Faith No More Released 'Ashes To Ashes' 24 Years Ago
Updated: May 19
Faith No More released the first single from Album Of The Year on May 19th 1997.
"It's kind of like when you eat something and all the ingredients fit together. You can't really say why you like it but it's just you know you like it. To me that song has size, it has the scope and it has the melody and it has the impact. It gives me all those things I need that make me feel good." - Bill Gould 2016
1997 was a bit of a dull year for rock and metal music, it was the beginning of a nu metal era with bands trying to re imagine the early nineties movements. Elsewhere electro dance music was interesting, the happy hippy techno beats had been replaced with more brutal and funkier bands like The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim and music to do heroin to whilst watching trains. It was the first time since the 60's where being British was cool, Brit pop and The Spice Girls took over the world. There was certainly change in the air. Faith No More had changed. After a brief tour supporting King For A Day... the band had gone separate ways, Mike Patton focusing on Mr. Bungle, Roddy Bottum starting up Imperial Teen and Mike Bordin drumming with Ozzy Osbourne.
"I guess the point is try to find new reasons to keep making music. We could have broken up. But when you get to that point you ask yourself, 'Is it worth it or not?'. If the music's still getting you hard, it's worth it." - Mike Patton 1997
Yet, amidst rumours that the band had split up, in 1997 FNM surprised fans by returning with a new guitarist and attitude to producing music. After only around seven years of commercial success FNM were now considered as innovators, fathers of a new breed of metal music and were back to prove they still had one more album of great songs to give.
"It takes a lot of work, but the bottom line is that if we weren't totally committed to making music as FNM, we wouldn't still be here today....It's not like we don't have anything else to do." - Bill Gould 1997
Ashes To Ashes was the premier single released from their sixth studio record Album Of The Year. The song performed well in the charts, number 8 in Australia, 7 in Finland, 15 in the U.K. and 23 in the U.S. ATA is less punchy and chaotic than music from KFAD, more polished and refined, whilst retaining the full bodied sound that only FNM can achieve.
'While the Bungle-like experimental-ism of the King For A Day album alienated a lot of the band's fans, new and old, the first taste of next month's album (drolly titled Album Of The Year) returns to the musical ethic that won them all those lovely fans in the first place. Expansive, dramatic and swathed in Roddy Bottum's widescreen keyboards, it delivers a killer tune with bite, storming rhythms and the best vocal of Mike Patton's career. Truly, err, epic.' - InPress magazine
Jon Hudson's guitar brings the metal riff of Jim Martin's days back to FNM after an album of Trey Spruance's eccentric brand of six string magic. It sets us up for a track we know will fall into the unmistakably FNM category. The sweeping waves of Roddy's keyboard are reminiscent of those found on Angel Dust, and they add colour to Bill and Mike B's ever dependable rhythm section. There is hardly a trace of antagonism in Patton's voice as he croons like Sinatra. The composure of all five musicians make for sophisticated sound to match their pressed tuxedos. The song was written, like most of AOTY, by the band sharing music in the post. In fact no more than two members of FNM were in the studio at the same time.
"The bulk of that song was written the first week. We arranged it here, and then we sent Patton a tape. He was in Italy, but he came up with the lyrics and the singing right away. It was one of those songs that just clicked -- one of those songs that we do most naturally. That's our sound." - Bill Gould 1997
The main difference with this music compared to earlier songs was that it was entirely produced by FNM with Bill on engineering duties. Roli Mosimann brought in for advice.
"This record took a year and a half to make -serious hard work. I mean, the reason I'm the producer is because I've been living with this thing every step of the way. I couldn't rest until this record was finished. Angel Dust was like a hurricane coming - a big, ugly storm. King for a Day was like when the storm was hitting you, with all this stuff flying all over the place. And this record...this record is kind of like digging through the wreckage and pulling out bodies afterwards." - Bill Gould 1997
The video was directed by the late Tim Royes. It retains the dark themes of FNM's previous film clips but introduces the new suited and booted look that they paraded during this era.
Ashes To Ashes remains a fan favourite and it is still a regular song within FNM's set lists.