On MONDAY, April 20, in a terse three-line statement, Faith Mo More announced that they were breaking up after 17 years together. The curtain had finally come down on one of the most influential rock bands ot the past two decades.
Kerrang! | Issue 698 | 09.05.98 Ashes To Ashes by Steffan Chirazi and Paul Elliot
The reasons why Faith Mo More chose to split now - preparing as they were for a summer tour supporting Aerosmith and having just completed a highly successful series of festival appearances in Spain and Portugal are hard to ascertain. After putting calls into various parties connected to the band, it's clear that no one is willing to conduct a post mortem just yet. Although Mike Bordin's decision to re-join Ozzy Osbourne's band appears lo be a factor, the split could just as easily be viewed as a product of attrition rather than a single action. Roddy Bottum has his other band Imperial Teen, and frontman Mike Patton has put together various side projects over the years, Mr Bungle being the most notable. Indeed, before the split was announced, unconfirmed rumours were sweeping around the band's hometown of San Francisco that Patton wouldn't be making another album with Faith No More. But how many times has that one done the rounds in the past? Perhaps the saddest aspect of it all, is that Faith No More had rediscovered their touch on last year's 'Album Of The Year', their strongest effort since 1992's brilliant yet underrated 'Angel Dust'. Then again, you could count on Faith No More to never take the easy path... IN THE BEGINNING Faith No More have always been a band populated by intense personalities. Bill Gould and Roddy Bottum might have come from relatively comfortable backgrounds each grew up in Los Angeles' Hancock Park neighbourhood - but they were both drawn to the bizarre and twisted. In the late '70s Gould was in a band called The Animated, for whom a guy he knew (rom the local punk scene, Chuck Mosley, played keyboards. In 1980. Gould and Bottum left LA to attend university in Berkeley. San Francisco, where they became roommates. Once there. Gould responded to an ad in a local record store looking for bassists. It was placed by Mike Bordin. The two ended up in a band called Sharp Young Men, quickly recruiting Bottum and guitarist Mark Bowen and changing their name to Faith No Man. Next they needed to find a singer. In 1983, a young woman called Courtney Love with big ideas and a mouth to match talked her way into the band for either four shows, if you believe them, or longer, if you take her side. The foursome headed back to LA in 1984, where Gould once again stumbled upon Mosley, who by this time was in a band called Haircuts That Kill. By now, Bowen clearly wasn't working out, so on the recommendation of Bordin's friend, Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, Jim Martin joined the band as his replacement. With Mosley also on board, FNM was complete. A year later, they released their debut album 'We Care A Lot' an Bay Area independent label Mordam Records. The ensuing US club tour during which the band lived in their van - established the pattern for much of what was to follow: the members using a vicious form of sarcasm to communicate with each other. At the the end of the trek, Faith No More signed to Slash Records, an offshoot of major label Warner Bros and took out a series of personal loans from various sources to extricate themselves from their first management company and hook up with Warren Entner. Entner had been in a successful '60s band called The Grass Roots. As a manager, he had guided cock rockers Quiet Riot to multi-million sales in the US. He and his partner John Vassiliou saw something unique in Faith No More. On tour, it had become apparent that Mosley was a wildly unpredictable character. His increasing belligerence and erratic moods pushed relations within the group to breaking point, but they also helped to make their second album, 'Introduce Yourself', such an intoxicating experience. MTV picked up on the album's outstanding track, a re-recorded version of 'We Care A Lot', and Faith No More backed this exposure up with a ground-breaking US tour with an underground LA outfit called The Red Hot Chili Peppers. 'Introduce Yourself' also brought them over to the UK for the first time, where in a perverse and occasionally volatile round of interviews they traded insults, barbs and various slanders, taking great delight in watching journalists' reactions. Mosley's behaviour had by now alienated him from everybody else in the band, and he was fired when Faith No More returned home. His replacement was a young man from Humboldt County, the pot-growing region of California. Twenty-year-old Mike Patton had first come to Faith No More's attention singing a song called 'The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny' with a bunch of weirdos called Mr Bungle. The new line-up quickly went to work on what was to be their break-through album, 'The Real Thing'. Released in July '89, 'The Real Thing' went on to sell more than a million copies in the US and spawned a smash hit single in 'Epic'. The band took off on a back-breaking world tour to promote the album which was to last two years. Their success and the patronage of MTV caused new tensions in the band. Patton in particular was sickened at becoming rock's newest poster boy. His response was to hack his hair off. "Ninety per cent of what we do is bullshit," he said. "Your duty as a musician is to be a stupid, pathetic fucking loser." When 'The Real Thing' tour finally concluded in 1991, Patton re-joined his old males Mr Bungle to make an album and guested with jazz experimentalist John Zorn's Naked City. "I'm leaving Faith No More and Bungle for Naked City," he joked at the time. Patton's work load was intensified by Faith No More's decision to begin writing their next album almost as soon as they were off the road. They took a break from these sessions to undertake a month-long tour of South America. On this trek a further, more damaging rift developed in the ranks between Jim Martin and the rest of the band. Each factor stayed as far apart as possible and a mutual feeling of distaste began to build. The 'Angel Dust' album emerged in June '92. It captured Faith No More at their most daring, extreme and creative, and is the album that both Korn and the Deftones cite as a major influence. Martin hated it, and was very vocal about saying so. The band supported Guns N' Roses and Metallica on their obscenely overblown US stadia tour that summer. Martin was the only member of the band who could stomach the tour's grotesque rock star excesses.
"Jim works really hard at being the official party animal for Faith No More," Patton told Kerrang! with barely suppressed disgust. "What a guy!" Martin responded: "It's four of them against one of me. Sometimes I hate those f**kers." Jim Martin played his final gig with the band at the Phoenix Festival. It was a wretched show, and it was no surprise to anyone when the guitarist was given his marching orders in December '93. It was a bitter, rancorous split. Last year. Bill Gould reflected: "One of the things I liked about it when Jim joined the band was that It put us in a space that was so different to where we'd been before that we thought it was humorous. When the humour wasn't funny any more, we had to re-assess what we were doing." As Faith No More began writing their new album, Roddy Bottum was battling a drug problem. The resulting record, 'King For A Day... Fool For A Lifetime', missed this unique keyboard flourishes. Mr Bungle's Trey Spruance played guitar on the album, but abruptly announced that he couldn't tour with the band once it was completed. The band's former keyboard tech Dean Menta filled his shoes on tour. 'King For A Day...' proved to be a creative and commercial disappointment. On tour, renewed tensions riddled the band's relationships with each other This time, the only casualty was Menta. LAST CUP Of SORROW When the time came to write 'Album Of The Year', Faith No More's future prospects looked grim. Patton had moved to Italy with his wife and immersed himself in ever more strange and off kilter side-projects. Bottum had formed - and enjoyed critical acclaim with - a pop band called Imperial Teen. Mike Bordin had toured with Ozzy Osbourne's hand. Gould and Bordin made up some demos of new material and sent them to Patton. The singer's response was less than enthusiastic. "I wasn't around for the first batch of songs and I didn't relate to them in any way," he said later. "So I came back and said, 'What the hell is this? I got stuck into this album, more than any other because there was a lot of music on the table that I didn't like; I felt like I had to for us to continue at all. I didn't see myself in those songs: it was just middle of the road and it wasn't balanced enough. Some uglier stuff was necessary from : my perspective." But once everyone had written their parts and recorded the tracks, it was mostly left to Gould to fit it all together. While everyone else pursued other projects he took on the producer's role, pulling in The Young Gods' Roli Mosimann to help him guide the album to a conclusion. It was immediately obvious that FNM's core audience was significantly smaller when 'Album Of The Year' was released in the US. But a sell-out theatre tour suggested that they still had a productive future.
"It's good to be in a comfortable spot," opined Gould, "where you can go onstage, do a confident show, and get respect from people. I don't think it's necessarily important to sell five million records or play to 30,000 people. It's down to liking what you do". This summer, Faith No More were due to support Aerosmith on their European tour, for which they'd reportedly been guaranteed half a million dollars. They were evidently by no means a spent force. But as far back as last autumn, Mike Patton was refusing to be drawn on how long they would go on. "I can't even digest thinking about it right now" he said. Jim Martin saw the press release announcing Faith No More's final split on the Internet. He offered his reaction to the news via e-mail. "The inability of the remaining members to hang on to FNM, the fact that they allowed it to slip away, is evidence of their lack of commitment to the group," he notes. "Faith No More was always shrouded in smoke: the truth was something that was always denied and still is." His former colleagues are still uncomfortable about discussing the details of, and reasons for their break-up at present. But Bill Gould spontaneously agreed to make statement when contacted at home. "However many records we sold or didn't, we maintained over a long period of time a high standard of music that we're proud of, and we never sucked," he says. "Whatever shit that happened to us on the way thank God it didn't get in the way of the music.
"I'm keeping my options open for the future. I'm definitely going to be doing music in the future, but l'm producing a lot of bands right now. Roli definitely influenced me wanting to get into remixes; and remixing makes you think about music differently, which is a really good thing. I did a Rammstein remix which was fun, and I'm taking on some production stuff for the rest of the year. I'm going to Finland to produce a band called CMX and there's other stuff I'm setting up right now. I'll be working my ass off. I'm coming out of an experience where I was in a band situation for 17 years My main focus was that band. So what I'm doing now is putting that same amount of energy I put into Faith No More into my own thing." Mike Patton is forming a new band called Fantomas with a Melvins guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osbourne, exSlayer drummer Dave Lombardo and Mr Bungle's Trevor Dunn. Roddy Bottum's Imperial Teen will release their second album very shortly. Bordin will drum with Ozzy Osbourne's band on their upcoming Ozzfest dates. Puffy' has the last word. "I'd just like to say thanks, man," he says. "Thanks to everyone who supported Faith No More. Thanks to everyone in the UK and to everyone at Kerrang!. I really appreciate it, and I know Billy does too. Your support's been amazing over the years. We really couldn't have asked for more. Sorry it had to end this way." They will be sorely missed.