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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Digging the Grave,” Faith No More (1995)

It was my first Faith No More concert. I was standing in the middle of the floor at my favorite ever venue, the Masquerade in Atlanta. The lights went dark to signify the start of the show, the crowd roared, and Mike Bordin hit the cymbals four times. And then pandemonium ensued.

I got hit from the left. I got hit from the right. I got bounced around (hard!) a few times more in the newly formed mosh pit, and that’s when I decided I should listen to Faith No More a little bit further away from the stage. I remember being completely floored by the music and the energy and by Mike Patton’s screams. I also remember somebody lost a shoe in that mosh pit.

That’s probably when I fell in love with Faith No More’s (and Patton’s) music.

While people still remembered Faith No More for its biggest hit, “Epic,” a half-decade earlier, its subsequent albums, Angel Dust and King For a Day, Fool For a Lifetime, are my two favorites. “Digging the Grave” is the ninth song on the latter record, and it’s just killer.

It’s the perfect way to open a hard rock show.

See what I mean?

When I saw FNM on its King For a Day tour, it was playing in front of about 500 people in a mid-sized club. In the U.S., the band never could sustain its popularity after “Epic.” In much of the rest of the world, though, it was a different story, where King For a Day blasted into the top-five of the record charts in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and Finland. Its peak in America was No. 31.

“By that time, we knew that our unpopularity in America and our popularity everywhere else was letting us know that we must be doing the right thing because American music was so fucking bad at that time,” bassist Billy Gould told Metal Hammer. “At that time we all went off and did solo stuff for a couple of years because we were so tired of all the bullshit that people bought to their experience of Faith No More. But that wasn’t fatigue with the music, just with being so fucking misunderstood. Which sounds primadonnaish but is true: Right now when people tell me they love that record I think, ‘Where the fuck were you when it came out then?’”

I was there, Billy! In the mosh pit, getting bashed around, watching somebody look for a lost shoe that was probably never found, falling in love.

Previously from King For a Day:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Introduce Yourself,” Faith No More (1987)

We don’t normally write about Faith No More songs from the band’s first two albums, We Care a Lot and Introduce Yourself, because Mike Patton didn’t perform on those records. Instead, it was a singer by the name of Chuck Mosley who acted as the frontman of the band before he was eventually kicked out, which then made room for Patton.

But I’m including this song from the band’s second album, because Patton sang it plenty on stage with Faith No More and because his style on this song clashed heavily with what Mosley produced in the studio.

First, here’s Mosley in 1987.

And here’s Patton live in 1995.

I’m not a huge fan of Mosley’s style, which is why I almost never listen to the first few FNM albums. But other than the roll call of the band members’ first names early in the song, I don’t mind his version. But still, I much prefer Patton’s chaotic, screamy take on it.

Anyway, here’s how the band fired Mosley. Not unlike guitarist Jim Martin a few years later, FNM just kinda got tired of him (and because they were all going in different musical directions).

As Louder Sound tells it, the band was on its European tour after Introduce Yourself was released, and one of Mosley’s roadies got into a physical altercation with guitarist Jim Martin, a brouhaha which apparently broke Martin’s hand (not a great injury for a guitar player). The band fired the roadie over Mosley’s objections.

Later in the tour, bassist Billy Gould apparently punched Mosley (not unlike Patton one day throwing bottles at Martin while on stage) because he was so sick of him. Then, once the band returned home, everything went to hell.

“There was a certain point when I went to rehearsal, and Chuck wanted to do all acoustic guitar songs. It was just so far off the mark—I think I actually attacked him again,” Gould said.

Afterward, Gould said he quit the band. Then, he talked to drummer Mike Bordin, who said, “Well, I still want to play with you.” Then, a similar conversation was had with keyboardist Roddy Bottum. He also decided he’d rather play with Gould and Bordin than Mosley. Pretty soon, that was that, and Mosley was gone.

Patton’s arrival would change everything.

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Underwater Love,” Faith No More (1989)

Without a doubt, this is my favorite all-time song about drowning your lover. From the opening keyboard zinger to Mike Patton’s nasally voice and Billy Gould’s funkadelically obtrusive bass, this song sounds like it was recorded in 1989 for The Real Thing album and then stayed locked in a time capsule for good.

The lyrics, though, are forever.

“Looking down into the water/It’s hard to make out your face/If our love is drowning, then why/Do I feel so out of place?”

And …

“Liquid seeps into your lungs/But your eyes look so serene/It’s wonderful how the surface ripples/But you’re perfect, and I cannot breathe.”

It’s not exactly subtle, is it?

Even if you think the lyrics are TOO obvious and that the song must be really about something else—a man’s obsession with fishing, for example— Patton says you’re wrong. He told Kerrang in 1990, via FNM 2.0, “Underwater Love was basically about murdering someone you love.”

Interestingly, a demo version of the song exists—according to the YouTube channel, it was “recorded on [a] 4-Track in Bill Gould’s attic as a demonstration of Mike Patton for Faith No More’s management and their record company (Slash)” before Patton was officially in the band—and the lyrics are a little bit different (though it still sounds like it’s about drowning somebody you love).

Previously from The Real Thing:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “RV,” Faith No More (1992)

I’m not sure anything I’ve heard from Mike Patton that could be considered a country and western song. Except, of course, for “RV,” the fourth song off Faith No More’s masterpiece Angel Dust.

For the first time since joining the band a few years earlier, Patton had a big say in the music and the lyrics for Angel Dust (pretty much everything was pre-manufactured for Patton on 1989’s The Real Thing). We know how eclectic Patton can be. So, we can assume “RV” is something that could have sprang from his mind. Or Tom Waits’ mind, as a number of reviews of Angel Dust said at the time (or, as Rolling Stone wrote, “’RV’ is a bizarre Tin Pan Alley/country hybrid,” and as many mention, it might take inspiration from the scenes in “Super Mario Bros” when Mario was swimming underwater).

 

About a year ago, there was a thread on the Faith No More subreddit about whether “RV” was a stupid comedy song, and at first glance, it appears it could be.

With lyrics like …

“Yeah, I sweat a lot

Pants fall down every time I bend over

My feet itch

Yeah—I married a scarecrow”

… you could see how that can be taken as some sort of crudely cruel comedic song about some sad sack of a man who has no real future in life.

But it’s probably not. If you read between the lines, there’s some dark content contained in the song, particularly an element of child abuse and self-hatred and perhaps suicide. This isn’t a funny song at all. Especially the last line which is just a killer kicker.

I love this song, but damn if it doesn’t make me feel slightly uncomfortable.

Previously from Angel Dust:

365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Perfect Crime,” Faith No More (1991)

Since I started thinking about this 365 Days of Mike Patton journey, I’ve had plenty of serendipitous encounters with Patton projects in the real world. There was a Mr. Bungle song played during a commercial bumper at the Grammy’s. Patton, for seemingly no rhyme or reason, was supposed to sing the national anthem at an NFL playoff game in L.A. (at the last minute, he had to cancel because he was sick).

And on Sunday night, it was probably the most random moment of all. I went with a buddy to an independent wrestling show in Austin—I haven’t seen live pro wrestling in more than 15 years—and as one of the participants was strutting his way to the ring, Faith No More’s “The Perfect Crime” was bleeding from the speakers.

The tune was never released on a Faith No More studio album, but it got some attention for its inclusion on the soundtrack for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Patton’s singing makes it sound like an outtake from The Real Thing because he’s a little nasally. But in reality, he was in the middle of making his transition to the more well-rounded singer he’d become on the Angel Dust album.

I wasn’t a Faith No More fan at the time, so I don’t remember the song coming out or why it was a big deal to FNM fans, but Metal Sucks has an interesting take on it …

[It] popped up on the Bill & Ted’s II soundtrack among a great Megadeth song, a ghastly Kiss song, and Steve Vai’s “The Reaper Rap.” Having arrived amid dim company and at a moment of FNM scarcity, “Crime” may’ve seemed awesomer than its actual awesomeness; also, the absence of another FNM song after it might’ve accounted for my tendency to rewind and repeat “Crime” a bunch. But the context, the timing, and the lack of competition were beside the point cuz the reason I never listen to it only once is that the shit is awesome beyond all reasonable measure.

Kerrang called the song a “punk, funk fusion of Simple Minds and the Talking Heads.”

Meanwhile, FNM bassist Billy Gould’s younger brother took home video of the mixing of “The Perfect Crime” (though Patton wasn’t in the studio that day). It’s a video I’d never seen. And I probably would never have known about it if I hadn’t gone to an independent wrestling show on a Sunday night.

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Naked In Front of the Computer,” Faith No More (1997)

Straight out of the late 1990s, when people were just beginning to embrace the internet and email and all the possibilities of both, this song on Faith No More’s Album of the Year record was written solely by Patton (a rather rare accomplishment for this band). He apparently was fascinated by the power of being online.

“Actually, this song is about email,” FNM bassist Billy Gould told Keyboard Magazine in 1997. “Patton is kind of obsessed with the idea of how people can communicate and have relationships over the computer without talking or ever meeting. So this is an extreme version of that concept. Funny thing is … the image of someone sitting naked in front of a computer might not have made sense to people a few years ago, but now everybody knows what it means. It’s become part of our culture.”

Yes, and you probably don’t need me to spell out what Gould (and Patton) are talking about. After all, there aren’t too many reasons to be nude in front of your laptop screen.

A number of reviews for Album of the Year—which was the band’s last for 18 years—were not kind, and it’s hard to blame them. It’s my least favorite Patton-led FNM album, and Rolling Stone wrote, “All in all, Faith No More are floundering around desperately, groping for a sense of identity and direction in a decade that clearly finds them irrelevant.”

Maybe FNM was (slightly) irrelevant at the time, but the song’s title and subject matter have not gone out of style. These days, everybody knows what sitting naked in front of your computer means.

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Everything’s Ruined,” Faith No More (1992)

After the astonishing success of The Real Thing album—Mike Patton’s first effort with Faith No More and a certified hit, thanks in large part to the single “Epic”—the band had to figure out what to accomplish on their follow-up album, Angel Dust. Aside from perhaps guitarist Jim Martin, nobody wanted a repeat of their rap/funk/rock sound from The Real Thing. The band wanted something different.

“If you just look at the transition from The Real Thing to Angel Dust, that’s a band that’s absolutely willing to let go of something that was really successful,” producer Andy Wallace told Diffuser. “They could’ve done The Real Thing Pt. 2 and probably made a really nice living, but they decided to really distance themselves from that sound that they helped create and move in a completely different direction. And their instincts were right: Angel Dust stands the test of time.”

Aside from the music video that was released (more on that in a sec), there’s not much strange about “Everything’s Ruined.” It feels like a straight-ahead rock number with a fairly straight-ahead vocal performance from Patton.

Even keyboardist Roddy Bottum once called it “radio friendly” and a “pop song.” In fact, the working title for the song was reportedly “The Carpenters,” because it was such an easy listening tune.

“It’s one of the more straight-forward rockers we have on this album,” Patton said, via Faith No More Followers. “Compare it to something like “Surprise You’re Dead” (we’ll get there) from the last album. I think you’ll see how we’ve changed. You can’t put your finger on it, but it’s there. We’re getting better at playing what we’re visualizing.”

The music video, on the other hand, is strange.

It features the band (and other random people) playing in front of B-roll like video footage (a bride and groom walking, pigs in a pen, men riding horses, two people sunbathing, etc.).

The reason for the amateurish video was simple. According to bassist Billy Gould, it had to be low budget.

“The easy answer is, Warner [the band’s music label had] spent the video budget on “A Small Victory” and “Midlife Crisis” so that when it came time to “Everything’s Ruined,” there wasn’t much left,” Gould told the Faith No More Blog in 2012. “It was our idea to take this further and make a video as cheap as humanly possible, in one of those video booths like they had at county fairs, where you sing and dance in front of a blue screen. We didn’t quite get to do that, but we got it as close as possible.”

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