UK electronica/rock infused trio Reformat are set to release their new album, Precursed, on 18th August. The band is led by synth player Luke Pajak but they also feature drummer Jay Russell who happens to play in Yard Act and producer Russ Russell (Napalm Death / At The Gates). A visually intriguing outfit, their blend of heavy metal, vintage pop and science fiction is a unique prospect and for anyone who’s wondering where it all began, Luke Pajak joins us to wax lyrical about Faith No More.
When you first heard them and why you love them
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey was one of my favourite films when I was small so Sir James Martin was my introduction to Faith No More… The soundtrack, which features The Perfect Crime, was the first album I ever bought. The combination of heaviness and urgency, alongside Mike Patton switching seamlessly between a yelp and croon, had me intrigued.
Later I caught them on Top of the Pops playing Ashes To Ashes, sounding and looking like nothing I’d ever seen before. Again I was momentarily transfixed. I’m not even sure I really connected the two experiences at the time but it laid the foundation for a love of heavy music.
When was that moment when it all clicked for you with the artist
It was like the universe had been telling me to fall in love with the band for years already—as if my future depended on it somehow and I wasn’t quite getting the message. It was a few years later, when my friend Alex brought them to my attention again, that something properly clicked. He called me up and told me to listen again, which in hindsight is quite odd… perhaps it was really Rufus on the phone? At that point, hearing Epic for the first time was like discovering my dream band—without really appreciating that they’d actually implanted those dreams in my head in the first place.
How they inspired you
Their sound was formative before I even realised it but as a teenager, I was finally ready to take notice. Mike Patton’s obvious hunger for music inspired me to search out all sorts of stuff myself, from the rest of Dillinger Escape Plan’s albums to Eyvind Kang and various other Ipecac releases. From there I discovered John Zorn and Tzadik Records and my taste spiralled. Shortly afterwards, me and Alex started a new alt rock band called I Killed Pharaoh.
How they influence you
As heavy and abrasive as Faith No More can be, there’s always a strong melody that keeps you connected and that’s something that stuck with me when creating my own music. I’m still trying to write music that makes me feel the way I did the first time I heard Epic. More specifically, the heaviness of the guitars and how they combine with the synths is an obvious influence on the latest Reformat tracks.
Angel Dust may be their greatest album but it was Trey Spruance’s guitar on King for a Day which influenced my playing most. It was actually that influence which grabbed Russ’ attention and led to him producing I Killed Pharaoh nearly twenty years ago. As well as enjoying talking absolute nonsense, Russ and I bonded over Faith No More during recording and he introduced me to Cardiacs, who’d been a big influence on Mike Patton specifically. Incidentally, there’s an interview where he’s wearing a Cardiacs shirt (not the infamous sandwich interview though sadly).
A few years after we became friends, Faith No More reformed and Russ took me to the reunion at Brixton Academy. It was an incredible experience which sealed our fate and we’ve been making weird music together since. We both knew we’d found a like-minded collaborator and friend for life, which is a rarity.
Favourite songs and album covers
It’s hard to choose but today Jizzlobber and The Real Thing are up there. As are Kindergarten, King For A Day and Ricochet probably… I can’t deny Epic, for nostalgia sake.
My favourite album cover is definitely King For A Day… I have that design on a shirt which has seen better days now. Being a visual artist, I love Eric Drooker’s illustration work anyway and this collaboration perfectly represents the common vibrant, angular and aggressive nature of both the sound and visuals.
Faith No More have influenced a generation of amazing bands and Mike Patton is so prolific that their legacy just keeps evolving (although Mike is the first to apologise for spawning nu-metal). It seems a bit less important now in the age of the playlist but the way they defied genre expectation was no small thing back then, especially throughout a time and scene where people could be so tribal about it. Overall I think inspiring others to be open, accepting and hungry for new music is one of the most important parts of their legacy.
With that in mind, my favourite band with an obvious influence is Dillinger Escape Plan. It was actually a recommendation from their drummer which then got me into Three Trapped Tigers and a whole load more post-rock from there, so the cycle continues! It also blows my mind that Billy Gould played bass on Russ’ other project Tronos… I like to think that makes Reformat adjacent to a tiny footnote in the band’s legacy.
Without Faith No More, Reformat certainly wouldn’t exist and more importantly I subsequently wouldn’t have met one of my best mates. That’s why I love this band. I’m grateful that despite me being oblivious for so long, the universe was persistent. Station!
Our thanks to Luke for his insights into Faith No More. Didn’t Robert Plant once try to get Jimmy Page to use Mike Bordin on one of their Page/Plant outings? Nice mention for Cardiacs too!
Here’s the first single from Reformat’s Precursed album:
You can read more from our extensive archive of Why I Love pieces from a wide array of artists on an even wider array of subjects, here.