Faith No More: How Rock's Most Contrarian Band Made Up and Came Back - Rolling Stone
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Faith No More: How Rock’s Most Contrarian Band Made Up and Came Back

The alt-metal superheroes return after 17 years, with a new album, new tour and new attitudes

Mike PattonMike Patton

Mike Patton of Faith No More on stage in Seattle on April 16th, 2015. The band's new album, 'Sol Invictus,' is its first in 18 years.

Mat Hayward/Getty

Faith No More are hours away from their first North American tour in 17 years and they haven’t figured out who’s going to sound the chime in “From the Dead.” A 12-song soundcheck in Vancouver’s empty, echoey PNE Forum is like trying on new clothes since, in the next few days, they’ll be premiering five songs from the ominous, brawny Sol Invictus, the band’s first album since 1997. “From the Dead” features a triumphant tubular-bell-like note that would probably be struck by keyboardist Roddy Bottum, except he’s playing acoustic guitar on the song — he awkwardly attempts to prod at the key in between strums. Vocal gymnast Mike Patton wanders behind the keyboard to croon and poke, but it’s ultimately decided the song is too “live” to hide the hyperkinetic spotlight-stealer behind a keyboard.

“What would Yngwie do?” kids Patton.

“Why don’t we dress Eric in a monkey suit?” suggests bassist Billy Gould, jokingly offering up the dignity of keyboard tech Eric Baecht.

Patton only sent his transcribed Sol Invictus lyrics to the band two weeks ago. “Hearing other peoples’ interpretations of your lyrics to me is just a total kick in the pants,” he says. “Half the time, they’re better.”

Finessing three-part harmony background vocals on the song, guitarist Jon Hudson asks Patton if he’s singing, “Daddy, daddy.”

“No! But let’s say that!” exclaims Patton, excitedly. He loves being detached enough from his own words to rewrite them on the fly.

Such free and good-natured communication among all five band members is a new, beautiful thing for Faith No More. They spent much of their career publicly feuding with each other while bristling at outside input. Their record label, critics, fans and even bandmates were often, and often justifiably, confused and confounded by them.

Like Nirvana — a group that they “paved the way for,” according to the band’s Krist Novoselic — Faith No More would zig where outsiders would urge them to zag. Their 1990 rap-metal volley “Epic” was a Top 10 hit, but they followed its album, The Real Thing, with the avant-metal terrordome Angel Dust, which Entertainment Weekly called, “probably the most uncommercial follow-up to a hit record ever.” Then they followed that with a mostly straight cover of the Commodores’ soft-pop hammock-swinger “Easy.” The band’s music only got more arcane, spiraling into fake bossa-nova (“Caralho Voador”) and the onomatopoetic screeching of Japanese noise outfits (“Cuckoo for Caca”). While infuriating to many, Faith No More’s musical restlessness would inspire a generation of boundary-pushing metal groups, including System of a Down and Dillinger Escape Plan, and since their breakup, their following has only grown: come August, the reunited band will headline Madison Square Garden for the first time in an over-30-year career. Perhaps most remarkably, Faith No More’s new album is just as free-spirited and radio-unfriendly as anyone could hope, ranging from goth-punk atmospherics to Morricone metal to a lead single called “Motherfucker” that, for the most part, isn’t even sung by Patton. Something as obvious as a reunion album should seem downright abominable to a band so dead-set on defying convention; yet here they are here, finishing what they started, having a blast and making music that can stand proudly in their catalog. How did Faith No More manage to pull this off without embarrassing themselves?

Faith No More

Billy Gould steps into Revolver, a Vancouver coffee-geek wonderland renown for far-flung beans and “flights” of java. Steeped in San Francisco’s coffee culture, Gould walks towards the shining espresso maker located between the counter and some science-lab-ready beakers. “You know what this machine is called?” he asks animatedly. “I think it’s called the Slayer.”

To Gould, the reunion has been almost therapeutic. “When we were dysfunctional and we split up, I contributed to that as much as anybody,” he says. “To look back and go, ‘Well, I was kind of a dick then. If I behaved differently, how different could this be?’ Actually, it’s been completely rewarding on that side.”

“I was a real hard-ass on people,” he remembers about his Nineties approach. “I took on the role, myself, of being a whip-cracker. I grew up in a nice middle class family and got good grades in school. Dropped out to be a musician, I never graduated. I was completely unemployable. I worked at Domino’s Pizza and I had shitty minimum wage jobs. This band was kind of like where I put all my focus, this is what I want to do with my life.”

“To fuck something up really bad and then to go back and readdress is really unique.”  —Roddy Bottum

“I would say in years past I held some shit in,” says Patton, who describes the reunion as being “like fucking therapy.” “Now, we’d just rather talk about it. . . . I would hope that I’ve gotten better at that because I was not good at that in the beginning. If I was in a bad mood, then maybe I won’t talk about it, but you’re going to know about it somehow. If something was bothering me, maybe I would have acted a little bit like a child, meaning I go break something in a room. Or start yelling about some innocuous — “It’s fucking cold outside, goddamn!” — channeling that energy. You realize, Wow this is not helping.”

Bottum, too, is finding some kind of closure in the new relationship. “I went through a whole drug thing halfway through the band that was really secretive and a weird place to be,” he says. “That’s…a whole lot of shame around that. Who gets that opportunity? To fuck something up really bad and then to go back and readdress is really unique.” 

Mike Bordin, Mike Patton and Jim Martin

Gould and Bottum started their friendship in an affluent pocket of Los Angeles at 10 years old, a pair of troublemaking Catholic school kids referred to as “the misfits” in their Boy Scout troop. They frequented the same record store on quaint Larchmont Blvd, learning about Queen and Sparks. As teenagers in May of 1978, they rode their bikes to the nearby Baskin-Robbins when Gould saw a gaggle of people with colored hair and safety-pinned jackets. “We followed them on our bikes, like, ‘Where are these weirdos going? Look at these freaks!'” he says. They ultimately wound up at Larchmont Hall where punk pioneers the Zeros were playing. His group of friends — including Bottum — got bored and left, but Gould couldn’t pull himself away: “I was like this kid in a candy store. I bought a beer. It was punk rock, all these weirdos. I can do whatever I want! It was insane, mind-blowing shit.”

Gould says the duo drifted somewhat apart in high school as he started playing bass with taut New Wave outfit the Animated and Bottum started running with a different crowd. (“I don’t know,” supposes Bottum. “Stoners maybe?”) They reconnected in UC-Berkeley in San Francisco after Gould fell into a post-punky jagged little PiL named Sharp Young Men alongside drummer Mike Bordin. The band would be redubbed Faith No More by the time they released their lone seven-inch in 1982 and eventually Bottum would join the fold on keyboards.

Before evolving into the band that would have a quirky hit on college radio and insomniac-hour MTV with the “We Are the World” pisstake “We Care a Lot” in 1987, there were years of lineup roulette — including a brief stint with Courtney Love as their singer. In the Nineties, Gould recalled, “She was really good because she was annoying as hell and really aggressive.”

They settled on gloriously out-of-tune livewire friend Chuck Mosely on vocals and heavy-metal-weaned guitarist Jim Martin, who had been playing in a local thrash band with future Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. Though pulling together a seemingly impossible mélange of influences and sounds — black-eyeliner moodswing melodies, concrete-cracking rhythms outta Run-D.M.C.’s rock box, metal chug in red eyeglass frames and what cool alterna-heavy band in the Sonic Youth era would deign to have a keyboard player? — they signed to the Warner Bros.-distributed Slash Records.

Mosely was unpredictable and often impaired by alcohol — he infamously fell asleep onstage at the record release party for their Slash debut, Introduce Yourself. Walking down the streets of Vancouver, Gould is reminded of the first time Faith No More ventured into the city, in October of 1986. Mosely had a D.U.I. on his record and couldn’t enter the country. They left him at the border and played an instrumental set. Eventually, after a few bouts of intra-band violence, they parted ways.

In early 1989, Faith No More took on new lead singer Mike Patton, a green, logging-town kid on the cusp of drinking age and roughly a half decade their junior. His death metal growl and adventurous tastes, forged in his high-school band Mr. Bungle, belied an impending — and reluctant — role as metal-magazine pin-up hunk. “Epic” exploded like the piano in its music video, and by the end of 1990 Faith No More had all the signs of success: a platinum album, a Saturday Night Live appearance and even some “wubba wubba wubba”-ing with Downtown Julie Brown at the MTV Video Music Awards.

However — in America at least — returns would only diminish. 1992’s defiantly weird, chaos-crammed Angel Dust would only go gold. Martin would acrimoniously split from the band after a series of public spats. Too heavy for the post-grunge pop hits of the Verve and Third Eye Blind, too arty to work comfortably with the nu-metal knuckle-draggers they spawned, it wasn’t clear where the band fit in by the end of the decade. The Rolling Stone review of their final album before their break-up, Album of the Year, said, “Faith No More are floundering around desperately, groping for a sense of identity and direction in a decade that clearly finds them irrelevant.”

Faith No More

In the years after the band’s dissolution, Bottum moved to New York, started collecting art and recently wrote an opera about Sasquatch. He made an appointment in Vancouver for a private viewing of Warhol: A Different Kind of Love, one of the largest personal collections of the pop-art icon’s work. He’s excited about his own recent acquisitions, an early piece by Finnish fetish illustrator Tom of Finland and a photograph from Swiss subculture documentarian Karlheinz Weinberger, but doesn’t end up taking home a Warhol today. However, since you can, appropriately, take photos in a Warhol exhibit, Bottum snags a picture of himself standing in front of the artist’s paintings of early Eighties socialites, which he labels on Instagram, “men of distinction.”

In the mid Nineties Bottum would be confronted with the death of his father, the passing of a friend and the suicide of Kurt Cobain. In the Nirvana frontman’s tumultuous final days, Bottum had flown up from San Francisco to Seattle to be there for him before Cobain’s friends and bandmates staged an intervention. Bottom considered himself basically checked out for the rest of the Faith No More’s duration. “It sort of brings into focus what is important. What are you doing with your life? What’s making you happy?” he says. “At that point the Faith No More thing had run its course. I think we were all done with it. We were just going through some motions and we were at the end of a long tour going through these motions of playing a tour…. Everyone was sort of doing the different things and getting really cumbersome. It felt like, what’s important? It felt like Faith No More was not.”

By the middle of 1998, Bottum’s menacing bubblegum band Imperial Teen had released an acclaimed debut, Bordin had spent two years playing with his childhood hero Ozzy Osbourne (whom he still refers, almost exclusively, as “the big boss”) and Patton branched out with a series of increasingly avant-garde projects that stretched his nimble voicebox to the edges of sanity.

“At the time that there was more baggage than there was future path ahead.” —Mike Bordin

“I remember the day that we collectively decided — and I kind of came in a little nervous, because I thought it was only me — again, we weren’t communicating, ” Patton recalls. “I just said, ‘I think I’m done.’ It took a lot to just say that and be honest and I didn’t know how to react. The amazing part was we all looked at each other and felt the same way. It totally disarmed me and that also reinforced my feeling that it was a natural progression and it was over.

“Look at us now, how wrong I was,” he adds with a laugh.

“I think that at the time that there was more baggage than there was future path ahead,” says Bordin. “Like that beautiful line from ‘Two of Us’ on Let It Be: ‘You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.'”

They confirmed the break-up in an official statement in April 1998, stating “[T]he split will now enable each member to pursue his individual project(s) unhindered.” Their record label, poetically, released one final single, a three-year old cover of the Bee Gees’ “I Started a Joke.”

“We played a show in Guam, which is already hilarious, and we didn’t know anybody there,” says Patton. “We met some kids that were playing in the band that was opening for us and they took us to this bar, that on the surface seemed completely normal, it seemed like a local kind of place. You’re going to think I’m making this up — but it was like pool tables, pinball, whatever and there was a video screen and a little stage in the back with people were doing karaoke. Someone was doing ‘I Started a Joke’ and, on another screen there was, I don’t know why, gay porn. But it wasn’t a gay bar, so I was like, ‘What is going on? This is fuckin’ amazing!’ so we hung out there all night.”

After that unusual evening, the five members of Faith No More stayed to themselves for the next decade, save the occasional chance meeting at a show or a grocery store. Patton co-founded his island of misfit toys, Ipecac Records, and recorded nearly 20 studio albums in various guises, from suave cosmopolitan pop (Peeping Tom) to heavy metal as Tex Avery riot (Fantômas). Gould started Koolarrow Records, which quietly put out a smattering of records by non-English-speaking bands while he lived frugally on some good real estate investments.

Bottum composed music for more than a dozen TV shows and films. “It was a hard stretch to sort of go into film scoring from being in the rock band,” he says. “The film scoring thing is rewarding sometimes, but honestly more often than not you’re just coming in at the end of the day and sort of like supplicating someone’s vision in some inconsequential way. More often than not, it’s not the sort of thing I want to look back on my life and say that I spent a lot of time doing.”

However, he points out that he loved working on paroxysmal Generation Z freak-out Fred: The Movie. “When it started though someone showed me that footage and asked if I wanted to score it and I was like, No fucking way will I sit in front of a computer and watch that kid do that thing over and over. Guess what? I love that kid! I loved it, it was the greatest.”

While the other four members pursued new musical avenues, Hudson, who joined the band in 1996, was left a little in the lurch. More laidback but no less dryly sardonic than his bandmates, the guitarist first crossed paths with Gould in the late Eighties when they were living at the same abandoned Frisco animal hospital that had been converted into rehearsal rooms. “The animals were gone at that point,” he recalls. “Along with the all the lab equipment and the kennels. It was a messed-up place.” He played on and off with his industrial-metal band Systems Collapse and worked as a bike messenger until he broke a leg and called it quits. When Faith No More were on the market for a new guitarist, Gould threw him some demos for 1995’s King for a Day to check out, and he was asked to join a year later, playing on 1997’s Album of the Year and the subsequent tour.

After the breakup, Hudson got married and took a desk job managing condos in the Bay Area. “If you haven’t had a long day already, I’ll put you to sleep now,” he says over lunch in Vancouver at a mostly empty dim sum place. “It was so uncreative, everything is so square. It didn’t matter. It would have been funner if I ran around with a plunger over my shoulder, you know?”

Mike Bordin became a father two times over and played drums practically every summer at Ozzfest. There, bands like System of a Down and Incubus, a newer generation of groove-centric alterna-weirdos, would come to him and ask about the possibility of a reunion. “I would just say, ‘No, we haven’t talked about it’ — you play it off,” says Bordin. “It is ironic because the last Ozzy go-round that I did, I actually said, ‘No, it’s never going to happen. No. No. Forget it.’ Then guess what?” 

Faith No More

The first unofficial reunion of Faith No More began in late 2008, during the brief, six month period before Proposition 8 re-outlawed gay marriage in California. Empowered by the movement, Bottum and his boyfriend tied the knot in his mother’s backyard in Los Angeles. His former bandmates Bordin and Patton were both on the guest list and sat at the same table.

“I didn’t have any…thoughts of reconnecting with anyone except for him,” Patton says of Bottum, “just wishing him well.”

Patton is speaking backstage at PNE in the weird dead zone between sound check and a show — not enough time to go somewhere, too much time to not feel a little cooped up. Patton, in squarish glasses, sits motionless with his right leg over his knee, but taps his coffee cup aimlessly on his chair. Thinking about the reunion at Bottum’s wedding, he smiles and looks for the right words.

“It was just…some heartwarming moments. To put it sappily,” he laughs. “After that amount of time it was just really cool to see that everyone was still busy, doing well, happy, creative and it felt good to be in the same room. We didn’t even talk about music.”

“We’re still such a valid part in each other’s lives, despite what went on and how difficult things became.” —Bottum

“I really didn’t go there with an agenda,” says Bordin. “I had a job. I’m good with that! I had no other real intent. My intent was I love Roddy. And I don’t know why I said this [to Patton]. I just said, ‘I’m more interested in something you might write for me to do now than going and rehashing old shit we’ve already done anyway. I’d rather do something in the future with you than in the past,’ and I fucking meant it.”

“It was kind of the first time that three of us had been together in the same geographic space in at least 10 years,” says Bottum. “That sort of emotionally-charged atmosphere. Really, it was real intense in a real comfortable way. None of us wanted to see each other for a good long while. So 10 years later and to sit down in such an environment like that and have it be a comfortable, casual, easy-going place? We’re still such a valid part in each other’s lives, despite what went on and how difficult things became. Just even the acknowledgment of that, this is an OK thing. This is totally doable. Us being in a physical space together. It’s doable.” He adds dryly, “The wedding didn’t work out.” 

Faith No More

Maybe more than anyone else in Faith No More, Bordin is the most instantly recognizable, his salt-and-pepper dreadlocks, banded by a piece of folded-over gaffer’s tape, hanging down to his ass. Barely out of his hotel, he’s spotted by college radio personality Gerald Rattlehead, his denim jacket providing better protection from the crisp Vancouver air than Bordin’s shorts and sandals. Rattlehead is politely and patiently waiting with an armload of sleeves for him to sign — including a vinyl copy of King for Day, its $54.99 pricetag still visible. Chris, an employee at a golf course in Victoria, Canada, was just wandering around when he spotted Bordin as well, excitedly telling the drummer that he doesn’t always get their more left-field moves at first, but they always grow on him.

“That’s the point. It’s like fuckin’ herpes, dude,” Bordin responds. The drummer doesn’t mind chopping it up with fans since he’s one himself. “That’s what got me to play with the big boss,” he says. “I was that guy.” A “creature of habit,” Bordin would pre-game for Ozzfest shows at the Ritz-Carlton or the Four Seasons with former-Ozzy/current-Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, enjoying a couple of ice teas and Cobb salads. Today he’s off to Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House, recommended by the desk clerk at his hotel.

When he arrives, Assistant General Manager Chad McKenzie greets him in a sharp suit — McKenzie’s going to be at tonight’s show, as well as the next three, and insists that lunch is on him. Frenchy, the maitre d’, pulls out a card from his fat, George Costanza wallet in case Bordin runs into trouble in town and needs a helping hand. “Thank you for blessing this restaurant,” he says.

Bordin, who claims he usually stays in his hotel room while on tour, is bowled over: “It’s nice that people give a shit after all this time….It’s shocking, there’s fans of the band younger than my hair.” He doesn’t drink, party or do drugs. But he likes to eat good food, of which Joe Fortes has no shortage — when he tastes some of their decadent truffle Parmesan fries, he throws his hands up in a mock gesture of “I give up,” and then pointedly details all of its good attributes from the crunch, the finish of the parm, the heat, the proper amount of coarse salt chunks.

He explains that the first baby step towards the band playing together again started with a meal, this time in Los Angeles, where Bordin, Patton, Gould and Bottum all met for lunch, Chinese chicken salad, at the home of former manager Warren Entner.

“The hurdles that we passed through, for sure, was sitting at the same table and just seeing how socially comfortable it was. We sat at the table and we had a very long meal. There were laughs and stories. The one thing we all do have in common is just a sort of smart-ass sense of humor. That felt comfortable,” says Bordin. “The next step was certainly to stand in the same room with instruments and see how we related that way. That was scary, because it was instinctual. I had been moving my body physically a certain way for 15 years that was not that way.

“You’ve got to do everything and you’ve got to do it enough to pass the sniff test,” he adds. “We’ve got some guys with real sensitive sniffers.”

Next, Bottum placed a phone call to Jim Martin, the guitarist on their two best-selling albums to feel out his interest. “It was a very strange conversation,” remembers Gould. “He said he would do it. He said this was not an emotional thing. ‘But there are some songs we wrote after you.’ And he’s like, ‘That’s not a problem.’ So on the surface it was great, but it didn’t really feel right.”

Gould says that Martin made a remark about sending a contract to his fax machine, and that was ultimately the wrong energy for something that was just coming together as four old buddies connecting. “We left on a bad note. It had been 20 years. We have some catching up to do with ourselves; do we really want to bring this other energy into this fragile thing where we don’t even really know what it means?” the bassist says. “So it’s like, no. It just didn’t feel right.”

Hudson, meanwhile, was getting burnt out on his work as a property manager; with the collapse of the housing market set to take a chunk out of his business, he bailed. “I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to do something else,'” he recalls. “And then…phone call.”

Of course, he accepted the gig. “I wasn’t about ready to grab my messenger bag and start pedaling around town again.”

“The reunion was either going to die a peaceful death or we were going to try working on some new stuff.” —Mike Patton

The newly reunited group performed live for the next three years to much fanfare, playing about 80 shows around the world, hitting mostly festivals, and only five American locations — Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco and a 7:55 p.m. Coachella slot. But the band members’ enthusiasm for the nostalgic gigs eventually waned; interviewed in the January 2013 issue of The Believer, Patton said of the reunion, “It’s sort of petered out. We don’t want to overdo it.”

“We all knew that you can’t play 30-year-old songs, at least we couldn’t continue to do that,” Patton says now. “It was either going to die a peaceful death or we were going to try working on some new stuff.”

Luckily, in their decade of absence, Gould never stopped writing new stuff for Faith No More. “Even when the band split up, I wrote music for us because this is how I learned how to play,” he says. “I learned a language with these guys. I don’t know where this is going, but this is what I do. I was just doing it for it’s own sake.” Gould played “guitar, drums, keyboards, everything” on a personal, instrumental demo of Sol Invictus song “Matador” around 2009, before the band had even reunited.

The album itself was started on a lark. Bored, Gould mic’d up some of Bordin’s drums in the rehearsal space and the two jammed together. Gould wrote some guitar and bass parts; the result ultimately turned into second single “Superhero.”

Says Gould, “Then we’re like, ‘Uh, we haven’t talked to anybody else yet. This is coming pretty quickly and easily — what does that mean?’ Well, let’s just keep on working. It doesn’t haven’t to mean anything.”

They asked Bottum, who was in New York, if he wanted to be a part of the process and he agreed. “Then one day I got a thing from Roddy,” says Gould, “and it was like five songs.”

Gould then showed some music to the busy Patton, who, in 2014 alone, was juggling multiple collaborations with John Zorn, a full-length album with electroacoustic composer Anthony Pateras, some Chilean tour dates with Fantômas and Ipecac releases from the Melvins and Sleaford Mods.

“He was like, ‘These all sound really good to me. Can I sing on them?'” remembers Gould. “Well, you can probably do it better than anyone I know,” he laughs. “I’m not going tell you what to do, but…”

“I was pretty flattered, to be honest,” says Patton. “Not only did the shit sound fucking great, the amount of work that had already gone into it at that point was touching. It definitely caught me off guard in a great way, in an ass-kicking way. This music is still vital and didn’t feel nostalgic at all. Any of those kind of fears or paranoias that I may have had in the past, like, ‘Ugh, reunion — great. A bunch of 50-year-olds trying to rock out.’ The music did the talking, so all that shit just evaporated.”

Still, since the band was taking cautious steps, the word “album” never really came up.

“Nobody wanted to say it,” Gould recalls. “I think every single person was afraid to bring up that word. It’s kind of like going steady, right?”

“I was definitely thinking about it and Bill never stopped writing,” says Bordin. “So the easy answer is, ‘Bill never stopped writing.'”

“I don’t know if I ever heard it,” Hudson says of the word. “I’m not kidding.”

As the recordings that would eventually be an album came together, the band kept the sessions under wraps. Hudson told his wife (“I have to be able to come home and say I did something, right?); Bordin told his wife and a close friend; Gould told maybe five people and neither he nor Patton played the songs to their wives until the album was done.

“That’s crazy to me,” says Bottum, who would fly in for a month at time from New York. “I don’t know if I was that sheltered about it. It only seemed a secret in telling someone who would talk about it on the Internet or something…. I don’t think I thought about it that much, but I don’t really talk about that stuff. I don’t have friends who are like, ‘Hey what is Faith No More up to?'”

“I did vocals at my house in my pajamas.” —Patton

For Bordin, it was different. “I ran into a lot of my old family and friends that I used to tour with…,” he says. “These are family, people I went to war with and people among us died. Lives, deaths and births. A lot of people would ask me, ‘What are you doing these days? ‘ Right? And it killed me. It fucking killed me. But my quote was, ‘Man, I’m just doing this and that, here and there. You’re not going to think about me this year, but I hope next year you might be proud of me.'”

“We’re not hiding government secrets,” says Patton. “It was really fun! As opposed to records past where we were cooped up in a studio spending too much money and taking too long. This was just like, when it’s ready, it’s ready. There’s no clouds hanging over this. I did vocals at my house in my pajamas.”

Sol Invictus was recorded in the band’s rehearsal room and produced by Gould with no engineer, no budget, no label. The microphones used were ones Gould had in his drawer, much of the keyboards were tracked on a piano that Bordin’s grandmother had left him. To this day, no one who was working with the band in 1998 — save Matt Wallace who did some post-production mixing — is involved in Faith No More’s operation in any way.

“It’s funny how when you’re in a recording studio and someone’s girlfriend or wife came in, the whole chemistry of the room changes,” says Gould. “It’s totally different. You were in this comfortable little shoe and all of a sudden everyone’s being polite — it’s not wrong, it’s just different. People are susceptible to one new element. [In the Nineties] we had this network of people — these agents and people who kind of affected what we did and how we did it. We had to record this record like this with no engineer because we didn’t want anybody in the room.”

When they recorded Angel Dust, a handful of journalists were shadowing the band in the studio, making for an awkward process. “We didn’t know,” says Gould. “Like, well, this is how it’s done, we’ll adjust to that. It wasn’t very healthy. We didn’t do interviews for four years after we got back together. That goes back to that time for sure.”

“We got to one point during Angel Dust where that sort of extracurricular bullshit pressure made us stronger and we kind of bonded in a ‘fuck you’ kind of way,” says Patton. “Which is, we kind of ended up locking everybody out of the studio. Including A&R guys. We had to literally look at ourselves in the mirror and go, ‘Wait a sec — no.’ I remember we played them some rough mixes and they were just, in that kind of a hand-job type of situation. They’re supposed to go, ‘Yeah, sounds great!’ They were just like blank faces. We heard later that they were like, ‘This band is committing commercial suicide’ and at that point it was like, ‘You know what, we don’t need this. This is not helping. It will be done when it’s done, it’s going to sound exactly the way we want and if you don’t like it, then don’t put it out.'”

Sol Invictus will be released via the band’s own Ipecac sub-label Reclamation, giving the band an autonomy it never even fully experienced in its earliest days: Even on 1987’s Introduce Yourself, Gould’s idea for red splatter on the cover was turned to green. “You laugh,” says Bordin. “That is what we got from a punk label.”

The band is even eschewing the new model of sponsored content, turning down the increasingly popular offer to accept money from a brand to make a music video. “It feels like we have said no to a bunch of stuff honestly,” says Gould. “Saying no to going on a major label route is an example of that. When we decided to put out a new record it was clearly a route we were all aware that we could take. There were people that were interested that came to us. Maybe we sought out or put feelers out there, but there were definitely meetings on the table that we just said, ‘No, let’s skip that one, that one isn’t pertinent.'”

“I was the least pushy about doing it through Ipecac, because I just wanted it to be a band decision,” says Patton. “I just wanted to feel really comfortable that I wasn’t pushing my ‘agenda’ so to speak. In fact, it was the most obvious thing — we almost went out of our way not to do it.”

“A lot of this shit to me has been like Charlie Brown and the football,” says Bordin. “We have always had to fight to explain to the record company, to the manager why [a] record should be made the way we want to make it. This is our music and we’ve written it, now we’ve got to tell it to the people who are supposed to help us. I think that really traumatized a lot of guys in our band — you could probably draw your own conclusion. For us to be able to come and say this is the music that we want to make and to have people try to judge that on its own merits without it being colored by other fuckers and other history and other weirdness is exciting for me.” 

Faith No More

Around 8:45 p.m. — 30 minutes before show time — Bordin, in his boxer shorts, rushes into the office of the band’s tour manager, Tim Moss, and summons him on the walkie-talkie. Fittingly, for a band’s that’s taking things as they come, the set list warrants a change and Moss needs to recall them and print new ones. Soon the band, in the all-white outfits they’ve been wearing on this tour, wanders down the long hall towards the stage. Patton, who really does seem to have an affinity for punctuating dead space with farty noises or silly accents, says to no one in particular, “Hello, Cleveland!”

After a set of hits, covers and four songs from Sol Invictus, they close with a second encore: the debut performance of “From the Dead.”

Says Gould, “We’re gonna play a filthy hippie song for you, because we’re filthy hippies from San Francisco.”

“Sorry guys, this is a new thing for me,” counters Patton, holding a tambourine on stage for what might be the first time ever, “pretending to be a hippie.”

Ultimately, no one plays the chime they had talked about at soundcheck, but the song goes over well. After singing its last lines, “Back from the dead/Welcome home, my friend,” Patton smiles and walks off.

More new songs exist, and Patton says more will be released “for sure,” but there’s no concrete plan to flesh them out. The singer takes comfort in knowing that, at the end of this tour, Faith No More can walk away or continue on and be at peace either way. So, for a band with no expectations, what’s next?

Says Patton, “Next is us in Seattle, tomorrow.”


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