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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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Chansons D’Amour,” Patton/Jean-Claude Vannier (2019)

Recently, the world got a new Mike Patton project—always a goddamn glorious day!—as he collaborated with French composer Jean-Claude Vannier for an album called Corpse Flower. The first released single from the album, “On Top of the World,” was enjoyable (despite Patton’s insistence on singing about bodily fluids), and now it’s time to listen to another song from the album to see how it compares.

FYI, the video below could be considered NSFW because of female nudity.

It’s called “Chansons D’Amour,” translated it means “Love Song,” and it’s the kind of music you don’t hear Patton sing hardly ever. Kind of a classical music vibe with a piano and plenty of pretty strings (it gives off the kind of vibe we heard when Faith No More used to cover Burt Bacharach’s “This Guy’s In Love With You”).

As one YouTube commenter wrote, Patton’s voice on “Chansons D’Amour” also harkens back to the one used in one of my favorite songs off FNM’s 1992 Angel Dust album. As that YouTuber wrote, “When the guy from ‘RV’ song eventually decided to do something with his life.”

As I wrote about last May, Vannier is “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.”

I haven’t listened to the full Corpse Flower album yet, probably because I haven’t really been in a Mike Patton/Faith No More mood for the last several months (which is also probably why I’ve taken such a long break from the 365 Days of Patton). But as “Chansons D’Amour” demonstrates, each new Patton tune is a gift. And it’s the type of song that reminds me of why I like him so much in the first place.

Previously from Patton/Jean-Claude Vannier:

• “On Top of the World” (Day 53)

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Baby Let’s Play,” Tomahawk (2013)

I like ephemeral, hazy Mike Patton songs with dark lyrical matter, and so, I clearly like “Baby Let’s Play,” off Tomahawk’s final album Oddfellows. The guitar is creepy and Patton’s spooky background chants are heard behind lyrics such as:

Baby, let’s play dead
I got a hole in my head
Yeah, baby, let’s play dumb
Straight to kingdom come
Let the ashes fall
Fall down on me tonight
Bone dry…
Bone dry…
Bone dry…

Take a listen for yourself and feel the entrancement.

Even the abrupt ending of the tune is jarring, kind of like you were just in a minor car accident after taking your eyes off the road for only a half-second.

Pitchfork called “Baby Let’s Play” an “open-ended creeper” that swells “like the score to a dusty horror flick … Keeping things a little uncomfortable is certainly the goal here; these songs have this kind of festering, acid-stomach chemistry to them, weird and unsettling even when they’re not particularly trying to be.”

I think, though, this song is trying to be weird and unsettling. To my ears, that’s exactly the point.

Previously from Tomahawk’s Oddfellows:

365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Big Kahuna,” Faith No More (1997)

Though it was recorded during the Album of the Year sessions in 1997, “The Big Kahuna” is one of a handful of Faith No More songs that have filtered out to the public even though the tune was never actually released on an album.

Somehow, hearing a B-side like this makes it just a little more interesting when you listen to it. It feels kind of like you’re listening to something you were never supposed to hear.

It’s a frenetic, kinda crazy song that wanders all over the place. It’s certainly good enough to be on an actual FNM album. It’s a fun song, and sometimes, that’s all you need.

Previously from Album of the Year:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Dead Goon,” Mr. Bungle (1991)

If you like disturbing Mr. Bungle themes and lyrics, “Dead Goon” could be exactly what you want to hear. It’s the final tune off Mr. Bungle’s self-titled debut, and at 10 minutes long, it’s a big of a slog.

But it’s worth listening to at least once. Especially if you like hearing a first-person account of a person who accidently kills himself due to auto asphyxiation.

If you can get past the early passage that sounds like a comedy tune performed by Les Claypool and a carnival barker, the song opens into something special about two minutes in.

And honestly, I kind of forgot about it. This song comes so late in the album, and I enjoy so many other aspects of the record that I almost never listen to “Dead Goon” on purpose. But I should, because Patton’s voice is pure and that bass line is funky.

And then it gets carnival-y again (it actually sounds almost the same as Disco Volante’s “Platypus”). And then back to the soft vocals I really love. And back and forth.

The song is almost really great. But it’s hard for me to go from extreme to extreme and back again in the span of a few minutes. Sometimes, I love that aspect of Mr. Bungle. This one, though, is a little jarring. And then there’s that creaking rope at about the 5-minute mark—which, now that we know what the song is about, is an interesting detail.

The lyrical content isn’t the only thing that disturbed Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn about this tune. As he explained on his website, “Dead Goon” was a pain. (For the record, I’m taking his explanation as serious, though he could totally be joking or playing it a little tongue-in-cheek.)

Wrote Dunn, “This bass-line was written by drummer Danny Heifetz (no bassist in their right mind would dream it up ). You will notice that it is basically two chromatic scales starting an octave apart (C#) and collapsing (one ascending, one descending) to a unison (F#). If you play this line on piano with one finger from each hand you will realize what a ridiculous concoction it is. On bass, however, it’s not so easy. It took me a long time to figure out how to play it, and a very short time to forget it.”

If you’d like to see a YouTube cover of that bass line, this dude has you covered.

Previously from Mr. Bungle:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Highway Star,” Faith No More (1998)

Faith No More (and Mike Patton) loves to play cover songs. You probably have heard its most famous non-original tune—“Easy,” by the Commodores. But the amount of other bands’ material that FNM has played throughout its concert career is seemingly endless.

That includes Deep Purple’s “Highway Star,” a song released originally in 1972 that was revitalized by FNM on its final tour in 1997 (before it reformed more than a decade later). According to setlist.fm, the show I saw in Atlanta that year was only the third time the band had played the tune live (though I have no memory of that song at that concert).

The first time FNM fiddled with the song came a few days earlier in Columbus, Ohio. According to New Faith No More, “They did Highway Star like 6-7 times and they were busting up laughing each and every time … in fact if I remember correct at one point Jon [Hudson, the guitarist] started to play “Ashes to Ashes” but Mike stopped him, said the crowd wasn’t good enough to hear that, and they played it again.”

Eventually, a live version made its way to FNM’s post-breakup greatest hits album.

Here’s the Deep Purple version of “Highway Star.”

And FNM’s frenetic live version.

Unlike Deep Purple’s six-minute song, FNM boils it down to about 60 seconds. So, if you don’t enjoy FNM’s cover, at least you don’t have to listen to it for very long.

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: YouTube vocal coach reaction, part 2 (2019)

I enjoy watching vocal coaches on YouTube analyze professional singers’ live performances. I enjoy Beth Roars’ channel the most. And of course, as this 365 Days project should hint, I enjoy Mike Patton’s wide music range as well.

This is the second time I’ve analyzed the analyzers (on Day 46, I wrote about this vocal coach’s reaction to a live version of “Midlife Crisis”), and in this case, Roars looks at a variety of Patton songs (because his style is so varied, that’s absolutely the correct approach, although she only listens to his studio recordings).

Roars admits she doesn’t know much of Patton’s work, so she’s obviously in for a treat.

The first two songs she hears are “Get Out” and “Evidence,” which are separated by only one song on the King For a Day album, and her eyes widen at the different vocal styles. Then, she hears “Cuckoo for Caca,” also on King For a Day, and she exclaims with a laugh, “I can’t believe how different it is.”

Throughout her video, Roars marvels at his voice control and his full vocal cord closure. She admits that she’s blown away by his performances.

“It’s like I’m listening to a different person in each clip,” she said.

Yep, and it’s always fun to see somebody experience Patton for the first time—especially if it’s a vocal coach who can truly appreciate his talent.