Faith No More are back next year. Here’s why you should care about the wild and witty progenitors of alt-metal

Exciting times for fans of batshit alt metal. Faith No More have announced a string of festival dates for 2020, with more expected any time now.

We haven’t seen the band since 2016, while the last time we got new music was 2015, with the excellent ‘Sol Invictus’. Here are eight reasons why their return is much anticipated…

Behold the voice of Mike Patton

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Mike Patton possesses a larynx which doubles as one of rock’s great instruments. It’s highly in demand, with the singer lending his vocals to acts as eclectic as Björk, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Melvins and Dan The Automator. Oh, and have you ever played Valve’s software’s fantastic 2008 FPS shooter Left 4 Dead? He does the zombie noises in it (Mike’s got something of a talent for zombie noises, he did them for the 2007 film I Am Legend, too).

So in demand is Patton’s voice, that when Australian AOR titans INXS lost singer Michael Hutchence in 1997, they enquired with Patton as to whether he’d consider stepping in. He replied by telling the band he’d only consider it if he could perform on stage with a noose hung around his neck. He also called them “dingo-loving sons of bitches”. A great voice. A bit of a dickhead, too. But lol at the dingo thing.

They’ve always been an odd and dysfunctional family

And yet, Mike Patton wasn’t always the Faith No More singer. In the beginning, there was Mike Morris. He only recorded one double A-side single in 1982, when the band were called Faith No Man (that’s not even that bad a name, considering they were called Sharp Young Men previously), entitled ‘Quiet In Heaven/Song Of Liberty’ (it’s really good actually). Then came Courtney Love. No, really! She was an awesome performer,” remembers bassist Billy Gould. “She liked to sing in her nightgown, adorned with flowers…” And here comes the ‘but’… “She was a very chaotic personality. It just got too much.” Love has claimed that the reason she was dismissed from the band because the group wanted more “male energy.”

Other than Patton, however, it’s the late Chuck Mosley – singer on the band’s first two records, ‘We Care A Lot’ in 1985 and ‘Introduce Yourself’ in 1987 – who gave the most to the Faith No More cause. Though his departure from the band was messy (he once punched Billy Gould onstage), the singer was on good terms with his former bandmates in later years, frequently guesting onstage with them. Also notable for a stint fronting hardcore legends Bad Brains, Mosley died on November 9, 2017, of a drug overdose. The band paid tribute, saying, “We were a family, an odd and dysfunctional family, and we’ll be forever grateful for the time we shared with Chuck.” Which is perfectly put, really.

Alternative metal? They invented that shit

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The band’s fourth album, ‘Angel Dust’, is now widely viewed as one of the greatest alternative metal records ever made. With apologies to both the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone, you could actually make a strong claim for its creators having invented the genre. The record has sold over 2.5 million copies and is the first FNM record to feature real creative input by Patton – the singer had joined the band with 1989’s ‘The Real Thing’ recorded sans vocals. And yet, when the record was released in 1992, it would be untrue to say that everyone agreed with its genre-melding genius right away. When the band’s label executives attended production sessions, one suggested they title the record ‘Commercial Suicide’. Another told the band, “I hope none of you guys bought houses”.

Enjoy your metal machismo free!

Heavy rock hasn’t always been the most… enlightened of environments. In 1992, Faith No More would tour the United States opening for Metallica and Guns N’ Roses. The latter’s singer was one Axl Rose, a man who has openly described himself as “pro-heterosexual”. Faith No More keyboard player Roddy Bottum came out to American LGBT magazine The Advocate in 1993, saying, “I would never have thought as a gay teen I’d be in a band that would be considered heavy metal or hard rock.”

One of Bottum’s greatest contributions to Faith No More is his authorship of the song ‘Be Aggressive’, a song about sadomasochism and sucking dick (key lyric: “Ugly seed reach down my throat, you filthy bird that’s all I need”) that the keyboard player claims he wrote largely in an attempt to “embarrass” the heterosexual Patton.

Bottum, by the way, is a hero in every way conceivable. Not only has he (alongside Lynn Truell, drummer for The Dicks and a gazillion other amazing underground rock bands) fronted the genius indie-pop band Imperial Teen since 1994, but in 2013 he wrote an entire opera… about Bigfoot!

No band, before or since, has ever been as good at song titles

Not only do Faith No More have a song called ‘Surprise! You’re Dead!’ (from 1989’s ‘The Real Thing’). Not only do they have one called ‘Woodpecker From Mars’ (also, ‘The Real Thing’). Not only do they have a song called ‘Crack Hitler’ (from 1992’s ‘Angel Dust’). But they have one called ‘Jizzlobber’ (also, ‘Angel Dust’). Next time you’re at a wedding, go ask the DJ if they’ve ‘got ‘Jizzlobber’. Please. Do that. For us.

See also: music videos

Whether it’s the band goofing around in front of cheap-ass found-footage for the song ‘Everything’s Ruined’ (“Warner’s had spent the video budget,” explains bassist Billy Gould). Or the Caligula-esque-orgy-cum-wine-tasting-in-a-funeral-parlour vibe of ‘Ashes To Ashes’ (an incredible cut from 1997’s modestly titled ‘Album Of The Year’). Or the… nope, we’ve got no idea what’s going on in ‘Falling To Pieces’ (lizards! A stuffed stoat! Exploding goldfish! THE INSIDE OF MIKE PATTON’S FACE!). Few alternative rock bands approached the MTV era with the gusto of Faith No More. Few bands captured their own essence with such brilliant visual nous also.

Perhaps the band’s crowning glory is the video for their 1990 hit single ‘Epic’. There’s some great blink-and-you’ll-miss-em moments. Patton is sporting a t-shirt of his “other” band, the deeply experimental Mr. Bungle, with the ledger “There’s a tractor in my balls again”. Guitarist ‘Big’ Jim Martin – who once went to school with late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton – is wearing one saying, “A tribute to Cliff Burton”. And the fish? Legend has it they belonged to Björk and the band stole them from her at a house party.

They don’t just write great songs! They grow great pumpkins!

Speaking of Big Jim, the iconic guitarist – what other musician can you think of that wears red sunglasses, over another pair of glasses – left the band shortly after the release of ‘Angel Dust’. Why has never truly been explained. And yet the rumour persists that the guitarist left in order to concentrate on competitive pumpkin growing. Jim allegedly “turned pro” in 2000 and in 2007 claimed first prize in a Californian based contest. Meanwhile, Bigpumpkins.com, an online hub for the giant pumpkin growing scene, ranks Jim highly. Jim also likes to grow peas. “I love peas,” he says. “I stand out here and eat them. They never make it to the house…”

And yet while Jim isn’t involved in FNM anymore, he lives on in rock infamy via a cameo in 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. He has two lines; “Station!” and “What a shithead”…

The Red Hot Chili Peppers hate them

You can tell a lot about the quality of a person by the people who dislike them. Fellow funk-rock pioneers the RHCP really hate FNM. The long-running feud started when Anthony Kiedis, singer in the aforementioned band, took offence to Mike Patton stealing his “style”. Patton responded drolly, “I think Anthony, deep down, feels like I’m a better dancer than he is. I think I shake my booty just a little bit fresher than he does. And if he would stop doing drugs I think he could out-dance me.” Pettily, the Chili Peppers responded by having FNM booted off any festival bills that they were also booked to play.

This tit-for-tat continued for years, with Patton’s Mr. Bungle performing a Halloween show in 1999 dressed as the rival band. He was Anthony Kiedis, obviously. Presently, it seems the band have buried the hatchet, with RHCP performing early FNM song ‘We Care A Lot’ at a show in Brooklyn in 2015. Which is nice, but also a bit boring.

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