FAITH NO MORE (1982–98). Various, then Chuck Mosley (vocals, replaced by Mike Patton); various, then Jim Martin (guitar, replaced by Trey Spruance, Dean Manta, John Hudson); Roddy Bottum (keyboards); Billy Gould (bass); Mike Bordin (drums).
Faith No More was an avant-garde mixture of punk, funk, and metal, along with avant jazz. They are best known for their two defining anthems, “We Care a Lot” and “Epic,” both with different vocalists. The band started in 1982 with the core group of keyboardist Bottum, bassist Gould, and drummer Bordin, who would be the only consistent members of the band. After going through several early vocalists, including a young Courtney Love, the band eventually decided on Chuck Mosley (a similar plethora of guitarists came and went before the more metallic-tinged Jim Martin joined the band in 1984).
Sadly, despite the minor hit with the catchy “We Care a Lot” and its epic football chorus, the band and Mosley had endured constant friction before Mosley was ousted from the band in favor of avant-death metal singer Mike Patton (from the band Mr. Bungle—Patton would continue with the Mr. Bungle project for the duration of the band). With a consistent lineup, Faith No More gelled with a bassheavy sound, grounded by Martin’s guitar hero soloing along with Patton’s twisted and truly bizarre voice. In 1990 the band had a major hit with the epic song “Epic,” which became a radio and MTV hit.
The record spawned several minor hits such as “Falling to Pieces” and a fairly faithful cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” which gained the band a coveted slot on Saturday Night Live. The pressure of following up The Real Thing proved difficult, and the band responded with the Angel Dust album, a notoriously difficult album to listen to aside from the radio-friendly cover of the Commodores’ “Easy,” especially as Patton grew increasingly experimental in his vocal styling. At the same time, friction in the band led to the departure of guitarist Martin and several replacements that didn’t really work out. After two more lackluster and less experimental releases, King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime, and Album of the Year, the band called it quits at the end of 1998.
After the band’s demise, Patton worked more on experimental music with Mr. Bungle, Tomohawk, and Fanotmas, among others. Roddy Bottum went on to form the peppier queer-friendly band Imperial Teen and Mike Bordin backed up Ozzy and played in place of Bill Ward during one of the Black Sabbath reunions. Although a reunion is unlikely, Patton has indicated that he would not rule it out. Faith No More demonstrates that metal can often be best when twisted in many directions and still retain its force and vitality. Although the band may not have enjoyed the comparison, they were also clearly a major influence on bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit, who also tried to fuse rap/avant-garde vocals with metal tunes, but never to the extreme degree that Faith No More took the fusion. Avoid the newer groups. Faith No More, and Mike Patton’s other groups, such as Fanotmas, are the real deal.
Discography: We Care a Lot (Mordam, 1985); Introduce Yourself (Slash/Rhino, 1987); The Real Thing (Slash, 1989); Live at Brixton Academy (Polygram, 1991); Angel Dust (Slash, 1992); King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime (Slash/Reprise, 1995); Album of the Year (Slash/Reprise, 1997).