In tribute to this month’s Metal Hammer cover stars, here’s everything you need to know about Faith No More, in a handy alphabetised format.
**A is for Angel Dust **The finest rock album of the 1990s? Quite possibly. Faith No More’s follow-up to the hugely successful The Real Thing album is unquestionably one of that decade’s darkest, most bitter releases, and surely one of the most nihilistic records ever released on a major label. When the president of Faith No More’s US label first heard these songs about sadomasochistic sex (Be Aggressive), serial murder (Crack Hitler) and masturbation (Jizzlobber) his first comment to the band was “I hope nobody bought houses.” Ouch. “The key phrase from the label was ‘commercial suicide’,” bassist Bill Gould later noted with no small amount of pride.
B is for Big, Sick, Ugly Jim Martin For many, guitarist Jim Martin was the ‘face’ of Faith No More in their first decade as a band. An unreconstructed metalhead, who’d played alongside future Metallica bassist Cliff Burton and future FNM bandmate Mike ‘Puffy’ Bordin in a high school band called EZ Street, Martin became the band whipping boy as Faith No More hit the big-time, mocked by his bandmates for his gleeful embrace of the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Side-lined during the Angel Dust sessions – during which Bill Gould would frequently wipe and re-record his guitar parts – Martin was sacked following the band’s headline appearance at the 1993 Phoenix festival. He’s now an award-winning pumpkin farmer.
C is for Covers Given what a twisted, schizophrenic band they’ve always been, there’s something typically perverse about the fact that Faith No More’s biggest ever hit was a straight-faced cover of The Commodore’s smooth soul classic Easy. Throughout their career, in fact, FNM had a penchant for making ill-fitting songs their own (copyright Louis Walsh), whether tackling Sabbath’s War Pigs on The Real Thing, releasing the Bee Gees’ I Started A Joke as a single or treating an initially bemused Download 2009 crowd to a rendition of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. Talented bastards.
D is for Download Great credit for Faith No More’s surprise resurrection must go to Download festival promoter Andy Copping, whose offer to the band to headline the festival in 2009 kickstarted the group’s comeback. The quintet’s 22-song set on the evening of June 12th, 2009 remains one of the great Download performances: the whole show is on YouTube for those wishing to whet their appetites for the band’s imminent return to Donington Park on June 13th.
E is for Epic The song that ‘broke’ Faith No More, and – to their subsequent horror – did much to initiate the rap-metal movement. Released twice in the UK, having stalled at number 37 in the charts first time around, the song eventually became a huge MTV hit on both sides of the Atlantic, pushing its parent album The Real Thing to multi-platinum status. Thoroughly sick of the song by the time it became a Top 10 US single, FNM considered its success “a sick joke.”
F is for Funk-Metal A fusion of funk, hip-hop, punk rock and metal, ‘funk-metal’ is a surprisingly elastic genre bracket which has encompassed everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone through to Extreme, Primus and early Incubus. Faith No More loathe the term, having founded their band from a love of post-punk artists such as Killing Joke and PiL, and its appearance in articles about FNM in the mainstream media is a surefire indication that the writer has barely listened to the band.
G is for Gemini Famously, Mike Patton was recruited to front FNM after Jim Martin heard a Mr. Bungle demo tape, but the Eureka, California band were not the singer’s first group. Aged 16, Patton fronted a high school metal band named Gemini (also featuring future Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn), who performed covers by Kiss, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Mötley Crüe amongst others. Footage of the band performing at Eureka High School in 1984 surfaced online in 2013: Patton undoubtedly wishes it had been lost forever, but dammit, look how adorable he is in his leather and chains…
H is for Hancock Park Hancock Park is the affluent Los Angeles suburb in which Bill Gould and Roddy Bottum grew up. Classmates at Catholic school, the boys were both sons of successful lawyers, and their parents had high hopes that they might follow in their footsteps: fears that this might not work out probably began around the time the nine year old duo were cautioned for making bomb threats to a local supermarket…
I is for Introduce Yourself Such was the limited availability of Faith No More’s independently released We Care A Lot album that Introduce Yourself is often mistakenly referred to as their debut. A raw, ramshackle collection, thanks largely to vocalist Chuck Mosley’s wholesale rejection of concepts such as ‘singing in tune’, it remains an acquired taste for those introduced to the band in the Mike Patton era, though the band’s own fondness for the album is telegraphed by the fact that Chinese Arithmetic, The Crab Song and the title track remain frequent visitors to FNM live sets.
J is for Judgement Night Though this 1993 action thriller is entirely forgettable, its soundtrack – pitching rock artists against hip-hop artists – was a huge success, selling over 500,000 copies in the US alone. Highlights included Helmet/House Of Pain collaboration Just Another Victim and Slayer/Ice T’s Exploited medley Disorder, but the undoubted stand out track saw Faith No More join forced with heavyweight Samoan rappers Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. for the slamming Another Body Murdered. Bang yo’ head to this!
K is for King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime Faith No More’s fifth studio album, and first without guitarist Jim Martin, is a fractured, disjointed and eclectic set which might be the most underrated in their catalogue. With Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance (temporarily) taking up six-string duties, KFAD… runs amok over genre boundaries, tackling jazz-funk lounge music (Evidence), coprophilia-themed art-noise (Cuckoo For Caca), country-rock (Take This Bottle) and big band swing (Star A.D.) amid more traditional alt-metal fare. The fact that the album failed to crack the Billboard Top 30 suggested that their record label had long since abandoned any pretence of trying to turn this most maverick band into genuine superstars.
L is for Love An ex-girlfriend of Roddy Bottum, Courtney Love famously fronted Faith No More for a handful of early gigs. Bassist Bill Gould remembers the singer as “a chaotic personality” and noted that Love created “a whirlwind of shit” with the band, a fact of which he whole-heartedly approved. “She’s gone on to do okay since,” he later dryly noted. Sadly, no recordings of the Love-era FNM have ever surfaced.
M is for Motherfucker In the summer of 2014, rumours that Faith No More might be returning to the studio for the first time in 17 years were precisely that… rumours. Imagine the delight then of those watching the band perform in support to Black Sabbath in London’s Hyde Park on July 4th when Mike Patton introduced a brand new song, the charmingly titled Motherfucker, which would become the band’s first single since their parting cover of The Bee Gees’ I Started A Joke. This, motherfuckers, is how you do a comeback.
N is for New Improved Song The final Faith No More song to feature vocals from maverick frontman Chuck Mosley, for years New Improved Song was one of the most rare Faith No More recordings, being released only on an free EP given away by the now long defunct UK music paper Sounds. FNM aficionados will note that the song’s chord structure forms the bedrock for what became The Morning After on 1989’s The Real Thing album, thus effectively becoming a new improved version of New Improved Song.
O is for Ozzy In November 1990, US heavy metal rag RIP threw a 4th anniversary party at LA’s Hollywood Palladium, which the year’s hottest ‘new’ ‘metal’ band Faith No More were invited to headline. In an impressive piece of string-pulling, the magazine also convinced Ozzy Osbourne to guest with the band on the night, on their cover of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs (which also featured a cameo from James Hetfield on the evening in question). Afterwards, Mike Bordin cornered The Double O to tell him how much he loved Sabbath: six years on, the drummer was invited to join Ozzy’s band, a position he held down until 2010 when the FNM reunion properly took off.
P is for Punch-Ups Always a volatile group, the writing was on the wall for the Chuck Mosley-fronted version of Faith No More from the moment Bill Gould attacked his singer onstage during their very first European tour. When the band returned home to SF, it soon became clear that these tensions would not easily be resolved, not least when Mosley turned up for one band rehearsal suggesting that the group should now only perform acoustic songs. “I think I actually attacked him again,” Gould cheerfully recalled. When Gould next decided to fire a band member, he did so in a rather more passive-aggressive fashion, ousting Jim Martin from the band via fax.
Q is for Quiet In Heaven Before there was Faith No More, there was Faith No Man, a short-lived post-punk collective featuring Bill Gould, Mike Bordin, keyboard player Wade Worthington and frontman Mike Morris. The band recorded just one single, the double A-side Quiet In Heaven / Song Of Liberty, in producer Matt Wallace’s garage while operating under the name Sharp Young Men: it emerged in 1982 and is now damned near impossible to find. God bless the internet, then…
R is for Reunited They said it would never happen. Well, Mike Patton was the one saying it, mainly, for years and years. “If I stood to make three million dollars after taxes I would consider it,” he once told Classic Rock magazine. “Why bother unless it is for stupid money? At this point it would not have anything to do with the music.” And yet, happen it did, and gloriously so. Fittingly, when FNM played their first ‘Second Coming’ show at London’s Brixton Academy on June 10th, 2009 they reintroduced themselves to the world with a slinky cover of Peaches and Herb’s R&B hit Reunited. Sarky bastards.
S is for Sparks Plagiarism, the seventeenth studio album from quirky US new wave/art pop duo Sparks featured not one, but two, collaborations with Faith No More: a take on the band’s 1974 single This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us (which cracked the UK Top 40 in 1997) and the less celebrated Something For The Girl With Everything. Asked about FNM’s affinity for the Mael brothers, Roddy Bottum noted “We’re both real oddball outfits — and we like to push buttons.” Fair enough.
T is for The Perfect Crime Released on the soundtrack to Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey in 1991, The Perfect Crime was the first indication that, post-The Real Thing, Faith No More would be a rather less cuddly proposition than before. “Man drives nowhere, so he pressed the pedal, hit a few dogs, and felt good,” sneers Mike Patton, paving the way for his personal journey into darkness with Angel Dust.
U is for Under The Influence One or two bands have taken influence from FNM over the years. Deftones, System Of A Down, Limp Bizkit and Korn are huge fans – “They were really before their time,” says Korn guitarist Head – while Slipknot’s Corey Taylor believes Mike Patton to be “a crazy genius.” Papa Roach, Atreyu, 36 Crazyfists, Disturbed and Between The Buried And Me are among the numerous acts who’ve covered FNM songs in the studio.
V is for Virus In 2011 a Faith No More fan site posted a snippet of a previously unreleased song from the Angel Dust sessions on YouTube. Known, variously, as The Seagull Song and Shuffle, the song had the final working title of Virus, and remains the most sought after FNM curio for hardcore fans.
W is for We Care A Lot FNM’s signature song, We Care A Lot was written by Roddy Bottum as a sarcastic riposte to the crocodile tears of pop music’s biggest stars in the Live Aid era. The title track of the band’s first album, the track was updated with more topical references for 1987’s Introduce Yourself. Expect Mike Patton to fuck with the lyrics further at the quintet’s upcoming shows… we’ll be disappointed if we don’t get a timely reference to UKIP, Jeremy Clarkson or Steven Gerrard, to be honest.
X is for Axl Okay, we’re taking alphabetical liberties here, but seriously, you find relevant words beginning with X… Anyways, Guns N’ Roses much maligned singer was a huge Faith No More fan, which is why the ‘Frisco oddballs were invited to support Gn’R both on the 1992 Use Your Illusion stadium tour in Europe, and subsequently on Guns’ infamous co-headline tour with Metallica that summer. This somewhat one-sided love-in ended in tears however, when FNM’s constant onstage piss-taking forced a heartbroken Axl to kick the band off the tour. “It was an ugly scene,” Bill Gould admitted. “Axl said ‘It’s like I went away and came back home to find you guys fucked my wife’.” Awkward.
**Y is for You Fat Bastards **Recorded at London’s Brixton Academy on April 28th, 1990 during The Real Thing tour, You Fat Bastards: Live at the Brixton Academy remains Faith No More’s only official live document. Might we suggest a new taping when FNM return to London for their two sold-out Roundhouse shows this month?
Z is for Zombie Eaters A song re-imagining cute, cuddly babies as parasitic soul-sucking demons? That Mike Patton is one sick fuck alright.