Chuck Mosley (ex-Faith No More)

by Greg Prato

Chuck Mosley passed away at age 57 on November 9, 2017, about 16 months after this interview took place. His family stated the cause of death was "the disease of addiction."

You can certainly make the argument that the two vocalists that have graced Faith No More's albums are polar opposites. The man who sang on their first two albums, Chuck Mosley, was not a traditional rock vocalist per se, but made up for it in personality, while Mike Patton can hit his notes with ease.

Patton's tracks have been the most commercially successful for FNM, but the years have been quite kind to the Mosley-era recordings - 1985's We Care A Lot and 1987's Introduce Yourself - spawning quite a few alt-rock classics that are still performed by the band to this day.

After exiting FNM in 1988, Mosley reappeared briefly as a fill-in for HR in the Bad Brains, but never made it to the recording studio. He was also the leader of the underrated Cement (be sure to check out their 1994 album Man with the Action Hair if you dig the sound of early FNM), and more recently, as the frontman for VUA (short for "Vandals Against Illiteracy") which issued Will Rap Over Hard Rock for Food in 2012. Chuck spent the summer of 2016 touring the US as a mostly one-man acoustic show dubbed the "Reintroduce Yourself Tour." He spoke with Songfacts between dates early on in the trek.
Greg Prato (Songfacts): This year, the We Care A Lot album is being reissued with an expanded tracklisting.

Chuck Mosley: It's cool. I went back and listened to it, and I have to say, it didn't sound like anything back then, and really not much now - except for the rapping over the rock part.

Songfacts: By and large, how did the songwriting work in Faith No More back in the day?

Chuck: Billy [Gould] and Mike [Bordin] did a lot of stuff, and Roddy [Bottum] - right off the bat. That's kind of the way it worked. Mike did beats, and Roddy had a couple of songs, like "We Care A Lot," where I threw in a chorus. A lot of collaboration.

Those guys had the music, Roddy had some music and some vocals, and he knew what to do on those vocals. No one ever told me what to do. One song - it's actually one of my favorite songs - that Billy wrote all of it, was "Why Do You Bother?" It's one of my favorites to listen to and sing. Up there with "Mark Bowen," but "Mark Bowen" is a lot harder to sing.

Songfacts: I recall hearing a rumor that you got the gig singing with Faith No More by just jumping up on stage and singing, unplanned. Is that true?

Chuck: No. They were going through a lot of singers and guitar players during that time. There were two times they came down to LA and they didn't have a singer, so I went up but we didn't practice or anything. Then they had Courtney [Love] in the band, and they had three shows booked, but decided to go a different way. Billy called and asked me to fill in.

Songfacts: I've always wondered what Faith No More sounded like with Courtney Love on vocals.

Chuck: Well, it wasn't like how she sounded in Hole. It was different. I don't know if it worked or not. I barely remember hearing it. But I remember listening to a couple of tapes. She went on to a different style later. I don't know if it fit or not. I guess it didn't, because they asked me to do those shows. [Laughs]

Songfacts: What was the lyrical inspiration behind the song "We Care A Lot"?

Chuck: It's all mixed up, because me and Roddy both wrote that. He wrote the title and the chant, and a lot of the first lyrics in the verses. I wrote the "dirty job" part on that first verse, and then I wrote more of the verses when we changed them on the second record. Just current events, basically. And then VUA did a third version - of more current events.

Songfacts: Would you say that was the first rap-rock song in your estimation?

Chuck: Yeah. The Chili Peppers were rapping over funk, and the Beastie Boys were rapping over beats at the time, but they were a punk rock band before, right? And then they started rapping over beats. So yeah, I would say definitely.

Songfacts: That was almost a full year before Aerosmith and Run-DMC covered "Walk This Way."

Chuck: Yep.

Songfacts: What about "As the Worm Turns"?

Chuck: There has always been that thing between LA and San Francisco, and the punk scene was the same thing - everybody looked at San Franciscans as "hippie punks," and LA was more hardcore. I wrote a lot of the lyrics on stage at one of the first shows. I guess just social commentary on being responsible for your own situation.

Songfacts: "Anne's Song"?

Chuck: That was about Anne - I'd get all upset or emotional or whatever, and she would talk to me and tell me how easy everything can be. Just a pep talk, basically.

Songfacts: And who exactly is Anne?

Chuck: My friend, Anne D'Agnillo. I met her in LA a long time ago - her and her boyfriend. I'm still friends with them. They're from New York. She has always been a good friend - someone to call for advice. Back in those days, anyway. We still talk all the time, now on the internet.

Songfacts: What about the title track from Introduce Yourself?

Chuck: Just putting it out there. [Laughs] That's another one Roddy started and then I finished. So it's just introducing yourself: "This is who I am. An obnoxious, loud-mouthed, idiot. [Laughs] Don't care about shit, and don't take no shit."

Songfacts: "The Crab Song"?

Chuck: That's kind of self-explanatory, don't you think? It's about love and how love turns into a monster. Physically, incarnate. It's a love song.

Songfacts: Who are some of your favorite songwriters and singers?

Chuck: David Bowie, Robert Plant. Eddie Vedder is actually one of my favorite all-time singers. I also love Kurt's voice a lot. And Michael Jackson, Al Green.

June 28, 2016.
For more Chuck, visit his official Facebook page.

More Songwriter Interviews


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Waiting For The Break of Day: Three Classic Songs About All-NightersSong Writing

These Three famous songs actually describe how they were written - late into the evening.

70s Music Quiz 1Music Quiz

The '70s gave us Muppets, disco and Van Halen, all which show up in this groovy quiz.

Chris Squire of YesSongwriter Interviews

One of the most dynamic bass player/songwriters of his time, Chris is the only member of Yes who has been with the band since they formed in 1968.

Susanna Hoffs - "Eternal Flame"They're Playing My Song

The Prince-penned "Manic Monday" was the first song The Bangles heard coming from a car radio, but "Eternal Flame" is closest to Susanna's heart, perhaps because she sang it in "various states of undress."

Sam PhillipsSongwriter Interviews

Collaborating with T Bone Burnett, Leslie Phillips changed her name and left her Christian label behind - Robert Plant, who recorded one of her songs on Raising Sand, is a fan.

Ian Astbury of The CultSongwriter Interviews

The Cult frontman tells who the "Fire Woman" is, and talks about performing with the new version of The Doors.