This Wednesday, April 22, beloved cult favorite and rock innovator Mike Patton brings Faith No More back to Los Angeles for the first of three consecutive shows at the Wiltern, promoting their forthcoming new album, Sol Invictus. It’s been almost 20 years since the group released new music, and their return reminds us of more than just their three decades of avant-garde, boundary-pushing music, It also reminds us of one of the most compelling feuds in rock history. This is the story of Faith No More’s Mike Patton versus Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis.
Things began innocently enough in the harmonious decade known as the '80s. Faith No More, then led by vocalist Chuck Mosley, before Patton joined the band, used to open for the similarly progressive Peppers just as the funk-metal scene was gaining momentum. By 1989, as both bands were getting exceedingly popular, they both landed European tours, with Faith No More’s scheduled to begin a few months before RHCP's. This wasn’t an issue, until Kiedis saw the video for FNM’s “Epic.”
Kiedis was allegedly concerned with Patton taking certain visual cues from Kiedis with his performance in the video, worried that the group hitting Europe first would make the Peppers subsequently look like copycats. Kiedis coped by letting off a few subtly un-subtle barbs in the press, including telling Kerrang! magazine, “My drummer says he’s gonna kidnap [Patton], shave his hair off and cut off one of his feet, just so he’ll be forced to find a style of his own.” Jokey as this may seem, the similarities apparently bothered Kiedis enough to state years later, in the Peppers’ biography By The Way, “I watched [their] “Epic” video, and I see him jumping up and down, rapping, and it looked like I was looking in a mirror.”
At the time, Faith No More’s members seemed to brush it off. Patton famously never responded himself, and the band’s keyboardist and co-founder Roddy Bottum stated in Mayhem magazine, “We’re really good friends with that band and I’d like to think they’re doing it…like as a favor,” adding he doesn’t see similarities within the two bands at all, outside of “long hair, rapping with his shirt off.”
Legend has it the two bands crossed paths a few time in the following decade and Patton and Kiedis were nothing but cordial to each other. But that all changed in 1999.
After Faith No More went on hiatus in 1998, Patton returned focus to his other band, Mr. Bungle, who were on Warner Bros., making them labelmates with the Peppers. That June, Mr. Bungle were set to release their third album California, the same month that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were to release Californication. To avoid confusion in the marketplace, Warner opted to delay California’s release by a month.
But business is business, right? Well, apparently it became personal when Mr. Bungle began hearing from various festivals they were slated to play that summer and fall that they were booted from the bill. According to Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance, the band eventually found out that it was the Peppers threatening to pull out from festivals unless Mr. Bungle was removed, and that their manager learned it was Kiedis who was personally demanding the Bungle ban.
After Mr. Bungle were pulled from Australia's Big Day Out festival, Patton broke his silence and begin venting his frustration in interviews. Things became even more hostile after an infamous Mr. Bungle Halloween show in Kiedis’ home state of Michigan, where Bungle took the stage dressed as the Peppers and performed a medley of mangled Peppers’ covers. Bassist Trevor Dunn even simulated injecting heroin on-stage, mocking the Peppers' history with addiction.
The brutality continued well into the next year, as Patton's new band Fantomas mercilessly mocked the Peppers, taking further jabs at their substance abuse problems whenever the subject would arise in interviews.
Kiedis denies having Bungle removed and went on to say in By The Way, “I would not have given two fucks if they played there with us. But after I heard about [the] Halloween show where they mocked us, fuck him and fuck the whole band.”
With neither side crossing paths with each other for a decade, it wasn’t until a July 2010 interview with Bizarre Magazine that Patton finally addressed the feud again, saying, “It’s not worth talking about. I’ve no idea what it was about then and I don’t know now. But I bet we’d have a warm embrace if we saw each other now.”
It’s unclear how Kiedis feels, especially after a Peppers show last year in Brooklyn when, during one of the band’s famed jams, Kiedis teased covering the pre-Patton Faith No More song, “We Care a Lot.” Was this intended as a barb? Was it an olive branch? Or was it just an impulsive ad-lib of red hot spontaneity?
We’ll see if there’s a possible reunion or offhand comment at this week’s shows. We want Kiedis and Patton to truly bury the hatchet, but there’s a good chance we can’t have it.
Faith No More play the Wiltern April 22-24. More info.
Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Faith No More had not performed in Los Angeles in more than 20 years. In fact, they appeared in L.A. in 2010. We regret the error.