All you ever needed to know about Faith No More & Mr Bungle
Greg Prato is a music and sports journalist and a huge Faith No More and Mr Bungle fan. Prato's “The Faith No More & Mr Bungle Companion” is his love letter to the 90's most intriguing musical evil siamese twin brothers, and as complete a history of the overlapping bands as you're ever likely to get.
With the multi-faceted vocalist and mentalist Mike Patton being the centre of both bands, it makes perfect sense to combine the history of FNM and Bungle into one volume. But the fact that Patton's presence looms so large over them, doesn't make this a book all about him. Prato has done his research. He's interviewed band members. He knows the music inside and out. FNM's first vocalist Chuck Mosley (whose vocals were instrumental FNM's whole rap/rock fusion thingumy during the 80's) gets his due. Nothing is left out, from band squabbles, the controversial dropping of guitarist Jim Martin, their difficult relationship with bemused major label Warner Brothers, the infamous acrimonious 1992 stadium tour with Guns N Roses, Mike Patton's on stage antics and shit terrorism: everything is there. Prato has added his own personal slant to the book by adding details from when he first heard certain albums, to which shows he attended. Rather than being a distraction, this definitely adds value. I got the feeling I was in a long conversation with someone who was just as obsessed a fan as me, and I liked that. I think that's the thing with these bands. I've never met a casual Mr Bungle fan. People who know FNM either tend to only know the poppier hits from We Care A Lot/The Real Thing, or are slightly weird Patton fetishists. If you (like me) fall into the latter category, then you're probably going to like this book anyway so you don't need me to tell you. But if you find yourself in the former (or even if you have only heard the song Epic) you definitely need to read this book. For one thing, it's better than listening to
me explain in painful awkward detail as to why Faith No / Bungle were so important. But, if you'll forgive me, in a nutshell: Faith No More weren't just ground breaking: they adopted an immediate slash and burn policy on the ground they broke. They were constantly changing direction, in an act of dramatic artistic vandalism, confusing both their audience, and label at every turn. After inadvertently inventing nu metal, FNM took a giant shit on frat boy fans of the shiny hooks and singalong choruses of
The Real Thing, with the cold, eerie alt metal masterpiece
Angel Dust. But it didn't end there. Follow up albums
King For A Day, and
Album Of the Year, and a slew of b-sides and rarities show a band restlessly wrestling with itself, at one moment finding an awesomely effective and successful formula, only to completely kick the shit out of it and start again the next. FNM's little brother, and “Patton's other band” Mr Bungle went one stage further into obtuse experimental madness. After a run of interesting demos, their major label début self titled album took Fishbone-like ska/metal fusion and inserted very roughly and painfully, a million other styles to invent a puerile hybrid circus metal. They then did backflips on 1994's
Disco Volante – a dark free form jazz death metal doo wop album, only to flip sunny side up in 1999 with the heavily Brian Wilson influenced
California. It's amazing any of those records was ever put out on Warner – and, it's clear that the label themselves grappled with their own decision throughout their contract. In the space of just over a decade, The FNM/Bungle catalogue represents not just two bands, but could be that of 10 or 20 bands. Even bands with careers three times as long don't have such seismic shifts in sound. Combine this with the multitude of other artists, side projects and collaborations that members of Faith No Bungle have been a part of (Tomahawk, Trevor Dunn's Trio Convulsant, Faxed Head, Fantomas, Brujeria, Imperial Teen, Peeping Tom, Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, Mondo Cane, Secret Chiefs 3... Puffy's stint as drummer with Ozzy... that thing FNM did with Sparks...) and what you have is more than just an impressive family tree, it's like a sprawling vine, which has managed to weave its way around music, supporting yet at the same time suffocating whatever genres it finds in its path.
Read Greg's book to find out more.