Early days (1979–1984)
Vocalist Chuck Mosley
joined Faith No More in 1983, and during his five-year tenure with the band, he appeared on their first two studio albums.
Faith No More was originally formed as Sharp Young Men in 1979 by bassist Billy Gould, drummer Mike Bordin, vocalist Mike Morris, and keyboardist Wade Worthington. Mike Morris described the name as "a piss-take on all the ‘elegant’ groups at the time." Later on, Morris proposed the name Faith In No Man, but, eventually, the band settled on Bordin's suggestion Faith No Man (stylized as Faith. No Man).
The band's classic logo, used on their 1985 debut We Care a Lot
. It was originally designed by Billy Gould as an homage to the Symbol of Chaos
They recorded "Quiet in Heaven/Song of Liberty", released in 1983. The songs were recorded in Matt Wallace's parents' garage, where Wallace had set up and been running a recording studio while the band was still recording under the name Sharp Young Men, with Mike Morris, Billy Gould, Mike Bordin and Wade Worthington. Worthington left shortly thereafter. They changed their name to Faith No Man for the release of the single, which featured two of the three songs recorded in Wallace's garage, and hired Roddy Bottum to replace Worthington. Bottum, Gould and Bordin quit the band shortly after and formed Faith No More. They chose the name to accentuate the fact that "The Man" (Mike Morris) was "No More". The band played with several vocalists and guitarists, including a brief stint with Courtney Love, until they settled on vocalist Chuck Mosley in 1983 and later, guitarist Jim Martin.
We Care a Lot and Introduce Yourself (1985–1988)
After the name change, the band initially started recording We Care a Lot without backing from a record label and, after pooling their money, recorded five songs. This gained the attention of Ruth Schwartz, who was then forming the independent label Mordam Records, under which the band, after getting the necessary financial support, finished and released the album. It was the first official release for both the band and the label.
In late 1986, Faith No More was signed to Los Angeles label Slash Records by Anna Statman. The label had recently been sold to the Warner Music Group subsidiary London Records, ensuring a widespread release for the band's following albums. Introduce Yourself was released in 1987, and a revamped version of their debut album's title track "We Care a Lot" saw minor success on MTV. Mosley's behaviour had started to become increasingly erratic, particularly during a troubled tour of Europe in 1988. Incidents include him allegedly punching Billy Gould on stage, the release party for the album Introduce Yourself — during which he fell asleep on stage — and one of Mosley's roadies getting into a fist fight with guitarist Jim Martin during the European tour. Mosley was eventually fired after the band returned home from Europe. Billy Gould reflected "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. The upshot was that I got up, walked out and quit the band. I just said: ‘I’m done – I can’t take this any longer. It’s just so ridiculous’. The same day, I talked to Bordin, and he said: ‘Well, I still want to play with you’. Bottum did the same thing. It was another one of these ‘firing somebody without firing them’ scenarios."
Mike Patton joins and The Real Thing (1989–1991)
Chuck Mosley was replaced with singer Mike Patton in 1988. Patton, who was singing with his high school band, Mr. Bungle, was recruited at Martin's suggestion after he heard a demo of Mr. Bungle. According to Patton, he first met the band during a 1986 gig at "a pizza parlor" in his hometown of Eureka, California. Two weeks after joining Faith No More, he had written all the lyrics for the songs that would make up the Grammy award-nominated The Real Thing, which was released in June 1989.
"Epic" was released in January 1990 and was a top 10 hit. The music video for "Epic" received extensive airplay on MTV in 1990, despite anger from animal rights activists for a slow motion shot of a fish flopping out of water at the end of the video. That same year, Faith No More performed at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards (September 6) and on the 293rd episode of Saturday Night Live (December 1) "From Out of Nowhere" and "Falling to Pieces" saw releases as singles, and a cover of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" was also produced for non-vinyl releases. In 1990, the band went on an extensive U.S. tour, sending The Real Thing to Platinum status in Canada, the U.S., and South America. The album also had big sales numbers in Australia, U.K., and the rest of Europe, pushing the total sales well above 4 million worldwide.
In February 1991, Faith No More released their only official live album, Live at the Brixton Academy. The album also included two previously unreleased studio tracks, "The Grade" and "The Cowboy Song". That same year, the band contributed a track for the motion picture soundtrack to Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey with the song "The Perfect Crime". Jim Martin also made a brief cameo in the film as "Sir James Martin" as the head of the "Faith No More Spiritual and Theological Center". Mike Patton's original band Mr. Bungle would go on to sign with Slash and Reprise Records' parent label Warner Bros. Records in 1991, following the worldwide success of The Real Thing.
Angel Dust (1992–1994)
Faith No More displayed an even more experimental effort on their next album, Angel Dust, which was released in 1992. One critic writes that the album is "one of the more complex and simply confounding records ever released by a major label" and another writes that the single "'A Small Victory', which seems to run Madame Butterfly through Metallica and Nile Rodgers (...) reveals a developing facility for combining unlikely elements into startlingly original concoctions."
Aside from "A Small Victory" (which received a nomination for Best Art Direction at the MTV Video Music Awards), the tracks "Midlife Crisis" and "Everything's Ruined" were also released as singles. The album included a re-recording of the theme to the film Midnight Cowboy, and later pressings included a cover of The Commodores "Easy", which in some parts of the world became the band's biggest hit. Angel Dust, though not as successful as The Real Thing in the U.S., sold 665,000 copies there, and managed to outsell The Real Thing in many other countries. In Germany, the record was certified Gold for sales of more than 250,000 copies. The album also matched the sales of The Real Thing in Canada (Platinum), Australia (Gold), and surpassed it in the Netherlands, France, Russia, and the U.K.. Worldwide sales are around 3.1 million copies.
After touring to support Angel Dust in the summer of 1993, long-time guitarist Jim Martin left the band due to internal conflicts. He was reportedly unhappy with the band's change in musical direction on Angel Dust, describing it as "gay disco". According to Roddy Bottum, Martin was fired via fax. However, Martin himself states it was his decision to leave. Both Godflesh guitarist Justin Broadrick and Killing Joke guitarist Geordie Walker were reportedly offered to join Faith No More after Martin's departure, but declined to join. The position was filled by Mike Patton's bandmate from Mr. Bungle, Trey Spruance, who left soon after recording 1995's King for a Day... Fool for a Lifetime and just before the band was to begin their world tour. Spruance was replaced by Dean Menta, the band's keyboard tech.
King for a Day..., Album of the Year and break-up (1995–1998)
The alternate "barking dog logo", based on the artwork for Faith No More's 1995 album King for a Day... Fool for a Lifetime
Faith No More's fifth studio album King for a Day... Fool for a Lifetime was released in 1995, and varies greatly from song to song in style; post-hardcore/punk, country, jazz, bossa nova, thrash metal, gospel music, along with other signature FNM elements, are woven together throughout the album. Singles included "Digging the Grave", "Evidence", and "Ricochet". The album featured Mr. Bungle's Trey Spruance on guitar. The record went Gold in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands and Germany, which gave the album a respectable sales figure of around 1.5 million copies; this was significantly lower than sales of their previous albums. A 7 x 7-inch box set of singles was released, which included the B-sides and some interviews between the songs.
Album of the Year was released in 1997 and featured yet another new guitarist, Jon Hudson, who was a former roommate of Billy Gould. The album debuted much higher than expected in some countries (for example, in Germany, the album debuted at No. 2 and stayed in the chart for 5 months). In Australia, Album of the Year went to No. 1 and was certified Platinum. The album charted in many countries in Europe. To date, Album of the Year has sold around 2 million copies worldwide. The singles "Ashes to Ashes" and "Last Cup of Sorrow" had minimal success (notably, the music video for "Last Cup of Sorrow", which featured actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, was inspired by the Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo). "Stripsearch" was released as a single in various countries (excluding the U.S. and U.K.). The album received largely negative reviews from U.S.-based critics at the time. Rolling Stone magazine wrote in their original review "[They] are floundering around desperately, groping for a sense of identity and direction in a decade that clearly finds them irrelevant", while Pitchfork Media stated "Album Of The Year leaves one feeling like waking up and finding last night's used condom – sure, the ride was fun while it lasted, but what remains is just plain icky. And you definitely don't want it in your CD player."
In early 1998, rumors of Faith No More's imminent demise began. Starting with a rumor posted to the Faith No More newsgroup alt.music.faith-no-more claiming Mike Patton had quit the band in favor of side projects, this rumor, although denied at the time, proved to be at least partly true. Faith No More played their last show in Lisbon, Portugal on April 7, 1998. The band cancelled their planned support tour for Aerosmith and on April 20, Billy Gould released a statement by email and fax, saying "[T]he decision among the members is mutual" and "the split will now enable each member to pursue his individual project(s) unhindered." The band "thank[ed] all of those fans and associates that have stuck with and supported the band throughout its history."
Immediately after the dissolution of Faith No More, the members went on to numerous different projects. Mike Patton notably co-founded the supergroups Fantômas and Tomahawk in 1998–99, as well as continuing his original band Mr. Bungle, who were still signed with Warner Bros. Records. The sound of Tomahawk in particular has often been compared to Faith No More's mid-late 1990s output.
When Faith No More was brought up in a 1999 interview with The A.V. Club, Patton (then fronting Mr. Bungle) stated "I'm definitely glad it's over: It was a great thing while it lasted, but it really had to end. I think if it had continued it would have gotten really ugly. No fistfights or bloody noses or anything like that, but the music would have been substandard. So the line must be drawn there." In another interview from 2001, he similarly stated that the band had broken up "because we were starting to make bad music." However, Gould did not share the same sentiment as Patton on the quality of the band's late material, stating in 1998 "However many records we sold or didn't, we maintained over a long period of time a high standard of music that we're proud of, and we never sucked. Whatever shit that happened to us on the way, thank God it didn't get in the way of the music."
Rumours that Faith No More would reunite for shows in the U.K. in the summer of 2009 were circulating in late November 2008, but were originally dismissed by bassist Billy Gould. He explained: "If anything like this were to happen, it would have to come from the band, and I haven't spoken with any of them in over a year. So as far as I know, there isn't anything to talk about, and I'm pretty sure that if you were to contact Patton, he would tell you the same thing."
However, on February 24, 2009 after months of speculation and rumors, Faith No More announced they would be reforming with a line-up identical to the Album of the Year era, embarking on a reunion tour called The Second Coming Tour. To coincide with the band's reunion tour, Rhino released the sixth Faith No More compilation, The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection, a double album that includes their hit singles and b sides & rarities, in the U.K. on June 8. Faith No More then played in major European festivals including Download Festival in the U.K. in June, Hurricane and Southside festivals in Germany, Greenfield Festival in Switzerland, Hove Festival in Norway and Roskilde Festival in Denmark, among other dates. The tour continued into 2010 with appearances at the Soundwave Festival in Australian cities throughout February and March. During their tour, the band added covers to their repertoire including "Switch" by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
After an eleven-month hiatus, Faith No More played four shows in South America in November 2011. On the first date (November 8, 2011), the band played a "mystery song," which led to speculation of new material. They played Sonisphere France on July 7, 2012. Following several more shows in Europe during 2012, Faith No More became temporarily inactive again. Mike Patton spent 2013 touring with his reformed rock supergroup Tomahawk, while the band's other members also pursued their own side projects. In July 2013, Billy Gould confirmed that the band's hiatus would not be permanent, saying "We will do something again only when all members are with the focus on that, and ready for the challenge. This is not the time... yet."
In a 2015 interview, Roddy Bottum said that the band originally intended to reform with guitarist Jim Martin for their reunion tour, but it did not happen.
Sol Invictus, hiatus and new music (2015–present)
On May 29, 2014, Faith No More posted a message (along with a photograph of Mike Patton) on their Twitter account, saying that "the reunion thing was fun, but now it's time to get a little creative." On July 4, Faith No More played their first show in two years at Hyde Park in London, supporting Black Sabbath. At that show, Faith No More debuted two new songs "Motherfucker" and "Superhero" (also known by fans as "Leader of Men"). On August 20, the band posted "The Reunion Tour is over; in 2015 things are going to change." These tweets led to speculation that the band was working on new material. On August 30, Gould said that the band is "considering doing something new", and may begin work on a new studio album at some point in the not-too-distant future, explaining, "to do something creative would be a really good thing to do." On September 2, Bill Gould revealed to Rolling Stone that the band had begun work on a new album. Faith No More headlined the final edition of Australia's Soundwave in February and March 2015.
The band released their seventh studio album, Sol Invictus, in May 2015. The songs on the album were influenced by The Cramps, Link Wray and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Speaking to Revolver, Gould described the song "Cone of Shame" as "blues-based rock and roll". Describing the song "Matador", he said: "parts of it remind me of the first Siouxsie and the Banshees album. We used real pianos and that brings this organic quality to it to the music". The second single from the album, "Superhero", was shared by the band on March 1, 2015.
In a June 2016 interview, guitarist Jon Hudson stated that he has been "working on a few ideas" for the next Faith No More album, and added that "it's something that [he] wanted to focus on after the tour ended." When asked about the prospect of more music from Faith No More, Patton told Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald, "I don't know whether or not we're going to attack it, but there is some stuff we wrote around the time of the last one and said, 'Why don't we save this for the next record?'. So we'll see."
In August 2016, the band performed two concerts with former lead singer Chuck Mosley to celebrate the reissue of their debut album We Care a Lot. The band was billed as "Chuck Mosley & Friends" for the two shows and featured the lineup of Mosley, Mike Bordin, Billy Gould, Jon Hudson and Roddy Bottum.
In a September 2017 interview on Full Metal Jackie Radio, Patton revealed that Faith No More had been "on an extended break." He added that he did not rule out more shows with the band, explaining, "If something happens, it'll happen organically and naturally. But I kind of don't think it will. I kind of feel like we've tipped the scales a little bit. But we'll see. Who knows? I've learned my lesson not to say 'no.'"
Former Faith No More singer Chuck Mosley died on November 9, 2017, due to "the disease of addiction." He was 57 years old.
In February 2018, it was announced that a documentary film on the late former Faith No More frontman Chuck Mosley had begun production; titled Thanks. And Sorry: The Chuck Mosley Movie, the film is being directed and edited by Drew Fortier and produced by Douglas Esper.
In a November 2018 interview with Chandler Sorrells of "The Ring, The Cage, and The Stage", Bottum revealed that he has been writing new material for the next Faith No More album with Bordin and Gould. He is quoted as saying, "I will periodically go to San Francisco and make music with those guys. What we do is a really special, unique thing that we kind of share — especially like me and Mike Bordin and Billy… We were super young — we were, like, 18 [or] 19 years old — when we started making music, so we kind of get in the room and we have a language that speaks really loud and really clear, at least to the three of us. I mean, where it goes is questionable, but we have sort of a language that's kind of undeniable in a really sort of family sense. And I think we all acknowledge that it's not something that any of us wanna turn our backs on, and it's kind of fun to do. So in the hopes of pushing things forward and making new music, we continue to do that, to get together and make new sounds and just have a dialogue about prospects and songs and where we go in the future."