A Tribute to Faith No More, the Greatest Band of All Time
Around 1999, as I was finishing high school, some guys I started hanging around with (who would become lifelong friends) introduced me to Faith No More. I had heard the band before; most people are familiar with the song Epic, and at the time a couple singles from their 1997 album were getting radio play. But these guys were major league fans of the band, so I was exposed to the full catalog. This was a breakthrough discovery for me, because I fell into a new world of incredible, genre-bending music that, when viewed as an entire body of work, has no equal in my mind.
As many Faith No More fans will admit, a significant portion of this brilliance comes from Mike Patton. I’m by no means a music expert, but from what I’ve read, his range as a vocalist is unmatched by any rock musician. Many bands develop a “sound” that is recognizable and becomes their signature, but Faith No More’s musical style has changed in literally every album they’ve released! Each one is a separate beast, to the point where a song from King for a Day would sound completely out of place on Angel Dust, even though they are only separated by a couple years. Patton’s powerful and uniquely adaptable voice is a major part of the band’s impact; the guy’s singing can fit seamlessly into any genre or type of music.
Since I’ve been drawing so much lately, I figured I should try a sketch of these legends:
It’s certainly not my best work, but I think it does mostly look like the guys in the band. This is a representation of Faith No More around the Angel Dust album era, as you can see Jim Martin is still in the band. Although it’s hard to choose one, Angel Dust is probably my favorite album, possibly because it’s the first one I actually bought. It’s the first Faith No More album I really wore out, so there’s some sentimental value.
It’s hard to get a real feel for how different each album is without hearing the entire thing, but I thought it might be helpful to provide some examples. I’ll include below some favorites from various releases, which may give you some idea how much the styles change. To me, you could almost imagine they are different bands entirely. Despite the diverse sounds, through them all you’ve got Mike Patton singing, Roddy Bottum on keyboards, Billy Gould on bass, and Mike Bordin on drums. The only difference in the roster once Patton joined was the revolving door of guitarists after Martin left.
A Small Victory, from Angel Dust (1992). _
Ricochet, from King for a Day Fool for a Lifetime (1995).
Last Cup of Sorrow, from Album of the Year (1997). _
The Real Thing, from the Real Thing (1989). _
Bringing the conversation back around full-circle to my introduction to Faith No More, unfortunately I got into this incredible band late in the game. The band had actually broken up just before I became a fan, which was a pretty disappointing realization as I found myself increasingly captivated by their music. I followed Mike Patton’s post-FNM musical exploits as he experimented with different bands; I even got to meet him after a Mr. Bungle show:
Even though I got to see Patton in various bands, it just wasn’t quite the same. He’s an immense talent, and his other bands were very good in their own right, but the contributions from Bordin, Gould, and Bottum made the band great rather than good. The story does have a happy ending for this fan, though. I finally got to see Faith No More in concert when the band got back together a couple years ago. In July 2015, around 16 years after learning of their greatness, I got to experience them live at the South Side Ballroom in Dallas, Texas. It was a long wait, but well worth it.