Monthly Archives: May 2019

365 Days of Mike Patton: “As the Worm Turns,” Faith No More (1985)

Mike Patton didn’t originally sing “As the Worm Turns,” which appears on Faith No More’s debut album We Care A Lot. But like a number for tunes that were originally sung by the band’s original vocalist Chuck Mosley, Patton took the song and made it his own.

The story of the end of the Mosley era and the beginning of the Patton era is a story of 1) annoyance and 2) a musical fork in the road.

As we explained in the “Introduce Yourself” passage, the rest of FNM just kind of got tired of dealing with Mosley as Mosley seemingly was moving in a different direction than the band.

“There was a certain point when I went to rehearsal, and Chuck wanted to do all acoustic guitar songs. It was just so far off the mark—I think I actually attacked him again,” said bassist Billy Gould, who had previously punched Mosley on tour.

So, FNM basically fired Mosley and went on the search for a new singer—apparently Chris Cornell was considered because Soundgarden had opened for FNM on a few dates of a previous tour. But, as Louder Sound explains, after drummer Mike Bordin and keyboardist Roddy Bottum visited Cornell’s house to jam, they discovered the chemistry with the singer wasn’t there.

A few years earlier, Patton had met Bordin and had given him a Mr. Bungle tape. Bottum had listened to it—and he was not a fan.

“Mike Bordin really liked his Mr. Bungle tape he gave us,” Bottum told Louder Sound. “So did Jim Martin. I didn’t. Not my cup of tea.”

Guitarist Jim Martin said that, among the other five singers the band had auditioned, Patton clearly had the most natural ability.

“We called him and told him to come down; we wanted him to go to work immediately,” Martin said. “He was very hesitant, like, ‘I can’t do this right now; it’s not a good day. I have a school box social to go to. And tomorrow is show and tell. If I had plenty of advance warning, I might be able to come down for a little while, but today is not good.’ I told him he was at a crossroads in life—one way was to become a singer, the other way was to be a record store clerk in a shitty little town in Northern California. He really was like that. Very clean and shiny, nice kid. Milk and cookies type.”

Patton eventually saw the light, joined the band, and eventually improved on many of Mosley’s numbers.

Here’s Mosley’s version with really beautiful piano and synthesizers by Bottum.

Like usual, Mosley does more of his spoken-word style that I never loved. But I really love the song when Patton does it.

Here he is in 1990 during the You Fat Bastards video taping at Brixton Academy in London …

… And in 2010.

Whether it’s Patton screaming it 25 years after the tune first came out or Mosley doing more speaking than singing, the song rocks pretty hard. Patton just makes it a little better.

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “On Top of the World,” Patton/Jean-Claude Vannier (2019)

It’s always lovely to get new Mike Patton music. This 365 Days of Mike Patton project has allowed me to experience songs that Patton recorded years ago that I never knew about, but it’s also allowed me to write about the new music that’s emerging now.

As such, Patton last week announced a new project with Jean-Claude Vannier, a French composer and musician who has a ton of credits that I know absolutely nothing about (mostly because it’s all music from France). Anyway, Patton said the two share a love of Serge Gainsbourg, a French singer, composer and songwriter who (again) I know virtually nothing about. But considering All Music called Gainsbourg “the dirty old man of popular music” who had a “scandalous, taboo-shattering output,” he certainly sounds like a guy Patton would appreciate.

“Jean-Claude and I met while working together on a Gainsbourg retrospective at the Hollywood Bowl in 2011,” Patton said in a press release.

Said Vannier: “We bonded immediately. A formidable vocalist, with a sense of humor, Mike and I created a strong, beautiful and sincere collection of music, as well as a friendship.”

So, it’s nice that Patton is still making new friends.

The album, set to be released in October, is called Corpse Flower. The song is called “On Top of the World.”

Here’s what it sounds like.

My initial reaction: It’s a little bit of gravely Patton, a little bit of 1970s disco-sounding Patton and a little bit of bodily fluid humor from Patton in the chorus. That last part is probably the reason why Vannier mentioned Patton’s sense of humor. Either way, Patton was singing these kinds of songs with Mr. Bungle in the late 1980s. It’s kind of fun he continues to do it (in a more mature way) 30 years later.

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Last Cup of Sorrow,” Faith No More (1997)

Aside from Faith No More’s breakout hit “Epic” in 1989, I hadn’t seen many of the band’s official music videos. Not sure why. I guess when I stopped watching MTV in the mid-1990s, I stopped searching for music videos in general, even the ones from my favorite band.

But “Last Cup of Sorrow” from FNM’s Album of the Year is an interesting one. The video is a parody of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece Vertigo. The video features Mike Patton in the Jimmy Stewart character. Jennifer Jason Leigh in the Madeleine character. Bassist Billy Gould dressed as a woman. And drummer Mike Bordin, for some reason, eating a bagel.

I’ve always loved the song—it was the album’s second single, and it landed at No. 14 on the Billboard charts, better than the other two songs releases from the album—but until this very second, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the entire music video.

 

That’s kind of cool. And considering some of Patton’s career revolves around his love of movies—his second Fantomas album is a cover of a bunch of old soundtracks, and he’s produced a number of film scores in the past decade or so—it’s interesting that his love for that artistic genre had leaked into his most successful band.

“I always thought Vertigo had an interesting music video feel to it because of the [rich graphics] in the film,” the video’s director Joseph Kahn told Billboard, via Faith No More Followers. “Also the of idea of FNM’s Mike Patton playing Jimmy Stewart seemed funny to me. Basically you’re taking this really subversive person and putting him in this clean, sterile, technicolor 50s world, yet pieces of the subversiveness of his persona keep coming through this world. It’s like blending an old film with this totally weird 90s type of guy.”

As for the song itself, it’s dominated by Roddy Bottum’s keyboards, Mike Bordin’s crisp drumming and Gould’s “dub-ish” bass. As for Patton’s vocals, they’re gritty at times and then his voice turns more pure on the chorus. Like many of his songs, I enjoyed the contrast.

As Gould told Keyboard magazine in 1997, “Mike can do a lot of wild things with his voice, for one. But, yeah, he sang through an old Telefunken tube mic and we compressed the living shit out of it.”

Previously from Album of the Year:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Omen (Ave Satani),” Fantomas (2001)

On a Fantomas album filled with strong covers of movie soundtracks, “The Omen (Ave Santani)” stands out. Mostly because the lyrics are in Latin—and because it’s about as metal as Latin can get (unless, of course, we’re talking about “Pig Latin”).

“Ave Satani” is the theme song from the soundtrack to the horror classic The Omen. The tune, composed by Jerry Goldsmith, was nominated for an Oscar in 1976, and according to the Through the Shattered Lens website, his idea was to take “one of the most holy rituals in Roman Catholicism and [invert] it to praise Satan instead of the Virgin Mary. Jerry Goldsmith took the rite of consecration and came up with what one could call the rite of desecration for a purported Black Mass.”

Sounds spooky, yeah? Well, listen to the original version (which I had never heard until just now).

And now the Fantomas version.

While I love Patton’s version, Goldsmith’s original is more haunting while being much less in your face. Well, Goldsmith’s version sounds like a movie soundtrack song, and Patton’s version sounds like a metal song. Both are pretty great, but I almost lean toward the original.

Patton would probably agree.

“This bombastic score absolutely made the movie,” Patton said, via Revolver. “If you watch the film with the sound muted, you will see what I mean. Beautiful choir textures that, over time, have become iconic in the horror genre.”

The Fantomas version is good, but it’s not quite iconic.

That song title, though, is. So what does Ave Satani mean? Translated from Latin, it means simply, Hail Satan.

Previously from Fantoma’s The Director’s Cut:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Kill the DJ,” Peeping Tom (2006)

With the exception of a few Faith No More songs and an occasional Tomahawk tune, Mike Patton’s work isn’t known for going mainstream. But getting more radio play was part of the point when he created Peeping Tom, a band with a ton of collaborators and more of a hip-hop and electronica sound than he usually produced.

Patton started the band in 2000, but the one album it’s produced didn’t emerge until 2006.

“Kill the DJ” features Massive Attack, a trip hop group out of the U.K. that’s still going strong after 30 years, and there are certainly some interesting elements to this tune.

 

As Patton explained during an interview circa 2007, he talked about creating the music for Peeping Tom by using email. For example, Patton could write or create some music. He’d email it to Massive Attack, which would then create its own part(s) of the song. Then, it’d send it back to Patton. Back and forth they’d go.

It worked well for teaming with a group like Massive Attack.

“It’s the modern way of prostituting yourself,” Patton said, via the Malocchio YouTube channel. “From my background, it’s kind of about meeting people and getting in the same room, starting a band or doing a session and moving on. With technology being what it is these days, you don’t need to do that. For certain projects and certain applications, it’s a beautiful thing. Massive Attack is over in England, busy as hell. They’re not going to fly over here and write with me. It’d be counterproductive. A lot of people these days, especially in the electronic world, are not guys you give a guitar or piano and say, ‘OK, write a line.’ They sit in front of the computers for hours and hours. It’s a very different process.”

Patton was forced to learn that process for just about every song on this album. Personally, I don’t love the Peeping Tom project (though there are certainly some songs I like that I’ll eventually get to). But the musical genre-switching that Patton can accomplish has always been impressive to me, and I’ve certainly enjoyed having Peeping Tom in my collection of Patton works.

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Edge of the World,” Faith No More (1989)

If you’d like a soothing, do-wop style song in the middle of the all funk and metal on Faith No More’s The Real Thing album, “Edge of the World” is the song for you. It sounds like a jazzy love song, but beware: It’s basically the opposite.

It’s a song written from a pedophile’s point of view.

So, the lyrics of “Come here, my love/I’ll tell you a secret/Come closer, now/
I want you to believe it” and “You can trust me/I’m no criminal/But I’d kill my mother/To be with you/Be with you/Be with you/Be with you” all of a sudden, become that much more creepy.

As bassist Billy Gould—who composed the tune with drummer Mike Bordin and keyboardist Roddy Bottum—explained, via Song Facts, “The way we write is visual. We start by describing a scene to one another. Say there’s a guy in a beat-up Cadillac with ripped upholstery. Empty Kentucky Fried Chicken boxes and malt liquor bottles in the back. And there’s a baby seat. In fact, that image became ‘Edge Of The World.’ Mutated a little on the way.”

Yeah, I’ll say.

Previously from The Real Thing:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Ashes To Ashes,” Faith No More (1997)

One of my favorite songs on one of my least favorite Mike Patton-led Faith No More albums is “Ashes To Ashes.” And my ears didn’t deceive me. According to FNM bassist Billy Gould, this song just clicked when it was being created.

“The bulk of that song was written the first week,” Gould told Keyboard magazine in 1997, via Faith No More Followers. “We arranged it here, and then we sent Patton a tape. He was in Italy, but he came up with the lyrics and the singing right away. It was one of those songs that just clicked—one of those songs that we do most naturally. That’s our sound.”

It features Patton crooning, it features Patton shouting and it features Patton’s intensity. Meanwhile, the guitar is heavy, the keyboard is haunting and the bass is brooding.

The Album of the Year record didn’t get great reviews, and ultimately, FNM broke up soon after it was released. But “Ashes To Ashes” is a good enough song that it would have starred on any of FNM’s albums (and the last 20 seconds or so of the tune is some of my favorite FNM music ever).

The band even made a music video for the single—which peaked at No. 23 in the U.S. and made the top 10 in Australia and Finland.

The song also made for a fantastic moment during FNM’s reunion. Playing the Troubadour in L.A. in 2015, Patton did a little crowd surfing on his way to the bar while singing “Ashes To Ashes.” Would have been pretty cool to be in the room that night. Make sure to check out 1:20 when he gives an epic scream from the top of the bar.

Previously from Album of the Year:

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