It’s the day that many rock fans thought would never come, but, against all the odds, reformed 90s alt-metal pioneers Faith No More have confirmed details of their first record since 1997’s Album Of The Year. Sol Invictus will be released on May 19, followed by an extensive period of touring – including, of course, an appearance as special guests of Muse at this year’s Download festival.
Never ones to do things any way other than at their own pace, it’s fair to say that Faith No More’s full return has as surprised as many people as it has enthused. Even bassist Billy Gould had his doubts.
“It was very hard to get this record made. I’m exhausted, I feel like I need a week in a decompression chamber!” he laughs. “The album came in little bursts. Every step of the way we got a little bit more confident and comfortable with each other. We knew that if we decided to go down this road then we were taking on everything that goes with it. It’s not just us making the album, it’s touring, it’s interviews… things we haven’t had to do in a long time. So we knew that, hey, if we do this then we have to commit to all this other stuff, too. But we got together and decided it was worth it.”
Famously, there was always a lot of tension between the members of FNM in their heyday. Decades later, has that mellowed slightly?
“No, we’re still the same people as we were 20 years ago,” Billy chuckles. “The creative tensions are still there, the bickering maybe not so much. We’ve become better at listening and talking to each other. That’s definitely true. But we are all different people… still very different in the way we were 20 years ago.”
It’s worth wondering if some tensions, for the first time in this band’s career, could have come from outside influences. Eighteen years away from the scene is a long time, especially for a band that were always so ahead of the game. Although Billy insists the band are still not affected by external sources.
“Oh you’ll hear it, we just go with our gut instinct,” he asserts. “We always worked in our own bubble. Other bands talk about their influences a lot, but we are cooking with our own flavours. I think if you look to the outside then you end up sounding old. We always follow music, just to know what’s going on. But I personally feel there is a lot lacking in music right now, and I try and fill that void with what I’m writing. I don’t know what to compare the album to! I can’t compare it to some emo-core band or Arcade Fire. I don’t know where it’s meant to sit.”
In a genre of one is exactly where you’d expect, and want, Faith No More to sit, right?
“Sure, it sounds like us at our age,” shrugs Billy. “I can speak in colours. There’s a touch of colour from the first album, a little Angel Dust, a little King For A Day… on there, and some stuff we’ve never done before. We have a song that’s like a blues song, which we’ve never done before! It’s just stuff that excites us.”
Never a worry of not living up to the ‘good old days’, then?
“Of course it was a risk,” Billy says. “We’re old guys! But you just can’t worry about it. We’re glad that people care that we’re back together. But this album is like a child… you raise it and then you let it out into the world. You can’t worry all the time about it being hit by a car. You have to let it go.”
Still treading new ground this late into their career, Faith No More may even have gone one step further than anyone has expected and made a concept album, of sorts…
“There is a theme to this album,” Billy states cryptically. “You’ll get it when you see the artwork. This is a dark album that we’ve made, but it’s about the sun. It’s about the sun coming up every day. There’s a super-positive message among this dark music. It’s very uplifting. And that’s all I can say.”
As beguiling, unusual and obtuse as ever, it’s great to have you back, boys.
SOL INVICTUS WILL BE RELEASED ON MAY 19 VIA IPECAC. FAITH NO MORE WILL PLAY DOWNLOAD THIS SUMMER/o:p
HAPPY RETURNS? FAITH NO MORE CAN DO NO WRONG, BUT COMEBACK ALBUMS CAN GO EITHER WAY…
GUNS N’ ROSES: CHINESE DEMOCRACY [GEFFEN, 2008]
It was always doomed to be overshadowed by Appetite For Destruction, of course, but despite Axl’s best efforts, 15 years of anticipation between GN’R albums ended with shrugged shoulders and faint praise. Still, only eight years to wait until the next one, we imagine.
ALICE IN CHAINS: BLACK GIVES WAY TO BLUE [VIRGIN/EMI, 2009]
Fourteen years on from the release of Alice In Chains – late, great frontman Layne Staley’s studio swansong – they blew us away with an album that showcased the talents of new singer William DuVall while honouring the band’s legacy with tons of enormous riffs. Win.
ACCEPT: BLOOD OF THE NATIONS [NUCLEAR BLAST, 2010]
Another 14-year quiet spell preceded the German old school heroes’ return to action, but rather than sounding like old gits attempting to relive past glories, Blood… was a ferocious a affair that flew the flag for traditional values while still packing a fearsome punch. Hurrah.
SOUNDGARDEN: KING ANIMAL [SEVEN FOUR, 2012]
Frontman Chris Cornell’s erratic solo career reached a disturbing nadir when he made 2009’s execrable pop catastrophe Scream. Thankfully, Soundgarden’s first album in 16 years was nowhere near as bad, but it never came close to the brilliance of Badmotorfinger and Superunknown./o:p