Monthly Archives: April 2019

365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Bit,” Fantomas (2002)

Recorded live in 2000, the Fantomas and the Melvins combined for a live album that features some of the former band’s more accessible songs. The Bit, though, happens to be a Melvins tune from the 1996 album, “Stag,” and according to Metal Archives, this was around the time it was clear that the Melvins would not be the next Nirvana, apparently necessitating their exit from the major label level of rock music.

The music, after all, is probably a little too strange for the mainstream.

Here’s the Millenium Monsterworks 2000 version of the song.

And the Melvins version from four years earlier.

And just for kicks, here’s Mastodon’s live version.

As Metal Archives wrote re The Melvins:

The uniqueness of this band is made clear within the first notes of opening track (and masterpiece) “The Bit.” This anthemic brute treats the listener to a minute of lovely sitar music before the tumult ensues, swallowing the world in a sea of dropped-d devastation. “Not too fat, not too lean, the foundling die is close excitedly. Raise head and STOMP the BLOOD, I’m not even soundly.” Ever-shrouded in mystery and mythos, the poetry of [Melvins guitarist and singer] Buzz Osborne has had scraggly-haired stoners scratching their heads since the early eighties. Buzz-O is not the type to be imprisoned by the boundaries of English or syntax, creating a wordcraft all his own. “The Bit” would appear to be anything from a moral commentary on animal cruelty to dialogue on the inner workings of the entertainment industry. Whatever it is, it’s fucking profound, and it’s punctuated perfectly by the percussive punishment of Dale Crover.

Crover, the band’s drummer, is the one who wrote the song. And personally, I like the Melvins version better and Osborne’s vocal intensity. It’s one of the few times I can recall—if not the only time—that I’d rather hear somebody other than Patton sing the song.

Previously from Millenium Monsterwork 2000:

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Archie and Veronica,” Lovage (2001)

Throughout Mike Patton’s many, many projects (that hopefully will produce at least 365 songs, at least for the sake of this series), he doesn’t participate in duets with many female vocalists. One notable exception was the Lovage album Songs To Make Love To Your Old Lady By, where he teamed up with Jennifer Charles for a number of tunes. Including “Archie and Veronica.”

There are a few songs on this album that really excite me. This really isn’t one of them, but it’s solid nonetheless.

So, what is Lovage? Well, it’s kind of confusing. At least, according to Wikipedia, which wrote “Lovage is a collaborative project headed by Dan the Automator, under his pseudonym ‘Nathaniel Merriweather’ (a persona he created for the project Handsome Boy Modeling School).” Along with Patton, Charles, and DJ Kid Koala, the foursome produced an album of tongue-in-cheek romantic ballads.

The singing by Patton and Charles is enjoyable. But it wasn’t supposed to be serious.

As Pop Matters wrote, “It’s an album of stylish, funky, dreamy trip-pop, with hip-hop allusions here and there and a slightly cartoonish side. [Charles] croons in a sultry, pretty voice while [Patton] either growls or sings with a dramatic, art-rock lilt that’s somewhere between Nick Cave and that guy from Queensryche (Writer’s note: his name is Geoff Tate, for god’s sake!). The odd balance (and, particularly, the fact that Patton’s vocal style is too wild for your average slow jam) is the main thing that gives the album the air of a spoof …”

Patton told Decibel magazine, via Faith No More Followers, that he was simply trying to fill a role in Dan the Automator’s project.

“In some ways it was more acting than music,” Patton said. “There was a lot of performance on that record. I was basically playing a persona, which was a lot of fun. Jennifer and I didn’t do much of it together, but the stuff we did do together was pretty entertaining. There were definitely some episodes involved in that that I shouldn’t disclose.”

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Separation Anxiety,” Faith No More (2015)

I remember where I was in 1998 when Faith No More announced it had broken up. I was sitting in the computer lab at my freshman dorm in college, and I was reading version 1.0 of whatever music site I was perusing. I was devastated. Even though I had been obsessed with FNM for only three years, I felt like I had lost something special in my life.

My love of the band (and really, most everything Mike Patton related) only grew for the next dozen years. We thought FNM was done for good, and because I had seen the band live in 1995 and 1997, I could accept it and move on with my life. I had closure.

Then, the band started playing European festivals in 2009, and since those shows had gone over so well, the Patton community wondered if the band would make new music together.

For the next half-decade, most of the quotes from the band members weren’t filled with optimism. Then one day, we learned that FNM was indeed creating new tunes for the first time in 18 years, which set the stage for the U.S. tour we hadn’t gotten since the late 1990s. The album is Sol Invictus, and I think it’s glorious. No, it’s not the masterpiece Angel Dust is or the hard rocker that King For a Day, Fool For a Lifetime was. But it’s pretty damn special. Mostly because we never expected to get it and because, well, it’s good.

And “Separation Anxiety” is one of my favorites. It’s creepy. It’s hard. It’s filled with Patton’s talents, both crooning and screaming. And the video is interspersed with clips from the 1955 noir film Dementia.

The song, the video, the old band making new music. It was all so long in the making—and it was such a long way away from the moment in Russell Hall I read the news that my favorite band had exploded.

“I remember the day that we collectively decided—and I kind of came in a little nervous, because I thought it was only me—again, we weren’t communicating,” Patton told Rolling Stone in 2015 about the band’s breakup. “I just said, ‘I think I’m done.’ It took a lot to just say that and be honest and I didn’t know how to react. The amazing part was we all looked at each other and felt the same way. It totally disarmed me and that also reinforced my feeling that it was a natural progression and it was over.”

But only for nearly two decades.

Said Patton: “Look at us now, how wrong I was.”

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Desert Search For Techno Allah,” Mr. Bungle (1995)

One of my favorite songs on Mr. Bungle’s Disco Volante album is the Arabic-tinged, bass-heavy track “Desert Search For echno Allah.” I’m not even a techno fan, but when that bass drops at 59 seconds into the song, it’s hard not to feel your heart in your throat.

Like plenty of Mr. Bungle songs, this has multiple layers. There’s the techno aspect. There’s the almost horror movie type soundtrack at other points in the song. There’s Patton’s spoken word and screaming. There are the lyrics that read “Qiyamat a tawil” and “Qiyamat insan al kamel” (which reportedly roughly translate to “the great resurrection of the beginning” and “the great resurrection of the perfect man”).

It’s a strange song, but the more you listen to it, the more normal it becomes because you come to realize it’s not some gimmick tune. There’s real structure and real thought put behind the song. That’s probably why I love it even though I never enjoyed techno.

Even Urban Dictionary has an entry for “Desert Search” that reads “A very kickass Mr. Bungle song, off their second album Disco Volante. Prince of Persia on acid. Ruined people’s speakers back in the 90s.”

Yep, that rattling I heard in the speakers of my 1993 Saturn I drove in college and into young adulthood? You can probably blame it on Sevendust’s “Rumble Fish” and “Desert Search For a Techno Allah.”

And just for the heck of it, here’s a live version from 2000. Mr. Bungle played this song at the show I attended in 1999 but I don’t really remember it. Which is too bad, because it’s pretty awesome.

 Previously from Disco Volante:

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Goodbye Sober Day,” Mr. Bungle (1999)

When discussing “Fire in the Hole” the other day, I wrote about how I much I enjoy Mike Patton singing about the passage of time. He does so again on Mr. Bungle’s third and final album, California. (Coincidentally, I’m seeing Fiddler on the Roof’s national tour, where this theme is visited.)

Or at least this lyric represents what I think is Patton singing about the passage of time.

“Goodbye sober day/The years grew wings and flew away/Ghosts of the past become barbarians/Of the future/And I still pity you/Because what you said was true.”

Then, as Mr. Bungle is known to do, the song takes a completely new direction and, eventually, all hell breaks loose.

As bassist Trevor Dunn told Faith No More Followers, Patton, with the exception of a riff or two, wrote most of “Goodbye Sober Day.”

And Sputnik Music really enjoyed it.

Wrote the reviewer, “Arguably the most ingenious song in Mr. Bungle’s entire discography, ‘Goodbye Sober Day’ capitalizes on the album’s momentum by being an all-out explosion of eccentricism and horror, jumping from an exotic xylophone melody to fuzzy distortion to ghostly cries until finally culminating in an unforgettable burst of both frenetic tribal chanting and heavy metal. ‘Goodbye Sober Day’ is the perfect final note for Mr. Bungle’s career, remaining true to the sound established on California while nevertheless harkening back to the band’s previous releases.”

The frenetic chanting in the middle is apparently based on the Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic that was written in Sanskrit. A strange choice, but hey, that’s Mr. Bungle. California is Mr. Bungle’s most accessible album, but “Goodbye Sober Day” isn’t necessarily for the mainstream top-40 fan.

“To us, California is pop-y,” Patton told New Music in 1999. “But to some fucking No Doubt fan in Ohio, they’re not going to swallow that.”

Previously from California:

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Catch My Heart,” Bohren and Der Club of Gore (2011)

As promised in Tuesday’s edition of the 365 Days of Mike Patton, I’ve googled “German doom band” and “Mike Patton,” and I’ve found what he was talking about when he told Believer magazine in 2013, “It’s amazing to me that people have paid enough attention to what I’ve done to even shake a stick at it. Especially because I haven’t made it easy. I haven’t made, let’s just say, typical decisions. As cynical as I can be, when people say, ‘Yeah, I love what you did with the X-Ecutioners and also with that German doom band,’ it always takes me aback.”

That German doom band is Bohren and Der Club of Gore. I’ve never heard of the group, and I never knew Patton collaborated with it. So, let’s take a quick listen.

It starts off slow and melodic and Patton’s voice goes baritone deep for much of the song (with occasional bursts of crooning). It’s a cover of a Warlocks song, but since I don’t know the Warlocks either, that doesn’t help me much. Consequence of Sound calls Bohren and Der Club of Gore a “horror jazz” band, and that sounds about right.

The song doesn’t really go anywhere, but it’s a pleasant enough listening. It’s certainly a more pleasing experience than I originally imagined what I’d hear from something calling itself a German doom band.

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Fire in the Hole,” Gen. Patton and the X-ecutioners (2005)

I don’t think I’ve ever listened to the General Patton Vs. the X-ecutioners album all the way through without stopping. It’s a little too chaotic and frenetic for me, and I’m just not that big a fan of listening to DJs (albeit talented DJs) ply their trade for an hour at a time.

But in two- or three-minute bursts, I’m in. Especially if Mike Patton is singing about the passage of time.

“The time is blowing my leaves/Off of our branches and trees/A year can feel like a day

If we can only conceive/If we would ever believe/Where we would be today.”

In 2013, Believer Magazine told Patton that he had likely inspired many people to perform different kind of music because “your music was an entrance into so many other genres.” There’s the hard rock of Faith No More, the ska/funk/punk of Mr. Bungle, the avant-garde of Fantomas, the hardcore of Dead Cross, the decades-old Italian pop songs of Mondo Cane, the hip-hop of General Patton, etc.

Patton appreciated that sentiment.

“That’s about as good a compliment as you can get,” he said. “It’s amazing to me that people have paid enough attention to what I’ve done to even shake a stick at it. Especially because I haven’t made it easy. I haven’t made, let’s just say, typical decisions. As cynical as I can be, when people say, ‘Yeah, I love what you did with the X-Ecutioners and also with that German doom band,’ it always takes me aback.”

A German doom band with Patton? Hmm, I’ll have to look that up.

Previously from General Patton:

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “A Little Poker Tomorrow Night?,” A Perfect Place (2008)

In 1991, Faith No More’s “The Perfect Crime” was recorded for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, and for FNM fans who were looking for new music, it was a godsend. But Mike Patton wanted more than just a single song on a single film’s soundtrack.

So, when, about seven years later, he was asked to record the movie score and soundtrack for a black-and-white short called A Perfect Place, he was so enthused that his soundtrack was actually 10 minutes longer than the entire 25-minute film. Here’s “A Little Poker Tomorrow Night?” a song that contains Patton’s mouth noises and plenty of “la-la-la, la-la-la’s” in an almost child-like voice.

There isn’t much in the way of singing on this album (though there are a few that we’ll eventually get to on this 365-day journey), but much of the music is gorgeous.

All Music gave it a good review, though “The twist that differentiates this project from his many others is that he had to adhere to someone else’s vision, and with less freedom to run rampant, the standard Patton idiosyncrasies are refined.” Still, the reviewer wrote that Patton “shows off his enormous talent as a sophisticated composer and musician.”

For Patton, it’s a matter of looking at the music in a visual way.

“With pretty much every musical situation that I’ve been in, like Faith No More, especially, we always would say, ‘Picture Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas.’ And we’d use moments like that,” Patton told Believer Magazine in 2013. “Or the pistol-whipping scene in Goodfellas. … It’s a point of reference that you can use. Instead of saying, ‘Hey, a quarter note here and an eighth note there and a minor seventh…’ No. To me it works much better to say, ‘Now picture this.’”

With the exception of some of the percussion, Patton composed and played everything on the A Perfect Place soundtrack. Which just shows that Patton, for all his vocal talents, isn’t somebody who’s only good at singing and screaming. He’s simply good at being a musician.