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Epic by Faith No More

Album: The Real ThingReleased: 1989Charted:
  • 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... >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Charlie - Las Vegas, NV
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Comments: 53

Are you kidding, it's all about IT! Nothing more, just IT!Chris - Somewhere
I am all but certain that it's about an ice cream sandwich.

Grant - Beatrice, Ne
By the way, does anyone know where I could find "We Care A Lot" album for a reasonable price? I have all FNM albums except for that one and it's really hard to come across, does anybody know where could get it for under $40? (I'll probably have to get the cassete or vinyl, or maybe download it.) If anyone has any info please reply my email is nowhereman406@gmail.com, thank you.Zero - Nowhere, Nj
Guitarist "Big Jim" Martin is wearing a Cliff Burton (Metallica Bassist) R.I.P. Tribute shirt in the video. For those that don't know Burton was killed in a tour bus accident in 1986 while Metallica was touring Sweden. Metallica frontman James Hetfield I think was in a band with Martin before Metallica was formed.Zero - Nowhere, Nj
This goes way over peoples head, kids think it's just sex and sex... The rain, the all seeing eye in the hand throwing out blood, the fish that stands for christianity; it is dying. The electricity which stands for power which is throughout the whole video. It all means something it's not just thrown in the video for no reason. It is PowerMichael - Maryville, Tn
Its about blowjobs. "Its in your face but you cant grab it." Cmon, so obv.Dan - Melbourne, Australia
T T, From Texas. I offer the question he asks you the listener - this song is epic."Can you feel it ,see it, hear it today? and now I give you his answer. Its a rhetorical question. He doesn't care about what you think, He knows (something) and he's trying to tell you the best he can. "IT's It." IT is what it is.

His answer: "If you can't, then it doesn't matter anyway."
You will never understand it 'cause it happens too fast"
Harbinger - Ny, Ny
Oh, for further 'Proof'. I offer the phrase:

Harbinger - Ny, Ny
The blood gushing forth from the hand, that thing we cannot grasp that thing we cannot name.

And in ignorance, with our own hand, in our names do we shed blood.
Harbinger - Ny, Ny
... In Our Image are We Made by Him.

In our Face, lies Him.

Everywhere you look, there IT is.
You will never grasp it.
Some may never understand, they dont' want to.

As the song says.
Harbinger - Ny, Ny
I percieve as Chris in regards to life, and extend it a bit further into the 'metaphysical' realms. Take for example the depiction of the hand, with the eye in the center.

The "lightning" touching everything they're doing, yes one could conjecture "conducting electricity", Drum heads aren't conductors.

It's that "Thing", that "It" that encompasses everything in Life, the Lawbringer, He who brought forth Life, from Chaos.

God, in our Image are we made. In Our face, we see God, it is out image we elevate. In our own eyes we reign superior. We can't help it, and becaue of our nature we inflict these wounds.

These wounds that do not heal, they bleed eternal, and there you lie on the floor.

Weeping like a child.

IT, Is God.
Harbinger - Ny, Ny
the song is about pu$$y plain and simple since when has masturbation been "moist" or "bled" ? ( if so somethings wrong go to the doctor a.s.a.p.)thick about it " you want it all bu you can have it, it's in your face but you cant grab it" if you were to go to a strip club what part of the woman would be in your face if you were sitting by the stage? A stripper was dancing to the song one night and that's when it hit me and my cousin what "it" was in the song lol
and the fish flopping around on the floor at the end of the video that jux seals the deal for me lol
T T - Houston, Tx
This song was way ahead of its time.Now every other group sounds like this.But wat back in '89,nobody sounded like this.I never understood what it means.I sang the heck outta this song on Rock Band a while back.Dane - Lima,ohio, Fl
I think the song is about a couple "having fun" in a situation where they could not have sex, like a guy and some very religious girl who does not want to lose her virginity ("You want it all but you can't have it") and after all she regrets of doing that ("It's sad it happened and it's a shame"). I may be tripping, but for sure the song has something to do with masturbation or sex.Pedro - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
This song is about masturbation. If you listen closly to the song, at about the 4 minute 20 second mark, you will hear the sound of pants being zipped up. During the solo, Patton performes ambient moans. All of this he brought to Faith No More from his prior band Mr Bungle. If you know anything about Patton you will know that this song is about masturbation...its fairly obvious.Cage Mckinsey - Sammamish, Wa
Dave was right. Chronic masturbator (self-professed) Mike Patton has written countless songs about chronic masturbation. In 1990, he gave an interview in Spin magazine that was practically one long spiel about masturbation.

And Shawn, if "none of FNM's lyrics ever dealt with masturbation," please explain "Jizzlobber" to me. haha
James - Morton, Il
Dave is partially right i believe there is much symbolism in the fish and the exploding piano at the end. That might refer to sex, masturbation, or AIDHunter - South West, Mi
exactly...i go with matt...... this song is a bloody riddle and the answer is nothing....simple...lol..... they've jus named it 'epic' to mislead us...anyway gr8 song... love it...Rahul - Chennai, India
I, personally, go for IT meant as success. Something fixed as a goal-to the point of obssesion-without any further consideration or sense of reality.
When we were young, we took many chances foolhardy because we could do it, regardless of consequences or processes. The song represents that kind of situation.
Ricardo - San Luís Potosí, Mexico
I think it's the epic story of a young couple having sex for the first time; the girl losing her virginity. Different verses are given from the male and female point of view.Greg - Napa, Ca
I have heard it stands for
Cr4sh0verr1deh4xx0rz - New York, Ny
On 4th July 1989, I asked Mike what this song was about. He replied "It's all about a c--t"Carl - Stratford, United Kingdom
Maybe the "it" is the meaning of the song. Think about it... "You want it all but you can't have it": You want to know what the song means but "we" won't tell you. "What is it? It's it": What does the song mean? It means what it means (again, "we won't tell you"). The first two lines: Can you figure out the song? If you can't, maybe it's meaningless. Very meta-lyrical.Matt - Wichita, Ks
They said that's not Bjork's fish... They found it at a bowlfish and put it into the video...
After the shooting they bring it to water...
Ricardo - Porto, Portugal
yes everyone dave had it correct. ding ding ding, chronic masterbation is our winner.Brian - Philly, Pa
Idiots. You're all idiots. The entire song is a riddle. The answer is nothing in a literal sense. Read the lyrics and after each line, thing that the answer is nothing. "You want it all but you cant have it, its in your face but you cant grab it" Nothing.Matt - Latham, Ny
The Real Thing is my favourite album ever released. Mike Patton was the first poster on my wall, I love his voice.
And where is The Perfect Crime on this website? It's the coolest Faith No More song.....
Vicky - Melbourne, Australia
I love this song!!! Mike Patton is gorgeous n his voice is so right for FNM!!!! There d bomb!Hailie - Sydney, Australia
The drummer is one of the few white guys who has dreads. That is so uber cool!Max - Laconia, Nh
Classsic song!!! Hot Band... What more can i say?Wade - Sydney, Australia
Both times I've seen FnoM Live, Patton sings the words "so you can f**k it some more" in addition to the usual lyrics. Take that for what you will. Just putting "it" out there, y'know?Vincient Black - Eureka, Ca
i think it could be drugs "You Want It All But you Can't have it" saying it is illegal and you want drugs. "You can touch it, smell it, taste it so sweet But it makes no difference cause it knocks you off your feet" referance to overdose. There are other referances to drugs. But it could just be surreal and have no meaning such as the video it is just random.Pete - Detroit, Mi
It's not a goldfish, why would Bjork want a normal fish?Tom - Anglesey, Uk, Wales
This song is about the very thing you are not looking for, it's not about rape, about drugs about your stupid pathetic little pedantic lives... This song is about...

...Absolutely nothing It is a song... With 4 letters in the title, and it starts... With an 'E' - not the drug
Luke - Manchester, England
yes i certainly agree with the idea that this song represetns the struggle to be epic or find something "epic" or extravagant in one's life, but that it is worth the struggle. About the uncertainty of life, Like what Chris in KY said. I believe it can be directly related to the groups name, "faith no more", as they struggled through ideas and them becoming no so ideal. and the whole rape masturbation thing is totally absurb, you kids sound like blubbering idiots.Renee - South Lyon, Mi
i dont know all of the lyrics i just heard it on the radio once and thought it sounded cool i give faith no more props for putting that many styles of music in one song and pulling it offJeff - La Pine, Or
Although, I think I remember a song on this album that is about rape and the victim enjoys the experience, or becomes infatiauted with the victimizer, "Morning After", maybe.J - Nyc, Ny
I remember when this song first came out, I loved it then, I still love it. I'm a huge FNM & Bungle fan and I'll admit, I never knew what this song was about; however, actually reading the lyrics closely and looking at all your comments, I disagree with the masturbation and rape theories and think Lime from Austraila hit it right on the head. It's no secret that pornography is littered through Patton's work, esepcially his earlier stuff, FNM, Bungle, etc., but not this time. "It" is anything, whatever is "epic" to you. So, you people all reading into masturbation, rape, sex, etc., that says more about you than it does about Patton or this song.J - Nyc, Ny
patton once said that these lyrics were about masturbation...but it sounds more like rapeValerie - Brooklyn , Ny
Someone told me while they heard me listing to FNM in Afghanistan that he heard that the song was about trying to suck yourself off. It made sense when you think about the lyric "It's in your face but you can't grab it."Mike - Chicago, Il
I was once told that Epic was an anagram for "Eating P**sy Is Cool." And if you listen to it, it kind of makes sense, most notably "You want it all, but you can't have it/It's in your face, but you can't grab it." So that's what I've always believed.Jason - Daphne, Al
first hit for FTN in australiaMarlow - Perth, Australia
I was told many years ago, I think it was in '92 that the song was about rape. I was shocked and felt weird about singing it and didn't want to believe what I'd been told, but it does seem to be about such a crime. The lyrics certainly appear too mean this.Artty - Melbourne, Australia
Faith No More wrote this song so it could apply to anyone. "It" could be anything that would apply to the lyrics.Lyzette - Moorpark, Ca
Epic is an allusion to sex. sex is something in which no one can ever actually "own" and comes alongside many, many variables. it can make you feel good or like complete hell depending upon the circumstances. this is why the song explores the wretch and the wonder of sex by the means of using descriptive words in which jump from one extreme to another.
"it's magic"
"it's tragic"
"it's a loss"
"it's a win"
doubt me? this song has been in my collection as well as my head since 89'. it's application to sex makes absolute sense. think about it.
Todd - San Antonio, Tx
i don't think this track is about masterbation, but another faith no more track does refer to masterbation, "be aggressive". top stuff FNM are.Jake - Sydney, Australia
You people have no idea. Epic is about the state of being 'epic' its so simple. 'it' it IT(epic)! something being so out of this world that it gives you the shivers, i.e a song! The song is explaining the consept of something being epic.Lime - Perth, Australia
FNM's lyrics are quite abstract and tosay their lyrics never delt with masturbation is untrue.....its what "jizzlober" is all about!Martyn Cohen Burns - Banbridge, Ireland
I love this song lyrically! Not to oversimplify, but "it" = "it," i.e. the latest and coolest thing, whatever it is. The answer to your question, whatever you may be asking. The song addresses the philosophical side of materialism and the drive for always getting the next best. It could be mastubration, drugs, a new car, new clothes, a catchy slang phrase . . .

What is it? It's it.
Nickc - Ft. Wayne, In
I always say it is about the other side - you know, the diminsion you're in when tripping. When there's that moment of complete oneness with everything but then it goes on to elude you. And of course 'it feels so good it's like walking the glass'... come on man - that's doing charlie for sure!Eoon - Brisbane, Australia
Personally, I always thought the song was about life in general. "It's It!" referring to life is it. And the response "What is it?" referring to what is life. The line "in your face but you can;t grasp it". Also makes me think this song is about life. Control of your life is right in front of you, but you cannot grasp it. I am probably wrong but that is how I understood it.Chris - Monticello, Ky
Masturbation? What? Alude? More like dillusional.None of FNM's lyrics ever delt with masturbation.Shawn - Detroit, Mi
The song, as un-interesting as it may sound, is about chronic masturbation, as the video and lyrics alude to but never say.Dave - Wellington, New Zealand
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