365 Days of Mike Patton: “Church of the Motherfuckers,” Dead Cross (2017)

Mike Patton and drummer Dave Lombardo, once bandmates for Fantomas, teamed up again for another project in 2017. Instead of the avant garde (or “avant grind”) stylings of Fantomas—which, frankly, can be hit or miss for me—they created a supergroup called Dead Cross. And it’s straight ahead hardcore music.

The video below for “Church of the Motherfuckers” features a priest getting bullied and beaten up in what appears to be some sort of Fight Club, surrounded by children. It’s an intense video for an intense song (though this song isn’t quite as fast or heavy as a lot of the rest of the album, and there’s actually a decent amount of melody in this tune, at least compared to the rest of the record).

Like he did with Faith No More nearly 30 years earlier, Patton replaced the band’s original vocalist and then wrote all the lyrics for the forthcoming album (while FNM was releasing its third album after Patton joined, this was Dead Cross’ first record). And while some believe Dead Cross have more of a metal or thrash sound, there’s no doubt what this is in Patton’s mind.

“To me, it is a traditional hardcore record,” Patton told Rolling Stone. “It is very pointed, direct and visceral. Like, I wasn’t going to play keyboards, add samples or any kind of orchestration. It was like, ‘Yo, just go for it.’ In some ways, it reminded me of stuff that we had collectively all grown up with and loved when we were like teenagers—bands like the Accüsed, Deep Wound or Siege, stuff that was just brutal, uncompromising and right to the point. I was listening to all those bands again before this came to be, so it was already back infused in my blood. And now I got a chance to do a pencil-in-your-eye record.”

If you like Patton singing with his outrageous range, this might not be the album for you. But if you like him screaming set against a hard, heavy, fast, and unforgiving beat, Dead Cross might be exactly what you want to hear.

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Introduce Yourself,” Faith No More (1987)

We don’t normally write about Faith No More songs from the band’s first two albums, We Care a Lot and Introduce Yourself, because Mike Patton didn’t perform on those records. Instead, it was a singer by the name of Chuck Mosley who acted as the frontman of the band before he was eventually kicked out, which then made room for Patton.

But I’m including this song from the band’s second album, because Patton sang it plenty on stage with Faith No More and because his style on this song clashed heavily with what Mosley produced in the studio.

First, here’s Mosley in 1987.

And here’s Patton live in 1995.

I’m not a huge fan of Mosley’s style, which is why I almost never listen to the first few FNM albums. But other than the roll call of the band members’ first names early in the song, I don’t mind his version. But still, I much prefer Patton’s chaotic, screamy take on it.

Anyway, here’s how the band fired Mosley. Not unlike guitarist Jim Martin a few years later, FNM just kinda got tired of him (and because they were all going in different musical directions).

As Louder Sound tells it, the band was on its European tour after Introduce Yourself was released, and one of Mosley’s roadies got into a physical altercation with guitarist Jim Martin, a brouhaha which apparently broke Martin’s hand (not a great injury for a guitar player). The band fired the roadie over Mosley’s objections.

Later in the tour, bassist Billy Gould apparently punched Mosley (not unlike Patton one day throwing bottles at Martin while on stage) because he was so sick of him. Then, once the band returned home, everything went to hell.

“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,” Gould said.

Afterward, Gould said he quit the band. Then, he talked to drummer Mike Bordin, who said, “Well, I still want to play with you.” Then, a similar conversation was had with keyboardist Roddy Bottum. He also decided he’d rather play with Gould and Bordin than Mosley. Pretty soon, that was that, and Mosley was gone.

Patton’s arrival would change everything.

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Underwater Love,” Faith No More (1989)

Without a doubt, this is my favorite all-time song about drowning your lover. From the opening keyboard zinger to Mike Patton’s nasally voice and Billy Gould’s funkadelically obtrusive bass, this song sounds like it was recorded in 1989 for The Real Thing album and then stayed locked in a time capsule for good.

The lyrics, though, are forever.

“Looking down into the water/It’s hard to make out your face/If our love is drowning, then why/Do I feel so out of place?”

And …

“Liquid seeps into your lungs/But your eyes look so serene/It’s wonderful how the surface ripples/But you’re perfect, and I cannot breathe.”

It’s not exactly subtle, is it?

Even if you think the lyrics are TOO obvious and that the song must be really about something else—a man’s obsession with fishing, for example— Patton says you’re wrong. He told Kerrang in 1990, via FNM 2.0, “Underwater Love was basically about murdering someone you love.”

Interestingly, a demo version of the song exists—according to the YouTube channel, it was “recorded on [a] 4-Track in Bill Gould’s attic as a demonstration of Mike Patton for Faith No More’s management and their record company (Slash)” before Patton was officially in the band—and the lyrics are a little bit different (though it still sounds like it’s about drowning somebody you love).

Previously from The Real Thing:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Omaha Dance,” Tomahawk (2007)

This is my favorite song on Tomahawk’s Anonymous album. The lyrics contain only 26 words, but it’s Mike Patton’s most powerful singing on the record.

As we’ve come to learn, this record was conceived by guitarist Duane Denison after he went on a tour of Native American reservations with Hank Williams III. As such, the songs on Anonymous are steeped (and seeped) in Native American music.

Which is why you get plenty of chanting (and Native American inspired percussion) on this record and on this tune.

Like I wrote, I’m a huge fan of this song. But not everyone is apparently. As Prefix Mag wrote, Patton “smothers the melodies of ‘War Song’ and ‘Omaha Dance’ with the same ambient synthesizers, clanking samples and wacko vocal spasms that he brings to everything that he’s ever done. Denison and [John] Stanier laid down their guitar and drums tracks before Patton got involved; I wonder whether the album would have been more emotionally powerful if he hadn’t touched it.”

No, Prefix Mag, that’s an incorrect opinion! We wouldn’t be writing the 365 Days of Mike Patton if he smothers everything he touches!! We wouldn’t be producing a year’s worth of Patton contact if all he did was “wacko vocal spasms”!!!

Anyway, the song is pretty fabulous and a real highlight on what’s one of Patton’s most interesting albums.

Previously from Anonymous:

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

I’m not sure anything I’ve heard from Mike Patton that could be considered a country and western song. Except, of course, for “RV,” the fourth song off Faith No More’s masterpiece Angel Dust.

For the first time since joining the band a few years earlier, Patton had a big say in the music and the lyrics for Angel Dust (pretty much everything was pre-manufactured for Patton on 1989’s The Real Thing). We know how eclectic Patton can be. So, we can assume “RV” is something that could have sprang from his mind. Or Tom Waits’ mind, as a number of reviews of Angel Dust said at the time (or, as Rolling Stone wrote, “’RV’ is a bizarre Tin Pan Alley/country hybrid,” and as many mention, it might take inspiration from the scenes in “Super Mario Bros” when Mario was swimming underwater).

 

About a year ago, there was a thread on the Faith No More subreddit about whether “RV” was a stupid comedy song, and at first glance, it appears it could be.

With lyrics like …

“Yeah, I sweat a lot

Pants fall down every time I bend over

My feet itch

Yeah—I married a scarecrow”

… you could see how that can be taken as some sort of crudely cruel comedic song about some sad sack of a man who has no real future in life.

But it’s probably not. If you read between the lines, there’s some dark content contained in the song, particularly an element of child abuse and self-hatred and perhaps suicide. This isn’t a funny song at all. Especially the last line which is just a killer kicker.

I love this song, but damn if it doesn’t make me feel slightly uncomfortable.

Previously from Angel Dust:

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Deep Down,” Mondo Cane (2010)

The first song I heard off Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane album was the “Deep Down” track, a cover of an Ennio Morricone score from the late 1960s. Considering this song is tune No. 4 on the album, I’m not sure how I got my hands on this song first.

But I’m glad I did, because it is catchy as hell, from the baritone voice that opens the tune to his intense whispering at the end (and all the sweet stuff in the middle). All Music called it “a masterfully embellished version” of the original, and Spin wrote it was a “highlight” of the record.

Morricone’s version comes from the 1968 Danger: Diabolik movie—which, according to IMDB, features an “international man of mystery,” so you know it has to be cool.

Either way, here’s one of the early versions (sung in both English and then in Italian).

And here’s Patton’s version 42 years later (mostly in Italian).

Mondo Cane is one of the high points of Patton’s career, because it allowed him to temporairly shed his role as a rock/metal/avant garde singer and turn himself into a crooner who covers only 1950s and 1960s Italian pop songs.

Specifically, Patton seems to love the work of Morricone, who has scored hundreds of films including A Fistful of Dollars; The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; Bugsy; and The Hateful Eight. “Many people think of him only in terms of spaghetti Western music,” Patton told Spin. “But that’s just a pinch of what that genius has created.”

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 covering the work of one of his heroes from a concert in Amsterdam.

Previously from Mondo Cane:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Quiet Few,” Tomahawk (2013)

While Mike Patton is quite obviously a big part of this band, guitarist Duane Denison gets much of the credit for being the driving force behind Tomahawk. The Oddfellows album isn’t much different in that regard. Patton is great on the album, but the record doesn’t always focus on him and his vocal work.

Previously, Denison had said, “I wanted [Tomahawk] to be a rock band in the sense of you play songs. Songs, meaning you have auditory landmarks, recurring motifs, things that recur throughout the song.” Meaning, I guess, that Patton, by design when it came to Tomahawk, was a little less experimental with his voice than in his other projects.

On “The Quiet Few,” though, Denison gives way to Trevor Dunn, a longtime bandmate of Patton’s in Mr. Bungle and Fantomas who joined Tomahawk for this album as the bassist. As Pop Matters wrote in its review of Oddfellows, Dunn—“a welcome addition”—shines on “The Quiet Few.”

“Often times,” Pop Matters wrote, “his and [drummer John] Stanier’s low-end provide the stable bedrock on which their compatriots can run amok, while at different points, they take to the forefront, as on ‘The Quiet Few,’ wherein Denison’s searing guitar takes a backseat, functioning like a panning searchlight, to the rumbling and clangy rhythm section.”

Patton’s vocals shift from gritty to a straight hard-rock sound. But Dunn takes the lead here, and like throughout much of their careers, Patton’s voice complements him quite well.

Previously from Tomahawk’s Oddfellows:

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