Faith No More Released Their First Single 'We Care A Lot' 34 Years Ago!
Faith No More released their debut single We Care A Lot on January 18th 1988.
With it's thwacking drums , bass and heavy guitars. Faith No More's debut single, released in 1988, is funk metal with added punk sensibilities -both in the raw, untutored vocals of Chuck Mosley, the manic singer later replaced by Mike Patton, and in its gloatingly non-PC lyrics. A seminal alternative rock song, We Care A Lot still sounds electrifying. - Metal Hammer
According to Q magazine when writing a rock song that will survive the test of time you need a few key elements: a simple yet powerful chorus, a message that the audience can relate to, and a hook you can repeat over and over again. Faith No More certainly hadn't read that article when they wrote We Care A Lot but it unequivocally proves the theory! A revolutionary but tongue in cheek song such as this would be an apt anthem for present day America.
The song has been in FNM's set list since 1984, appeared on three of their albums (not including compilations) and they have released it three times as a single.
''We Care A Lot was an accident. We just played the song and everybody liked it" - Jim Martin 1990
The song bares all the hallmarks of the early FNM sound. The unmistakable drumbeat resonates like the rhythm of a beating heart, the atmospheric Keyboard swells providing a perfect contrast to the punch of the beat, a bass-line that thumps with severe discipline during the verse, breaking only for the slap and twang of his strings in the pre-chorus. And one of the most brutal and iconic FNM guitar riffs.
Chuck Mosley's vocals are his usual blunt almost emotionless sounds, an acquired taste that many of us love. The ironic thing about Chuck's tone of voice is that while he's singing We Care A Lot he gives the impression that he couldn't actually give a fuck.
This was the song that got FNM a management contract and an advance to finance the recording of their first album. As Bill recalls his roommate at the time was playing the demo in the San Francisco branch of Rough Trade Records when Ruth Schwartz heard it and immediately offered to take them on. The band recorded their first album in producer Matt Wallace's garage over three consecutive weekends.
That whole funk/rap/metal crossover thing started here, challenging the typical glam American cock rock of the 80s, We Care A Lot was more inline with the US rap scene and music coming out of Europe. Roddy Bottum actually described the song as 'kraftwerk meets Black Sabbath!', and added 'I wrote this song after listening to a whole lot of Run DMC'.
The actual genre for the song listed on Wikipedia is 'Funk Metal', a phrase that wasn't used until a couple of years after it was released. A label which the band themselves disowned.
"Roddy had this song he had come up with overnight. My initial response... To be perfectly honest, it was the least challenging to me. It was a little bit more commercial than what I was used to being part of. Especially after all of a sudden being in a position where you had a single, and you had to make sure you'd play it every night. I'm a punk rock rebel, so I had to complain about it - 'God dang, this is so commercial!' I thought I was above that, and it was below me. It was fun to sing for a while, then it started feeling kind of silly to me. But it was Roddy's song, and Roddy has a total taste and ear for catchy hooks. Coming from that perspective, I totally respect anything he does, but I felt it was a little soft." - Chuck 2010
The song was first released in 1985 on the band's debut album of the same name and re-recorded with updated lyrics for the band's second album Introduce Yourself in 1987.
"We played We Care A Lot as an instrumental for a year before Roddy wrote the lyrics. We got all excited when Chuck sang it because it was the first thing we ever did that sounded like real music." - Bill Gould 1988
"We named the first record after it, and put it on there. With that record, we ended up shopping it around for a better deal, which. ended up being Slash/Warner Brothers. One of the things that they little irritating at the same time. So, for the heck of it, we came up with a whole new intro, and we would end it with the chorus chant. Just to mess with people. Or we would do [sings the bass line], sing We care a'lot', and then end it there. Then it just kept growing. Until we decided to do it over - but our way - and have it more laid-back and grouchy. And fatter and louder, fuller."
"We were determined to have a version that blew away the first or second one. We just hit on something and it clicked. We wanted when they signed us was to have us updated the lyrics - actually, that time it do the song over again, because they felt it hadn't fallen on enough ears. They thought it was a hit. Hence the second version. There were two years between the two versions, and we updated the lyrics." - Chuck 2010
It was released as their first ever single in January 1988 to moderate reception in the U.S. The song later appears on the album Live At Brixton and this live version was again released as a single in 1991 this time with Mike Patton on vocals. The third release was in 1998 as a double A side with I Started A Joke taken from Who Cares A Lot? the greatest hits compilation, this was the 1987 studio version.
It reached number 53 in the UK singles charts in 1988 and was more recently listed in Pop Matter's 65 Greatest Protest Songs, describing it as a 'smirking account of everything that pop and political culture shoved down our throats at the height of the Reagan revolution'.
The video was FNM's first, directed by the late Bob Biggs (the founder of Slash Records) and Jay Brown it has no comparison to any rock videos at this point and pays homage to rap culture of the time with lots of bright colours. It also began FNM's reputation for surreal and unexpected imagery in their visual accompaniments. The bouncing baby, flying dog and bizarrely not the last appearance from a transvestite in a FNM video!
WCAL is a parody of what was going on in music and pop culture at the time. The Live Aid concert and USA's Feed the World song seemed to have irked FNM into creating some kind of statement against the pop singers taking part who cared more about their public appearance than the consequences of poverty itself. The lyrics are in keeping with many by the band at this time and were written by Roddy with Chuck throwing in the odd line here and there.
"It's all mixed up, because me and Roddy both wrote that. He wrote the title and the chant, and a lot of the first lyrics in the verses. I wrote the "dirty job" part on that first verse, and then I wrote more of the verses when we changed them on the second record." - Chuck 2016
Although the band weren't 'out to save the world' exactly, FNM lyrics at this time regularly had an issue and something they wanted to express.
The relevance of the lyrics seem somewhat dated nowadays, not just because of the topics mentioned but because the music industry is much more liberal, instead of lyrics being ironic or having a hidden agenda they can be more direct. But regardless of this the message of We Care A Lot is still strong.
"If we did a 4th version it would go something like this: Donald trumps a lying, law breaking, tax evading, constitution ignoring, spoiled, sociopathic, psychopathic, misogynistic, lying ass son of a motherfucking useless pile of shit, so unfortunately placed by our sheer stupidity and ignorance, in charge of what I no longer consider, my country, and he’s gonna kill us all, WE CARE A LOT!" - Chuck 2017
25 years after he sang the original Chuck recorded a new version of the song for his 2009 album Will Rap Over Hard Rock For Food. Roddy guests on the song and it also features a reference to Epic and Mike Patton with the line, "We care a lot about the guy who wanted it all but couldn't have it"
"we care update it wasn't a knock on mike Patton, but it was a reference to him. I wanted to update the lyrics so to be relevant. We did the first version on the first LP, then the 2nd version on introduce yourself, with updated lyrics, so, naturally the new version had to have current references, duh, and currently mike Patton is the singer of FNM, so I mention him. I only said" little", cause he's younger than me and the phrasing called for a two syllable word. maybe it would get your juices flowing, if it was a "knock" on mike. if I had something to" feel bad about", but I've know him for over twenty years, and he's always been very kool to me, and we have always shared a mutual respect for each other. I think. he's a great singer. i sing ok, but, I'm unique, and original, and I write awesome lyrics. but I'm glad you noticed, that's very observant. Can you tell me where else did i reference him, or his lyrics? I'll give you a hint... oh, no I wont..." - Chuck 2010