Faith No More Keyboardist Chronicles AIDS Bike Ride in New Opera

Roddy Bottum's mini-opera portrays differing generational views about disease

Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum chronicles AIDS bike ride in new mini-opera. Credit: Mark Horton/Getty

Faith No More's keyboardist Roddy Bottum composed a mini-opera called The Ride, for the Experiments in Opera (EiO) "Story Binge" series, which premieres December 15th at New York City's Merkin Concert Hall. The opera is about two gay men from different generations who bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles for an AIDS charity. 

"The older generation of gay men who dealt with AIDS as a life threatening disease and were in the trenches for the first generation of the disease helped their friends get through life or death situations," Bottum told EiO. "The generation of gay men today who are on PrEP drugs and TRUVADA don't really view the disease as life threatening. It's just a different relationship. And that, to me, is interesting." He called the AIDS bike events he's participated life-changing. 

The opera's music was inspired by Kraftwerk's 1983 electronic classic "Tour de France," said Bottum, which was connected with the bike riding theme. "[That song] is the quintessential bike sound to me," he said. "But for some reason flutes to me evoke the sort of bicycle spirit ... And using flutes and synths together felt super clean so I knew I had to dirty it up a little and add something organic and a little bit rough. Live drums felt like a good rhythm stabilizer to put in there."

"It's also interesting to me, what the brain does when you're riding a bicycle for a long time," he continued. "Your brain starts doing weird things ...The music for The Ride is loop-driven, which seems apt especially with subject matter of driving for long periods of time in a straight line." 

The Ride will premiere alongside four other 20-minute operas as part of EiO's "Story Binge II." Last year, Bottum contributed Sasquatch: The Opera, which told the story of a girl running away with a yeti.

Faith No More released their seventh album, Sol Invictus, in 2015.