Mike Patton joined Faith No More in 1989 and wrote the song's enigmatic lyrics, which constantly allude to "it," without ever explaining what "it" is.
The bridge simply consists of the band shouting, "It's it," while Patton responds with, "What is it?" (The word "epic" is never mentioned in the lyrics.
Patton gave some insight on the song's meaning when he told Circus magazine in 1990: "It was about sexual frustration. Sex and lack of sex."
Later in the interview, the topic of masturbation comes up, and Patton says: "Most people don't like to talk about it. I'm here to tell ya, I love it. That's kinda of what Epic's really about."
The music for "Epic" was written before frontman, Mike Patton, had joined the band. In our interview with bassist, Billy Gould
, he explained: "It was conceived naturally as a riff in the studio between Roddy (Bottum, keyboardist), myself and Mike Bordin (drummer) during rehearsal that later got fleshed out into an entire song."
This was Faith No More's breakthrough hit single. Billy Gould told us that the record label, Slash, was ready to give up on the band, and, ironically, released "Epic" as a last resort: "At the time it was our favorite song on the album, but no one from the record label seemed too interested in it. In fact, we had done a video for 'From Out Of Nowhere
' which didn't get much traction, and the label told us, 'Hey guys, the album didn't work. We'll do one more video for whatever song you want.' So we picked 'Epic' because it just felt the most natural at the time. We had very little expectations of it becoming a commercial hit."
Billy Gould explained in 1997: "A lot of our songs start music first, lyrics later, and it was called 'Epic' as a kind of code word before the words came along. Patton wrote the words to it about a week after he joined the band. I remember him explaining it to me and I didn't know him very well, so I wasn't sure what to make of it."
This song blends funk, rap, heavy metal and classical music. It is credited for laying the groundwork for the development of the nu metal genre.
The video was inspired by the Spanish artist, Salvador Dali. It ran constantly on MTV, and featured an exploding piano and a controversial image of a dying fish. The fish belonged to the Icelandic singer-songwriter, Björk, who was given it at a poetry recital in San Francisco. She later passed the fish on to Faith No More at a party at Bottum's house in Berkeley. Björk would never see the fish again... (thanks, Ryan - Raleigh, NC)
Faith No More guitarist, Jim Martin, was a close friend of Metallica bassist, Cliff Burton, who died when his band's tour bus overturned in Sweden in 1986. In the "Epic" video, Martin wears a t-shirt with the bassist's face on alongside the words "A Tribute to Cliff Burton."
This song has been covered by the Welsh rock band, The Automatic, the Swedish indie pop band, Love Is All and the Californian metal band, Atreyu, who included it on the bonus edition of their 2007 album, Lead Sails Paper Anchor. (thanks, Charlie - Las Vegas, NV)