Many musicians have been inspired by the music of Faith No More, going as far as to record or perform cover versions of their songs.
Sean Clancy is an Irish composer and lecturer in composition at Birmingham Conservatoire (Birmingham City University), and he has taken this concept much further. Sean has written a composition inspired by the FNM song Jizzlobber.
The piece itself does not really reproduce the song it instead takes the song as it's genesis and 'offers an alternate existence' for the music.
We spoke to Sean to find out how and why the composition was created.
Why did you chose a 'Jizzlobber' as inspiration for your work?
Jizzlobber is an incredible song for a number of reasons. At the time, I think what interested me most was the fact that the song's structure was really novel. You could argue (with exceptions of course), that in that period of rock/popular music, most songs had a kind of ABABAB (Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus) structure, or some variation on this. Jizzlobber completely does away with this however, and instead offers the listener a much more elaborate structure of A-B-A-B-(B1)-C-D-E(Elements of D slowed down)-F. This really fascinated me. Moreover, I was particularly taken aback by the fact that none of the structural changes are prepared, and some of the sections are unrelated. Faith No More, move from one section to the next without batting an eyelid. In a lot of other music, structural changes are prepared (with bridges, pivot chords etc.), but this song does away with that, making the moments of change very exciting. Towards the end of the song the band also do refreshing things with the tempo, and overall I was really attracted to the energy and heaviness of the song!
Why did you create something around the song rather than simply adapt the original music for orchestra?
This is a great question. At the time I wrote this orchestral piece ('Changing Rates of Change'), my music was really concerned with the principle of adaptive reuse. This is an architectural practice of taking a pre-existing building (An old power station for example), and using its exterior structure, but refitting its interior etc. so that something new might be done with an old or disused building (turning it into an art gallery as is the case with the Tate Modern in London). I was more interested in this approach to using pre-existing material, than say, using found material ironically, as I'm more interested in making positive actions rather than negative or polemical ones. As a result, I used the architecture or structure of 'Jizzlobber', giving me a structure of A-B-A-A1+B-C-D-E-F for my piece 'Changing Rates of Change' and changed all of the compositional material to something original I wrote myself. In saying that, I tried to maintain elements of 'Jizzlobber' in my piece. For example, 'Jizzlobber' begins with swamp sounds, then drums/keys, are added, then guitar and bass are added, then vocals are added. My piece begins with strings and some woodwind. More woodwind are then added, followed by low strings, and then brass etc. So I've followed Faith No More's texture, but have translated it for orchestra. Furthermore, I tried to maintain the structural changes that I mentioned in the previous question, and the interesting tempo changes that Faith No More also employ towards the second half of the song. As a result you could argue that the core of both 'Jizzlobber' and 'Changing Rates of Change' are identical, it is their exteriors or surface that is different. This for me is a much more interesting way of working than adapting Faith No More's Music for orchestra. 'Jizzlobber' works perfectly well as a song, and sounds incredible performed by Faith No More. I could not better it, or bring anything new to the table, by arranging it for orchestra. In fact, I would probably be doing it a disservice, as much of the energy would be lost in this translation. However, by working in the manner in which I worked, my reverence for the song remains intact. I'm having a dialogue with the original song, rather than re-hashing or diluting what they've already done.
What is it about FNM's music that you think transcends genre boundaries?
I don't know any of the members personally, but it seems to me that they are all so interested in many, many different musical approaches that it manifests itself in their music, smashing genre boundaries. There seems also to be an openness and willingness towards experimentation, which I think was incredibly rare at the time they were creating the majority of their music, making them difficult to pin down, and musically provocative. Furthermore, if you take genre out of the equation, and try to look at the music objectively, they wrote astonishingly inventive music. Their song structures, instrumentation, textures, lyrical content/issue addressed and performances etc. on a neutral level are all especially unique, and this enables them to transcend established frontiers.
Any plans to adapt any other songs?
During the time I wrote 'Changing Rates of Change' about 4 years ago, I was really interested in adapting songs into different pieces. At the time, I wrote other pieces that used songs written by Shellac, Nirvana, Sonic Youth and many more as my point of departure. This interest morphed into examining attention spans, and I began using structures of longer durations that existed in popular culture to create music (such as football matches and TV programmes). I'm less interested in this approach at the moment, and am now working with relatively straight forward processes that start, wind down, and eventually stop. But we always dip in and out of our past, and who knows, maybe in the future I will again adapt other songs!
Catch the RTE National Symphony Orchestra performing this composition on various dates.