The Reader has never had much to say about Faith No More—in our admittedly patchy archives, the only reference I could find to these Bay Area alt-metal weirdos during their peak years was a dumb joke in a 1992 Bill Wyman column. "The imponderables of rock 'n' roll are many," he wrote, clearly already pleased with his impending punch line, "from why does Billy Joel exist to why do so many current groups (Metallica, Faith No More, Soundgarden, to name just three) feature guitarists with funny facial hair."
Well. I'll leave you to wrestle with that one on your own. But I will say that I understand the omission. Faith No More were a little too famous to concern a newspaper that in certain respects considered itself a grubby countercultural gadfly. Not only that, they were and remain a divisive band—their sarcastic-sounding jock jams and leering, aggressive lounge-rock tomfoolery can leave you feeling like the whole thing is an elaborate joke at your expense. A lot of people hate them, and after 19 years at the Reader I feel qualified to say that a few of those people have written about music for us.
But I don't hate Faith No More. I even thought "We Care a Lot" was funny in junior high. Though I appreciate front man Mike Patton more in Mr. Bungle and Tomahawk (I never caught up with Fantômas), I'm nonetheless happy to see FNM release their first album in 18 years. Sol Invictus (Ipecac/Reclamation) comes out May 19, and Patton and company play Chicago tonight—their first local show since the late 90s.
Everybody who's been in the band since their 2009 reunion also appears on Faith No More's last prebreakup release, 1997's Album of the Year—founding members Roddy Bottum (keyboards), Mike Bordin (drums), and Billy Gould (bass), guitarist Jon Hudson (aboard since 1996), and of course Patton (who joined in 1988). The gimp in FNM's publicity photos, who's accompanying them on the road, isn't necessarily the same person every night: late last month in Los Angeles, former Guns n' Roses bassist Duff McKagan supposedly wore the suit. I hope they steam clean that thing.
Anyway. If you care about Faith No More at all, you've probably heard both of the songs they've released to tease Sol Invictus, "Superhero" and "Motherfucker."
Since we're all here, though, how about a couple old favorites too? I'm gonna go with "Everything's Ruined" and "A Small Victory," both from 1992's Angel Dust. Now that I listen to so much revolting metal, I don't find Faith No More's stabs at the genre especially persuasive—but songs like these, where the boys wade eyebrows deep into their own idiosyncratic hybrid style, still sound like fun. Weird, slightly uncomfortable fun.
And what the hell, here's "From Out of Nowhere," the lead track on 1989's The Real Thing. I'm posting this one mostly because I'm pretty sure Patton is making fun of Anthony Kiedis in the video.
Correction: This post has been amended to reflect the correct year of Faith No More's previous Chicago appearance.