Faith No More don’t do romance. They don’t do love songs. They don’t do personal.
Certainly in the Mike Patton era, the lyrics to Faith No More songs have largely eschewed the personal – and indeed the biographical. Both the music and the lyrics are instead created as scenes rather than personal sketches or deep revelations into the soul. Mike Patton told Rock Hard in 2015:
“I like creating fictional characters and trying to appropriate their psychology…They are little films. To be totally frank, I do not know exactly myself what some of my lyrics say because I try before anything else to follow the music. When I discover a new song, I imagine the sounds and the notes on top. Only then do I try to find the words which come the closest as possible to what I have heard in my head.”
So finding traditional love songs in the Faith No More oeuvre is not a straightforward task. Nonetheless, with the help of some covers, here’s a top 10 for Valentine’s Day.
10 Spanish Eyes
A cover provoked by Bill Gould’s spell of listening to San Francisco oldie easy-listening station Magic 61, Spanish Eyeswas originally recorded by Al Martino in 1965 and is a reworking of a song called Moon Over Naples released the same year. The FNM version was released as the B-side of Ricochet on most UK and European releases in May 1995. The song was recorded, like all King for a Day B-sides at Bill Gould’s studio – and is one of the only Faith No More recordings to feature Dean Menta on guitar. It has never been played live.
(More here from FNM Followers / photo by Patton Mad)
9 This Guy’s in Love with You
“Who doesn’t love some Burt Bacharach?” asked Mike Patton as he introduced this cover on the band’s 2015 BBC Radio 1 session. Patton adores the classic composer – “If you don’t like his stuff, you don’t know shit” he told Kerrang in 1997 – while Roddy Bottum added at the same BBC session: “Its a song with a real twist. He’s such a crafty songwriter. We’ve always loved this song and this is the first time we’ve ever recorded the song.”
For a song which became such a staple of their live show, Faith No More did not play This Guy until right near the end of the 1.0 era – on 16 September 1997 at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC.
8 The Crab Song
Chuck Mosley‘s lyrics tended to the autobiographical much more than Mike Patton’s. Certainly, Faith No More, while often hitting the depths of misanthropy, have rarely sounded so out and out melancholic as on this track. Written by Chuck (lyrics) and Bill and Mike Bordin (music), the track was released on Introduce Yourself in 1987 and has remained a live favourite ever since. It is emblematic of IY era Faith No More: Chuck ad-libs, moody synth wash, plangent bass, dramatic segue into all-out thrash. And the perfect Valentine’s Day lyrics:
“Hurts, hurts, hurts like a like a motherfucker
Love, it hurts, it kills, like a sonofabitch”
Here’s a very early live version – from 1985
7 Glory Box
Our final cover. Faith No More, like the rest of the world, couldn’t resist trip-hop in the mid-1990s and offered up this perfect cover of the sublime Glory Box from Portishead’s Dummy. FNM even went full-on Bristol on their 1997 release Album of the Year with Stripsearch the perfect trip-rock song (Bill Gould Keybord magazine 1997: “The loop in the beginning made such a difference. Before we put it in, the song sounded more like Queensryche. But after the loop, it sounded more like Portishead or something. It gave it a darker, different slant. It didn’t sound like a rock band anymore.”). Anyway, here’s the iconic version of Glory Box with Patton bathing in all of Santiago’s spittle at the Monsters of Rock Chile in 1995, the last of the 13 times they would play the song live.
Seemingly a reference to the Kosovan capital, the final song on Faith No More final pre-split album was a fitting farewell and another stunning evocation of mood. That came mostly in the music but the lyrics also suggest a parting of lovers:
In every flower bed
In every marriage bed
I’ll be with you
I’m watching you
5 Be Aggressive
Probably more of a sex song than a love song per se, the lyrics for this famously homoerotic Angel Dust track were penned by Roddy Bottum before he came out as gay in 1993. I’ll include it as a love song purely for this line which at least suggests temporary infatuation:
“You’re my flavor of the week”
4 Underwater Love
A metal-based Onion-style satire site once claimed that a woman in Wisconsin had tried to get this song banned due to it apparently encouraging children to become mermaids. The song, of course, makes no such allusions but does contain just enough darkness beneath its oh so shiny surface to make such stories credible. In a rare early explanation of his lyrics or perhaps a bluff, Patton told Kerrang! in 1990: “Underwater Love was basically about murdering someone you love.”
But in the spirit of the day that’s in it, we’ll imagine that these lyrics have a more romantic meaning:
It’s wonderful how the surface ripples
But you’re perfect and I cannot breathe
Forever longing to make you mine
But I can’t escape your stare
Hold me closer, keep me near
My underwater love
Hold me closer, keep me near
I’ll never get enough
Here’s a a 1988 demo version – with significantly different lyrics
The band have not played the song live since November 1992.
3 I Won’t Forget You
The lyrics initially read like the sweet and sentimental ballad of a loser in love. Mike Patton’s brutal and pained delivery suggest something more menacing, with the metaphorical hell of abandonment the most innocent explanation.
You never love someone
Only what they leave behind
And I won’t forget you
I Won’t Forget You is a Patton/Gould composition recorded during the King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime sessions. It appeared on Who Cares a Lot, the awfully titled compilation from 1998, and it has never been played live.
2 From Out of Nowhere
Probably Faith No More’s finest pop moment. Track one from The Real Thing is a song that could and should have propelled them to mainstream success months before Epic finally did. Keyboard-led, hooky, catchy, those Patton vocals and eventually some Jim Martin crunching adornment, it is The Real Thing in three minutes, 21 seconds.
Obsession rules me
I’m yours from the start
I know you see me
Our eyes interlock
Roddy: “It seems to be about a chance meeting, and how chance plays a role in interaction”,
Patton: “Jello shots, hermetic philosophy, Ptolemaic cosmology… you know, your average commie/junkie jibber-jabber.”
Here’s the band “performing” the song on UK TV institution Top of the Pops in 1990.
1 She Loves Me Not
Regarded by reviewers as either cheesy or soulful when it came out in 1997 on Album of the Year, the straightforward romantic soul of She Loves Me Not was initially met with ambivalence by the band themselves.
The track was written by Bill Gould, Mike Patton and Mike Bordin, and Bill gave their take on the song to Keyboard magazine in 1997:
“This song almost didn’t make it on the record. We almost didn’t even record vocals for it because it’s so different from all of the other songs. I wrote this song, and I was almost embarrassed to play it for anybody in the band because it’s so soft – but at the same time it’s a good song. It’s like a Boyz II Men song of something. I didn’t play it for anybody for, like, a half a year, and then finally I played it for Puffy. He thought we should give it a try, so I gave it to Patton, and he said, ‘I wrote words, but they’re pretty over-the-top.’ But we went forward with it, and he really sang his ass off.”
Some of those over-the-top words:
I’m here, alone
On the the telephone line
I’m right where you want me to be
And I’ll wait alone and never ask why
Ill be where you want me to be
“We’ve got to crack that radio attitude. Too many bands that were great bands have withered up and died because they didn’t pursue it and most of the world never got to hear about them.”
Faith No More bassist and talisman Bill Gould was speaking to The Sydney Morning Heraldin June 1990, making no excuses for a band seeking chart and commercial success. It was fitting then that Australia proved the locus for their breakthrough chart success. on 26 August, 1990, the band’s Epic single reached the top of Australia’s official ARIA singles charts.
It was Faith No More’s first number one anywhere – and the first of two in Australia. Remarkably, the band had not even set foot in Oz until one month before topping the chart. Their first show was in Transformers in Brisbane on 29 July. They also played a live session for leading Australian radio station Triple J around this time. Officially dated as 30 July and broadcast on that date, the session may actually have been recorded on the 28 or 29 July. The redoubtable FNM Livesite reports: “Puffy walks out during “War Pigs” due to taunts from the band about his playing. He had hurt his ribs during bungee jumping in New Zealand. Patton takes over drums on the song.” That bungee jump was widely reported with the San Francisco Chronicle capturing some band comments:
“It was sheer terror, I would never have done it except for the peer group pressure from the other guys in the band,” said bassist Bill Gould, who arrived Monday in Sydney with the group’s entourage for six performances. “It was so bloody high, I’ve never been so horrified in my entire life,” Gould said. “But it turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done.” Vocalist Mike Patton added to the adventure by dangling from the elastic cable clad in only his undershorts and a sweatshirt.
Check out some discussion of and footage from that jump here on New Zealand TV (via Faith No More Followers)
And here is the actual session
The band played an impressive 13 shows in Australia in late July and August – and this and a promo roller-coaster propelled them to the top spot. Not that the critics were completely overwhelmed by their live shows, with the Sydney Morning Heraldreviewing one of their two Marquee Sydney shows under the headline: “THE CROWD CAME FOR THE NOISE, AND NOISE IS WHAT THEY GOT”. The article also stated:
“While their name suggests a kind of disaffected nihilism, perfectly suited to the times, they are, in reality, strikingly loyal to their antecedents; their present is very much the literal transfiguration of their past, the sum of their influences.
They come on stage to a tape that sounds like Shostakovich meeting Metallica, or the brooding soundtrack to some big-budget Hollywood feature, and attempt – not always successfully – to maintain that sense of the epic, the cinematic, throughout the course of their performance.
There’s no reason why it shouldn’t work: on record, their music is a seamless fusion of abrasive power chords and symphonic keyboard washes – the effect veering oddly between some of the more pompous excesses of the ’70s(Rush, Emerson Lake&Palmer, et al), and contemporary hardcore speed metal.
Witnessed live, however, volume and distortion conspire to deny that all important balance, with the effect that guitar swamps the proceedings, and much of the subtlety is lost.”
The review concludes:
“This is not to say it wasn’t good – for a metal concert (which was, after all, what most of the audience expected and desired), it was fine. As an event, though, it lacked only that ineffable something that would have taken it from being merely good, into the realm of the truly extraordinary.
I’ts a pity, because that other, higher goal was always within sight, but proved just out of reach.”
The rest of Australia was hooked, however. The re-released single of Epic, with a B-side of The Morning After (and including a yellow cassette single version) was released in late July. Here’s what it looked like, courtesy of Patton Mad.
Epic entered the chart on 22 July 1990 at a creditable 31, the highest new entry of the week. By the following week, it had risen to number 17, nestled between Madonna’s Hanky Panky and Snap’s The Power.
(All chart images and info courtesy of the incredible Chart Beats website)
The following week (5 August) it hit the top 10, reaching number 2 the week after. But Epic was held at bay for two weeks by the continued dominance of none other than…MC Hammer. With U Can’t Touch This.
Hammer was wrong. One week later, Faith No More touched number one – and they would stay there for three weeks in total. (Holding off firstly the challenge of Concrete Blonde’s Joey and then Jon Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory). It was finally knocked off the top spot on 16 September by the hirsute New Jerseyian’s cowboy anthem.
Well-timed touring, Australia’s openness to rock music, a killer song and targeted promotion all combined to earn Faith No More’s first number one. Local record store Utopia also claimed some of the glory. In September, the Morning Herald featured an interview with Dave Defig from the Sydney store. He said: “We basically discovered Faith No More here years ago; somebody woke up to them finally and they’ve now had a number one.”
The band would score two further notable triumphs in Australia in 1990. Epic ranked at 22 in the chart of the year’s best-selling singles. Then on 23 December Faith No More won the Gisborne Handicap (1,000m) at Moonee Valley. A horse named in their honour, of course.
Faith No More would go on to have a second Australian number one in 1993.I’m Easy, as Easy was entitled on this release, reached the top spot on the singles chart on 16 May – after nine weeks on the chart. It stayed there for two weeks – dropping Lenny Kravitz’s Are You Gonna Go My Way to 2 – before being usurped by Janet Jackson’s That’s The Way Love Goes.
Just like in 1990. Faith No More’s chart-topping came just after a the band had played a series of shows in Australia. In fact, the band played 11 shows in little over two weeks and were in New Zealand playing in Christchurch they day they hit number one in Australia again. And this time the reviews were more positive:
What makes Faith No More more than just another bunch of hairies who know how to crank it up is the perverse, self-parodying streak that runs through their work. You get the feeling, as each song begins, that it might end up somewhere completely different, maybe even visiting a few interesting places along the way.
The addition of keyboard player Rodney Bottum to the standard guitar-based lineup gives them room for contrast and, recalling the Mothers of Invention, he spends a lot of his time inserting atmospherics that run against the grain of the work, odd juxtapositions that convert what might otherwise be too linear into a tangle of ideas.
In one song, they sample the Happy Mondays’ Hallelujah, and in another, begin with a funkier version of the theme from Twin Peaks. Any band that can include fragments of the Bay City Rollers and the Birthday Party in one of their own tracks, Be Aggressive, has to be applauded.
It is this sense of playfulness, this undercurrent of mischief that makes Faith No More so appealing and made the Hordern crowds stand on the seats to catch a glimpse.
(Sydney Morning Herald)
And the band performed the show live on Nine Network’s evening show Hey Hey It’s Saturday in late April.
In an interview with – you guessed it – the Sydney Morning Herald on 6 May, Mike Patton explained some of the logic behind I’m Easy:
“I remember we were talking to a guy from this death metal band called Morbid Angel. They’re this amazing band who are really powerful – but hilarious at the same time.” He frowns: “Though I’m not sure if they’re aware of that or not …
“Anyway, this guy said how much he loved our version of Easy, and I said, ‘Well, why don’t you guys do something like that? You’re the guys who should be trying that. I mean, you’d just take people’s heads off if you were to do something like an easy-listening album.’
“And he just looked at me and said, ‘You don’t understand. We can’t do that. We physically can’t do it.’ Which to me, just goes to show how people in the entertainment industry build their own prisons. This band will never do that.”
Faith No More’s two number ones means they have as many chart-toppers in Australia as David Bowie and Prince. Even more incredibly, they have twice as many Aussie number ones as Australian icons AC/DC, INXS, Nick Cave and Nathalie Imbruglia combined.
A few months ago, the Sonarworks folks contacted me again; they wanted to take this software out of the recording studio and bring it into the world of home audio. This time, they would attempt to address imperfections in a wide variety of headphones…and to take it a step further, rather than requiring someone to download and install their software, they would be able to run the test through a web browser.
I like the guys, they’re a small company from Latvia but with very big ideas, so we decided to give it a spin with “Cone of Shame”. As a band we try to take chances and explore new concepts all the time, and realized in this FNM tradition, that it might be cool to include some of our fans in on the experiment—as far as I know, no one has done anything like this before. So in this spirit, check it out, and let the guys know what you think. Tastes can be subjective, there are no right or wrong answers, but your feedback can go a long way toward improving the quality of our listening experience.
We’ve tried it out with both Marshall and Bose models and there is definitely a richer sound. I’m not enough of an audiophile to to say what exactly is different but it seems warmer and more layered.
Friend of the site Ben Mitchell (and what a radio voice Ben possesses!) has an interview with Norwegian animator and director Rune Spaans on his Skwigly Animation Podcast in which he speaks about The Absence of Eddy Tablewhich of course features the voice of Mike Patton.
Gotham loves Faith No More
We covered this on Facebook over the weekend. If anyone can track down a screengrab from season 2 episode 14 “This Ball of Mud and Meanness” which features a Sol Invictus poster that would be great to have.
The Faith No More/Sonar Works collaboration will be revealed tomorrow 7 February, with an enhanced version of Cone of Shame will be released for all who sign up. In the meantime, here is a third promo video featuring an impressed Bill Gould and Tim Moss, as well as Matt Wallace giving his take on the importance of uniform sound:
The intriguing Faith No More tie-up with audio fidelity experts Sonar Works will not be revealed until 7 February, when an enhanced version of Cone of Shame will be released for all who sign up. In the meantime, the collaboration continues to produce some fascinating video content.
As you may have seen the interview in Punk Globe with the legendary Ginger Coyote, I am working on a biography of Faith No More.
But…it is very early in the whole process. The book is barely started and I haven’t got a publisher.
Having said that, I am aiming to produce the definitive Faith No More biography, one that combines a fan’s passion with a reporter’s expertise. The book will – if it sees the light of day – chronicle how such a heterogeneous group formed, flourished and fractured, and how Faith No More helped redefine rock, metal and alternative music.
Thanks to everyone who has helped so far, and I will keep you posted on future developments.
And if you have any information, tales, insights, old clippings, band photos, concert posters etc please email me at email@example.com
A very belated update so thanks for sticking around. I am working on the foundations of a book on the band so any other free time is limited.
Fifty minutes on one song? Glad to know that I’m not the only person overindulging and analysing Faith No More. The Session programme on California’s 95.5 KLOSpresents regular breakdowns of iconic songs and last week it was the turn of Faith No More’s Epic.
Here is their detailed, forensic and loving track-by-track, channel-by-channel analysis of the song, giving each band member their turn in the spotlight. An insightful, educational and entertaining listen.
Thanks to Patton Fanatic for this and spotting the deliberate mistake in an earlier version of this post.
We Care a Lot anniversary
Today is the 29th anniversary of the release of the second version Faith No More‘s single We Care a Lot. Naturally, Faith No More Followers have the lowdown with a special post here.
Angel Dust analysed
Ireland has a lot of grá for Faith No More. Radio station Newstalk has devoted a few shows to the band in the past few years and now Irish podcast Jackdaw Sandwich Record Club has dissected Angel Dust in their unique way.
Friend of the site Ben has interviewed frequent Mike Patton collaborator Kaada for Skwigly, and he speaks about working with Patton and his work on the Patton-featuring The Absence of Eddy Table.
Faith No More have teamed up with Sonarworks True-Fi to offer fans an enhanced audio experience of Sol Invictus track Cone of Shame.
Sign up here, enter your email address, enter the model of your headphones and then you’ll receive an email saying:
“You have successfully signed up for listening to Faith No More’s single “Cone of Shame” in Authentic Studio Sound. The FREE listening session will be released on February 7th.
In the meantime keep an eye on your inbox, as we will send you some exclusive footage bits from Faith No More.”
Bill Gould’s latest interview as part of the We Care a Lot re-issue promotion was a Q and A in Team Rock/Classic Rock largely focusing on the band’s early days and motivations:
With FNM, how much of what you do is art provocation and how much instinctive miscreancy?
It’s a bit of everything. People get hung up on how we fit into their box. We don’t think about it too hard. We just do what feels good.
You never seemed like one of those Last Gang In Town type of bands – more a confederacy of opposites. Fair?
Completely. We were a bunch of people with different abilities and quirks; a dysfunctional family. Jim came from the metal world, which was very different for us. [Chuck Mosley, first frontman] was the wild card; that was part of his charm. We were just playing loops and he would scream over the top. It was hard when we started getting into patterns and structure and touring – it became more like regular work. That’s when the tension started.
You must be proud of the band’s achievements: you defined a style of music, defied it, then defiled it.
All of that. It’s cool. You respect what you do, but at the same time you’re a bit of an iconoclast.
Every band has a voice. FNM’s is snarky, sarcastic, even satirical. Are you the hard-rock Steely Dan?
Ha ha! It’s funny, it’s almost like forensics: you have to take the dead body apart to see what the fuck it’s made of.
How did this collaboration come about? Was it simply a matter of a phone call to Patton?
Well, yes. Lombardo, Crain, and myself had thought of a few people to sing, Patton being one. Fortunately for us, the universe had its shit together… and here we are.
You had written material with Gabe Serbian prior to parting ways. Did you start afresh when Patton was enlisted?
We had the songs written and recorded prior to Patton’s involvement. When we started working with Patton, he jumped in and started working on lyrics and recording vocals.
So how has Patton’s influence changed the sound?
It’s hard to explain. The band is still finding it’s own skin to fit into. No matter whom you bring into a band, the sound becomes who all are part of it. Let’s revisit this question after the album comes out, after we play shows with the new line up, and after we can reflect on things.
The album will come out in early 2017 through Patton’s Ipecac label.
Brilliant Chuck Mosley interview
One of the few pleasures of 2016 has been the rehabilitation of the reputation of Chuck Mosley during the promotion of We Care a Lot. And Chuck, who has been in the studio working on the second Primitive Race album, has given a very revealing interview with Fear and Loathingin which he expounds at length on the early days of Faith No More.
Some choice cuts:
You first met Billy Gould when you were both going to punk gigs in Hollywood ?
‘Yeah, I met him when I was about 17 or 18, I think. He was the first one of those guys I met, because I didn’t even meet Roddy until Billy had moved up to Berkeley. We both had this friend, Mark Stewart, who I had known since Elementary school. He started to play guitar around the same time that I started playing piano, but I didn’t really see him play until we were in the 12th grade or something. Then one day we were hanging out and he started playing something and I discovered that he had got really good, so I said we should start a band. He asked Billy and two other friends, Paul and Kevin, and that was what became The Animated. As soon as me and Billy met, we pretty-much clicked. He was into all the same bands that I was into, so we started going to shows together. I think he liked going out to shows with me because I didn’t have any limits, so it was like going along to see how drunk I would get or if I was going to get in a fight or what was I going to knock over or what I was going to fuck-up… It was like that most nights, I was pretty-much out of control for various personal reasons. I always went out just to see the bands, that was all I intended to do, but it would often end up in those kind of situations.’
You’d already sung with them on a couple of occasions, just as a temporary thing, hadn’t you ?
‘Yeah, because they were going through different singers and guitar players every other week. So they’d call me if they had a show in LA, and say, we haven’t got a singer, can you do it ? I’d get up and sing with them when they came down to LA without a singer. Billy always loved irony and I wasn’t a singer back then, so it made sense to him that they should ask me to sing!’
I was just googling The Crab Song lyrics as I wanted to see how they looked written down for some reason... And it seems that most website for lyrics are just copy and paste replicas without proofreading... In the ten I've checked so far "fluorescence" is spelt incorrectly and identically. And then there is the line "its your your head that he's gonna twirl" which is just a disaster... Double 'your' appears in all of them...Only one website so far has bothered with the preamble, which I fucking love, and even they only wrote half the conversation, excluding him saying bitch... And they still have the audacity to copy and paste the lyrics from all the other sites... Bastards the lot of them ( and not the fat kind). I am mildly peeved. ... See MoreSee Less