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Faith No More Return With Sol Invictus

11 May 2015

Faith No More has broken their silence with Sol Invictus, their first new record in 18 years. Fronted by the creative anomaly known as Mike Patton, the group worked tirelessly to create their own loyal niche while pushing boundaries with their hybrid sound. Sol Invictus invokes urgency without sounding like a stale attempt to regain lost passion. Longtime member and keyboardist Roddy Bottum stated before Faith No More reunited in 2009 it was well over 10 years since all the members were together in one room, let alone creating.

“I had recently gotten married and that really was the first time in years where we were all together again in one space. It was a little tough. Around that time we had been offered some UK festival dates and nobody said no. That’s what really helped open the door again for us to be together,” reflected Bottum.

Playing to packed houses during their 2009 reunion run it was as if Faith No More never lost a step. Was it really that long since they commanded a stage? The group was well received by the media and earned positive reviews. Bottom reflected on the initial performances.

“The initial reunions were intense, emotional and rewarding. But we’re the kind of band that does not want to go around and just play old songs. That’s too predictable. We kept getting tour offers but after awhile it felt kind of gross,” laughed Bottom.

The positive media accolades stood in marked contrast from their 90’s heyday. Faith No More had always been the subject of media scrutiny. Their seemingly quick rise to fame, headlining tours, international success and drug rumors helped them earn steady ink and heavy video rotation on the burgeoning MTV Network. Bottum stated that Faith No More worked tirelessly to earn respect and nothing changed once the group became a household name thanks to the wildly successful The Real Thing.

“It’s simply not true that we had automatic success. We toured up to two years straight. It takes so much perseverance and patience. It was a slow and steady climb,” clarified Bottum who first began his Faith No More tenure in 1982.

Anecdotes of couch surfing and hours and hours of songwriting gave Bottum pause but it’s apparent longtime fans best remember the 1990 video debut for Epic and the coinciding live performance at the MTV Music Awards. Coupled with the accompanying Rock In Rio tour, Bottum certainly agreed those were watershed moments for Faith No More.

“Those were certainly big moments for us but the timing was so important. When Epic hit we were all over tv screens and that itself was an overnight sensation. The Rock In Rio tour was huge because we were with Guns N’ Roses during their height. Everyone had their sets on and we went from being unknown by everybody to needing bodyguards. We happened to have been great that night and everyone was on board,” said Bottum.

He added small things such as Metallica’s James Hetfield brandishing a Faith No More t-shirt helped introduce them to even more potential fans. Guns N’ Roses proclaimed that Faith No More was one of their favorite bands, which led to further international tour offers.

“That was kind of funny because Hetfield wearing that shirt kind of put us on the map of Heavy Metal. It was odd and we certainly said yes to touring with them but we didn’t feel like we made a connection with their audience.”

Faith No More refused to be creatively restrained with the term ‘Metal’. Despite some moments of intensity and heaviness, Bottum claimed the group was undeniably influenced by darker, Goth music. Sol Invictus has all the elements of Patton’s versatile vocals complimented by Faith No More’s sonic strength. It’s not guitar driven and it’s not funky, it’s Faith No More. This is how the group maintained its edge. The ability to release records defying categorization without alienating fans has always been their strength. Bottum agreed and commented the time off between records was actually a positive thing.

“The time off has really worked to our advantage. We pursued a lot of other projects since then and we have gained all these new perspectives. I feel we’re all much more accountable now and this record, to me, has us taking control of every aspect,” said Bottum.

It’s arguable that Faith No More has lost control on more than one occasion. 1992’s release of Angel Dust remains a subject of contention among fans, with band mates offering conflicting anecdotes. Media reports cited tension with guitarist Jim Martin and expectations to replicate past success added to existing pressure. Bottum clarified that industry executives were not making crucial creative decisions, contrary to popular opinion.

“If there was any direction being thrown at us I am pretty sure we ignored it because that record is very dark, spooky. There were not many radio friendly songs on that album and there’s no commercial single so to speak.”

Despite original receptions to Angel Dust the record went gold and was wildly popular in Europe and Australia. Faith No More’s biography insists it outsold The Real Thing in Britain. After touring in support of Angel Dust, Martin was fired in 1993. Bottum had nothing but positive things to say about Martin, quickly stating no bridges were burned. Martin has retained a low profile within the media but did answer fan submitted questions to a UK-based site, which were published by LoudWire in 2012. His comments regarding Angel Dust contrasted from Bottum, leaving readers to conclude that industry personnel had a heavy hand in how the studio sessions were run.

Fans have questioned why Martin was absent from the initial reunions, with Bottum responding in various media outlets that the group had in fact reached out to him. Jon Hudson remains Faith No More’s guitarist, a position he has held before the 1998 breakup. Faith No More’s final record, 1997’s slyly titled Album Of The Year was greeted with lukewarm reviews and Bottum stated it had all reached a fevered pitch despite successful tours.

“When we broke up we were just at the end of our road. We had pushed it too far, had these grueling tour schedules. It was such a heavy workload and I think that’s a lot to ask of young people. It was like this constant conveyor belt of activity and it’s really hard when you’re young to make all these decisions while living together, working together and playing together. We all just needed to walk away from each other,” sighed Bottum.

One gets the sense that Faith No More is now more cognizant of just how unique their career has been. The group could have just called it quits again after completing their reunion tours but Bottom said they owed it to themselves and fans to create something new.

“I definitely feel we’re more grateful. I felt we owed it to ourselves and supporters to make something new. I feel invigorated by it all. Now, I feel we all have a stronger say in the entire process. From songwriting to how we decorate and prepare the stage.”

Sol Invictus was recorded by the band themselves in their Oakland, California studio. Bottum stated this allowed for a lot more flexibility while retaining a strong focus. Their current tour schedule appears less hectic than those of yesteryear. Bottum stated that Faith No More remains cautious of any situation that may contribute to burn out.

“We’re very weary now and only do what we feel comfortable doing. Looking back to our history of side projects, that helped us because with those newly earned perspectives we’re even more versatile,” affirmed Bottum.

There have been no hints of following up Sol Invictus or even a discussion of long-term objectives. Bottum appears to embrace each moment but lacks any whimsy that may throw him off course. During the long years of Faith No More’s absence he remained creatively active with Imperial Teen and recently completed an original opera, proudly stating it was a unique and challenging undertaking necessary to his development.

“The whole process was empowering, from writing to directing. It was crazy but very rewarding. I love collaborating with Faith No More but doing something like that really switched things up,” he proudly stated.

Sol Invictus will be available via Ipecac Recordings, founded by Patton and Greg Werckman.