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Chuck Mosley: A Reintroduction

Thursday, 13 October 2016 Written by Alec Chillingworth

Photo: Chuck Mosley (seated, front) during his time with Faith No More

“So here I am, for my family, on my knees, asking for help. I'm ashamed for being in this condition, that I have to burden others who look to me only to be my friend, and for me to be theirs, and I am abusing that relationship. And I apologise. But for my family, I'll do anything.”

Life got in the way for Chuck Mosley. On December 3, 2014, the former Faith No More vocalist posted a last-ditch plea on Facebook. Behind on rent and facing eviction, he asked for donations, no matter how big or small, to save the roof over the heads of his partner and daughters. Music and artwork were offered as incentives to help Mosley provide for his family.

And it worked. Shortly afterwards, he took to Facebook again to tell people to stop donating money. Some influential names offered help on future work. Everyone was ridiculously, wonderfully generous. It was like the end of a John Hughes film but with better actors.

“It was really heart-warming,” Mosley says today, during his Reintroduce Yourself UK tour. “I’d been touring with my band VUA, and our drummer walked off after three songs when we were opening for Bam Margera’s band. The tour fell through. I finished it on a Greyhound by myself. Every show I went to, I met with the opening band and taught ‘em some songs. Then I had to pay them out of my family’s money and it ended with a New York show where we were guaranteed $1000. We got $150.”

Mosley sang on Faith No More’s ‘We Care a Lot’ and ‘Introduce Yourself’ albums back in 1985 and ’87. The title track from the band’s debut remains an anthem to this day. A moderate MTV hit upon its 1987 re-recording, it’s become a mainstay on rock radio and was covered this year by Korn, a band who simply wouldn’t exist without Faith No More.

Even if you prefer Mike Patton-era Faith No More to the Mosley years, you can’t deny the man’s influence on rock music. His sloppy, obnoxious rap/shout/kind-of-sing combo, atop a bass-heavy, funky racket, was pilfered by just about every band eyeing up the charts in the ‘90s. Mosley and Faith No More were innovators. Fathers to an entire generation. So how did he end up making his Facebook plea?

“I’ve got friends with money but I didn’t wanna ask them,” he explains. “I wasn’t working because I’d decided to try and do music. I fuckin’ failed miserably. I put my rent money into that tour and I just ended up paying out instead of getting paid. That’s why I’ll never say no to a picture or an autograph or whatever. I’ll sit there and sign stuff all night, because I really do appreciate each and every one of these people. I definitely would not be here without them.”

It’s not been easy like a Sunday morning for Mosley. Following his departure from Faith No More, he briefly sang with hardcore legends Bad Brains in the early ‘90s before forming Cement, a funk metal hybrid that released two LPs before a bus crash in ’95 broke the singer’s back and abruptly put the band on ice. Stints as a chef and a full-time dad followed before Mosley’s first recorded effort in 15 years, ‘Will Rap Over Hard Rock for Food’, was released alongside his backing band VUA (Vandals Ugainst Alliteracy) in 2009.

That same year, Faith No More reunited and it was bigger than Jesus turning up to midnight mass. They’ve since extended several invitations to Mosley to join them on stage. He’s sung with and without Patton and videos of his impromptu performances can be found on YouTube. Due to their spontaneous nature and a lack of practice, Mosley’s voice is dwarfed by the slick, road-tested Patton.

But just the other month, Faith No More’s ‘Album of the Year’ lineup, minus Patton, regrouped with Mosley for shows in San Francisco and Hollywood, billed as Chuck Mosley & Friends. In this setting, Mosley was calm, collected and, perhaps surprisingly for his detractors, in tune. Anne’s Song’s soaring, radio-ready chorus didn’t have the wobbly, imperfect charm it has on record. It was solid. Professional, even.

“I’m a terrible self-promoter, but I can really sing now,” he says. “I manage to stay in tune 99% of the time now…90%. The shows went off without a hitch, I didn’t fuck up and I acted totally professional. That’s when I really couldn’t afford to blow it. Ever since I got fired [from Faith No More], I’ve had this recurring nightmare. I’m onstage with them and I forget all the lyrics, I can’t open my mouth and I go hide behind a speaker. Billy [Gould, bass] looks at me all disappointed and I’ve been having that dream for 20 years. It stopped when they first invited me to play again.

“Billy was working his ass off and Mike [Bordin, drums] collapsed on the floor right after the first show. I’ve seen them play a bunch with Mike Patton and it’s a way more open, dressy, spacious thing, but this show was just punk rock. It was brutal and I made it through.”

The shows were promotional parties, of sorts, for the re-release of ‘We Care A Lot’. Thirty one years since its initial arrival, the album’s reissue treatment was largely undertaken by Gould: the bassline powering Faith No More’s heart and the only current member who seems even remotely bothered about promoting the band properly in 2016.

“Billy did the reissue with Matt [Wallace, producer] and whoever was remastering and all that kinda stuff,” Mosley says. “I’ve heard one song and it sounds really good. They asked me to carry a case of them to the [Chuck Mosley & Friends] shows and I didn’t even have the foresight to take a couple of ‘em, so I was like: ‘Shit, I didn’t even steal two!’

“I think ‘We Care a Lot’ is pretty damn perfect. It’s the first album I ever professionally sang on and I’m still proud of it. I might have slipped out of tune a little bit, but I don’t care anymore. I don’t give a fuck. I’m not a fuckin’ singer, I’m a piano player who gets paid for singing. I’ve seen millionaires fuck up and go out of tune on stage and on TV, so whatever. I think ‘We Care a Lot’ is still amazing, music-wise. Some of the songs could’ve come out today.”

Having fronted Faith No More from 1984, Mosley was ejected from the group four years later. Gould punched him onstage and became irate at his insistence on performing acoustic numbers. Ironic, then, that Mosley’s current ‘Reintroduce Yourself’ tour is an acoustic affair that’s become his most well-received, captivating project since Faith No More. A bizarre experience that splices songs from his entire career into a strange, otherworldly cacophony of noise and jokes, it’s really unlike anything you’ve ever seen.  

“Most nights the rooms have been pretty full but it’s been, like, three weeks of back to back shows, so even the ones that weren’t full were great,” he says. “It took Doug [Esper, percussion and backing vocals] a long time to get me to do this acoustic thing because it terrifies me. Having a band behind me makes me confident. But when it’s just me singing and playing? That makes me so nervous. One of the opening acts was so good and it terrified me, so for my first song I kept forgetting this one chord. But I tend to do that anyway. Not on every song. When we start rolling we usually stop to tell jokes because that’s the kinda thing it’s turned into, but I’ve seen professional musicians perform and make mistakes.”

Despite the tour having a few hiccups ‘Reintroduce Yourself’ reaffirms the importance of Mosley’s role within contemporary rock music and will make you hang your head in shame if you dismissed him post-Faith No More. Even though he shrugs off the ‘professional musician’ tag in conversation, his diary would suggest otherwise. He features heavily on Indoria's new record 'You'll Never Make The Six' and recording sessions with industrial supergroup Primitive Race begin next month, with Mosley spearheading all tracks and trading lines with Prong’s Tommy Victor. VUA’s new record will also begin life in November, an acoustic EP might pop up and Mosley plans on relocating with his family from Cleveland to the UK in 2017. It’s an exciting time to be a Mosley devotee and, through thick and thin, sunshine and dogshit, we still care a lot.

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