Special Report by Greg Prato
The Mike Patton-fronted version of FAITH NO MORE is the one that scored the group's big commercial breakthrough, with the rap rock hybrid, 'Epic'. But this was not the first time FNM was rappin' and rockin' - the man who Patton replaced, Chuck Mosley, was doing so on such earlier tunes as 'Chinese Arithmetic' and their early anthem, 'We Care A Lot'. And it was the Mosley version that lay the groundwork for FNM's later success, as evidenced by their first US coast-to-coast tours (including a jaunt opening for the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS), their first shows overseas, and such metal-meets-alternative classic albums as 1985's We Care A Lot and 1987's Introduce Yourself (interesting tidbit - it was at a Mosley-fronted FNM show that a still-teenaged Patton passed off a demo of his band, Mr. Bungle, which got FNM's attention, and eventually, helped lead to him replacing Mosley).
Ever since exiting FNM in 1988, Mosley has been spotted in several projects over the years - issuing a pair of albums as the leader of the group CEMENT (1993's self-titled debut and 1994's Man with the Action Hair), as a solo artist fronting VUA (2009's Will Rap Over Hard Rock for Food), and perhaps most intriguingly, as HR's replacement in the BAD BRAINS from 1990 through 1992 (frustratingly, no studio recordings from this union were ever issued). And in 2010, Mosley joined most of his former FNM bandmates on stage for a five-song mini-set at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco.
Recently, Mosley spoke with BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato (who is a longtime Faith No More fan, having penned the 2013 book, The Faith No More & Mr. Bungle Companion), about new music, his own autobiography, and if he'd be down for a FNM reunion in the future.
BraveWords: What are you currently up to?
Chuck Mosley: "We are working on new music. We just found out yesterday we are going to go out and do some touring in the States here. We're working on going down to Australia for two or three weeks. The hardest nut to crack right now is England and Europe; we're trying to get over there. We're doing everything ourselves - it's Doug [Esper, Chuck's friend] and me, basically. He helps me do everything and gets me going. He administrates and brainstorms with me, and helps me online. We're just doing everything ourselves, because we don't have any representation right now. So we're just doing whatever we could on our own. Which is true with a lot of bands these days, because of the internet and what it's done to the state of the record business."
BraveWords: What about working on new music?
Chuck Mosley: "Got a lot of new music. We just haven't afforded ourselves a time to sit down and crank it out. But we are totally planning on going into some studio. Ideally, we would like to go out to…my guitar player, Tim Parnin, his brother is an engineer and producer out in LA, and he is who we want to record our next album. But right now, until we have some more money, we're just going to do whatever we can and record out here. We're looking for a good live performance we can record, and we're going to try and put out an LP with live music and some new material recorded in the studio - between two and five new songs. We have a couple that we haven't gotten to rehearse and bring together as a band yet that I wrote, and we have a couple of jams that the band came together with as a whole. So mainly, with our time, people are busy doing other things, as well. We end up only practicing when we have a couple of shows lined up, so that's when we get together. But we're trying to get ourselves some time right now to put aside to be able to do that. And then together with any shows we have coming up in the next six months, we're going to shoot for the best recording."
BraveWords: Are there any titles yet for the new songs?
Chuck Mosley: "No, because that's like the last thing. [Laughs] It's like a fart in the wind. Being a songwriter is what I am, and a lyricist and all that stuff is the least important thing to me for some reason. The words just come out. And luckily up until this point, there's always been a tape recorder running, or all my lyrics would have been different. They might not have been as good…they might have been better, I don't know. But mostly, all of my lyrics come when the band is jamming, my vocals wind up being like one of the instruments, just like, 'Yeah, blah, blah, blah.' The tape recorder is going, and when it sounds like what I'm saying - depending on the phrasing - that's how I come up with my lyrics. It's usually one of the last things that come up. So the title is even behind that. Actually, I could say this much - the second Cement album, The Man with the Action Hair, I thought that was a really good album. But when we went and started a worldwide tour on that album, during the first week is when I broke my back, so the album got shelved. So if VUA gets to do more albums, we're always going to try to put one or two of those Cement songs from The Man with the Action Hair on each record. I think the next one slated is 'Killing an Angel,' we want to do over."
BraveWords: From what I understand, you're working on an autobiography, right?
Chuck Mosley: "Everybody always says I should write a book, because of all the things I have done - not just playing in bands, but all of the situations I've gotten myself in. Y'know, have you ever been in similar situations, where you ask yourself, 'What the hell are you doing here? How did I get here?' Well, I have, a lot of times. I think because of the mixed bag of culture that I was brought up in/as. I've just done a lot of things - crazy things. Not all good. But nothing really evil. Lived a lot of lives in my life. Everybody's always saying I should write a book, so we're doing that. And it starts with when my parents met, and a little of their background. Their whole coming together was responsible for what I am and who I became. I certainly wish a little more of them would have rubbed off on me, but it didn't. But it made me who I am today. It starts with when they met - at some kind of socialist/communist get-together in the '50s. Because they were interracial - my mom was Jewish and my dad was black and American Indian. So that was something controversial in itself. And then how they came together, kind of like the Brady Bunch - my dad had a daughter and my mom had two daughters, and all they were missing was a boy, so they went out and adopted one, and it was me. And things they tried to teach me - things that stuck and things that didn't stick, and what happened to me growing up. A lot of it is about the time I was growing up in. I've got a clear memory of a lot of things when I was young - of the '60s and love-ins. I read Anthony Kiedis' book [Scar Tissue], and I realized that our lives are mirrored with each other in a lot of circumstances. I mean, he talks about a lot of things, and we were at the same place - literally - at certain times in our lives. It's really weird. It was interesting, but then it also started to discourage me a little bit, because I don't want people to already to have read this kind of stuff. But we did different things - he talked about going to love-ins I believe…maybe not love-ins, but being around hippies in the '60s. But it sounds like his parents were a lot different than mine. Mine were very…except for the interracial thing and certain civil laws, my parents were pretty law-abiding. A lot more than I guess his dad was. But were really hard-working, just down-to-earth people, but they hung out with a lot of hippies and crazy people growing up. It's just a book about how I came to be me, who I am, and circumstances that I put myself in growing up, and what led to me being semi-in the public eye. I guess I wouldn't call myself a rock star, but a rock satellite - one that orbits around the stars."
BraveWords: When do you think the book will come out, and does it have a working title?
Chuck Mosley: "It had a really good title - I had it written down, and I've never been able to remember it, because it was about the length of a paragraph. So no, we don't have a working title. And I have no idea when it's going to come out, because we haven't decided where we want to end it, and we want to end it on a good note. But y'know, I haven’t had the easiest life - there's been a couple of letdowns here and there. [Laughs] So we're trying to see how and when or where it will end. I would say some time in the next five years. We'd like to give it a little more time - unless something happened. A little more of a fabulous ending. [Laughs] My life is very ordinary. I'm a musician right now, and I have a family and I cook. It's kind of boring right now."
BraveWords: So right now, as a job you're pretty much a cook?
Chuck Mosley: "Yeah, but I'm not even working right now. I just cook for my family. I'm actually more of just a 'house husband.' I take care of the kids, get them to their appointments and hospital. They take care of themselves pretty good now, so I kind of just do the bills. This is becoming my job - trying to get our band out there. I'm going out and talking to different bands. There are a lot of bands that are having to do it themselves, which is how I did it when we were starting. I guess it's having to come back to that."
BraveWords: But as I found out by interviewing musicians for my book, The Faith No More & Mr. Bungle Companion, there seems to be a lot more people nowadays that appreciate those first two Faith No More albums that you sang on. I think you'd be surprised by the amount of interest when you do shows and issue a new album.
Chuck Mosley: "There would be. Yeah, I totally believe that - if somebody knew where we were playing or that we had an album for sale. I do acknowledge and appreciate the interest. I've been pretty much playing constantly since those days. The biggest gap was actually the last thirteen years now, while waiting for this record [Will Rap Over Hard Rock for Food] to be done. My point is 17/18-year-olds, all the way up to my age, have never stopped coming to our shows. We went and played in Chile, there were people from like 16 on up. People that I would be surprised know who I am. I totally noticed that. I sound pretty negative, don't I?"
BraveWords: From the things you were telling me, I see your point though - your career and life has had a lot of ups and downs. That's why I think your autobiography would be a cool thing to read.
Chuck Mosley: "Yeah, just trying to figure out where to end it on. You can call some of the things that have happened are depressing or whatever. I try not to have a bitter outlook on everything. When you come right to the brink of something like that, and then get denied, it leaves a stain. But on the other hand, I've got a really great family. I've been with the same girl for 29 years, we have two beautiful daughters. Things are good. It's just that my mom always said, 'Have something to fall back on.' But she was the one that kind of pushed me into [music]. Technically, I did - when I was like three years old, I was really into THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES. I was always around older people and hippies growing up. And Batman for some reason, the theme song from the TV show. So they got me into piano lessons when I was three-and-a-half years old. My mom's dream was for me to become a classical pianist, but I kind of went the other direction. When I did go in the other direction, she always told me, 'Have something to fall back on.' Well, for me, I guess that would have been cooking - but that talent came a little bit later. But I never did. So my point is I'm only good at music and cooking…I don't know what else someone like me would do, to keep me happy. In one sense of the term, I’m pretty happy - I love playing shows still. But on the other hand, I worry to death about what are my kids going to do and how am I going to take care of them when I'm gone, if I die tomorrow and all that crap. We don't have a nest egg or a 401k or any of that kind of stuff. I've never learned how to save money really good, so it's scary as hell."
BraveWords: Well, something else that myself and I'm sure a lot of Faith No More fans are curious about - what is your current relationship like with them, and the possibility of reunion shows that include you and Jim?
Chuck Mosley: "Well, first off, the relationship is really good with all those guys. Actually, Roddy, we never really stopped talking from the time I was in the band until now. He's actually the godfather to my oldest daughter. But I haven't spoken to him in about six months or so - that's the longest we've gone without talking. I guess he moved or something. But in the meantime, I've been talking to Billy a lot. He's been kind of being 'a rabbi' to me on the phone and online, and trying to help me as much as he could, to get our band out there and heard. And a lot of advice. Because me and him were really close. I knew Billy before I joined that band. We were like best friends before that, and then we became like a married couple and got sick of each other. Antagonistic. But now it's come around, and his band, TALKING BOOK, played with us down in Chile, and it was a lot of fun seeing him and hanging out. It was really cool. It brought back a lot of memories. Our relationship is a delicate one, but it's really good. It really feels good when I talk to him. But the other guys, Jim I talked to a few years ago…it's actually been about eight or nine years. He called me up out of the blue one night and we talked for a few hours. That was the last time I talked to him. Mike Bordin, the last few times at Ozzfest was here, he always invited me and took me backstage with him and brought me out to the shows, and we hung out. It was always good. Mike Patton has always been nothing but nice to me. Of course he's going to be nice to me, he's not going to act any other way. He seems nice. I hear different things and stuff from people, but he's always been really nice to me. So, the relationship's good. But about a reunion? I'd be all down for it. Of course I would be. I have a recurring nightmare ever since I've been in the band that that happened, and I totally choked when it came showtime. But they actually did invite me back, as you know, and Jim too. I don't know what happened with Jim, I don't know the circumstances why he didn't show up. I kind of do, but it's not really my place to say. I was hoping he would have been there. I totally missed him not being there. But it was a lot of fun. I was real nervous though because of my recurring nightmare and because of the fact that it was going to be the show at the Warfield and then Coachella. But Coachella, the time that they had to play made it impossible for them to have me come up and do that. And then we were going to do two songs [at the Warfield show], and it turned into like five or six songs. During soundcheck, we just kept on playing all the older songs. Billy was like, 'Oh, let's do this one,' and we ended up playing a whole bunch instead of two. So most of the time I was playing, performing I just got really nervous, trying to remember all the lyrics. I kind of froze as far as animation and everything. But it was a lot of fun though. It was a good feeling. I'd do it anytime they invite me. I'd do it for nothing, pretty much, as long as I could afford to. But of course, I'd hope that they paid me lots of money and a tour would be great…but who cares. [Laughs] I’m just kidding!"
Upcoming Chuck tour dates:
2 - Chicago, IL - Live Wire
5 - Sauget, IL - Pop's
6 - Springfield, MO - Nathan P. Murpheys
7 - Emporia, KS - Emporia Granada Theatre
10 - Little Rock, AR - Vinos
12 - Memphis, TN - Hi Tone
(Photos - Matt Glad)