Artist Spotlight: Faith No More (or; I Won’t Forget You When I’m In Hell) [Part 2 of 7]

I estimate that I have written close to 480,000 words on Faith No More in various comment sections of this site alone. What’s 12,000 more?

Part 2 of 7

Part 1 here.

Introduce Yourself (1987)

After the release of We Care a Lot, the band was able to go on their first U.S. tour. The tour, was more or less a disaster, like many bands on their first tours.  They found that many of their dates were canceled, they had to crash at multiple venues for weeks waiting for the opportunity to even play. Although, the tour was not easy, it was eventful, and it wasn’t a total waste of time.

The band was at The Metroplex in Atlanta, the had run out of money and were just waiting for the chance to play a show and get some money to continue the tour. Bassist Billy Gould and guitarist Jim Martin were walking back to the van from the venue, and upon opening up the back of the van, discovered keyboardist Roddy Bottum engaged in sexual activity with roadie Jim Olson. Gould and Martin closed the doors, and it was never discussed. Bottum recalled, “I slept in the back of the Dodge the whole tour, with my then boyfriend… who was our inept roadie.”

Eventually, during their stranding in Atlanta, they got to open for Samhain.  Glenn Danzig was one of the first people that the band had sent a tape to when they were first making demos, as they were really into the Misfits at the time. Danzig sent the band back a fan letter, telling them how much he liked their tape. When Danzig arrived, he remembered drummer Mike Bordin’s name from the letter when they were introduced and exclaimed, “You sent me that tape!”

Later, the band was able to resume the tour and hooked up with a promoter in New England, who was able to set them up with some well attended shows. However, there was a hiccup while opening for Ministry in New Jersey. Ministry was still new wave at the time, and already had a reputation for being difficult. Faith No More was thinking they could be picked up as tour mates, since no one wanted to work with Ministry. Ministry’s stage had already been set up, and they had a $50,000 Fairlight synthesizer. Faith No More had been playing, and vocalist Chuck Mosley accidentally spilled beer on it. Ministry’s promotor came on over the house PA, and like the voice of God, “Don’t fuck with Ministry!” Before they knew it, security grabbed the band, their equipment, and dumped them all out in the alley… without paying them, of course. Bottum recalled, “We thought Ministry were hilarious… They were such assholes.” Ministry’s Al Jourgensen, however, didn’t bear any ill will. “We were playing this pop music then, at Clive Davis’s [Arista CEO] instruction, we were like Milli Vanilli. Faith No More wanted no part of that, and good for them! Even though they destroyed my $50,000 synthesizer. We weren’t sure how it was going to last on tour, and it certainly didn’t last with Faith No More spilling beer on it. Either way, good for them.”

The tour ended well, but the band was frustrated by not being able to find their album in any stores along the way. Slash Records was interested in signing the band, and the group immediately fielded criticism as being sell-outs. Slash was an independent label, but they had a distribution deal with Warner Bros. The band really had no other prospects at that time, and they were more than happy to sign. The ultimate goal was greater distribution, they were happy with Mordam, but it wasn’t going to sustain a career.

The label brought Faith No More in the studio to record their sophomore album, Introduce Yourself, but they wanted two things: 1.) a new recording of “We Care a Lot”, and 2.) Los Lobos member Steve Berlin as a producer. The band were fine with re-recording their signature track, they figured this would get them heard more, but they were apprehensive of someone from the outside, even if they were currently hot off of “La Bamba”. The band brought Matt Wallace with them (who produced We Care a Lot), and he had done most of the groundwork before recording began. Berlin was more or less present to babysit these inexperienced kids, and he even shared his producing credit with Wallace.

In between the completion of the recording of Introduce Yourself and its release, the band played some scattered dates. Faith No More played Humboldt State University, where after the show Martin and Bordin were given a demo tape for a band called Mr. Bungle, from their members Mike Patton and Trey Spruance.

At the same time, my cousin bought We Care a Lot, I bought Introduce Yourself. We both sat in the very back of a minivan, the storage area, not even any seats (this wouldn’t be allowed today, hell, it probably wasn’t allowed then). We each had our own tapes in our own Walkmans, and we would pause momentarily to update each other on what we were hearing, and then we would switch. On that first listen through, I got to “Death March”, in which Mosley gives a drunken tirade, part of which goes: “Ninety-five cents? Fuck you! I’ll skate to the beach, and look better gettin’ there!” I laughed at this and repeated it to my cousin. My step mother, who was sitting in front of me said, “I heard every word you just said. Every. Word.” I worried for a few minutes, but nothing came of it (much to my surprise).

Mosley’s vocals were very different than what I was used to, but that’s not to say they were bad. Part crooning, and part rapping, other than hearing MC Hammer or Salt N Pepa on the radio occasionally (I come from someplace very white), I wasn’t really used to the style. In fact, the photo in the cassette booklet was so washed out, I didn’t realize Mosley was (half) black (it wouldn’t have mattered, I had already had my mind blown by Living Colour on SNL, so I was starting to get more diversity on my palette). One of the best songs from the album, was “The Crab Song”, which has a little bit of everything Faith No More was, up to that point. A spoken word intro, some melodic guitar, a heavy breakdown stomp with some of Mosley’s more rapped vocal delivery.

One more thing before moving on. In 1988, “New Improved Song” was released on a free 7-inch for Sounds Magazine. The song was originally recorded to be included on Introduce Yourself, but for some reason was left off. Musically, the song is “The Morning After”, which was included on The Real Thing, but with Mosley vocals. It’s a little rougher than the 1989 version, but I like it as a sort of window into an alternate reality where Mosley sings on The Real Thing.

After the release of Introduce Yourself, the new label and new management set out to break open the band. This started with a showcase, which was held for the label and for the press. The only problem was, Mosley was a no show.  The band was prepared to go on instrumentally as a four-piece, when Mosley showed up mere seconds before they went on. If that weren’t bad enough, Mosley wandered aimlessly, mumbled into the mic, forgot lyrics, and actually fell asleep though two songs.

The label was pissed. The management was pissed. The band was pissed. Instead of either label or management taking action, they let the band work it out themselves, and Faith No More were sent on tour. The U.S. tour was successful, and Mosley was better behaved. However, by the time the tour moved onto Europe, tensions had escalated between Martin and Mosley to the point of violence.

The roadie for the tour, “Ghandi”, had been a bandmate of Mosley’s in Haircuts That Kill, and he was Mosley’s partner in crime. Mosley, Martin, and Ghandi were having drinks with a journalist, when Ghandi attacked Martin, and Martin put Ghandi’s head through a wall. Management sent Ghandi home, and Mosley’s negative attitude grew, and he became increasingly difficult. “Jim had a broken hand. Jim actually taped up his hand and did the shows,” Gould said. “I don’t know how he did it. It healed wrongly, and he had to have it rebroken. That’s the thing I admired most of all the things he did. He did the tour, and he never complained about it. It was amazing.”

By now, Mosley’s time was up. The final show in Europe was a label showcase for their European distributors. Mosley decided it would be appropriate to do the entire show behind the stage curtain. Obviously, this did not sit well with the band, but they ultimately decided that going forward into the unknown with no vocalist, was better than what they were putting up with.

The band returned to California to plan their next move.