FAITH NO MORE split 20 years ago!
On April 20th 1998 Faith No More announced via a press statement that they were....no more.
"After 15 long and fruitful years, Faith No More have decided to put an end to speculation regarding their imminent break up... by breaking up. The decision among the members is mutual, and there will be no pointing of fingers, no naming of names, other than stating, for the record, that "Puffy started it". Furthermore, the split will now enable each member to pursue his individual project(s) unhindered. Lastly, and most importantly, the band would like to thank all of those fans and associates that have stuck with and supported the band throughout its history."
Bill Gould added his own statement.
"I personally would like to thank all of you folks who've done such a fantastic job in keeping us alive, and growing with us through our changes, but especially in helping make our band available to people through the Internet, because I'm absolutely convinced that without all of your help we would have been ignored (especially in the States).
It's quite fitting that FNM's closing album of the 90s was themed around finality and death. With the cover art featuring funeral photos and song titles such as Ashes To Ashes and Last Cup of Sorrow we should have figured out that the band were winding down. The members of FNM even dressed up in black burial suits on stage.
When Jon Hudson joined the band in '96 he noticed that all was not well, the band seemed preoccupied with their individual projects and disjointed.
"I viewed everything as an opportunity. I could see the pressure of trying to deliver another great record was wearing on some of the guys because they were putting their energies into other areas or projects. I felt like this might be their last record, so I wanted to make sure I enjoyed it as much as I could." - Jon Hudson 2015
In interviews there was little talk of the future and members seemed to discuss being in the band like it was an unavoidable chore rather than an expression of the art.
"Oh, I can imagine it [not being in FNM]. I can imagine it, put it that way. This isn't the only piece of green grass, if you know what I'm saying. The best thing and the worst thing about Faith No More is that we are still a band. And as a band, we have a lot of mistrust of each other, too much mistrust. I would say that some of it is for good reason, and that's healthy. But if there's one thing that has always been counter-productive, then I would say that it's that mistrust. It's inherent, it's there. I mean we're friends, but it's just that there's this healthy disdain for each other. But whilst we talk about this, I think maybe we talk about it too much. That's why everyone thinks we're weird and why everyone thinks we're about to break up. And sometimes you do wonder if it's still worth it. Having breakfast, you know, looking down at your eggs and asking yourself whether this is still worth it.. But when it's over, you know it's over. You don't have to ask questions." - Mike Patton 1997
The focus seemed to be on the individuals projects outside FNM. Roddy Bottum was creating indie pop with Imperial Teen, Mike Bordin touring with his idol Ozzy Osbourne, Mike Patton was living in Italy, becoming more immersed in the avant-guarde and anticipating a tour with Mr. Bungle.
In the early April of 98 the band performed three European shows and were booked to perform in the summer on a stadium tour with Aerosmith.
To most members the eventual split announced on April 20th 1998 was a relief. Mike Bordin was the first to speak out about the split.
"I'd just like to say thanks. Thanks to everyone who supported Faith No More. Thanks to everyone in the UK and to everyone at Kerrang!. I really appreciate it, and I know Billy does too. Your support's been amazing over the years. We really couldn't have asked for more. Sorry it had to end this way." - Mike Bordin 1998
Bill was distressed by the break up, FNM had been his life for 17 years.
"Well, I dropped out of school to be in a band, thinking, This is what I'm going to do with my life. So when when Faith No More got successful I took it personally, because it was kind of a validation of the choices I'd made in life.Then when the band split, I felt like I couldn't separate myself from that, because I felt that it was the only validation I had in my life, and Id lost my identity. It took me close to a decade to figure out that it was not necessarily my band." - Bill Gould 2018
"It was heartbreaking trying to be in a band where nobody wanted to be in it. So breaking up the band was a bit of relief. But yeah, I always felt a little frustrated because I felt we didn't really ever get to say everything we wanted to say and I lost my vehicle to say it." - Bill Gould 2016
Patton would of course go on to produce a prolific amount of work starting with Fantômas and the foundation his own record company, Ipecac Recordings. However he addressed the subject of FNM's break up in 1999.
"The thing is that the band had to break up, otherwise there would've been all that anger garbage. It was very civilised: we decided together in one room. The thing that was amazing was that we all turned that page together. I was afraid there would be people disagreeing that it was time to end. It was almost a let-down! It was great while it lasted, and now we can treat each other like human beings. We don't 'have' to get along perse. Me and Bill have even talked about working together again. We're not enemies, we don't hate each other, and that proves to me it was the right decision." - Mike Patton 1999
In 2006 Greg Prato interviewed members of the now long defunct FNM to write a story about their career for Classic Rock Magazine.
“I think it was the right time to turn off the lights before we became a pathetic band. Creatively, we hit the wall as a band and it was important to some of us that we end it with integrity.” - Mike Patton 2006
If 'Puffy started it' then let's give him the last word.
“We loved this band. It was our lives. So for people to say: ‘It’s a bad story’ or ‘They didn’t care’ is bullshit. Don’t believe the fucking hype.” - Mike Bordin 2006
As fans, we were of course devastated when FNM broke up (I remember going as far as to wear a black arm band at college). These events were in some ways harrowing for the members of FNM and in other ways liberating.
Great things came from the dissolving of Faith No More. Bill started Koolarrow Records.
"I was also disillusioned with being in a band, it was the last thing I wanted to do; but I still wanted to work with music, and I needed to find a way to maintain inspiration. It was a strange time for me, because I wasn’t finding in San Francisco, or the US for that matter. But touring had enabled me to get a glimpse outside the bubble, so to speak, and that’s where I went. I found what I was looking for in the bands I began working with." - Bill Gould
Roddy concentrated on Imperial Teen, recording and releasing what is possibly their best album What Is Not to Love in 1998.
"Imperial Teen was really about seeking solace and creativity with people I was good friends with. So yeah, in that way it was a reaction to Faith No More, because we were disgruntled old men at that point." - Roddy Bottum 2015
And Mike Patton, well Patton became an unstoppable whirlwind of musical exploits. He founded Ipecac Records, a place where he could comfortably release the experimental music that he wanted to. Fantômas, Maldoror, Tomahawk, Peeping Tom....the list goes on and on. He also collaborated with countless other artists releasing music of different genres. If Patton fans thought FNM had revealed the true breadth of his musical talents they were mistaken.
"I can't concern myself with what I think people might want to hear or what people expect of me. I haven't felt like doing any straight up rock or pop for a little while, but now the balance is swinging back and I feel comfortable doing some of that now. I've got a few other projects that lean, wink and even hint at that too. Got to keep a balance. Tomahawk, to me, is the closest thing to a rock band I've been involved with since Faith No More." - Patton 2001
What each band member explored in the next 11 years was essential in creating a FNM for modern times. And when the band reconciled and reformed in 2009 they were a solid and happy unit for the first time since 1986. This culminated in the outstanding and matured music on Sol Invictus.