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 4 of 7
Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.
Part 3 here.
Angel Dust (1992)
The band toured for literal years on The Real Thing, and while “Epic” was peaking in the U.S., they were in Australia. But that was really a minor problem compared to changing band dynamics. Vocalist Mike Patton was wearing a Mr. Bungle shirt at every high-profile opportunity, which was a constant bone of contention with the rest of the band. Then, Mr. Bungle signed to Warner Bros., and received an advance in the neighborhood of $100,000. Obviously, this created some jealousy with the rest of the band. Other members kept busy, drummer Mike Bordin played on Primus’ Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Roddy Bottum played keyboards on Hearts & Minds by Sister Double Happiness, and bassist Bill Gould played with members of Fear Factory and Napalm Death on the first two singles of Brujeria.
Meanwhile, former singer Chuck Mosley spent 1990-92 fronting the legendary Bad Brains. Mosley did 60-some shows with them, but never got to the stage or recording, which is a shame. “That’s what happens with them every time. They get back together [with original singer HR] and make a record, but then it all implodes when they try to go out and tour,” Mosley told Fear and Loathing Fanzine. “I really don’t know how they put up with all of that shit. I really enjoyed playing with those guys and I think we could have made some good records together. But whenever a record label wants to sign them, they always want HR to be in the band regardless of the inevitable problems it’s always going to cause.”
Before getting into the studio, the band contributed “The Perfect Crime”, originally an outtake from The Real Thing titled “Sweet Emotion” (which was also on a flexi-disc with Kerrang! in its original state), to the soundtrack to Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, which guitarist Jim Martin also had a cameo in. I can remember a friend of mine in high school was finally on board with Faith No More after hearing the lyrics when he bought the soundtrack for an exclusive Megadeth song. “When I heard him say ‘it’s really the voice of the guy who kicked your head in’, I knew they were alright,” he told me.
Near the end of the 26 months of touring, the band started writing in their spare time when possible. At the end of the tour, Martin’s father had died, and when the band resumed rehearsals and pre-production, Martin was largely absent. The band moved their rehearsal closer to Martin, in an effort to get him engaged in the process, but he more often than not was a no-show. The band entered the studio in January 1992, but kept management, the label, and their friends out of the process having learned their lesson with the “From Out of Nowhere” video shoot where the backlash against them was severe.
The band was actively trying to breakout of the “metal” pigeonhole they’d been placed in over the last three years, except for Martin who was happy to be considered metal. This was the first album Patton had an input on musically, and since he was more involved in the writing process, he did more vocally as well, adding multiple harmonies to even the harshest of tracks. Patton contributed to most songs, but was the sole songwriter on “Malpractice” (minus the Kronos Quartet sample), that he said was inspired by Godflesh. Most of the songs were written by either Gould, Bottum, or Bordin, some combination of the three, with contributions from Patton. Martin’s biggest contribution was “Jizzlobber”, which he intended to be dirty, grimy, heavy, and the antithesis to “guitar-jizz” music like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. The only other contributions Martin made were the solos to “Everything’s Ruined”, “Kindergarten”, “Land of Sunshine”, and “Be Aggressive”. Gould wrote the rest of the guitar parts.
During this time, Martin was practically divorced from the band. The band staged an intervention of sorts at his favorite Mexican restaurant to try and bring him back to the fold. They inquired if there was anything he needed, anything they could do, and Martin responded that he was offended that they were even having the discussion. As Gould later said, “That was Jim, reach out, get your hand bit harder”.
Part of the problem was Gould wanting to push the band further into new and uncomfortable territory. Bordin and Bottum went with the flow, but Martin wanted to stay the course, and follow up with The Real Thing Part 2. Meanwhile, Patton is all for going as far out as possible and pushing the envelope. I always found it ironic that Martin rallied so hard for Patton, and Patton accidentally contributed to the direction that forced Martin out.
Martin had refused to work with the rest of the band, only coming in after everyone had left. When the band would return to the studio the next day, they would discover that what Martin had done wasn’t working. Eventually, it was agreed that Gould would work with him in the studio. Once the album was complete, the label president came in to hear the progress and was visibly worried. He reportedly said, “I hope that no one bought any houses.” This made Martin very happy as he felt vindicated.
Bottum was the one who ended up titling the album Angel Dust. The title was chosen because it was a beautiful name for a deadly drug. This concept also extended to the album artwork, where the front cover was a beautiful egret, and the back cover was a butcher shop meat locker with a severed head hanging in it.
Also, it should be mentioned that during this time Bottum officially came out of the closet as gay. He initially had come out to a reporter from NME, but it became a footnote. Bottum said, “The writer had a thing for our singer, and that’s who she ultimately decided to focus on.” He made another more successful attempt to The Advocate, which was then repurposed and printed in Kerrang! “We were surrounded by a world of very hetero fan base at this point in history. Gay in that world didn’t really exist,” Bottum said later. “Rob Halford was not out. Even Bob Mould wasn’t. There were no role models, and it was a scary place.”
Angel Dust was released June 8, and debuted at #10 on the Billboard Top 200 (US), but after only 13 weeks, it had tumbled out of the charts. Most reviews were positive, as critics were impressed by the leaps forward musically the band had taken, but fair-weather fans who wanted The Real Thing Part 2 were disappointed.
I can remember waiting for this album for what felt like forever. I took the school bus to the middle school, where I would walk downtown and my dad would pick me up at the library when he got out of work. I had to go to the library for “homework” once a week, but really, I would just go to the local record store, and then at the library I would make photocopies of my friends’ faces and stick them on the bodies of comic book super heroes. That Tuesday, I went to the store and picked up Angel Dust an popped it into my Walkman when I walked the three blocks down to the library. Much like my reaction to The Real Thing, I was at first confused. I didn’t know what to make of it, this one was even further out than the last one! And just like a few years prior, I didn’t know what I felt, but I knew I wanted more. This would become the benchmark on how I would measure all albums going forward. If it initially confused me but warranted more listens, it would likely become a favorite.
There are lots of stories I could tell about this album and my personal life. When I got to school the next day, it was during finals, and I walked into the cafeteria to see my friend and we both pulled our cassettes out wordlessly at the same time. My cousin and I, with his family, would go camping and it would be our soundtrack, while we tried to hide the “EJACULATION!” Patton screams in “Be Aggressive”. Or even the time when my cousin and I took a trip with our newfound freedom (aka my driver’s license), and listened to it on repeat for 5 hours, and heard new things in the background each time.
But the best story, is when I was listening to it my room, and my Dad came in. I had only recently gone to live with him so I could stay in the same school, so parenting full time was kind of new for him, especially parenting a teenager. “Jizzlobber” was on, and of course it’s super heavy. He went off, asking me if it was some “Satanic Shit”, I told him it wasn’t. He was very concerned about the “Satanic Panic”, his mind poisoned by day time television like Donahue. I was constantly defending music, album art, band names, and trying to explain them to him, after he had already decided they were “evil”. He left, and came back a minute later, and the cassette was playing “Midnight Cowboy”. First, he accused me of changing the tape. I told him no, and rewound it a little bit to show him it was the same. He looked perplexed. I told him it was set up that way on purpose to accentuate the dynamics between the two, and basically said something about balance of power and dark needing light, and vice versa. He gave me a puzzled look, and left without a word. I’m not sure if he believed me, or if I just confused him.
After the album’s release, the band went on tour as the opening act for the biggest tour of the year, the co-headlining Guns N’ Roses / Metallica tour. Nirvana was originally offered the tour, but they declined. Faith No More, in the usual fashion, vented to the press about how the tour was going, as they were very unhappy about their treatment (except for Martin). Bottum had the best quote: “I’m getting more and more confused about who’s who in Guns N’ Roses, and it’s blowing my mind. There’s Dizzy and Iggy and Lizzy and Tizzy and Gilby and Giddy. Onstage now there’s a horn section, two backup singers, two keyboard players, an airline pilot, a basketball coach, and a couple of freakin’ car mechanics.”
Songs To Make Love To (1993)
In January 1993, the band released the EP Songs To Make Love To, which featured the non-album single cover of The Commodore’s “Easy”. It peaked at #3 in the UK, and did… well… nothing in the US. The band started playing it as part of their policy of antagonizing the audience. They would pull the cover out when the crowd chanted for “War Pigs” too loudly. The single also had their cover of Dead Kennedys’ “Let’s Lynch the Landlord”, as well as “Midnight Cowboy” and “Das Schutzenfest”.
After a contentious touring cycle, and increasing tensions between Martin and the rest of the band, Martin was fired by fax on November 30, 1993.