The A to Z of Angel Dust
Faith No More's fourth album was released 30 years ago.
The band have celebrated with fans on their social media sharing their views on the album four decades after it was released.
"Angel Dust for us was a dive off a high cliff, with no idea what would meet us at the bottom. It was challenging, exhilarating, stressful and at times almost terrifying. It was a real and genuine period of growth for us on many levels, and the process reinforced a confidence towards our music that would serve us well in everything we did afterwards."
"In a more intense version of nonconformity and proving what we weren’t, we set out to challenge those who’d listened to us and liked us and ended up challenging ourselves as a band. The process got dark. I was dealing with major personal obstacles and it went into the mix. There were high stakes and the result felt rebellious and empowering. Wouldn’t change a thing."
"Each of us put everything we had into it. All we experienced on the previous Album and Tour helped us to evolve into this one. We were challenged both internally and externally throughout the process. Very pleased with the result. Also very pleased that it still resonates with people."
"Looking back , This record was the sound of us growing into our skin. Of course with this growth came some pains , but I feel proud and grateful to have been a part of it.
We are a better band today because of it!"
We are deep diving into this masterpiece with our A to Z of Angel Dust
A IS FOR Alienating your public Angel Dust was drastically different to it's predecessor The Real Thing, the album which had launched Faith No More into the mainstream and offered them such huge success. FNM were sure that fans would hate the diverse musical content of their follow up album, and record company Slash were worried that the band were alienating their fan base. FNM relished the opportunity to aggravate the situation and joked to the press that they should title the album Alienating Your Public.
"We're the same band making another record, and if people say it sounds a little different then obviously we're doing something right. We're doing the same thing we always do, but we're making it interesting enough that people realise it." - Bill Gould 1992
B IS FOR Beautiful name for a hideous drug Instead the band opted for the name Angel Dust - Roddy Bottum commenting that it was 'a beautiful name for a hideous drug'. This ambiguous title mirrored the variety of genres and moods represented on the record. From easy listening to metal, from pop to avant-garde, from country and western to disco.
"It has more to do with: the band itself, the sound of the band, the sound of the record, the songs on the record, the title, and the cover, going from wide to narrow. The band I think has many elements, some heavy, some beautiful. The record is balanced I think between some things that are really aggressive and disturbing and then really soothing. The title of the record is something that if you didn't know what it was , if you didn't know about any drugs, it would sound beautiful. It's just something that seems beautiful but is horrible." - Mike Bordin 1992
C IS FOR Caffeine Mike Patton has been quite open in describing his curious lyric writing methods for Angel Dust. Several lyrics were conceived during a sleep deprivation experiment in which Patton stayed awake for three days drinking coffee and immersing himself in late night TV shows. Indeed Patton seemed dependent on caffeine and was rarely seen without a cup in his hand.
D IS FOR Does life seem worthwhile to you? Other lyrics on the album were borrowed from even more unusual sources. The song Land Of Sunshine includes aphorisms found in fortune cookies and lines taken from personality tests written by founder of the Church of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard.
"There's these late night TV programmes that you can watch in America, they're like seminars where they teach you how to think positively and strive for your goals. It's a huge scam, it's great. I tried really hard at that and I'm still working on it." - Mike Patton 1992 E IS FOR Elevator music The last track on Angel Dust is an intoxicating cover version of John Barry's theme from the 1969 movie Midnight Cowboy. In a departure from digital sounds, Roddy Bottum used an accordion to play the lead melody.
Bill and Roddy commented at the time that the band's next release would be an EP of elevator music, which would refer to Songs To Make Love To.
"I'm really pleased with the cover we did of 'Midnight Cowboy', because that's taken us into one direction that we've never gone before. That's the way of the future, easy listening is where it's at. We're going to come out real soon with an EP of music for elevators." - Roddy Bottum 1992
F IS FOR Funk Metal
When the music press couldn’t find a convenient pigeon hole for The Real Thing they coined the phrase funk metal. FNM, who have never appreciated being labelled, hoped Angel Dust would help in loosing that particular tag.
”This whole Funk Metal thing is really disgusting. The last thing I ever want to be in is a Funk Metal band - we're gonna try to be anything except that!.... I would say that any band which plays Funk Metal, I hate, and would safely say that most of the band feel the same way." - Bill Gould 1992
G IS FOR Gratuitous sampling
Roddy Bottum embraced the latest technology on Angel Dust and FNM made use of samples from many different sources.
Matt Wallace had gifted the band DAT recorders which had collected samples used in A Small Victory, Caffeine and Crack Hitler. Midlife Crisis included samples from Beastie Boys and Simon and Garfunkel. Malpractice samples from Diamanda Galás
"The break in 'A Small Victory' is very typical of using sound sources and being a more rhythmic keyboard player. In that particular song, the sound sources were things as opposed to programs, strings or pianos. Most of that stuff was recorded with a DAT player, just whilst wandering out and about, and then I put them into the keyboard itself." - Roddy Bottum
"It's just weirder. The record company said it was 'a little bit too far left-field' That means it's less rock. They also accused of us 'gratuitous sampling'". - Roddy Bottum 1992
H IS FOR Hangin’ with MTV FNM's famous performance for Hangin’ On MTV was aired on July 20th 1992. The band performed Midlife Crisis, A Small Victory and Caffeine for a bemused American audience. The band demonstrated their mischievous behaviour during an interview steeped with sarcasm, and with Mike Patton screaming uncontrollably over the presenters.
I IS FOR I swallow I Swallow was the working title for the song Be Aggressive. Roddy Bottum penned the lyrics which describe the act of fellatio between two men. In 1993 Roddy revealed his sexuality to fans via an article in Advocate magazine. Roddy bravely telling the world he was gay inspired future musicians within a heterosexual dominated scene to come out.
"What I like about 'Be Aggressive' is that even though it's macho in a homosexual way, lots of FNM listeners probably imagine that it is a woman who is getting down on her knees and swallowing rather than a man. I guess it's easier for people to understand and deal with it that way." - Roddy Bottum 1992
J IS FOR Jizzlobber Jizzlobber is Jim Martin’s main contribution to the album. Jim's attitude towards Angel Dust was strained from the beginning and he seemed disagreeable with everything from the songs, to the recording, to the album title. He worked on his guitar parts at home and due to his absence during the song writing Jim found it difficult to understand what direction the others were taking.
"I just wanted to have a song of mine on the album, and I wanted to write something really horrible and ugly. The title is my idea of a joke, because I'm not really a fan of true guitar-jizz music. Of course, I can't play like Satriani or Vai any how. I feel like those guys are playing another instrument altogether." - Jim Martin 1992 K IS FOR Kevin Kerslake FNM released four music videos from Angel Dust - Midlife Crisis and Everything's ruined were directed by Kevin Kerslake.
"I grew up with Billy Gould and Roddy Bottum. We were neighbours and our parents actually went to school together, so I had a life long relationship with those guys. I was also a big fan of Faith No More. We never talked about the root or the theme of this song [Midlife Crisis] , so I have no idea what it’s about, but the overall flavour of the video is torture. There are some lyrics in the song about somebody who’s lost all four limbs, so that’s where the idea of having somebody being quartered came from. When we started putting the shoot together, one of the things we quickly learned about horses is that they’re pack animals, so when you face four horses in opposite directions their instinct is not to go forward. Typically, there’s a lead horse and all of the other horses follow him. So we had this guy attached to all four horses and one of the horses reared up as another horse started charging forward. The effect of that was that one horse was actually pulling the other horse on its back, and the stuntman was right below him. Thankfully, he was very agile and he got out of the way in time, but it was pretty hairy for a minute there.” - Kevin Kerslake 2015 L IS FOR L7
Whilst Touring on Angel Dust Faith No More were joined by several support acts. In the USA alt metallers Helmet, Babes In Toyland and Kyuss. In Australia they were joined by Scarymother. In Europe support cake from all girl grunge outfit L7.
A match made in heaven L7 and FNM shared a similar unsanitary sense of humour - while Mike Patton was defecting in public L7 were tossing tampons at the crowd.
M IS FOR Madonna
In May 1992 FNM released Midlife Crisis the premiere single from Angel Dust. The song was affectionately christened Madonna as a working title which eventually made it onto set lists.
"The song is based on a lot of observation and a lot of speculation. But in sort of a pointed way its kind of about Madonna...I think it was a particular time where I was being bombarded with her image on TV and in magazines and her whole schtick kind of speaks to me in that way...like she's going through some sort of problem. It seems she's getting a bit desperate." - Mike Patton 1992
N IS FOR Nu Metal
Although most of the band are sickened by the idea that their music has in any way inspired the late 90s movement of Nu Metal, it would seem that a great deal of bands from this scene have cited Angel Dust as an inspiration. In fact in 2003 Kerrang! magazine voted Angel Dust as the most influential album of all time.
"Angel Dust's impact can still be felt. Whether it's first wave nu-metallers like Korn and Faith No More or such hungry-eyed upstarts as Finch or Glassjaw, the debt owed to Mike Patton and co ¡s huge: it's in the union of ferocity, instinct and groove; in the unabashed intelligence that drives it forward; in the fact that it made uniqueness not so much legitimate as compulsory. In typically perverse fashion, the members of Faith No More have spent the past 10 years denying that they ever changed the musical landscape. Open your ears to this, and you'll see just how wrong they are. INFLUENCED: Korn, Limp Bizkit, Glassjaw, Finch, Hundred Reasons, Incubus, System Of A Down, American Head Charge... " - Kerrang! 2003
O IS FOR Orange Juice
In July 1992 Metallica and Guns 'N' Roses set out upon their ill-fated stadium tour. Faith No More were along for the ride and dedicated undermine the whole thing. FNM were indignant to the touring rock n' roll cliches and Axl bashing became their focus during interviews. FNM held nothing back narrating with brutal honesty and cheeky creativity.
Mike Patton's Shit Terrorist alter ego gave rise to one such rumour. Apparently the singer stuffed a handful of his own feces in Axl's orange juice carton! This story has however since been debunked.
"Not true. However I did piss on his teleprompter. One day I was just so bored. It was such a drag touring with those guys, I hate to say it. They treated us like shit. They paid us really well. Be we were like everyday looking for something fucked up to do." - Mike Patton 2021
Patton does confirm that he did crap in L7's juice during their 1992 tour together.
"The shit story is different, that was with L7. They did not like it at all. I thought it was funny. I took a shit in their orange juice and put it back in their fridge and they figured it out, 'that's the most fucked up thing I can't believe you did that'." - Patton 2021
Hes also recalls the time he spoiled a chocolate cake for Guns N' Roses.
"I was bored. I took a chocolate cake and put some of my shit inside it. Then we watched. I was hoping maybe Axl Rose would eat it. Instead our crew guy picks it up. He's about to eat it and I was like 'don't do it!' at the last second. So the experiment failed." - Patton 2021
P IS FOR Perfume commercial
A Small Victory was the second single released from Angel Dust on August 3rd 1992. FNM enlisted German film director Marcus Nispel, best known for his work with C+C Music Factory, to create a very different video to anything they had previously released. Mike Patton described the video as 'slick' and compared it to a perfume commercial.
The music video was nominated for the MTV Video Music Award for Best Art Direction, but lost to Madonna's song Rain.
Q IS FOR Queasily Obscene
Upon release Angel Dust found extensive critical acclaim.
It's loud, it's aggressive and, like any rock record worth its salt, it excites at the most instinctive level. Their time has surely come. - Q Magazine
Visionary venom, misanthropic majesty, grotesque grandeur Aesthetically and philosophically, Angel Dust is profoundly, putridly offensive, but I keep coming back to it, like a scab. - Melody Maker
This album is an altogether impeccable display of character, imagination, humour, and a whole spectrum of musical genres wrapped up in the formidable power Faith No More are masters of. - Raw
Thoroughly exhilarating, absolutely mood altering and completely addictive. - Rolling Stone
Queasily obscene, inflamed, schizoid and shocking - NME
R IS FOR Right Said Fred
FNM revealed to us their fascination with UK gay scene duo Right Said Fred during an MTV interview in early 1992. FNM were hoping to be supported on tour by the pop group. Right Said Fred agreed, however promoters didn't see the benefits of the peculiar pairing.
"We wanted them to tour America, but when we shopped the idea around the promoters - which is what you do when you set up a tour, throw some bait in the water - the reaction wasn't too good. It's too bad, cos I would go to a tour like that, out of morbid curiosity." - Mike Patton 1992
S IS FOR Sunshine Lady
Four members of FNM have persistently avoided groupies.However during their headlining tour in 1992 it would seem that they encouraged the more psychotic fans.
This included Karen from Clearwater, affectionately nicknamed the Sunshine Lady by the band. The Sunshine Lady carried a 400 page scrapbook of FNM and Mr Bungle with her everywhere and claimed to have met Mike Patton in past lives.
"She keeps telling me that I'm going to have dinner with her parents someday, and that we're communicating spiritually. She's so happy. I mean no one should be that happy all the time" - Mike Patton 1992
T IS FOR Toodles
Toodles was an antique doll which found her way into several interviews and photo shoots during the end of 1992 and into 1993. The origin of Mike Patton’s creepy companion differs from interview to interview. Whether Patton acquired her from a voodoo priest in New Orleans, dug her up in an Atlanta graveyard or bought her from an antique store in Davenport - the two were inseparable for a few months.
"We're a band that encourages extremes.....so when anyone is doing things like that. I think: Well whatever you wanna do, whatever you wanna try - no matter how outlandish - just make yourself happy. Which is a healthy environment. I'm very proud of the extremes that go on in our band, I'm proud of the fact that Mike is like that. I'm proud that he carries a doll around a voodoo doll called Toodles. That's such a bizarre thing, but extremes are what we're about." - Roddy Bottum 1993
U IS FOR You ain’t never gonna amount to nothing
During the groundwork for Angel Dust Mike Patton was involved from the outset and his approach to lyric writing added a unique twist to the songs. He inhabited a crowd of grotesque characters to perform tracks such as Malpractice and RV.
"The words are really messed up, it's the white trash saga: You wake up. you do nothing and you talk a lot of shit .. . and that's what the song does. A lot of the tunes are like character sketches. I don't see anything wrong with that. A lot of people maybe will want to give me shit for that." - Mike Patton 1992
V IS FOR Varig Airlines
The sample during the intro to Crack Hitler is the voice of famous Brazilian actress Iris Lettieri reading a flight announcement at the Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport. She unsuccessfully attempted to sue the band after hearing the song.
"we sampled the voice of this woman who's pretty famous in Brazil. She announced flights for Varig Airlines, we all really liked the voice and she pretty much summed up our whole Brazilian experiences. So we taped her, used the voice and now she's suing us us for using her voice without permission." - Roddy Bottum 1992
W IS FOR The Word
On November 13th 1992 FNM appeared on British live Television for the first time (they had mimed on Top Of The Pops in 1990). The show was late night controversial variety program The Word. In the same year Donita Sparks of L7 dropped her jeans and underwear appearing nude from the waist down on The Word - FNM didn't go as far as this, but Bill Gould did dress as a bumblebee during the iconic performance.
X IS FOR Cross dressing
On December 29th 1992 Faith No More released their cover of the 1977 Commodores song Easy. The song is to this day their most successful selling single.
The video is typically provocative mixing live footage from the Angel Dust tour with the band members hanging out in a hotel accompanied by a bunch of transvestites and flamingos!
As Mike Patton throws luxury chocolates from a hotel balcony, Bill Gould swigs champagne from the bottle and Roddy Bottum croons over a grand piano surrounded by cross dressers it's easy to believe that this is a dig at their tour buddies Guns n' Roses.
"Of all the videos we've done, it probably has our personality the most, people can find something sympathetic through a weird medium. It's almost touching that this transvestite is sitting there drinking champagne while Mike's singing." - Bill Gould 1993
Y IS FOR Youth
In September 1992 Faith No More released an EP of A Small Victory remixes. The R-evolution 23 (Full Moon) Mix and Sundown Mix were re-imaginings of the original song produced by Martin Glover, AKA Youth, bassist of the band Killing Joke. These were the first Faith No More songs to be produced and engineered by someone other than Matt Wallace, plus their first exploration into the dance genre.
Z IS FOR ZTV
Faith No More played a show at the Col Ballroom in Davenport in September 1992.
Before the show a 15 year old school boy got the opportunity of a lifetime and interviewed his favourite band for ZTV cable show before the gig.
James Zahn spoke on camera with all five members of the band.