It has been two decades since Faith No More — whose innovative mix of heavy rock with rap, electronica, jazz and more made it one of the most influential and out-there bands of the late-’80s/early-’90s alt-rock scene — issued its last album and subsequently broke up. But since reuniting in 2009 to play sporadic shows, the Bay Area-based act has gathered new steam, leading to Sol Invictus (out May 19 on the band’s own Reclamation Records), a characteristically eccentric addition to its catalog. 47-year-old lead singer Mike Patton — who has tackled everything from film scoring to video-game voiceovers to singing mid-century Italian pop as a solo artist — joins keyboardist Roddy Bottum, 51, and bassist Billy Gould, 52, to discuss the band’s second life.
When Faith No More first got together for the reunion shows in 2009, did you think it would lead to an album?
Mike Patton: Not at all. The reason that the reunion shows went well was because we didn’t even talk about that shit. It was just like, “Hey, let’s reconnect and revisit a place in our lives.” You do that for two years and then it becomes a question mark, like, “OK, what next?”
Roddy Bottum: Who wants to be an old dinosaur band lugging around a bunch of old material? It just felt very ugly.
Patton: Those guys were working on stuff, and if the music wasn’t so great I wouldn’t have been a part of it. But it was incredibly great. It was a part of our history that we had never really fully exploited. Meaning, we had never really got there. So this record was a way of expressing that shit — the shit that we never did.
You wrote and recorded Sol Invictus in secrecy — no label, management or producer. Why?
Bottum: We kept it in-house and behind closed doors. And we were fortunate to be able to keep it as insular as we did because we had no expectations or deadlines. Really, it’s a chicken shit way to do it. (Laughs.) But at the same time it allowed us freedom.
Patton: It’s a post-punk record with tons of atmosphere. It’s like ELO or The Beach Boys going through a gothic laundry cycle.
Faith No More is often cited by newer rock and metal acts as a big influence. Do you hear yourselves in other people’s music?
Billy Gould: I don’t. We’re so weird we don’t even know who we are. If there was a band playing polka and they said they were inspired by Faith No More, I could see that more than a band that was just doing some, like, rapping over funky metallic grooves. That just seems like something that’s already etched in stone. It’s well-trodden territory. But it’s not us.
Do you think people want to hear new Faith No More music?
Patton: I have no idea! Who knows whether they will like it or not? I never wanted to be a 50-year-old guy making music [for] teenagers. I don’t think any of us did. But all I can tell you is we’re making good shit. I don’t care who listens.
This story originally appeared in the May 23 issue of Billboard.