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365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies,” Faith No More (1995)

Whenever it’s my birthday or his, one of my best friends, Chris, and I text each other the following: “Don’t you look so surprised/Happy birthday, fucker!” We’re both big Faith No More fans—he actually flew from Atlanta to Austin in 2015 to see FNM in concert with me—and we pay tribute to the band (and to our birthdays) with those funky lyrics from “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies.”

It’s one of my favorite songs off 1995’s King For a Day, Fool For a Lifetime album. It’s filed with chunky guitar, a moody bass line, and Patton switching off between his almost spoken word to the angry spitting of lyrics and then on to pure singing.

It’s Patton encapsulated—with all the innuendo you could ever want.

And that pure Patton-ness makes sense because—according to keyboardist Roddy Bottum in a 1994 interview with the Italian magazine Rockerilla that featured Bottum, bassist Billy Gould and temporary guitarist Trey Spruance—Patton wrote the song (though Gould and drummer Mike Bordin are also credited).

Consequence of Sound called it, “Half Danzig, half Biafra,” and there’s little doubt that “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” is one of the heaviest songs in the FNM catalog. There wasn’t even much for Bottum to do.

“Angst-­ridden,” Bottum said describing the song. “Good punctuation. Good definition and instruments for me. No keyboards.”

“So,” the interviewer asked, “what’d you do on the song?”

“Just danced around. Moral support.”

Responded Spruance, “He wrote choreography for the rest of us as well.”

Though I’ve seen Bottum playing guitar on other songs that don’t involve his keyboard, it looks like he simply danced himself off-stage during this live performance in 1997.

And the same in 2015.

But the song is all Patton. He sings, he screams, he paces, he rages, he makes it his own. And every year on my birthday, I get to be reminded of it in a bond that ties one of my best friends and me together forever.

Previously from King For a Day:

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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:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “We Care a Lot,” Faith No More (1985)

Great news for Faith No More fans emerged on Tuesday morning when the band announced it was going on a North American summer tour, where it’ll play amphitheaters as FNM co-headlines with Korn. Though it pains me to say it, I fear that Korn will be the one who plays last on those hot summer nights. It makes sense. FNM has been around longer, but Korn’s peak was probably bigger.

So, Korn will probably be the one to headline those shows, though hopefully both bands will play similarly long sets. At first, I was kind of bummed that Faith No More (probably) wouldn’t be going on stage last. But man, who cares? FNM is coming to town!

Korn has shown it’s been influenced by FNM, as we discussed previously when lead singer Jonathan Davis showed how much he was inspired by Patton when the two recorded Sepultura’s “Lookaway.”

According to Blabbermouth, founding Sepultura member Max Cavalera said, “Jonathan’s a huge Faith No More fan. He was actually freaking out that Patton was there [in the studio]. He was really nervous, which was actually kind of funny. He kept chewing on his hair the whole time he was in the studio.”

But in the past, FNM keyboardist Roddy Bottum has been dismissive of nu-metal bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit (who I saw open for FNM in 1997!) and Linkin Park.

“No responsibility whatsoever, really,” Bottum told Metal Injection in 2015 when asked if he feels responsible for nu metal. “That’s out of my realm. I don’t even really know what those bands sound like. But I certainly don’t feel an affinity towards them. That’s a weird breed of music. I’m in the fortunate position of having brought the sort of feminine sound to [FNM], so I feel safe. I’m never gonna be tagged as the aggro one, you know? But I guess there’s elements of the band that other people pick up on and focus on. I don’t really hear it myself, though. But I do find that people who make bad music often have really good taste.”

Maybe he was talking about Korn, which did a cover of FNM’s pre-Patton song, “We Care A Lot.” Yes, there was a Faith No More before Mike Patton joined the band, and in 1985, the band had its most commercially successful song that featured Chuck Mosley on lead vocals. It charted in the U.K. It was featured on the Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack (I remember seeing that movie in the theater and marking out so hard when I heard the beginning drum beats). And the Independent called it, “the sardonic Live Aid-baiting, funk metal anthem.”

It was started by Mosley …

Continued on by Patton after he joined the band in the late 1980s …

And continued further by Korn’s version (which is actually pretty solid) from 2016.

Hey, maybe we’ll get the chance to see FNM and Korn perform it together on Aug. 22. I’m not a big Korn guy, but that’s actually something I’d really like to experience.

Previously from pre-Patton FNM:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Midlife Crisis” (part 2), Faith No More (1992)

“Midlife Crisis” isn’t about a midlife crisis at all. Apparently, the song is about Madonna. That notion comes from Mike Patton himself.

“The song is based on a lot of observation and a lot of speculation. But in sort of a pointed way it’s kind of about Madonna…” Patton said, via an old FNM Q&A site. “I think it was a particular time where I was being bombarded with her image on TV and in magazines and her whole schtick kind of speaks to me in that way … like she’s going through some sort of problem. It seems she’s getting a bit desperate.”

As I wrote about earlier this week, I took a listen to “Midlife Crisis” at the end of a difficult day, so it’s kind of strange to read Patton also explain it this way: “It’s more about creating false emotion, being emotional, dwelling on your emotions and in a sense inventing them.”

“Midlife Crisis” was the first single released off FNM’s masterpiece of an album Angel Dust, and it’s the only song the band released that rose to No. 1 on the (modern rock) Billboard charts. It’s a pretty stunning accomplishment, but I bet if you asked 100 people who enjoy music what they remember about Faith No More, most, if not all, would say, “Epic” and (definitely) not “Midlife Crisis.”

To me, “Midlife Crisis” is good; it’s a song I enjoy hearing. But it’s nowhere close to my favorite. In fact, I just looked through Angel Dust’s track listing, and I would probably rank “Midlife Crisis” somewhere around No. 10 out of 12 songs. It’s not terrible. I mean, I’m not turning it off if it shows up on my song shuffle. But I’m not going out of my way to listen to it—unless, I guess, I’m having a tough day and I need some reassurance that my impending midlife crisis is an invention of my mind.

But man, other people just LOVE it. Consequence of Sound wrote that it was FNM’s best song, explaining, “This song has metal, pop, avant-garde, a musically united front with more facets than a diamond. It’s addictive and throbbing, your head on cocaine, your heaven and hell. It’s the Faith No More song. Angel dust, indeed.”

Guitar World even proclaimed FNM’s performance of it as one of the 10 greatest metal performances in late night TV history when Patton and company invaded Jay Leno’s Tonight Show in 1993.

Fair enough. Even if it barely cracks my top 10 on Angel Dust, I’ll still rock out to it. And apparently so do many, many others.

Previously from Angel Dust:

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

I’m writing this after a hell of a day. My washing machine leaked while we were washing towels, and neither my wife nor I noticed until water soaked the floor in the laundry room and in the neighboring kitchen (goddammit, we were both only gone for, like, five minutes when the indoor lake was formed), and so I spent much of my day wet vacuuming the mess with a rented device while trying to write and edit a few SEO pieces for the Daily Dot.

Now, it’s 7 p.m. on a Friday, and I’m annoyed because I made dinner for my kids but not for myself and my wife went out with a friend and I have to return this vacuum to Home Depot and I have to pick up the entire Girl Scout cookie load for my daughter’s troupe tonight. It’s to the point where—and I’m sure if you’re a parent, you’ve experienced this—the sound of my children’s laughter is just annoying the absolute shit out of me.

I’ve resisted telling them to be quiet, because what kind of parent is irritated by their children’s love for each other, but man, I just want them to go to bed soon and for the world to disappear for a while.

I’m not going through a midlife crisis or anything—can you know that for sure until after you’ve already left it behind?—but I’m jonesing to hear Faith No More play one of its biggest hits to give myself some relief from this day.

It’s the third song off the Angel Dust album, and it is called, naturally, “Midlife Crisis.” It’s a good song, and it’s a staple of their live sets. And actually, it’s actually the band’s most successful single. Yes, you still hear “Epic” a decent amount on Sirius XM or in real life. You hardly ever hear “Midlife Crisis” these days, but on Aug. 7, 1992, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard modern rock chart.

I’m actually going to write about that for later this week, because there’s plenty to say about the song’s popularity and what inspired the tune in the first place. But I’m tired, and I don’t feel like writing much more at the moment.

The song hasn’t made me feel much better in the aftermath of my (admittedly, first-world) problems. But in the 231 seconds that the music played in my earbuds, I could take a break and relax.

All right, I’ve got to run and get like 50 cases of Girl Scout cookies. The worst part? They’ll sit in my trunk for the night, because none of them are earmarked for my belly. And I feel like I’m bleeding enough for two.

Previously from Angel Dust:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Collision,” Faith No More (1997)

When I saw Faith No More live for the second time in my life in 1997, the band opened the show with the first song off the Album of the Year record. While I really dig the studio version of “Collision,” I don’t think the live version worked all that well. In fact, the distance between how much like I like the album version and how much I don’t care for the live version is the furthest of any FNM song.

And maybe that set the tone for the rest of that concert at Atlanta’s Masquerade club that year. It was a good concert, but of the three FNM shows I’ve seen, it was clearly the weakest. Just like Album of the Year is the band’s weakest album with Patton employed as the singer. I’m not entirely sure there’s a connection there, but there probably is.

But I do really enjoy “Collision” when it’s not being played live. Kind of like “Digging the Grave,” the song the band opened with the first time I saw them two years earlier, there is no introduction to the song. There’s no warning about what’s coming before Patton’s voices smacks you in the throat. Just as the instruments begin assaulting your senses, Patton is there yelling “Colllllllisssssssiiiiiiiiioooonnnnnnn, my missssssssssssiiiiiiiioooooooonnnnnnnnn.”

As Pop Matters opines, “The way the band drops [Jon] Hudson’s thundering guitars during the verses and allows bassist Billy Gould’s and drummer Mike Bordin’s rock-solid syncopated groove to shine is great arranging.”

Take a listen.

My favorite lyric, of course, has to be “All the day’s plans/All the shaking hands/Beepers and suntans,” because weren’t beepers already kind of an irrelevant thing in 1997? It’s like if Patton sang about how much he loved Smokey and the Bandit on the 1992 tune “RV.”

But it hardly matters. Roddy Bottum’s keyboards are subtle but great, Gould’s bass sounds fat, and the guitar of Hudson, in the song that introduced him to FNM’s audience, is pretty damn metal.

I just don’t need to see it live again.

Postscript: Well ACTUALLY, I just found this live version. And while I don’t think it’s THAT great, the power the band portrays while playing “Collision” live is impressive. My recollection of the version I personally heard live (and other bootleg versions I’ve listened to since) had nowhere near this kind of impact.

Previously from Album of the Year:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Big Kahuna,” Faith No More (1997)

Though it was recorded during the Album of the Year sessions in 1997, “The Big Kahuna” is one of a handful of Faith No More songs that have filtered out to the public even though the tune was never actually released on an album.

Somehow, hearing a B-side like this makes it just a little more interesting when you listen to it. It feels kind of like you’re listening to something you were never supposed to hear.

It’s a frenetic, kinda crazy song that wanders all over the place. It’s certainly good enough to be on an actual FNM album. It’s a fun song, and sometimes, that’s all you need.

Previously from Album of the Year:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Highway Star,” Faith No More (1998)

Faith No More (and Mike Patton) loves to play cover songs. You probably have heard its most famous non-original tune—“Easy,” by the Commodores. But the amount of other bands’ material that FNM has played throughout its concert career is seemingly endless.

That includes Deep Purple’s “Highway Star,” a song released originally in 1972 that was revitalized by FNM on its final tour in 1997 (before it reformed more than a decade later). According to setlist.fm, the show I saw in Atlanta that year was only the third time the band had played the tune live (though I have no memory of that song at that concert).

The first time FNM fiddled with the song came a few days earlier in Columbus, Ohio. According to New Faith No More, “They did Highway Star like 6-7 times and they were busting up laughing each and every time … in fact if I remember correct at one point Jon [Hudson, the guitarist] started to play “Ashes to Ashes” but Mike stopped him, said the crowd wasn’t good enough to hear that, and they played it again.”

Eventually, a live version made its way to FNM’s post-breakup greatest hits album.

Here’s the Deep Purple version of “Highway Star.”

And FNM’s frenetic live version.

Unlike Deep Purple’s six-minute song, FNM boils it down to about 60 seconds. So, if you don’t enjoy FNM’s cover, at least you don’t have to listen to it for very long.

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “A Small Victory,” Faith No More (1992)

Faith No More played some of the biggest shows of its career in 1992 when the band took the opening slot on the Guns N’ Roses/Metallica co-headlining tour. FNM had its biggest hit with “Epic” off The Real Thing album a few years earlier, and in 1992, it had released the Angel Dust follow up. To celebrate that album, FNM played for two months with two of the biggest bands in the world.

I was reminded of that on Tuesday when I went to a relatively small outdoor venue to watch GNR bassist Duff McKagan play his new Americana-sounding, slight country-twanging album, along side a few GNR deep cuts. It was a great show, but there had to be less than 1,000 people there—a long way from when I saw GNR play stadium shows in Houston (in 2016) and in San Antonio (in 2017).

And it was a long way from the GNR/Metallica/FNM tour that was awfully unenjoyable for FNM.

As noted by Faith No More Followers, Slash and Axl Rose loved The Real Thing, and FNM knew how big a shot it was getting to tour with GNR and Metallica.

“It’s fucking amazing that we even got on the tour, one of the biggest tours in the world,” bassist Billy Gould said in 1992…. “I mean, aesthetically we’re different. I think it’s good though. I’ve gotta give Guns N’ Roses credit and give Metallica credit, too. Right now it’s really responsible of them to pick bands that are different because they didn’t have to do that. They could pretty much tour with anybody.”

But it wasn’t always so great for FNM. During the tour, Gould expressed how uncomfortable he felt with the intense atmosphere backstage.

“I hate the whole circus thing, we all hate it,” he said. “But at the moment we don’t have the power to do what we want to do, so we still have to eat a little bit of shit. We almost have the power to control what we do, but not quite, so we’re just gritting our teeth and getting through it best we can. Every band in the world might think they want to open for Guns N’ Roses, but lemme tell you, it’s been a real ugly personal experience, having to deal with all the shit that surrounds this fucking circus. I’ve always hated that aspect of rock music and I’ve never wanted to be part of it, so to find myself being associated with a tour this big kinda sucks.”

Plus, FNM wasn’t always so well received by the GNR and Metallica fans.

“I’d thought our presence there would be totally misplaced,” Patton said in 1992. “We said: we may not like GNR, we may not like playing in open air stadiums in broad daylight, where we sound like shit and look like shit on a much too large stage that wasn’t built for us, and we may not like the fact that people are paying too much money for a ticket…that’s all true. But the fact is: it’s a very good opportunity to reach a large audience that otherwise wouldn’t have come to see us. And that’s good. The other side of it is that we want to headline again. It will happen in October. Playing with a roof over our heads. We’re at our best like that.”

McKagan and Patton, as far as I know, never played together (though McKagan played the role of the “Gimp” at an L.A. FNM show in 2015). Patton was rumored to have received an invitation to audition to be the lead singer of Velvet Revolver—a Slash/McKagan/Matt Sorum post-GNR band. Patton declined.

Anywhere, here’s “A Small Victory,” a song that’s not exactly a favorite of mine from Angel Dust. But that’s OK. Nobody who went to see GNR and Metallica in 1992 heard that tune either. According to setlist.fm, FNM didn’t play the song at all during that monster stadium tour.

Previously from Angel Dust:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Motherfucker,” Faith No More (2015)

I saw Hamilton the other night. It was stunning, one of the most amazing performances I’ve ever seen live. The lyrics and the singing and the choreography and the ending—and the pre-performance and post-performance buzz in the theater—it was just an incredible three hours to watch professionals ply their craft.

Naturally, one moment reminded me of Faith No More.

In the days leading up to the performance, I listened to the first two songs on the Hamilton soundtrack. I had never heard any of the music from the show, and I figured I should immerse myself into at least a couple of tunes just so I could get my bearings before I entered the theater.

And the first song of the show, Alexander Hamilton, reminded me of Faith No More’s “Motherfucker.” Listen for that early piano work and the building tempo in both songs. For a few seconds, it sounds the same.

Here’s “Alexander Hamilton.”

And here’s “Motherfucker.”

So, kind of similar, right? Anyway, when I saw Faith No More in 2015, this is the song that opened the show. And though it’s not the quick-paced banger FNM started their shows on previous tours I saw (“Digging the Grave” on the King For a Day tour and “Collision” on the Album of the Year tour), it was actually a great way to start a concert.

The tension between the two vocalists, that haunting piano, the drummer boy beat. And then, the explosion. Here’s how I experienced it in Austin.

Just like Hamilton, it still gives me chills.

Previously from Sol Invictus:

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