If you know Faith No More and Mike Patton, it’s probably because you remember the 1990 hit “Epic.” It’s still played all the time on Sirius, and it was recently featured on the “What Makes This Song Great” series on YouTuber Rick Beato’s 686,000-subscriber strong channel. The truth is, I always feel like whenever I’m talking about Faith No More with somebody who doesn’t know much about the band, I have to qualify it with, “Well, most of their stuff doesn’t sound like ‘Epic.’”
Still, it’s Patton’s biggest hit, and it’s for good reason. It’s one of the earlier entries into the rap-rock category of music that exploded a few years later with Rage Against the Machine, the Judgment Night soundtrack, and the eventually success of nu-metal.
On the song—which came off The Real Thing album, Patton’s first appearance with the band—his rapping sounds like a Red Hot Chili Peppers tune, and his voice has that nasal quality he lost soon after (something we’ll revisit at another time). It was an undeniable hit on the radio (peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard charts in September 1990) and on MTV.
When Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis saw the video, he was not pleased. He told Kerrang! magazine, via L.A. Weekly, that “My drummer says he’s gonna kidnap [Patton], shave his hair off and cut off one of his feet, just so he’ll be forced to find a style of his own.” Later, in a RHCP biography, Kiedis said, “I watched [their] ‘Epic’ video, and I see him jumping up and down, rapping, and it looked like I was looking in a mirror.”
There’s plenty more that can be said about the relationship between Patton and Kiedis, and maybe we’ll write about it on 365 Days of Mike Patton.
To me, in the present day, “Epic” feels dated, maybe more so than any other FNM song, and listening to it sometimes feels like walking on glass. But I’d probably never have been an FNM fan if I hadn’t heard “Epic” when I was in middle school. Since that’s the case, I’ll always be thankful for it.
To follow along on the 365 days of Patton, click here for a list of each day’s post.