Artist Spotlight: Faith No More (or; I Won’t Forget You When I’m In Hell) [Part 5 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 5 of 7

Part 1 here.

Part 2 here.

Part 3 here.

Part 4 here.

King For a Day… Fool For a Lifetime (1995)

After the release of Angel Dust, Faith No More had a lot of offers to do different compilations and soundtracks. One of those was the Judgment Night Soundtrack, which has since eclipsed the movie it was made for. Bassist Bill Gould and Vocalist Mike Patton thought it was a great idea of something they could do that was different, but would fit well with what they did. While guitarist Jim Martin was technically still with the band, he declined to participate.

Faith No More were teamed up with hip-hop group Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. Before meeting them, Gould knew they were Samoans, so he took it upon himself to go to Samoa and record some native Samoan acapella music that is part of their national heritage. Gould and Patton then did a reworking of the Samoan national anthem, because they wanted to really branch out. When what the had worked on was played for Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E., they were not impressed. “They laughed in our faces,” Patton recalled years later.

Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E., who were also all musicians, told them to come over and bring their instruments and together they would just “make some noise”. What resulted was “Another Body Murdered”, which is one of the strongest offerings on the soundtrack.

Upon getting the CD solely for the FNM track (anything else that was good was just a bonus), I was looking at the liner notes, and saw something I had never seen before. Up until then, the band’s credits were as written by Faith No More. This one listed Gould-Bordin-Patton-Bottum, and I immediately knew there were problems. Of course, information moved much slower back then, and my gut feeling turned out to be right.

During this time, after being ousted from Bad Brains, former vocalist Chuck Mosley formed a new punk band called Cement. They released a self-titled album in 1993, and a second album titled The Man With the Action Hair in 1994. While touring for the second album, the band was involved in a van accident that broke Mosley’s spine. The accident not only put the singer through 18 months of physical therapy, it ended the band, and it would be 15 years before he would release any new music at all.

Continuing forward, Faith No More was on the search for a replacement guitar player after releasing Martin (this is just a good place as any to mention that they did try to reach him by phone and in person for months before deciding to fire him by fax). By Gould’s account, the auditions they received were all terrible. They did have a conversation with Just Broadrick of Godflesh, but nothing came of that. Most interesting, at least to me, was that they auditioned Geordie Walker of the legendary Killing Joke. Walker actually came and jammed with the band. While all parties involved had a great time, the band ultimate decided that Walker’s playing was too unique and would turn them into a Killing Joke cover band. While there are worse things in the world to be, I agree with that assessment.

Gould, drummer Mike Bordin, and keyboardist (and now second guitarist) Roddy Bottum had their sights set on Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance. Patton was dead set against it. Patton may have had some personal issues with Spruance at the time, and was not looking to having another group with him, but Patton warned them from the beginning that Spruance, while being brilliant musically, was difficult and had a tendency to flake out and was unreliable. Patton told them that this situation “is not ideal”.

While the majority of the group were interested in Spruance, he still had to have some sort of audition. Bordin sent him tapes that were just bass and drums, and asked him to add guitar to it. He ended up adding guitar and keyboards, because as Spruance said, “I added keyboard parts to some of those demos, because I always naturally thought of the role of Faith No More guitar parts as being kind of minimal pieces of a puzzle working in conjunction with everything.”

In the July 1994 issue, Kerrang! announced Spruance as the new guitarist, officially, for the band. In the magazine, he was photographed wearing a mask. The book on the band that came out in 2018, states that Spruance wearing the mask was “a reference to Slipknot and the new wave of masked nu-metal bands”. 1.) Slipknot didn’t exist until 1995, 2.) Mr. Bungle wore masks first, when taking promo photos for their 1991 self-titled album, possibly even before, and 3.) Korn’s debut, wildly considered to be the first Nu Metal album, didn’t come out until October 1994. I just had to say something, I couldn’t let it slide.

The band flew to Bearsville Studios in Upstate New York in September of 1994. While there, the band was very isolated, which only became worse after a car accident involving Patton and Bordin, where after flipping the car several times, the rental company refused to give the band any more vehicles. The band had little else to do but work and hang out with Fear Factory, who were recording Demanufacture at the same studio.

Bottum was largely absent from the writing and recording of King For a Day, as his father had recently died, as well as losing two friends, and his battling drug addiction. The band had staged an intervention for Bottum after filming the video for “Another Body Murdered”. As a result, Bottum only has two writing credits on the album for his contributions to “King For a Day” and “Just a Man”, but he did contribute more to the art side, with ideas for t-shirts and other merch designs. However, he was pretty flippant in interviews when people would ask him where the keyboards were on the album, he would respond with “Tell me about it, I was wondering the same thing.”

The band was going for more direct and immediate songs this time around, as evidenced by lead single “Digging the Grave”, and album opener “Get Out”. “Get Out” was written entirely by Patton, and he assembled “Gentle Art of Making Enemies” out of riffs that Gould had written but couldn’t make anything out of himself. The album also has some genre exercises in the form of country western in “Take This Bottle” and bossa nova in “Caralho Voador”. “King For a Day” is an epic sprawl, where “The Last To Know” is a slow dirge that Bottum described as “Pearl Jam on Mushrooms”. “The Last to Know” was a song it took me twenty years to really understand, now it’s one of my favorites.

Released on March 28, 1995, I think this was the first time I took a day off to go buy an album on release day, and it wouldn’t be the last (although, I don’t know when the last was since I don’t do that anymore because everything is digital). When I first heard the album, I was disappointed. I mean, how could anything compare to Angel Dust? My exact words were: “This would be an impressive album if it were released by Helmet.” Slam on Helmet out of nowhere! Nothing against Helmet, they were very good at what they did (especially Betty), but they weren’t as diverse as Faith No More. My opinion wasn’t necessarily the popular one, even though many people didn’t like the new direction, I did meet many people who claimed King For a Day as their favorite album. The album has grown in my estimation since it was released, and it should’ve, it had 25 years to do it… and people still send me messages of “Happy Birthday… FUCKER!” on my birthday every single year.

The band was pleased with Spruance and his contributions. His guitar work was heavy, but still different from what Martin would’ve done. He also contributed keyboards to the album, and also arranged the string, horn, and choral parts for the ending of “Just a Man”. Unfortunately, Spruance wasn’t long for the band.

A few short weeks after the album was completed, Spruance tendered his resignation. Spruance said that he was on a salary contract and wanted a set date to renegotiate the terms, and it could’ve been any date, just a promise for a renegotiation, and the legal team for the band told Spruance to “trust them”. The band version of the split is that Spruance didn’t want to do the lengthy tour. Patton told NME that Spruance was a spoiled rich kid and “heir to the DuPont fortune”. Spruance said after the incident he read the magazine at Tower Records, and didn’t even have enough money to buy it. Spruance said in the end, that while his feelings were hurt, he understood that the band were having a tough time as rock was dying, grunge was getting phased out by pop-punk, and the label was at best indifferent to what they were doing. He said that working on the album he was able to work with some of his favorite people ever.

The band’s keyboard tech, Dean Menta, stepped in and rehearsed and was ready to step up and play guitar for the tour. The tour went worldwide through March to the beginning of October, only taking breaks to film videos, and record a few covers as with Menta on guitar for immediate release as B-sides on singles.