'Sol Invictus' Five Years - Making The Album
Faith No More released their long-awaited seventh studio album on May 18th 2015. It was their first recording since 1997.
How are you supposed to react when your favourite band - who you have religiously adored for over twenty five years and who you didn't believe would ever record again - delivers an album eighteen years after their last offering? Excited, yes. Nervous, yes.
Five years since it's release and Sol Invictus still feels like brand new material, it still evokes feelings of liberation and reminds us of a era of rebirth. Here we will re-live how FNM conquered 2015, they continued to surprise and confuse fans and how they created something on their terms which was different to what had come before. Sol Invictus was the album the band didn’t have to make. Some might say the band had evolved into a sound they meant to deliver all along. With almost eighteen years since 1997’s Album of the Year the five musicians had each changed as composers and players with over a decade of experience and individual influences.
"This is a dark album that we’ve made, but it’s about the sun. It’s about the sun coming up every day. There’s a super-positive message among this dark music. It’s very uplifting. And that’s all I can say.” - Bill Gould
Matador - “We will rise from the killing floor”
After nearly four years touring a 'greatest hits' show the band began to feel like the reunion phase had grown stale and they needed new direction if Faith No More were to continue.
"We got really bored with what we were doing," he explained. "And we also felt like there are a whole lot of people out there who look to us to be inspired and encouraged by what we do artistically. So to be doing old songs on a big stage with a lot of people watching over and over — it felt kind of cheap and easy and a little too safe of a place to be. That's not who we are. We've always pushed buttons and we've always rubbed against the grain and we've always challenged things." - Roddy | Louder Faster May 2015
The initial seeds of Sol Invictus were sown in 2011 when founding member and primary music writer Bill Gould offered up a new song whilst the band were preparing to tour in South America. "I was like, This is great that we’ve all connected, but I need to do creative stuff. I was always hands-on where this band is concerned. I’m just that guy, and if I’m putting all this energy and effort into it, I need something. I need some oxygen. It was one of those things like, Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Don’t bring up new music. Don’t talk about it. Finally I thought, Fuck it, man, I’m just going to fucking say it: I got a song. Do you guys want to hear it? Stop talking about fucking covers all the time and think of doing some fucking music? And everybody was like, Yeah, sure, great." - Bill | Small Victories
Matador, known as the Mystery Song, became the subject of much discussion between fans who at the time labelled it an unheard leftover from a previous album. The band performed the song in Buenos Aires and it became a regular fixture in the set for the next few years.
"Honestly, 'Matador' felt so obvious. Not in a bad way, but like a comfortable shoe. It felt like somewhere we go typically as a band. We have this language among the four of us that's sort of unique and inherent to people who sort of grow up together; we have a go-to language that we all relate to really well. So hearing it was like, 'Oh yeah, that. I get it!'"- Roddy | Revolver April 2015
"Bill brought in a new tune that he wrote, and said: 'Shall we try this? And when we heard it, yep, we knew what to do exactly, boom boom boom. It's like a secret society when you're in a band, with your handshakes and your lingo, and even after all that time, you still understand it. It's part of you. We started playing that one song live, and it felt good. So okay, let's proceed." - Patton | Classic Rock July 2015
By mid 2013 Bill, Mike Bordin, Roddy Bottum and Jon Hudson were working on new material together.
"The album came in little bursts. Every step of the way we got a little bit more confident and comfortable with each other. We knew that if we decided to go down this road then we were taking on everything that goes with it. It's not just us making the album, it's touring, it's interviews... things we haven't had to do in a long time. So we knew that, hey, if we do this then we have to commit to this other stuff, too. But we got together and decided it was worth it." - Bill | Metal Hammer Feb 2015
Faith No More had no idea whether they would release a new album so rehearsals were conducted in secret, the band didn't even tell their wives they were working on new material.
"It's not my instinct to do things that way, but collectively as a band, we like to present things without any fanfare. It's not shrouded in secrecy, but we like to put things out without any attention being brought to it. Kids would ask us and we'd intentionally not say, like we didn't know what they were talking about. I think it was a way of protecting us. The whole process of making a record was so insular, just us behind closed doors. It was a way of protecting the integrity of that, not being affected by people's expectations. I think if people knew we were making a record, we would have made a different record. The expectations would have changed the outcome. It was nice to be behind closed doors, where no one knew what we were doing and we could create something on our own, rather than having to think about what people might want or might say." - Roddy | Rock-a-Rolla 2015
“We kept it in-house and behind closed doors. And we were fortunate to be able to keep it as insular as we did because we had no expectations or deadlines. Really, it’s a chicken shit way to do it. But at the same time it allowed us freedom.” - Roddy | Billboard May 2015
When it came to convincing Mike Patton there was apprehension.
"We didn’t want to go there with him, because we didn’t know what he thought about us. He never really told us. But, at some point, we had to tell him, because if he wasn’t singing, we didn’t have a band, and we didn’t have a record. We didn’t approach him until after most of the stuff was recorded in demo form. But then Patton came over to the studio, and I played him a bunch of stuff." - Bill | Small Victories
"I'm sure you could pull up all sorts of quotes from me where I'm saying, 'We'll never make another record again, I never want to be a part of that ever again.' But, you know, circumstances change. And it's nice to be wrong; it's nice to admit when you're wrong. And I was wrong! I did not know that this band had more statements in them. Believe me, I was as surprised as anyone when I heard this music and realised that I wanted to be a part of it." - Patton | Kerrang! April 2015
"I was very shocked to hear that they'd been working on stuff. One night a couple of years ago, I was hanging out with Bill, and he was like, 'I was Just working on some stuff. Do you want to hear it?' He played me some stuff, and I was like, 'This is fucking great!' He was like, 'Well, would you like to sing on it?' 'Well yeah, of course!' I didn't even know that it was Faith No More music, at first. But then he told me, 'No, this is stuff that I wrote for us!' And I was a little taken aback... I didn't know what to say I was flattered, put it that way. I was like, 'Damn! You wrote this shit thinking of me? Like us?' Because my head wasn't even near that space; I was somewhere else." - Patton | Revolver April 2015
The band made the decision early on to take a DIY approach to Sol Invictus. They would record and engineer the album themselves. There was no external pressure or obligations which meant the band could create an organic selection of tracks.
“You have to understand, it was recorded by us… written, arranged and performed obviously. Mixed by us, in our place. I mean, this is really about as self-contained an effort as you’re gonna get and I’m super proud of every guy that did it. To me, the result… I couldn’t make it any better. And I want people to hear it for themselves.” - Bordin | Drum Magazine 2015 Bill Gould found himself in the role of engineer and producer, as well as bassist and songwriter. The album was recorded in Estudios Koolarrow, Vulcan Studios in Oakland, California. Patton embraced the new music and set about recording his vocals at his home studio, as always he side-stepped questions on lyrical content.
“I hate to be unromantic here, but the lyrics to me are just another instrument. I see them as such, and there's a reason we don't really print them on our records. I don't think we ever have. Maybe we did once or twice and that was just under duress. I feel that the words are really up to you. I'm giving them to the public, and I think that, you know, whoever's listening should be able to interpret them the way they want. From word to word and sentence to sentence, if there's a grand meaning, you come up with it, because I certainly can't. I don't have one. I'll tell you. I don't have a grand plan. I write lyrics based on music, on a musical flow, and what sounds good at the time. If I can fit a them into that, then hey, I'm lucky. If not? I don't care. They're just words. If they're political, if they're antisocial or god knows what — if they were, then that's not my problem. I just write them, and it's up to the world to decide what they are. That's my position.” - Patton | NPR May 2015
To realise their vision the band called on their old friend Matt Wallace.
"We didn't even have an engineer when we recorded it. It was just us. There was only one other person who came in, and that was Matt Wallace, who finished the mixing. Having an extra perspective and an extra set of ears was really important at that point, and Matt goes back with us back to 1982—he's like a family member" - Gould | Revolver 2015
Motherfucker - “Bloated, promoted in an ode to pomp and style”
On May 30th 2014 Faith No More made a their first statement alluding to new music via their social media, ‘The reunion thing was fun, but now it’s time to get a little creative.’
Two months later and the band made a return to the live stage after a full year's break at British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park, London. The set included the premiere of Superhero and Motherfucker.
“We knew that we were making a record at that time, for sure. That was the first time we played those songs though, so it was kinda high stakes. The decision to wear the priest outfits and play Motherfucker right then felt pretty bold. We had been working on this stuff behind the scenes but we weren’t ready to tell anybody. Then again, anyone who saw us play that day with Sabbath would’ve figured out what we were up to.” - Roddy | The Skinny Dec 2015
On November 28th 2014 Faith No More released Motherfucker as their first single since 1998. The single was produced by Bill , mastered by Moar Applebaum and recorded in their Oakland rehearsal space. It was released through Ipecac on their own imprint Reclamation Recordings. In true FNM spirit, their first new material in seventeen years was unplayable on radio because of it's lyrical content.
"It felt like a really nice statement to put out into the public, to let people know we’re not playing any games. We don’t really care if it’s on the radio. It’s sort of offensive and playful and bold and maybe a little bit antagonistic. Just the word itself was a fun thing to put out there. But yeah, it’s totally different than the rest of the record. It’s me singing on it, which is a little bit different, and it’s really simple and stripped down. Something called “Motherfucker” just felt like a nice place for us to kick off a new chapter for Faith No More." - Roddy | Noisey March 2015
"Everything we’ve ever done was from gut feeling even if it didn’t make a lot of sense at the time. Releasing a song called Motherf---er as your first track after 18 years makes absolutely no conscious sense at all, but I think it was the right thing to do. It worked out great.” - Bill | Vancouver Sun April 2015
Superhero - “Ain't no grave going to hold this body down”
On February 10th 2015 Faith No More announced the date of their new album via a press release in Rolling Stone Magazine,
“What I can say is that I think through our experience as musicians over the years, I think what we’re doing reflects where we’ve gone since we made our last record as Faith No More. I think this kicks things up a notch. And I think there’s parts that are very powerful and there’s parts that have a lot of “space.” Everything we do, with our chemistry, the way we play; it’s always going to sound like us. It’s just what we do, that makes us feel good. Hopefully it doesn’t sound like a bunch of 50-year-old men…which we are.”“ - Bill Gould
To prepare us for their first record in eighteen years, the band released Superhero as a second single on March 23th 2015.
"Superhero actually just started from the sound of the song, where it has these pounding drums and it has like this throbbing kind of pulse, and we just called it the Superhero song. Because, a lot of the ways we write we visualize things. Actually this is kind of interesting because we’re probably a unique band in a way. While we write music we’re talking about chord changes and different things like that. What we do is we describe scenes together, and we can visualize the scene and the music kind of comes. We kind of make movie scenes for movies that don’t exist. Superhero was one of those where it was definitely a superhero comic, I mean that was just the vibe of the song, and when Mike came to me writing words about it, we were already calling it Superhero." - Bill | Marvel March 2015
From The Dead - "Hear your lion roar"
"In America, there's something called an 'Oops Baby'. It's like, the woman who's 45 and wants another kid and is, like. 'Fuck, I'm too old, it's not gonna happen.' And then it does happen: 'I'm 45... oops, I'm having a baby.' This album is a fucking 'Oops Baby' for us." - Bordin | Metal Hammer July 2015
Fans were worried about whether a new album would live up to the legacy of the band.
"A lot of people are afraid of us making a new record, and I get that. There's a template to this, I think: You were a good band, you break up, you get back together and you put out a shitty album. But we tried really, really hard to resist that template. We kept our minds sharp and we still have a lot to offer. But people like the stuff we did in the past. We're older now and they're afraid of what we might put out as an older band. They're worried that the music we might make today might not hold up. But even if this new record fails, I'm still a lot happier doing something creative and productive than I am just going to work and playing the old songs." - Gould | Kerrang! April 2015
Faith No More's seventh studio album was released on May 19th 2015 and was a hit with fans and critics. The band spoke about Sol Invictus ....
"It sounds really stripped-down and simple. Mike's singing from a more solitary voice this time around. It doesn't feel as schizophrenic as it was on past records. It's a lot darker than I thought we would have gone, very sombre. When we were super-young, we felt like we were always going to be this dark, hypnotic, Goth sort of band, and the tone's come back around to that." - Roddy | Classic Rock July 2015
"I would say that it really does go back to out roots, and is really gothic – it’s really sort of in the dark and there’s a lot of sombre tones on it. It speaks to my core, I really get really gut instincts from simple stripped down sounds when we do that successfully. And for me there are a lot of those moments on the record. It’s not as dense as the place that we usually go and there are a lot of places with really simple instrumentation. And pianos – there is a lot of pianos – and a lot of really, concise smart lyrics that can be heard and understood. And those sorts of places on the record are the strongest for me." - Roddy | Faster Louder February 2015
"Everything is represented on this album. You’ve got our singer, Mike [Patton], with his range of talents and breadth of skills. Our bass player is particularly talented at creating these atmospheres and environments with his production and arrangements. Everyone’s ideas are in this record. There’s enough rock, there’s enough crunch, there’s enough melody, there’s enough darkness. All the elements are there." - Bordin | Music Feeds February 2015 "We have our own language, and it's not just musical—it's emotional and physical as well. It's a unique thing, and we had to give it time to work. When the band started getting pretty strong [live], we were like, 'Okay, now either we're done, or we're going to have something else to say.' Because if you don't have something new to say and you just keep carrying on, it becomes nostalgia. No one was here to re-create a time when we had less gray hair and more brain cells, you know? So some music came. It came gradually, it came honestly, and in my opinion it came correctly.I'm super-proud of [Sol Invictus], I'm proud of my guys. It's been a crazy, cool gift to have a second chance to do this with more experience and more perspective under our collective belts. I really treasure it." - Bordin | Modern Drummer October 2015
“I think it’s fair to say that the songs that made it onto the album represent our best efforts, and also that they translated as well as we'd aimed for, so I'm proud of all of them. For me, Black Friday ended up being the real sleeper of the record. It just came together so well at the end - it’s one of my favorites on the album.” - Jon | Faith No More Followers June 2016
Cone Of Shame - “You're only happy when you're pissing me off”
Faith No More toured around the globe throughout 2015 with amazing performances on TV and radio. They released a video for Sunny Side Up on October 19th 2015 and Cone Of Shame on 7" vinyl with accompanying video on November 25th 2016.