In these days of genre-blurring artists and playlists, it can be difficult to comprehend just how radical Faith No More were when they released breakout album The Real Thing in 1989. Nirvana are generally credited (or blamed) for the death of ’80s hair metal but Faith No More certainly played their part in making rock music a more freeform and twisted playground.
A version of the band had formed as early as 1979, but they struggled to find a vocalist, trying out a succession of hopefuls (including a pre-fame Courtney Love) before finally settling on Chuck Mosley. Chuck was a reckless ball of energy onstage and, while he was hardly a technically gifted singer, his roughshod delivery added a raw punk edge to the band. He also clashed with the other members however, and his antics began to be seen as a liability. There were altercations and even a reported punch-up onstage between the singer and bassist Billy Gould.
After two albums and too much time spent together in a crappy van, Chuck was booted from the band, leaving Faith No More in limbo. “When we kicked out Chuck we hadn’t written one new song for [The Real Thing], we had no idea what we were gonna do, we’d toured the last album for two years and I personally thought we were all used up and dried out,” Billy told Kerrang! in 1990.
Rather than letting their at-the-time cult act momentum disintegrate, though, the remaining members of the band got to work on writing their third album without a vocalist. That missing part of the puzzle would soon arrive in the form of the mercurial Mike Patton. The 20-year-old singer was still a student at the time, but gave FNM a demo of his quirky, experimental rock band Mr. Bungle. “I thought he’d like it, then they just gave me a call one day and said, ‘Let’s jam,’” he told K! at the time. “It was quite casual. It felt comfortable for them and for me too.”
Mike’s powerful, versatile and acrobatic vocals brought a whole new dimension to the band. In a 2019 Q&A with fan site Faith No More Followers, Billy recalled the first time he heard one of their songs played back with his vocals. “The first song I heard with Mike P was [From] Out Of Nowhere,” he said. “We had a rehearsal recording and he came over to my house to work on his vocal ideas to a few songs. I hadn’t heard his voice recorded before, and within 30 seconds of hearing his contribution, it almost freaked me out on how well it worked.”