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 6 of 7
Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.
Part 3 here.
Part 4 here.
Part 5 here.
Album of the Year (1997)
Faith No More had an autumn tour booked for 1995, but it was canceled “to get back to the studio and work on new music.” However, the increase in side projects determined that that was a lie.
Vocalist Mike Patton’s Mr. Bungle released their second album Disco Volante in October and did a two-month tour wrapping up in December.
Keyboardist Roddy Bottum’s indie band Imperial Teen, with members of Sister Double Happiness, released their debut album Seasick in 1996. For a short time, the band was regarded in higher esteem than Faith No More. Bottum was clear to the press that this was not just a “side project”, that this band was a real band and was important to him.
Meanwhile, drummer Mike Bordin was tapped to play with his idol, Ozzy Osbourne. Osbourne had not been happy with his then drummer Deen Castronovo (who later went on to join Journey, but prior to this he was in Geezer Butler’s band GZR and performed on the severely under-rated album Plastic Planet), and asked Bordin to join. Since everyone else had their own projects, Bordin joined up to keep working.
Bordin and Bottum appeared on the European edition of Headbanger’s Ball in 1996, and held to their version that they were working on a new album, the primary writers of this album being bassist Bill Gould, Bottum, and Bordin. However, there was that reoccurring guitar problem in Dean Menta. When it came time to write music, Menta was not up to the task of writing. Gould would send him tapes to add guitar to, but they just would never be returned. Menta claimed that he was burned out by the entire experience and just was unable to play or write.
The band did try out Josh Homme during this time. Kyuss was over, and he (apparently) had not yet hooked up with Screaming Trees. While the band agreed he was a great player, he just wasn’t the right fit.
Faith No More quickly settled on John Hudson for the vacant guitar slot. Hudson was on the shortlist to replace Jim Martin in 1993, but the band had settled on Mr. Bungle’s Trey Spruance because at the time he seemed like a better fit. Hudson had been friends with the band for years prior to his joining officially. He very quickly was able to add guitar to demos they had sent him, and the band felt he was on the same page musically.
Tensions in the band had always run high, but now they were higher than ever. Patton was largely absent because or Mr. Bungle commitments, plus he was living in Italy with his new wife and wouldn’t come home (and when he did review demo tapes, he complained that he didn’t like about fifty percent of them). Bordin was touring with Ozzy Osbourne for long stretches at a time, and Bottum was touring with Imperial Teen supporting their debut. The bulk of the work fell to Gould and Hudson.
When Patton did finally arrive, the band discovered that his work style had changed. Instead of bringing pieces of songs, he was bringing songs fully formed, or at least mostly fleshed out. Patton brought “Got That Feeling”, “Home Sick Home”, and “Sitting Naked In Front of the Computer” (although the title is Gould’s). Meanwhile, Hudson contributed “Collision” and the band’s experiment in trip-hop, “Stripsearch”. Gould’s fascination with Eastern Europe was illustrated with “Pristina” and “Mouth to Mouth” (as well as with the cover art, which was a photo of the first president of Czechoslovakia, and the back cover which was a photo of his funeral).
Released on June 3, 1997, the reception to Album of the Year was mixed, but generally positive. This was another album release where I took the day off to be a first day buyer. Initially, I was disappointed, the whole thing just feels anemic. It has to be said that the band is showing some signs of wear here, but there are still some great songs. “Collision” is a great opener, and “Stripsearch” is unlike anything they had done before. “Helpless” is a great showcase for Patton’s vocal range, “Ashes to Ashes” and “Last Cup of Sorrow” are not exactly heavy, but heavy when considered as pop songs.
Two of my favorites, which were B-sides (and included on the Japanese edition) were “Light Up and Let Go” and “The Big Kahuna”. They were included on the 2016 special edition as well. All of the other B-sides were remixes, which… meh.
Another blip, Faith No More joined Sparks on their album Plagiarism in 1997, the two groups playing together on “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Two of Us” and “Something For the Girl With Everything”. Both songs were released as a single as well, titled Sparks vs. Faith No More.
The band started a World Tour in April 1997, which kicked off in Europe, and ended in December with only 30 of the 76 dates being in North America. Unfortunately, the band was mostly on auto pilot and going through the motions. “It was apparent that everyone else was ready to check out,” Hudson said. “I knew it was all the more important for me to enjoy it as much as I could.” The band played 3 shows in Europe in the April of 1998, and then went dormant for over a decade.
Two weeks later, the band was offered a co-headlining European tour with Aerosmith (fourteen-year-old me, is so psyched about this), which would’ve been the most lucrative of their career. The first dates of the tour were even posted on the band’s website. As with everything else in this band, there was a conflict. Ozzfest was scheduled to begin on the same day that the European Tour would’ve kicked off in Germany.
Gould held a band meeting at his house (sans Hudson). Patton brought a bottle of champaign, and uncorked it before they even discussed breaking up. A real dick move, Mike. Gould and Bottum took glasses, but Bordin refused. Gould told Patton not to rush into anything, and just quit, but to hold off and they would announce a breakup together, if that’s what they decided to do. The next day, the phones were ringing off the hook from the press, because Patton had announced his Fantomas project. A few days later, Bordin called Gould and told him he was going to work with Ozzy instead of doing the Aerosmith tour. Gould told him, “If you do this, that’s the end of the band”. Gould called management, and soon drafted a statement:
After fifteen long and fruitful years, Faith No More have decided to put an end to speculation regarding their imminent breakup… by breaking up. The decision among the members is mutual, and there will be no pointing of fingers, no naming of names, other than stating, for the record, that ‘Puffy started it.’ Furthermore, the split will now enable each member to pursue his individual projects unhindered. Lastly, and most importantly, the band would like to thank all of those fans and associates that have stuck with and supported the band throughout its history.
And this is why I hate side projects.
Patton continued on with Fantomas (with Slayer’s Dave Lombardo, Melvins’ Buzz Osbourne, and Mr. Bungle’s Trevor Dunn) throughout 1998 and 1999, and also established Ipecac Records in 1999, which is well known for being one of the most fair labels to their artists. Mr. Bungle also put out their final album (to date) in 1999, California. Patton also played with Tomahawk (with Jesus Lizard’s Duane Dennison and former Helmet drummer John Stanier), released his “pop music” project with contributions from Kool Keith, Nora Jones, and Raziel, among others. He also released his Italio-pop album Mondo Cane in addition to releasing about 30,000 other projects.
Gould started Koolarrow Records in 2000, and helped a lot of obscure bands by acting as label and management by putting his experience to good work. He also played on Fear Factory’s 2005 album Transgression, playing on one of their best songs, “Supernova”. He was also a member of Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine’s only album Audacity of Hope (and their EP Enhanced Methods of Questioning). In addition, he joined Fear and the Nervous System, the industrial group started by Korn’s James “Munky” Shaeffer.
Bordin continued his work with Ozzy Osbourne. He played drums on Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s Degradation Trip, and filled in for David Silvera of Korn in 2000, playing roughly 100 shows over the span of 7 months.
Bottum, continued on with Imperial Teen, releasing six studio albums and one live album. He also went on to score television and movies, and was writing a Bigfoot musical, but I’m not sure that was ever completed.
Hudson was working on his own projects, one of which was called Castro Sinatra with Gould and Bordin. However, the album was shelved when they didn’t find a singer and they weren’t getting the results they were after.
Former guitarist Dean Menta went on to join Sparks, and played on several albums of theirs.
After Mr. Bungle ended in 2000, Trey Spruance continued on with his group Secret Chiefs 3 (who released their first album in 1996). The group, much like Bungle, defies easy categorization, but in broadest strokes is a mix of rock, surf, Arabic music, and techno.
Meanwhile, in 1997, former guitarist Jim Martin released his only solo album, Blood and Milk in Europe. It wouldn’t see a U.S. release until 2000. It’s… not great, but he does do a version of “Surprise! You’re Dead!” He also grew an award-winning pumpkin (which he called “garden experiments”), and in 2013 joined Infectious Grooves for some shows. Wikipedia has him listed as still being a member, but there’s been no activity since then.
Former singer Chuck Mosley worked as a chef for several years, and released Will Rap Over Hard Rock For Food in 2009. The album was ten years in the making, and featured a new version of “We Care a Lot” featuring Bottum, and the song also features vocals from Korn’s Johnathan Davis.