Faith No More - Biography
Faith No More could have stopped after their third album in 1989 and would still be considered an important band. On The Real Thing, they delivered the genre-bending hit, “Epic,” a funk metal opus that truly lives up to its title. Even today, it captivates and begs the question, “what is it?” Everything about the song, the keyboards, the guitar solos and the astounding pipes of Mike Patton, was so heightened and melodramatic that it's nearly impossible to not get swept up. After that, Faith No More put out three more albums and although all of them failed to produce a single as buzz-worthy as “Epic,” they all succeeded in being uncompromisingly creative, thanks in large part to Patton's unique vocal styles. Although sometimes blamed for the rap-rock that dominated in the late ‘90s, any band that can perform such a stirring rendition of the Bee Gees' “I Started a Joke” should never be pigeonholed.
Faith No Man formed in San Francisco, California in 1981, comprised of bassist Billy Gould, drummer Mike Bordin, singer Mike “The Man” Morris and keyboardist Wade Worthington. Roddy Bottum replaced Worthington in ’82 and Courtney Love briefly sang with them in 1983. By 1984, the band (now rechristened Faith No More) included Bordin, Borrum, Chuck Mosely on vocals and Jim Martin – who’d played with Bordin and Cluff Burton in E-Z Street – on guitar. Martin’s addition beefed up their sound considerably and the group played around the Bay Area, building their cult following.
. By the time of their debut, We Care A Lot (1985 Mordam), vocals were handled by Chuck Mosley, but Jim Martin’s searing guitar work was the most distinguishing feature of the band's music. The single, “We Care A Lot,” combined rap, metal and funk and is often pointed to as the first rap-metal hybrid, although they were beaten to the punch by Run D.M.C.’s “Rock Box” a year earlier. In fact, Chuck Mosley’s confrontational, tuneless vocals combined with metal guitar, pounding drums and airy keyboards more closely recall Steve Vai-era PiL than the funk metal sound they would later hone. Hardly a seamless effort, the classic Faith No More ingredients are present but rarely in focus.
Following We Care A Lot, Faith No More were signed to Slash Records, a Los Angeles-based indie that had recently become an affiliate of Warner Bros. For their second album, Introduce Yourself (1987 Slash), the band employed stronger songwriting and they managed to blend their various influences with less apparent strain. By 1988, Mosley’s behavior had become embarrassingly erratic and dysfunctional and he was fired. His replacement was Mike Patton, a Bay Area college student and singer for Mr. Bungle. Patton dropped out of college and joined Faith No More just in time for the recording of their next album. In 1987, like-minded bands like Anthrax, 24-7 Spyz, Fishbone and The Red Hot Chili Peppers were all combining funk, punk rap and metal in similar fashion that was growing increasingly popular.
With Patton’s interesting lyrics and improved singing ability, the band had tightened the screws on their sound and when they put out “Epic,” they suddenly became a leading hard rock band. The attendant album, The Real Thing, was released in 1989 on Slash Records. Based almost solely on the appeal of “Epic,” a number nine single, the album peaked at number 11 and cruised along to platinum status. It was nominated for two Grammys, one for Best Metal Peformance (The Real Thing) and one for Best Hard Rock Performance (“Epic”).
1991 saw the release of a live album entitled Live at Brixton Academy (Polygram) but it wasn't until three years after the debut's release that Faith No More would release another studio album. In 1992, they released Angel Dust (Slash), a positively twisted and bizarre, calculatedly anti-commercial masterpiece that left many listeners dumbfounded, especially those who expected another outing full of “Epics.” Patton had more unique vocal tricks up his sleeve and on Angel Dust he felt comfortable in bringing them to the forefront. The LP reached number 10 in the Billboard 200 after “Midlife Crisis” became a number one modern rock single. By 1993, funk-metal and rap-rock had grown increasing commercial and commonplace. The Judgement Night soundtrack was designed to capitalize on the trend. Faith No More joined Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. and contributed “Another Body Murdered” to the mixed bag.
During the ensuing tour, the band began to unite against Martin. There were rumors of Martin's guitar tracks being lifted from the final mix of Angel Dust and the tour was plagued with arguments. In 1994, the tension came to a head and the band fired Martin. Trey Spruance, the guitarist for Mr. Bungle, filled in for the band on their fifth album, King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime (1995 Slash/Reprise). The album was relatively successful, peaking at number 31 in the charts, but it didn't possess the same freaked-out mania as Angel Dust nor the hit potential of The Real Thing. Spruance ducked out the night before the band went on tour to promote it. Their roadie, Dean Menta, came to the rescue. He was jettisoned, however, after the tour and the band hired Jon Hudson for the recording of their sixth album, the boastfully titled Album of the Year (1997 Slash/Reprise). It didn't end up being the best-selling album of the year, peaking at number 45, but it was yet another challenging, innovative release from one of the most genre-pushing bands of all time. More importantly, it would be their last, as the band wrapped up touring for Album and announced their decision to split up in 1998.
Patton went on to front Fantômas, a supergroup of sorts that featured Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins, Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle and Dave Lombardo of Slayer. Roddy Bottum, who had already been singing lead and playing guitar in Imperial Teen, continued to front that band, releasing their fourth album in 2007. Gould joined in several collaborations before becoming the CEO of Koolarrow Records. Bordin immediately became Ozzy Osbourne's drummer. Whatever these musicians decide to do, they will always be remembered because of Faith No More, a band that contributed a great deal of originality to hard rock in its thirteen years of making albums. But if Faith No More are remembered for years to come, it will undoubtedly be because of “Epic,” as evinced by the title of the 2005 compilation, Epic and Other Hits (Flashback).
On February 23rd, 2009, it was confirmed by Roddy Bottum and Mike Patton would be reforming a version of the band for European dates.