Faith No More Released 'Digging The Grave' 27 Years ago
Twenty seven years ago we were awaiting the arrival of the new Faith No More record King For A Day Fool For A Lifetime - several nervous ideas were pulsating around our brain boxes. Would it measure up against it's masterpiece of a predecessor Angel Dust ? How would it work out without the grinding axe work of big sick and ugly guitarist Jim Martin? And how would it sound without Matt Wallace behind the mixing desk?
At 9 am on February 28th 1995 the very first single release ahead of the album DIGGING THE GRAVE the hit record stores, and shortly after that the CD, Cassette and record players of the skeptics. We were three years in waiting for new FNM material, yeah it's true we were blessed with Another Body Murdered but this single was the appetiser to a whole new album, a renaissance, with additional mysterious guitar sounds and new fucking haircuts!
"Digging The Grave is what Faith No More fans crave, adding a hint of melody to the usual primal ferocity." - Raw Magazine 1995
First impressions - where the hell are Roddy Bottum's keys? Is this really Trey Spruance from MR. BUNGLE on guitar? Have FNM finally given up trying NOT to be a rock band?
A few more spins - damn this song is raw and it's hard, three minutes of jump around the room brutality. In true Faith No More tradition it's different, unexpected and spectacular. Digging The Grave continues the legacy of FNM's ability to progress their sound further with every single from each album. If you compare this song to From Out Of Nowhere or Midlife Crisis, though the characteristic FNM elements are present the songs are so diverse it's like listening to a different band. Even though the band lost their heaviest metal element (Big Jim) the song is bursting with brutal guitar riffs from the eccentric hand of Trey Spruance. A whole circus tour away from Mr. Bungle yet it carves a short-lived smile on the face of FNM. We might at first think he was trying too hard to 'fit into' the band but we were proved wrong by the following album. Mike Patton's vocals still have the schizophrenic shifts between ferocious growling and powerful operatic trills that we are used to from Angel Dust, but he is angrier, his statement is sharper, and his delivery is more maniacal than ever. The noises that man can produce are astounding, like a human guitar on overdrive he screams the living shit out of the middle eight. His harmonies on the chorus are also tighter than ever.
The rhythm section revisits the early days of FNM like Introduce Yourself with an adrenaline shot! Bill Gould feverishly pounding on his strings and we can only imagine how many cymbals, drum skins and sticks Mike Bordin went though to create that untamed monster beat.
"On that track I wanted to get that sound we had on our first records but tighter, faster and harder. The middle section of that track came from the beat me and Bill came up with before we started trying out guitarists." - Mike Bordin 1995
The lack of keyboards was explained when the band began interviews around KFAD. Roddy faced a few personal demons and wasn't as involved with the writing and recording of the song. He appears in the video playing guitar and also took up a six string onstage throughout the consequent touring.
"Yeah, I understand how that album is revered but it's not my favourite. I wasn't that present in the song writing and i was going through some tough stuff at the time" - Roddy 2013
The most notable difference to previous FNM material is the production. The band decided to use Andy Wallace who produced bands such as Slayer, Nirvana, L7, Sepultura, Rage Against The Machine, Helmet - the good shit. This was a shift from long time producer Matt Wallace. He disconnected the band from outside influence and hauled up in the isolation of Bearsville studios in New York where, according to band, they developed 'controlled cabin fever'. Andy W's skills deliver a more disciplined and compressed overall mix which changes the feel of the band's music radically from what we had heard before.
"It seemed ultimately self defeating to continue to do records with the same producer. Matt did some great stuff with us but over the course if your career why limit yourself to one person? We're the kind of band that prides itself on our diversity, versatility, change." - Roddy 1995
Patton has never really elaborated on the lyrics to DTG, but finding a final resting place in death or looking for a place to hide are an obvious interpretation.
"I can't actually write words before music. Words are the last thing: before the words, I hear sounds. Sometimes the words have no connection to anything; they just have to fit into the sound. I'm sure a lot of what was going into the words on the new record were things we all were going through at the time. Kind of subtle ways of getting revenge on those people. People you see everyday, situations your in everyday that maybe it's better if you don't confront them. Everyone will know what its about but no one will talk about it. It's a beautiful thing" - Mike Patton 1995
The video which accompanied the single release followed in FNM tradition - dramatic, dark and mysterious. Director Marcus Raboy, famous for hip hop videos, was enlisted after his handling of the Another Body Murdered promo clip.
The single was released on 12" coloured vinyl and a double CD pack with artwork by illustrator Eric Drooker. The full illustration was revealed when the album was released - taken from Drooker's 1992 book 'Flood! A Novel in Pictures'. The snarling police dog is a perfect accompaniment to the suggested violence of the song itself.
"Radio will say the our song 'Digging The Grave' is too hard for them, too metal. If we do a song like 'Evidence', then none of the metal stations will want it!" - Gould 1995
King For A Day Fool For A Lifetime was a very important and personal record for the band and they were very positive about it.
"The new album was a catharsis for us. We made a record that was very liberating. I think we really learned how to use our power as a unit. I mean, I have a total submarine view of it, but I see it as more if a release type thing. There is a great amount of stress let off on this album" - Bill 1995 "The new record is like being hit with a fucking fist, with one finger sticking out. This is the best record we've ever done. But it doesn't just come out of your butt on a plate. The songs, the performance, the recording process, the tones, the mix, the mastering. It's a whole bunch of shit that makes a good album". - Mike Bordin 1995
The importance of this song in FNM's history is that it illustrates how the departure of Jim Martin affected the band's image and sound. Could the band still have that edge without the tension between members that played such an important part in the creation of previous albums, and could a happy FNM camp produce the same results? When Bill was asked on how the writing process differed without Jim he had this to say:
"We've never written stuff with Jim, as a band. Usually we'd give him a tape and he'd put stuff to it because he didn't like practicing with us much" - Bill 1996
According to Puffy in an interview with an Australian radio station the departure of Jim helped them focus on the new material more. "Very to the point, very straight forward and very strong".
But it wasn't entirely plain sailing and the process still was fraught with difficulties; Roddy's personal problems, Trey's departure and a nasty car accident. Patton wasn't happy with appointment of his Mr. Bungle co-member in the first place.
"Trey didn't come highly recommended by the only guy in the band that knew him. Patton said, 'he's a great guitarist, he'll do the job, but he's not dependable and he'll fuck us up ultimately due to his lack of any sense of responsibly' " - Bill 1995
Although Bill also says how happy they were with the end result.
"It's heavier, it's more direct and it's the first record where we had the guitar the way we wanted it. Now it feels we're a dog who's been let of the leash" - Bill 1995
A lot of fans miss Jim but there is no denying Trey is a outstanding guitarist and his input created a new phase in FNM's history. And they pull it off, DTG is an awesome tune it is all out barefaced aggressive rock! Like the bark of Drooker’s police dog there’s no fucking about.
The five best ways to relieve stress: light a candle, drink less caffeine, spend time with a pet, exercise, or put on Digging The Grave - turn up the volume and bang your head for three minutes!!