On July 2nd 1990 Faith No More released their single Falling To Pieces.
Falling To Pieces | Story Behind The Song | Raw Magazine | 1990.
The day MIKE PATTON replaced Chuck Mosley as FAITH NO MORE's singer, he immediately recognised the pressures that would fall on him and the major tensions within the band. The result? 'Falling To Pieces', a heartfelt statement and a classic song...
When Faith No More first hit these shores to play a highly anticipated set of dates at London's now-defunct hip venue, Dingwalls in Camden Town, you won't be surprised to learn that
the San Franciscan sensations were fighting. Each other. Violently. Often. If it was a surprise to those who worked with the band, then they'd soon get used to it. The group's volatile frontman, Chuck Mosley, was staying at London's infamous Rock 'n' Roll hotel, The Columbia at Lancaster Gate, and was ostracised by the rest of the band. While guitarist at the time, Jim Martin, explained that "It just didn't work out" with Mosley, thus necessitating the singer's departure, it was obvious that this band would always be falling to pieces. White breakthrough single, 'We Care A Lot', was blasting out of the radio at every opportunity, the band were ditching Mosley not just for the sake of the band, but for the sake of their sanity. Keyboardist Roddy Bottum explained. "We just started writing songs without a singer
for a couple of months." Not that this was anything of a departure for the four musicians; Martin, Bottum, drummer Mike Bordin and bassist Bill Gould had always written the music in its entirety before Mosley came in and added his lyrics.
"On the last record (Introduce Yourself) Chuck wrote a lot of the lyrics in the studio, which was real frustrating when you consider he had two years to get 'em ready," explained Gould.
So Chuck was ... er ... chucked, and the band settled on 21-year-old Mike Patton to till his shoes. FNM had actually been aware of Patton three years previously, when he gave the band a tape of his own act, Mr Bungle, at a FNM gig in Humboldt County, California. Despite his tender years, the band were confident that Patton, whose vocal influences included a healthy dose of old Funk and Soul records, could interpret their musical amalgam of Funk, of Punk and Metal with style. "There's been very little pressure on me to be anything other than myself," Mike commented back then.
If was any doubt that Patton could be the catalyst to propel the band into the big-time, then his debut record with Faith No More, 1989's The Real Thing', dispelled them.
From the opening assault of 'From Out Of Nowhere', where Patton's supremely confident vocal lifted the tune into the stratosphere, 'The Real Thing' was destined to become a seminal Rock album. And the song that summed up the spirit of the band - and the puppy singer in particular - was 'Falling To Pieces'. "As far as lyrics are concerned," explained Puffy
Bordin, "we Just told Mike to go ahead and do what he felt was right."
And what Mike felt was right was 'Falling To Pieces', an accurate portrayal of the fragile nature of the band he'd just joined: 'Because the plot thickens every day/And the pieces of my puzzle keep crumblin' away' sang Patton, obviously disorientated by his new-found status. 'Droplets of 'yes' and 'no'/ln an ocean of 'maybe'/From the bottom it looks like a steep
incline/From the top, another downhill slope of mine'. The air of confusion that surrounds the song is totally apparent, Patton trying to come to terms with a group which couldn't operate in any other way than with tension the catalyst.
Ironically, 'Falling To Pieces' its melody moving up and down in emotional mood, from light to dark and back again - could have been the sonic backdrop to explain the whole Faith No More experience in the run-up to 'The Real Thing'.
For a while in early 1989, it looked as if the album might disappear from the record company release schedules for ever. Recorded quickly at the tail-end of 1988, 'The Real Thing' was ready to roll by January of the following year. However, problems with the cover artwork, Jim Martin undergoing surgery, and Patton suffering from 'an untimely accident' meant that there was a real danger that the band might disintegrate. "I don't think it ever reached the point where we would actually break up," claimed Roddy Bottum. "Where we say, even to ourselves, 'Oh God, this is too much. Let's quit!'"
Talk of the band disintegrating abounded each and every day, and the members were open about the problems: "The truth is," explained Bordin, "we do have problems.
But what the f**k? Do you want me to tell you everything is wonderful and we all love each other? That's bullshit when bands say that."
The honesty with which the band could explore their own troubled psyches in a song like 'Falling To Pieces' was unusual and inspirational. Patton, who was constantly
being harangued for his brattish behaviour, was obviously trying to turn off from the stress when he wrote the lyrics: 'Layin' face down on the ground/My fingers in my ears to block the sound/My eyes shut tight to avoid the sight/ Anticipating the end, losing the will to fight.'
Patton was young, in a band, and devoid of any sense of responsibility to the point where he'd switch off from anything he didn't want to hear. Why should he listen to anybody? Only a year before Patton had been an unknown in a small town in Northern California, had never
lived outside of his parents' home, had never even flown on a plane! Now he was the singer in a band that was opening for Metallica in front of 10,000 people. The contrast was stark.
Of course there's no way 'Falling To Pieces' can be analysed, compartmentalised, sanitised down to the very last detail. The most intriguing element of any lyric is often the part that's left deliberately vague, open to interpretation. Patton is a past master at disguising the essence of the words with clever puns and veiled innuendoes. The rest of the band are probably more confused than the fans who spend hours poring over Patton's words of wisdom. "To be honest," explains Bordin, "we don't know what he's on about most of the time. We put the music together and tell Mike to come in and sing words that are an interpretation of the feelings that the music gives him. He makes most of the stuff up off the top of his head,
then refines those initial outbursts."
Patton himself doesn't get carried away by his success. A year after he released 'Falling To Pieces', by which time the commercial and critical accolades had rolled in, he was not particularly enamoured with the song and what it had given him: "There's a year gone from my life and although all this stuff happened, it doesn't seem so," he explained. "I'm not making any more money than I was, I doubt I'm any smarter than I was. "I've gotten myself caught up in this disgusting machine that's rolling down the hill, out of control, and I can't get out of it. It makes me feel used." See? 'Falling To Pieces'. He may have been trying to articulate early, confused feelings, but Patton had also inadvertently predicted his
future state of emotion. Whatever his feelings of being used, Patton remains in Faith No More. Maybe falling to pieces is the only way to get by after all.
The number was recorded as part of
the sessions for 'The Real Thing'
during December 1988 at Studio D
in Sausalito, California.
The album was produced by the
band and Matt Wallace.
'Falling To Pieces' was released in July 1990 on 7", 12" and CD and reached Number 41 in the charts.
The first Faith No More album to be released in the UK was 'Introduce
Yourself in 1987. The album featured the hit single, 'We Care A Lot', and was the last FNM recording made by original vocalist Chuck Mosley.
With Mike Patton in the ranks the band spent much of 'The Real Thing' tour opening for Guns N'Roses. They all agreed they hated the experience!