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:

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

Advertisements

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:

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

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:

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

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:

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Sweet Charity,” Mr. Bungle (1999)

The first song off Mr. Bungle’s third album, California, showcased the new direction the avant garde band was headed on what turned out to be its last record. The first album was cartoonish and juvenile. The second album was strange and dark. The third album, my favorite, was a little more mainstream with songs and melodies that can get stuck in your head.

Like “Sweet Charity,” with its surf rock guitar sound, dramatic keyboard work, and its big-ass booming vocals.

Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn said California is his favorite album of the trio, telling Faith No More Followers, “I think that each of the three albums has its own personality and I don’t mean to create some sort of hierarchy with them. The first record is the result of irreverent youth, and the second represents a sort of identity crisis associated with ‘growing pains’ and self-reflection. For me, California is the culmination of a lot of individual and collective thought and a deeper understanding of orchestration and song form.”

In the opinion of Metal Archives, “Mike Patton’s vocals are at their absolute peak here. The evolution from nasally teen on [Faith No More’s] The Real Thing to 50s style crooner is complete with this album. I’ve always suspected there was autotune on Patton’s previous Faith No More outing Album of the Year (released around the same time as the software), yet California was supposedly recorded analog and without any digital assistance, making the odds of pitch correction being used unlikely.”

Either way, Patton sounds great on this track, and it’s one helluva to start what turned out to be a fantastic album. For Patton, what’s different about California is how much singing he had to record.

“There’s a shitload of vocals, way more than I’d ever done before with Mr. Bungle,” Patton told the AV Club in 1999. “The layering and stuff like that, not just with the vocals, but all the instruments… Like, if someone were going to try and remix ‘Sweet Charity,’ I’d pray for them. One track alone is a harmony vocal, then all of a sudden, it’s a glockenspiel for two notes, then it turns into a hand drum, and then it turns into a guitar part that lasts for 30 seconds. It’s a disaster.”

A disaster in the best way possible.

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: YouTube vocal coach reaction (2019)

I’ve discovered a few vocal coaches who react to other singers on YouTube, and I quite enjoy watching them dissect and analyze live performances from musicians of all genres. Earlier this week, the Rebecca Vocal Coach channel (with more than 400,000 subscribers) watched and commented on Faith No More’s “Midlife Crisis” performance from The Tonight Show in 1993.

Naturally, she took a close look at Mike Patton to watch who she called “a fascinating creature.”

Just a few seconds into the song, she said she was drawn in by his attitude and, I don’t know, his essence.

“Straight away, I was blown away by the rhythmic, the beat, that pulse that you need inside your body when you sing,” she said.

She also called him a “great manipulator” of the larynx, and she certainly appreciated his contrast in vocal styles in the song, going from a clean sound to plenty of distortion. She also called him a spider, because she doesn’t know where he’s going to go in the song. Then, she called him a wildebeest.

Rebecca seemed blown away by the performance though there are plenty of other Faith No more songs that show off Patton’s vocal range and skills. Apparently, another one of the YouTube vocal coaches I watch, Beth Roars, is also going to create a video on Patton. I’m interested to hear what she has to say as well.