365 Days of Mike Patton: “RV,” Faith No More (1992)

I’m not sure anything I’ve heard from Mike Patton that could be considered a country and western song. Except, of course, for “RV,” the fourth song off Faith No More’s masterpiece Angel Dust.

For the first time since joining the band a few years earlier, Patton had a big say in the music and the lyrics for Angel Dust (pretty much everything was pre-manufactured for Patton on 1989’s The Real Thing). We know how eclectic Patton can be. So, we can assume “RV” is something that could have sprang from his mind. Or Tom Waits’ mind, as a number of reviews of Angel Dust said at the time (or, as Rolling Stone wrote, “’RV’ is a bizarre Tin Pan Alley/country hybrid,” and as many mention, it might take inspiration from the scenes in “Super Mario Bros” when Mario was swimming underwater).

 

About a year ago, there was a thread on the Faith No More subreddit about whether “RV” was a stupid comedy song, and at first glance, it appears it could be.

With lyrics like …

“Yeah, I sweat a lot

Pants fall down every time I bend over

My feet itch

Yeah—I married a scarecrow”

… you could see how that can be taken as some sort of crudely cruel comedic song about some sad sack of a man who has no real future in life.

But it’s probably not. If you read between the lines, there’s some dark content contained in the song, particularly an element of child abuse and self-hatred and perhaps suicide. This isn’t a funny song at all. Especially the last line which is just a killer kicker.

I love this song, but damn if it doesn’t make me feel slightly uncomfortable.

Previously from Angel Dust:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Deep Down,” Mondo Cane (2010)

The first song I heard off Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane album was the “Deep Down” track, a cover of an Ennio Morricone score from the late 1960s. Considering this song is tune No. 4 on the album, I’m not sure how I got my hands on this song first.

But I’m glad I did, because it is catchy as hell, from the baritone voice that opens the tune to his intense whispering at the end (and all the sweet stuff in the middle). All Music called it “a masterfully embellished version” of the original, and Spin wrote it was a “highlight” of the record.

Morricone’s version comes from the 1968 Danger: Diabolik movie—which, according to IMDB, features an “international man of mystery,” so you know it has to be cool.

Either way, here’s one of the early versions (sung in both English and then in Italian).

And here’s Patton’s version 42 years later (mostly in Italian).

Mondo Cane is one of the high points of Patton’s career, because it allowed him to temporairly shed his role as a rock/metal/avant garde singer and turn himself into a crooner who covers only 1950s and 1960s Italian pop songs.

Specifically, Patton seems to love the work of Morricone, who has scored hundreds of films including A Fistful of Dollars; The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; Bugsy; and The Hateful Eight. “Many people think of him only in terms of spaghetti Western music,” Patton told Spin. “But that’s just a pinch of what that genius has created.”

A Mondo Cane post in the 365 Days of Mike Patton wouldn’t be complete without a live performance of the song. So, here’s Patton covering the work of one of his heroes from a concert in Amsterdam.

Previously from Mondo Cane:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Quiet Few,” Tomahawk (2013)

While Mike Patton is quite obviously a big part of this band, guitarist Duane Denison gets much of the credit for being the driving force behind Tomahawk. The Oddfellows album isn’t much different in that regard. Patton is great on the album, but the record doesn’t always focus on him and his vocal work.

Previously, Denison had said, “I wanted [Tomahawk] to be a rock band in the sense of you play songs. Songs, meaning you have auditory landmarks, recurring motifs, things that recur throughout the song.” Meaning, I guess, that Patton, by design when it came to Tomahawk, was a little less experimental with his voice than in his other projects.

On “The Quiet Few,” though, Denison gives way to Trevor Dunn, a longtime bandmate of Patton’s in Mr. Bungle and Fantomas who joined Tomahawk for this album as the bassist. As Pop Matters wrote in its review of Oddfellows, Dunn—“a welcome addition”—shines on “The Quiet Few.”

“Often times,” Pop Matters wrote, “his and [drummer John] Stanier’s low-end provide the stable bedrock on which their compatriots can run amok, while at different points, they take to the forefront, as on ‘The Quiet Few,’ wherein Denison’s searing guitar takes a backseat, functioning like a panning searchlight, to the rumbling and clangy rhythm section.”

Patton’s vocals shift from gritty to a straight hard-rock sound. But Dunn takes the lead here, and like throughout much of their careers, Patton’s voice complements him quite well.

Previously from Tomahawk’s Oddfellows:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Perfect Crime,” Faith No More (1991)

Since I started thinking about this 365 Days of Mike Patton journey, I’ve had plenty of serendipitous encounters with Patton projects in the real world. There was a Mr. Bungle song played during a commercial bumper at the Grammy’s. Patton, for seemingly no rhyme or reason, was supposed to sing the national anthem at an NFL playoff game in L.A. (at the last minute, he had to cancel because he was sick).

And on Sunday night, it was probably the most random moment of all. I went with a buddy to an independent wrestling show in Austin—I haven’t seen live pro wrestling in more than 15 years—and as one of the participants was strutting his way to the ring, Faith No More’s “The Perfect Crime” was bleeding from the speakers.

The tune was never released on a Faith No More studio album, but it got some attention for its inclusion on the soundtrack for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Patton’s singing makes it sound like an outtake from The Real Thing because he’s a little nasally. But in reality, he was in the middle of making his transition to the more well-rounded singer he’d become on the Angel Dust album.

I wasn’t a Faith No More fan at the time, so I don’t remember the song coming out or why it was a big deal to FNM fans, but Metal Sucks has an interesting take on it …

[It] popped up on the Bill & Ted’s II soundtrack among a great Megadeth song, a ghastly Kiss song, and Steve Vai’s “The Reaper Rap.” Having arrived amid dim company and at a moment of FNM scarcity, “Crime” may’ve seemed awesomer than its actual awesomeness; also, the absence of another FNM song after it might’ve accounted for my tendency to rewind and repeat “Crime” a bunch. But the context, the timing, and the lack of competition were beside the point cuz the reason I never listen to it only once is that the shit is awesome beyond all reasonable measure.

Kerrang called the song a “punk, funk fusion of Simple Minds and the Talking Heads.”

Meanwhile, FNM bassist Billy Gould’s younger brother took home video of the mixing of “The Perfect Crime” (though Patton wasn’t in the studio that day). It’s a video I’d never seen. And I probably would never have known about it if I hadn’t gone to an independent wrestling show on a Sunday night.

To follow along on the 365 days of Patton, click here for a list of each day’s post.

365 Days of Mike Patton: “No Flag,” Dub Trio (2008)

A few years after Mike Patton and Dub Trio, a dub/electronic/hard rock outfit from Brooklyn, collaborated on a song on Patton’s Peeping Tom record (we’ll get there), the four musicians reunited for a track called “No Flag.”

I’d never actually heard it before until this very moment, and after a couple of listens, it turns out I dig it. Patton’s voice is gravely and sparse at the beginning of the song—it reminds me of some of the work off Tomahawk’s Anonymous album—and there are some brief double tracks where his voice gets a little higher and subtly fills in some of the space. It makes for a nice contrast.

Then, abruptly the song changes into something more sinister and metal, like something you might hear from Patton in his Dead Cross band (we’ll get there, we’ll get there).

Dub Trio recorded this album, Another Sound Is Dying, on Patton’s Ipecac Records label (we’ll probably get there at some point). But Pitchfork, as is the publication’s wont with most of the music it reviews, wasn’t all that impressed with the record.

Wrote the website, “Dub Trio are a formidable dub unit. But as a rock band, they’re only passable. This is not for lack of chops; in fact, they’re almost too good. They’re referencing the Big Dumb Rock of 90s Amphetamine Reptile and Touch and Go. But while they have the notes, they lack the attitude. Prime AmRep seethed in cauldrons of noise and feedback; this record has a clean, upfront recording. Mr. Bungle also genre-hopped, but Patton’s vocals were a glue that this instrumental outfit lacks. (Patton does make a cameo in the nu-metal-esque “No Flag”.) Dub Trio are on to something, but they’ve yet to fully grasp it.”

Ooof, the nu-metal line is a little brutal, and it’s something with which I disagree. But then again, I liked this song, and I don’t want to be on record liking anything that’s nu-metal-esque. The late 1990s and early 2000s were too scarring.

To follow along on the 365 days of Patton, click here for a list of each day’s post.

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Cape Fear,” Fantomas (2001)

Whenever I think of the remake of the movie Cape Fear, I always picture Robert De Niro and his southern drawl engaging in a violent fight with Nick Nolte’s character as rain and flooding waters soak their hair in the film’s climatic scene. Yes, the 1991 movie was a remake of Cape Fear from 1962. But Fantomas’ cover of the “Cape Fear” theme for The Director’s Cut album sounds exactly like the music that should accompany such a scene for the movie made nearly 30 years later.

If a De Niro fight scene ever needed a song, it’s certainly this Fantomas cover. Hard and aggressive with bits of soft, angelic type singing that could be accompanying the sounds of a soul leaving a body for good. Then, more aggression and screaming before the absolute violent ending.

The original theme song from Cape Fear (the 1962 version) by Bernard Hermann is creepy and much more orchestral. It’s less aggressive and much slower (and longer) than Fantomas’ version (and it sounds exactly like what you want to hear when you’re watching a thriller film from the 1960s).

But I’ve never seen the original film. That’s probably why, when I hear this song, I picture De Niro fighting to the death. And that’s why, for me, Patton’s version is completely in tune with that remake and perhaps not the original.

Previously from Fantoma’s The Director’s Cut:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Jockstrap,” Tomahawk (2001)

I’ve read a couple different reviews of Tomahawk’s first album, also called Tomahawk, and they refer to “Jockstrap” as a tune with a “jazzy undertow” or song featuring “jangly blues.”

When I listen to “Jockstrap,” I don’t really hear either country or the blues. To me, this song is kind of droney rock with a few punk explosions that break up the monotony. I don’t love this song, but I don’t mind it either.

In the YouTube comments for the video below, somebody said the song was ripping off Faith No More’s “Be Aggressive” (we’ll get there eventually), while somebody else said it reminded them of Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People.” I’m not sure I hear either song in “Jockstrap,” which just proves to me that nobody knows what the hell this song is supposed to be.

An old interview with Tomahawk guitarist Duane Denison—probably the driving force of the band—and drummer John Stanier might have given us a clue why there are so many different opinions about what the song sounds like.

“I wanted [Tomahawk] to be a rock band in the sense of you play songs. Songs, meaning you have auditory landmarks, recurring motifs, things that recur throughout the song,” Denison told TV Eye in 2003. “[Patton] does a lot of experimenting stuff, things where it goes all over the place, where the thematic continuity can sometimes be in question.”

Countered Stanier: “Each Tomahawk song has a complete mood of its own.”

Perhaps the mood for “Jockstrap” is a simple one: Maybe it’s just completely schizophrenic.

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