365 Days of Mike Patton: “From Out of Nowhere,” Faith No More (1989)

Though The Real Thing album, Mike Patton’s first outing with Faith No More, is best known for the smash hit “Epic”—the song that propelled the record to reach No. 11 on the U.S. Billboard chart—the first single to be released was actually “From Out of Nowhere.”

The video that was released features Patton head-banging and moving around like a man who hasn’t figured out how best to stretch the itches on his skin. The tune is fast-paced with plenty of synthy keyboards and a funky bass line, and it’s Patton at his nasally best (if you like that sort of thing). His dancing in the video also slightly reminds me of the way Emilio Estevez’s character, Andrew, showcased his moves in The Breakfast Club. And no, that’s not necessarily a compliment.

In the YouTube comments, some people wondered if Patton was mocking the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis or Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose with those dance moves? Considering Patton had feuds with both singers, it’s not a bad theory. But I tend to doubt it. It looks like Patton is just experimenting with how he should act as a frontman for the band he just joined.

Is the video cheesy? Oh hell yes. Is the song still pretty great? I’d say so.

(For comparison’s sake, here’s Estevez kicking some ass in the library during that infamous Saturday detention.)

In reality, Patton wasn’t around when the song was created, since it was created before he was even in the band.

“Billy (Gould), Mike Bordin and I wrote that song together at our rehearsal space in Hunter’s Point,” keyboardist Roddy Bottum told Louder Sound in 2019. “It was among the first batch of songs that we wrote after Chuck (Mosley, the original singer) left the band. Typically, the three of us would get the skeleton of a song going on, and then get Jim Martin to put his guitar part on. Sometimes, Billy would write [Martin’s] guitar part for him, but I think in the case of ‘From Out Of Nowhere,’ he wrote his own part.”

After Patton joined, he wrote the lyrics and the melody. Patton said he doesn’t remember even recording the song, and its meaning is unclear. Bottum said it’s “about a chance meeting and how chance plays a role in interaction,” but Patton claimed it’s about “Jello shots, hermetic philosophy, Ptolemaic cosmology… you know, your average commie/junkie jibber-jabber.”

What wasn’t in question was that FNM thought the tempo of the song was the perfect set opener when the band went on tour in support of the album (it was also the second song FNM played on its visit to Saturday Night Live).

“That song was so good because most of our stuff was mid-tempo that the set was always in danger of dragging,” Gould, the band’s bassist, said. “With that one we could at least start things on a high note, and hopefully this spark would keep the rest of the set alive. There’s nothing worse than being on stage for 80 minutes or so when things are not working correctly. Generally it seemed to work out well, and we stuck with it as an opener until with hated it so much we scrapped it from the set altogether.”

It certainly was a staple in the band’s sets from the late 1980s into the early 1990s but on its 1995 tour, it was only played a handful of times, and in 1997, the band only showcased it twice. according to Setlist.fm. Apparently in the three times I’ve seen the band live, I’ve never heard “From Out of Nowhere.”

But when the band reunited for shows in 2010, “From Out of Nowhere” returned to the setlist, and yeah, it still sounded good with a harder edge.

To me, the song sounds better today than it did in its original form 30 years ago. Probably because Patton is no longer trying to find himself as a frontman.

Previously from The Real Thing:

To follow along on the 365 days of Patton, click here for a list of each day’s post.

One response to “365 Days of Mike Patton: “From Out of Nowhere,” Faith No More (1989)

  1. Then there are the handful of people who know who it is really about.

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