Faith No More’s Own Little Epic

June 6 [10:00 EDT] — Faith No More don’t make apologies about much. So what if a few albums flopped? So what if their big-haired guitarist left the group? They were around for almost eight years in San Francisco before “Epic” became one of the 90′s first big-rock hits. Faith No More are in it for a good time playing whatever it takes, from punk-thrash to hard rock.

The band’s route to stardom started with a classified ad placed by drummer Mike Bordin in 1982. Bassist Billy Gould, keyboardist Roddy Bottum, and guitarist Jim Martin came together and, since they didn’t have a vocalist, they held open-mic gigs and invited audience members to participate. Courtney Love is probably the most famous hopeful who sang for the band at these early shows, but Chuck Mosely eventually filled the post.

The band’s flippant 1985 song “We Care a Lot” struck a chord on MTV and college radio, establishing Faith No More’s reputation as a slightly rebellious band. They soon got a major-label
deal and kicked out their vocalist, replacing him with Mike Patton, who was singing for the art-rock band Mr. Bungle at the time; he continues working with them to this day.

Then came “Epic,” which pushed Faith No More’s third album to platinum status. Roddy Bottum still vividly remembers shooting the video. “Weather, rain, the piano, the fish…the controversial fish” he reminisced on MTV’s120 Minutes, referring to cries of animal cruelty that surrounded their use of a live fish in filming. The song reached the top ten on the charts, however, and for their following video, “Falling to Pieces,” Faith No More featured their very own fish massacre, evidently thumbing their noses at the “Epic” complainers.

High-profile side projects like Patton’s Mr. Bungle and Bottum’s Imperial Teen and the less-than-amicable departure of Martin (“He hated us and we hated him,” Patton succinctly told MTV back in 1995) inspire persistent rumors that Faith No More is breaking up. But they
continue to record and release albums. Their latest release, Album of the Year, and the Hitchcock-inspired video for “Last Cup of Sorrow” features a striking cameo by Jennifer Jason Leigh.