Phantom Songs: Faith No More – “Epic”

epicPhantom Songs is an ongoing series of musical pieces that you can’t quite put your finger on. You have most definitely heard the song before, but are most likely not able to pinpoint who made it, when it was released, and/or what the song is really about. All of the artist’s history and biography was either stolen from wikipedia or made up entirely.

It’s not so easy to form a metal band in this day and age. You have to deal with massive egos coming from an overly-wide talent pool, of which there is so much goddamned riff-raff that you’ll never know if the guy is good enough until he’s sitting in your apartment and eating all of your Cheetos. Back in the 80’s, it was a lot easier. First of all, it was before the internet, so your talent pool came from within a 90 mile radius. Secondly, there was no “craft” to heavy metal at the time, so any sound could and would “do”. Basically, all you needed was a few guys to play instruments really fucking loud, one guy to rap, one guy to yell and the other one has to know how to snarl/growl. Also, you needed a guy to buy all the pot and Cheetos. Because back then, you needed that.

This is essentially how Faith No More came to be. They were a band on the rise, seeing minor success on MTV and upgrading from Tina’s Burritos to Hot Pockets. The their misfortune, however, their lead singer was a tragic wreck. Chuck Mosley’s last straw was when he fell asleep on-stage at an album release party. To his defense, he was really, really, really super tired. Without wasting any time, the band set their eyes on Mike Patton, a high school graduate who was already in a band, presumably in his mom’s carport. There was instant chemistry. In fact, it only took Patton 2 weeks to write an entire album, including the song that would make them somewhat famous-ish. Although there’s no documented evidence of this, the writing session sounded something like this:

“Alright, so I’m gonna rap and you play the bass like–”

“Wait, why are you rapping?”

“Because rapping is cool, buttmunch!”

“Do I have to wear a shirt while I play drums?”

“What are you gonna rap about…uh…yo?”

“You know, the usual stuff. Ambiguous statements that can’t be confirmed or denied.”

“You should rap about cars and hoes. That’s what all the kids are talking about!”

“Shut up”

“Do I have to wear a shirt while I play drums?”

“Can I snarl like a lizard in this song?”

“Oh, here we go again”

“Do I have to wear a shirt while I play drums?”

“No, no, no, let’s hear him out.”

“Lizards don’t even make sounds”

“Yes they do, you fuckin prick!”

“Alright, alright, alright! Carl, you can snarl like a lizard. That’ll be the second part of the chorus. Now we just need somebody to yell loudly in between…”

You get the idea. What resulted was Faith No More’s sole hit, and one that [for some reason] has been regarded as one of the best metal songs ever made:

Enjoy the video at your own risk. I’m not even going to try to explain what that surrealist crap is all about. Many have argued that this song is about life in general, while others claim that it’s all about sex. Both of these explanations would be easy as hell, so I’m just going to make it up. This song is actually about Gyros.

Can you feel it, see it, hear it today?
If you can’t, then it doesn’t matter anyway
You will never understand it cuz it happens too fast
And it feels so good, it’s like walking on glass
It’s so cool, it’s so hip, it’s alright
It’s so groovy, it’s outta sight
You can touch it, smell it, taste it so sweet
But it makes no difference cuz it knocks you off your feet

You’re walking down the sidewalk. You’re about to pass by a Gyro Cart. Can you feel it? See it? Hear the sizzle of the grill? If you don’t notice, it doesn’t matter. You’ll be back when the craving comes. It’ll just be stored in your unconscious until lunchtime, when you saunter zombie-like back to the cart. The thought of having a gyro is so good and painful at the same time. It’s like walking on glass. You don’t want to overindulge. But go ahead. All of the cool kids are doing it. So grab yourself a gyro. Savor it or not, it’ll knock you off your feet!

You want it all but you can’t have it

This is in reference to the rotating chunk of meat that makes up a gyro. Everyone has the temptation to just buy the entire cone and go into a swift coma, but that guy will never let you have it. Shit’s dangerous.

It’s cryin’, bleedin’, lying on the floor
So you lay down on it and you do it some more
You’ve got to share it, so you dare it
Then you bare it and you tear it

Meat is murder, that is a fact. And when you eat a gyro, you think about the dead lamb in your mouth. But then you remember how delicious he is and keep eating it. Your homeboy Jeffy walks by and he wants a bite of your gyro. You have to share such a treasure, but you are also afraid of Jeffy’s germs. You unravel it a little and tear off a piece. The piece he eats is delicious and he wants another bite. But you respond:

You want it all but you can’t have it
It’s in your face but you can’t grab it

You taunt Jeffy by holding the Gyro above his head, just out of his reach. It’s pretty easy when Jeffy’s barely 5 feet tall. Some cucumber sauce drips into his eye and he thanks you graciously.

It’s alive, afraid, a lie, a sin
It’s magic, it’s tragic, it’s a loss, it’s a win
It’s dark, it’s moist, it’s a bitter pain
It’s sad it happened and it’s a shame

This is just throwing out buzzwords about the life of the lamb, the texture of a gyro and the feeling you have about yourself after eating it. Everybody has a love-hate relationship with comfort foods. That’s what make them comfort foods in the first place. Nobody really feels good about eating a gyro, they always feel ashamed. But that’s life. You gotta take the good with the bad. And gyros? Gyros are bad to the bone. But they hurt so good. And cut like a knife.

What is it?
It’s it
What is it?
It’s it
What is it?
It’s it
What is it?
It’s it
What is it?

This part of the song has no meaning. They just thought it would sound cool if one guy yelled and the other responded in a lizard voice. Or maybe it’s a toad voice.

And that’s all she wrote. After becoming pioneers of the sub-genre, Lunch Metal, Faith No More went on to produce no more hits. After hearing people rap and scream about Gyros, America wasn’t interested in their opinions on Chicken Shawarma and Kababs. Although there has been rumors that the drummer quit the bad to join a side-project called Fat No More, a clear opponent of Lunch Metal that taught the values of good nutrition and healthy living.

Join me next time when I reveal “Candle In The Wind” to be Elton John’s love song about chocolate cake.