365 Days of Mike Patton: “Midlife Crisis” (part 2), Faith No More (1992)

“Midlife Crisis” isn’t about a midlife crisis at all. Apparently, the song is about Madonna. That notion comes from Mike Patton himself.

“The song is based on a lot of observation and a lot of speculation. But in sort of a pointed way it’s kind of about Madonna…” Patton said, via an old FNM Q&A site. “I think it was a particular time where I was being bombarded with her image on TV and in magazines and her whole schtick kind of speaks to me in that way … like she’s going through some sort of problem. It seems she’s getting a bit desperate.”

As I wrote about earlier this week, I took a listen to “Midlife Crisis” at the end of a difficult day, so it’s kind of strange to read Patton also explain it this way: “It’s more about creating false emotion, being emotional, dwelling on your emotions and in a sense inventing them.”

“Midlife Crisis” was the first single released off FNM’s masterpiece of an album Angel Dust, and it’s the only song the band released that rose to No. 1 on the (modern rock) Billboard charts. It’s a pretty stunning accomplishment, but I bet if you asked 100 people who enjoy music what they remember about Faith No More, most, if not all, would say, “Epic” and (definitely) not “Midlife Crisis.”

To me, “Midlife Crisis” is good; it’s a song I enjoy hearing. But it’s nowhere close to my favorite. In fact, I just looked through Angel Dust’s track listing, and I would probably rank “Midlife Crisis” somewhere around No. 10 out of 12 songs. It’s not terrible. I mean, I’m not turning it off if it shows up on my song shuffle. But I’m not going out of my way to listen to it—unless, I guess, I’m having a tough day and I need some reassurance that my impending midlife crisis is an invention of my mind.

But man, other people just LOVE it. Consequence of Sound wrote that it was FNM’s best song, explaining, “This song has metal, pop, avant-garde, a musically united front with more facets than a diamond. It’s addictive and throbbing, your head on cocaine, your heaven and hell. It’s the Faith No More song. Angel dust, indeed.”

Guitar World even proclaimed FNM’s performance of it as one of the 10 greatest metal performances in late night TV history when Patton and company invaded Jay Leno’s Tonight Show in 1993.

Fair enough. Even if it barely cracks my top 10 on Angel Dust, I’ll still rock out to it. And apparently so do many, many others.

Previously from Angel Dust:

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

I’m writing this after a hell of a day. My washing machine leaked while we were washing towels, and neither my wife nor I noticed until water soaked the floor in the laundry room and in the neighboring kitchen (goddammit, we were both only gone for, like, five minutes when the indoor lake was formed), and so I spent much of my day wet vacuuming the mess with a rented device while trying to write and edit a few SEO pieces for the Daily Dot.

Now, it’s 7 p.m. on a Friday, and I’m annoyed because I made dinner for my kids but not for myself and my wife went out with a friend and I have to return this vacuum to Home Depot and I have to pick up the entire Girl Scout cookie load for my daughter’s troupe tonight. It’s to the point where—and I’m sure if you’re a parent, you’ve experienced this—the sound of my children’s laughter is just annoying the absolute shit out of me.

I’ve resisted telling them to be quiet, because what kind of parent is irritated by their children’s love for each other, but man, I just want them to go to bed soon and for the world to disappear for a while.

I’m not going through a midlife crisis or anything—can you know that for sure until after you’ve already left it behind?—but I’m jonesing to hear Faith No More play one of its biggest hits to give myself some relief from this day.

It’s the third song off the Angel Dust album, and it is called, naturally, “Midlife Crisis.” It’s a good song, and it’s a staple of their live sets. And actually, it’s actually the band’s most successful single. Yes, you still hear “Epic” a decent amount on Sirius XM or in real life. You hardly ever hear “Midlife Crisis” these days, but on Aug. 7, 1992, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard modern rock chart.

I’m actually going to write about that for later this week, because there’s plenty to say about the song’s popularity and what inspired the tune in the first place. But I’m tired, and I don’t feel like writing much more at the moment.

The song hasn’t made me feel much better in the aftermath of my (admittedly, first-world) problems. But in the 231 seconds that the music played in my earbuds, I could take a break and relax.

All right, I’ve got to run and get like 50 cases of Girl Scout cookies. The worst part? They’ll sit in my trunk for the night, because none of them are earmarked for my belly. And I feel like I’m bleeding enough for two.

Previously from Angel Dust:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny,” Mr. Bungle (1986)

You might know this by now but I’m a pretty big Mike Patton fan. I’m certainly not the biggest Patton-phile in the world, but I’ve listened to more of his career catalog than, say, 99.8 percent of the people in the world.

That said, as we’ve seen a few times on the 365 Days of Mike Patton series, there are songs and albums I’ve never heard. There are songs and albums I’ve never heard of. I have holes in my Patton knowledge, and that’s one reason why the 365 has given me unintended joy: Listening to old songs from my musical hero for the first time.

That includes Mr. Bungle’s 1986 demo, Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny. Never heard it. Never really cared to hear it. I figured it was juvenile and sophomoric, and the early Faith No More and Mr. Bungle work feature Patton’s voice at its most nasally, and that’s just not the era I enjoy the most.

But now that Mr. Bungle—along with members of Anthrax (guitarist Scott Ian) and Slayer (drummer Dave Lombardo)—has temporarily reformed to play a handful of U.S. dates in which they’re performing most of The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, I figured I should listen to at least two songs from that 34-year-old product.

I chose “Anarchy Up Your Anus” and “Spreading the Thighs of Death,” and before this moment, I’d never heard them before. Patton is certainly not nasally here.

Hey, I love metal, so the music hits me in the right spot. But the vocals (and the quality of the sounds of the recording overall) is pretty rough. It basically sounds like a bunch of teenagers making a demo.

Or as Patton told the Sydney Morning Herald, “Most of the fans who know Mr. Bungle have not even heard this stuff. It’s all very much pretty nasty thrash metal stuff.”

That’s what Mr. Bungle sounded like in 1986. This is what Mr. Bungle sounded like playing those same songs (with an intro of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” Fred Rogers style) in 2020.

When I realized Mr. Bungle wouldn’t be making its way to Texas for its reunion this year, I was bummed. But I’d be more bummed if they were playing those Bungle songs I actually love. So, I guess I’m OK that I won’t be seeing this show.

Or as Revolver wrote, “In a move at once inspired and antagonistic, one of the most quietly influential bands in metal reunited last night in Los Angeles … to play zero of the songs that made them influential.”

And just for the heck of it, here’s Mr. Bungle covering Seals and Croft’s soft rock classic, “Summer Breeze” live at the show on Wednesday.

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Bird’s Eye,” Patton/Serj Tankian (2008)

With the news on Monday that Faith No More will join System of a Down, Korn, Helmet and Russian Circles in a massive concert in Los Angeles this May, it’d be appropriate to take a listen to one of my favorite Patton collaborations—when he teamed up with System of a Down’s singer Serj Tankian for a song that appeared on the “Body of Lies” movie soundtrack.

First, the big news.

Now, let’s rewind back to 2008 when Patton and Tankian worked with composer Marc Streitenfeld to create the song that would play over the films’ ending credits. It’s solid stuff if you like FNM mixed with a little SOAD with some sweeping strings thrown in as Patton and Tankian trade off verses. The tune isn’t overly heavy, but the two voices play off each other quite well.

Or as Wired wrote, “It’s an angular funk nugget with a crunchy coating of rock. In other words, the type of ear candy you can eat while watching a popcorn blockbuster.”

As Tankian said at the time, via Blabbermouth, “Patton is a good friend and always invited to any party I’m in.”

As far as I can tell, the song has never been played live—at least not by Patton or Tankian. I suppose that could happen in May in Los Angeles, but I tend to doubt it. After all, in the pantheon of movies starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, Body of Lies has to rank near the bottom. Which probably means you’d have to be a huge fan of Patton and/or Tankian to even remember this song.

According to IMDB, the film was only nominated for two awards, but one of those came for Best Original Song from the Satellite Awards. But that was for Gun ‘N Roses’ “If the World” (and that’d be just another reason for Patton to dislike Axl Rose (we’ll get to that some other time)).

Anyway, it’s a fun song to listen to every once in a while, and sometimes, that’s good enough for me. But the best part of this whole story, the one detail that shows the song’s age? As Blabbermouth wrote in its 2008 article, the song was first “available for streaming on Serj’s MySpace page.”

Previous Patton collaborations:

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

When I saw Faith No More live for the second time in my life in 1997, the band opened the show with the first song off the Album of the Year record. While I really dig the studio version of “Collision,” I don’t think the live version worked all that well. In fact, the distance between how much like I like the album version and how much I don’t care for the live version is the furthest of any FNM song.

And maybe that set the tone for the rest of that concert at Atlanta’s Masquerade club that year. It was a good concert, but of the three FNM shows I’ve seen, it was clearly the weakest. Just like Album of the Year is the band’s weakest album with Patton employed as the singer. I’m not entirely sure there’s a connection there, but there probably is.

But I do really enjoy “Collision” when it’s not being played live. Kind of like “Digging the Grave,” the song the band opened with the first time I saw them two years earlier, there is no introduction to the song. There’s no warning about what’s coming before Patton’s voices smacks you in the throat. Just as the instruments begin assaulting your senses, Patton is there yelling “Colllllllisssssssiiiiiiiiioooonnnnnnn, my missssssssssssiiiiiiiioooooooonnnnnnnnn.”

As Pop Matters opines, “The way the band drops [Jon] Hudson’s thundering guitars during the verses and allows bassist Billy Gould’s and drummer Mike Bordin’s rock-solid syncopated groove to shine is great arranging.”

Take a listen.

My favorite lyric, of course, has to be “All the day’s plans/All the shaking hands/Beepers and suntans,” because weren’t beepers already kind of an irrelevant thing in 1997? It’s like if Patton sang about how much he loved Smokey and the Bandit on the 1992 tune “RV.”

But it hardly matters. Roddy Bottum’s keyboards are subtle but great, Gould’s bass sounds fat, and the guitar of Hudson, in the song that introduced him to FNM’s audience, is pretty damn metal.

I just don’t need to see it live again.

Postscript: Well ACTUALLY, I just found this live version. And while I don’t think it’s THAT great, the power the band portrays while playing “Collision” live is impressive. My recollection of the version I personally heard live (and other bootleg versions I’ve listened to since) had nowhere near this kind of impact.

Previously from Album of the Year:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “L’Uomo Che Non Sapeva Amare,” Mondo Cane (2010)

Sometimes, it’s easy to discover where Mike Patton finds inspiration. Other times, you’d need to spend hours in a Roman library to figure out the origins of what emerges from Patton’s mouth.

The latter is the case for “L’Uomo Che Non Sapeva Amare,” off Patton’s Mondo Cane album. I don’t have oodles of time to spend researching these 365 Days of Mike Patton posts (even though the amount of articles and quotes I’ve gathered for future posts is quite long and increasingly more difficult to navigate), so if I can’t find something after about 10 minutes of online searching, well, that’s just about my limit.

That said, I don’t know much about this tune that appears on Patton’s album of covers of Italian pop sings from the 1950s and ‘60s. Italian singer and film composer Nico Fidenco sang it in the mid-1960s (either 1964 or 1965), and it translates into The Man Who Didn’t Know How To Love.

This song soars from the very beginning. It’s not like you’re on the scary rollercoaster that starts you off nice and slow on the big, long hill that slowly creaks to the top, seemingly hundreds of feet in the air, before twisting itself 75 stories downward to begin the ride. No, “L’Uomo Che Non Sapeva Amare” makes sure your stomach jumps into your throat within the first 10 seconds of pressing play.

There is no build here. Just an immediate punch to the face. And for the next 3 minutes, it only very occasionally relents and allows you to catch your breath.

It’s one of the most metal songs on the album—Consequence of Sound described it as “waltzing bombast”—and since Mondo Cane is not supposed to be even a little bit metal, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Fidenco’s version is certainly more understated, but arguably, his version is more passionate. That’s somewhat ironic since he’s singing about a dude who doesn’t know how to love.

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 from Amsterdam standing next to a trumpet player with wonderful facial hair and fantastic side part. The live version, as I would expect, is glorious.

Patton was once married to an Italian woman and lived in Bologna for a time. He apparently loves Italian pop and by his live performance, it’s quite clear he enjoys singing this song. He’s not a man who can’t love. Instead, he’s the man who makes his fans fall in love with music that, without him, they’d probably never get to hear.

Previously from Mondo Cane:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Merry Go Bye Bye,” Mr. Bungle (1995)

For much of this century, Mike Patton and the band Tool have loosely intertwined with each other like a pair of earbud cords that occasionally gets tangled. Fantomas opened a big amphitheater show with the legendary prog metal quartet in 2017. Patton and Tool singer Maynard James Keenan have shared festival bills together with some of their less mainstream side bands.

And when asked if Tool had given him any inspiration as an artist, Patton told Revolver magazine in 2008, “They give me hope that not all huge bands are pompous, clueless, drug-addled morons. That, and I steal lots of fashion ideas from Maynard’s stage wear.”

Tool members appreciate Patton and his bands, as seen when drummer Danny Carey scared the shit out of Patton by appearing on stage at an FNM show…

And Patton appreciates Tool, as he made clear in 2002 when Tomahawk was set to go on as the band’s opener.

“[Tool] are friends of ours and I guess they like our band,” Patton said, via Blabbermouth. “God bless them that they have the balls to follow through with their instincts. I’m sure that there were a billion and one people trying to talk them out of it because we don’t sell a lot of records and we’re not going to pay them to play with them. Basically, us being on this bill is not doing anyone any favors, industry-wise.”

Hell, they even enjoy going on log rides together.

(That’s Buzz Osborne from the Melvins in the back, Tool guitarist Adam Jones in the middle and Patton in the front.)

Anyway, I’m talking about Tool because I saw the band live on Tuesday. It was my third time seeing Tool—the first time came in 1996 when they played a big club, but a club nonetheless!, in Atlanta. After taking about a 20-year break, I saw Tool in San Antonio a few years back, and now, I’ve completed the Tool trilogy.

I imagine there are Patton-voiced songs that sound like Tool, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. So, let’s listen to a heavy song at the tail end of Mr. Bungle’s Disco Volante album. Well, it gets heavy eventually. But it’s a little too long (like many of the songs on Tool’s newest album) and it changes speeds quickly and jarringly (unlike Tool). But it is heavy. Not prog metal heavy like Tool. But kind of thrash metal heavy.

Anyway, it’s an interesting listen. Just like most of Tool’s discography. It’s something I appreciate about Patton and Tool, and it’s apparently also something they appreciate about each other.

Previously from Disco Volante:

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