Monthly Archives: January 2019

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Lookaway,” Sepultura (1996)

The Hard Times is an Onion-type satirical news site that focuses on music, mostly metal and punk. I don’t love it as much as the Onion, but sometimes, something it publishes really hits. This week, perhaps to commemorate the start of the 365 Days of Mike Patton, the Hard Times wrote a satirical story about Patton, titled “Mike Patton Runs Out of Bands To Be In.”

It’s an amusing piece of work, as the site quotes Patton saying, “At this point, I feel like I’ve done it all—literally, I’ve provided some sort of vocal arrangement for every musical act in the world. After my album of harmonized, guttural sing-shouting with an uncontacted indigenous tribe deep in the jungles of New Guinea, I realized it was probably time to call it a career.”

And … “It’s tough to say what is next—I’ve already been in bands with everyone I know. Wait… was I in Sepultura yet? Crap. I think I was.”

Yes. Yes he was. Sepultura is a thrash metal band from Brazil, and though I haven’t spent much time studying the band’s discography, it did collaborate with Patton for a song called “Lookaway” on the Roots album. The tune also features Korn singer Jonathan Davis and Limp Bizkit’s DJ Lethal (I CANNOT wait to one day tell the tale of seeing Limp Bizkit open for Faith No More in Atlanta in 1997).

Anyway, “Lookaway” features Patton’s deep growl, a chant and plenty of screaming that wouldn’t be out of place in one of Patton’s most recent projects, Dead Cross. Here’s a live version.

It’s not my favorite Patton song, but hey, props to him for mixing it up with Brazil’s most famous metal export (according to this list, at least).

A couple of years ago, Davis drew some controversy when he claimed that Sepultura’s Roots album was a blatant ripoff of Korn. Guitarist and founding Sepultura member Max Cavalera responded to that by saying, via Blabbermouth, “Mike Patton was on the song, and Jonathan’s a huge Faith No More fan. He was actually freaking out that Patton was there. He was really nervous, which was actually kind of funny. He kept chewing on his hair the whole time he was in the studio.”

According to Cavalera, Patton started singing an Indian chant in the studio, giving Cavalera goosebumps.

“It was so intense,” Cavalera said. “He showed up in the studio with a Samsonite briefcase. I was like, ‘Mike, what’s up with the briefcase?’ He said, ‘It’s what I need to record.’ It had an echo pedal inside for his voice and a bottle of wine. He opened the wine and we drank it. At one point, the three of us were on the floor of the studio going crazy and making weird noises and sounds.”

It’s no “guttural sing-shouting with an uncontacted indigenous tribe deep in the jungles of New Guinea,” but it sounds exactly like a Patton jam nonetheless.

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365 Days of Mike Patton: ‘Epic,’ part 3 (of 3)

“Epic” will never go away for Faith No More.

Even after the band broke up in 1997 and then reformed in 2010, that wasn’t nearly enough time for fans to forget about the song, which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard charts in 1990. So, after FNM got back together and toured European festivals (and eventually the U.S. in 2015), the band still played the song. But it wasn’t the show closer, and it wasn’t featured in the encore. FNM certainly didn’t open with it. Instead, “Epic” was usually stuck in the early to mid-part of the setlist.

When I saw FNM in Austin in 2015, it was song No. 5 out of 18, and it’s an interesting comparison to how Patton used to sing it.

 

Considering that tune is 30 years old, it’s not hard to imagine that the band is tired of playing it. But FNM plays “Epic” because it has to (and because the fans demand it). As bassist Billy Gould said all the way back in 1992, via FaithNoMoreFollowers.com, “It seems sometimes kids turn up just to hear that one song. We’re like, ‘Stick around; we’ve written all these other great songs, you just might like ‘em.’”

These days when FNM plays the song, there’s no nasally-voiced Patton. He screams the lyrics a little more. The energy isn’t necessarily the same either. After all, he’s 51 years old now (and in his late 40s in the video above), and not some 23-year-old kid like he was before.

But he still hits the high notes, and you know what? It still sounds pretty damn good to me.

A few days ago, I wrote, “The truth is, I always feel like whenever I’m talking about Faith No More with somebody who doesn’t know much about the band, I have to qualify it with, “Well, most of their stuff doesn’t sound like ‘Epic.’”

For the rest of the 365 Days of Mike Patton, I’m excited to introduce you to the rest of his stuff.

Part 1 of “Epic” is here.

Part 2 is here.

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: ‘Epic,’ part 2 (of 3)

I don’t remember the first time I heard “Epic.” But I do recall watching Mike Patton and Faith No More on the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards. Mostly, I remember—and I relayed this the next day to my middle school buddy Phipps—that drummer Mike Bordin absolutely hammers the drums during the live show. And I remember Patton flopping around like a fish, just like in the music video, during the piano outro. It’s a fun performance.

 

Three months later, FNM played the song on Saturday Night Live, and I liked Patton’s vocal performance and his antics (he nearly got stuck in a fan on the set) even more. The power in this live performance is just … fantastic. It’ll knock you off your feet.

 

 

Sadly, these were some of the biggest mainstream moments for FNM and Patton (though there were also performances on The Tonight Show, Conan’s NBC show, and Arsenio Hall in the coming months and years). And to listen to the live versions, it’s hard not to still be impressed with the volume and the skill at which the band performed.

Yesterday, I wrote the studio track sounds a little dated to me. The SNL version above, though, sounds anything but.

Part 1 of “Epic” is here.

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: ‘Epic,’ part 1 (of 3)

If you know Faith No More and Mike Patton, it’s probably because you remember the 1990 hit “Epic.” It’s still played all the time on Sirius, and it was recently featured on the “What Makes This Song Great” series on YouTuber Rick Beato’s 686,000-subscriber strong channel. The truth is, I always feel like whenever I’m talking about Faith No More with somebody who doesn’t know much about the band, I have to qualify it with, “Well, most of their stuff doesn’t sound like ‘Epic.’”

Still, it’s Patton’s biggest hit, and it’s for good reason. It’s one of the earlier entries into the rap-rock category of music that exploded a few years later with Rage Against the Machine, the Judgment Night soundtrack, and the eventually success of nu-metal.

On the song—which came off The Real Thing album, Patton’s first appearance with the band—his rapping sounds like a Red Hot Chili Peppers tune, and his voice has that nasal quality he lost soon after (something we’ll revisit at another time). It was an undeniable hit on the radio (peaking at No. 9 on the Billboard charts in September 1990) and on MTV.

When Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis saw the video, he was not pleased. He told Kerrang! magazine, via L.A. Weekly, that “My drummer says he’s gonna kidnap [Patton], shave his hair off and cut off one of his feet, just so he’ll be forced to find a style of his own.” Later, in a RHCP biography, Kiedis said, “I watched [their] ‘Epic’ video, and I see him jumping up and down, rapping, and it looked like I was looking in a mirror.”

There’s plenty more that can be said about the relationship between Patton and Kiedis, and maybe we’ll write about it on 365 Days of Mike Patton.

To me, in the present day, “Epic” feels dated, maybe more so than any other FNM song, and listening to it sometimes feels like walking on glass. But I’d probably never have been an FNM fan if I hadn’t heard “Epic” when I was in middle school. Since that’s the case, I’ll always be thankful for it.

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

What are the 365 Days of Mike Patton?

Today is my favorite singer’s birthday. His name is Mike Patton, and he has a bit of a cult following. He’s best known as the lead singer of Faith No More—which is best known for the 1989 hit “Epic“ where Patton continuously asks the question “What is it?”—but he’s sung for countless other bands and musicians, including his most famous side projects Mr. Bungle and Tomahawk. The people who frantically follow him from project to project are die-hard, and when they recognize one another in public, the image is lasting.

An example: The other day I went into a Mediterranean place near work for lunch. The guy behind the counter who was about to cut some lamb for me looked in my eyes and said, “Hey, weren’t you the guy who likes Mr. Bungle?“ He knew that because about a year ago (or more), I wore a Mr. Bungle T-shirt while ordering lunch from him and we spent a good 10 minutes talking about Mike Patton. I hadn’t seen him since. But we remembered.

On New Year’s Day, I was looking at Twitter, and a baseball writer I follow named Al Mechior announced a new project. I guess he’s a big fan of the Grammy-winning rock band Toto, so he opened a new Twitter account called @ThoughtsToto, where he’s in the process of drowning himself in each of the band’s albums and writing about each song in the band’s catalog. I thought that was a good idea. So, I kind of borrowed it. But I’m not opening a new Twitter account. Instead, I’m writing it here at joshkatzowitz.com.

For the next year or so, I’m going to write (most) every weekday about Patton’s songs and why we love when he sings them. Maybe there will be some anecdotes. Maybe there will be some history. Maybe there will be explanations on the ridiculousness of Patton’s vocal range.

Who knows.

Anyway, today is Patton’s 51st birthday, so today is the day I’m unveiling my 365 Days of Mike Patton. I’ll write about his songs. I’ll probably post some videos. I’ll talk about why I love them both. These won’t be long posts. I’ll get in and get out, so you and I can move on with our days. We love Patton, but goddamn, we don’t have to obsess about him for more than a few minutes at a time. I’ll plan to go for 365 days, but honestly, I don’t even know if he has 365 recorded songs. I guess we’ll figure it out as we go.

If you’re a die-hard Patton fan (and really, why else would you be here?), maybe you don’t love the idea of brevity. Maybe, like Patton sings in “Epic,” you want it all. But true to form, you can’t have it.

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