Theological Center in 1991 cult classic Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. Two years later, he was out the band, out of the public eye, and outside in the back yard attempting to fill an insatiable rock’n’roll void with compost and a trowel. Probably.

After a few years of solo work and intermittent touring, Big Jim made the transition from global guitar shredder to pumpkin farmer. Juggling his time between his family’s property development business and six intensive months of farming, Jim wasn’t going to be just any pumpkin farmer: his pumpkins had to be bigger. We’re talking gargantuan, vein-poppin’ monsters; 1,000lbs of wrinkled, malformed flesh that looks like a giant shaved bollock.

Enticed by the spoils of competitive pumpkin growing – where entrants earn upwards of $6 per lb, depending on the event – Jim’s new-found passion yielded some relatively quick success. He turned pro in 2000, entering contests where the fruits of his labour consistently tipped the scales at over 600lbs, and he eventually ranked as one of the best giant pumpkin growers in America. A 1,087lb monster won first prize at a contest in California in 2007 – a decent effort when you compare it to the class of 2007 on bigpumpkins.com – and he followed that up with recognition at the premiere giant pumpkin growing event: The Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.

After briefly resurfacing in 2010, his 2011 appearances with Metallica, as well as a few performances elsewhere, suggested that the world of performance-enhancing pesticides and Jack-O-Lantern-cavorting groupies might have taken its toll. Jim once talked about dealing with “the dark underbelly of competitive pumpkin growing.” For a man who’s lived in both (surprisingly) debauched worlds, it seems he decided that hanging with Metallica was the cleaner-living alternative.

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