Tag Archives: 365 days of mike patton

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Speak Spanish or Die,” Stormtroopers of Death (2020)

As we try to make our way through the coronavirus pandemic, using Zoom to keep in contact with friends and family while maintaining our social distance, Mike Patton is focused on similar ideas.

Faith No More has postponed its shows this summer, and though I’m sure Patton and his bandmates feel badly about that, at least Patton is pouring his aggression out in a positive way: By getting together with some of his buddies virtually and recording something awesomely hardcore.

“Speak Spanish or Die” is the newest version of “Speak English or Die,” recorded in 1985 by Stormtroopers of Death which featured Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and drummer Charlie Benante. The 2020 version includes Patton (who wears a bandanna over his face like a mask), and for the short run of Mr. Bungle reunion shows (which also featured Slayer/Fantomas/Dead Cross Drummer Dave Lombardo and Ian), the band covered the 35-year-old song with a new twist.

Now, it’s officially been recorded in quarantine (with Benante back on drums along with original SOD bassist Dan Lilker).

Recently, Rolling Stone sent Patton an email to ask him about how he was handling the quarantine. He said, “Writing. Writing. Writing. Working on several records at once, which isn’t abnormal for me, but it is somehow refreshing to not have other distractions interfering. However, the gravity of this situation does make things feel … uh, different.”

His inspiration to make new music, however, is still evident. Though Faith No More has had to cancel their tours for this year, at least he (and we) have that.

Previous Patton collaborations:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies,” Faith No More (1995)

Whenever it’s my birthday or his, one of my best friends, Chris, and I text each other the following: “Don’t you look so surprised/Happy birthday, fucker!” We’re both big Faith No More fans—he actually flew from Atlanta to Austin in 2015 to see FNM in concert with me—and we pay tribute to the band (and to our birthdays) with those funky lyrics from “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies.”

It’s one of my favorite songs off 1995’s King For a Day, Fool For a Lifetime album. It’s filed with chunky guitar, a moody bass line, and Patton switching off between his almost spoken word to the angry spitting of lyrics and then on to pure singing.

It’s Patton encapsulated—with all the innuendo you could ever want.

And that pure Patton-ness makes sense because—according to keyboardist Roddy Bottum in a 1994 interview with the Italian magazine Rockerilla that featured Bottum, bassist Billy Gould and temporary guitarist Trey Spruance—Patton wrote the song (though Gould and drummer Mike Bordin are also credited).

Consequence of Sound called it, “Half Danzig, half Biafra,” and there’s little doubt that “The Gentle Art of Making Enemies” is one of the heaviest songs in the FNM catalog. There wasn’t even much for Bottum to do.

“Angst-­ridden,” Bottum said describing the song. “Good punctuation. Good definition and instruments for me. No keyboards.”

“So,” the interviewer asked, “what’d you do on the song?”

“Just danced around. Moral support.”

Responded Spruance, “He wrote choreography for the rest of us as well.”

Though I’ve seen Bottum playing guitar on other songs that don’t involve his keyboard, it looks like he simply danced himself off-stage during this live performance in 1997.

And the same in 2015.

But the song is all Patton. He sings, he screams, he paces, he rages, he makes it his own. And every year on my birthday, I get to be reminded of it in a bond that ties one of my best friends and me together forever.

Previously from Patton/Jean-Claude Vannier:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Browning,” Patton/Jean-Claude Vannier (2019)

Mike Patton is just like the rest of us. He’s stuck at home, trying to be productive while having to be reclusive as the pandemic affects just about every waking moment of our lives. He’s working on new music, and he’s listening to old songs. And just like everybody else, he’s just trying to survive until all of this passes.

Rolling Stone recently caught up with Patton to ask him a few quarantine questions via email.

When asked how he was going about his day these days, he said, “Writing. Writing. Writing. Working on several records at once, which isn’t abnormal for me, but it is somehow refreshing to not have other distractions interfering. However, the gravity of this situation does make things feel … uh, different.

“Although I am lucky enough to hopefully survive this, I have had an entire year of tours canceled, between different bands, and that certainly does weigh on me, the bands I’m working with, and obviously the fans who may or may not have purchased tickets! So … basically, it sucks.”

(I’m supposed to see Faith No More in August, and though that show hasn’t yet been canceled, I’m assuming it will be at some point.)

“But personally, this lockdown lifestyle is not terribly different from my normal routine, as I’m quite hermetic and private. But sometimes it does resonate deeper—like, when you want to hit a restaurant with family or friends. No. What do we do? We adapt or die.”

He was also asked what music he’s leaned on during his isolation, and one of his answers was Jean-Claude Vannier, the same French composer and musician who Patton teamed up with to release an album in 2019 called Corpse Flower.

As I wrote about last May, Vannier “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.”

Patton said he was listening to deep tracks from old Vannier albums, and “all are transformative, groovy, and completely innovative.”

The same could be said for “Browning,” the fifth song on the Corpse Flower album.

Not unlike Chansons D’Amour, there’s a strong “RV” vibe that emanates throughout the song, where Patton is singing in almost a spoken word, but then the song transforms into a poppy, almost dance-like number which gives off a nice contrast to the lyrical content (Consequence of Sound called it a “danceable lounge tune.”).

Like the first two songs I heard from the Corpse Flower album created by Patton and Vannier, it’s fun and interesting and a nice departure from what we usually hear from Patton.

It’s a song (and an album) that is a pleasure to lesson to—especially if you’re in the middle of a pandemic with not much else to do.

Previously from Patton/Jean-Claude Vannier:

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Sex (I’m A),” Lovage (2001)

Teaming up with producer Dan the Automator and singer Jennifer Charles, Mike Patton helped put together an album of faux (or maybe they were real) love songs that were sexy and breathless and kind of funny on a record called, appropriately enough, Songs To Make Love To Your Old Lady By.

“Sex (I’m A)” mostly features the vocal skills of Charles, probably best known as the singer of the “noir rock” band Elysian Fields. And this tune happens to be an erotic version of what had been an upbeat dance number that had been released nearly 20 years earlier.

“Sex (I’m A)” is sultry at its finest, especially when Charles and Patton duet the lines.

I’m a man
I’m a goddess
I’m a man
I’m a virgin
I’m a man
I’m a blue movie
I’m a man
I’m a bitch
I’m a man
I’m a geisha
I’m a man
I’m a little girl
I’m a man
And we’ll make love together

There’s plenty of heavy breathing and moaning on this song, and if a tune could sound almost exactly like sex and all the emotions that can go into it (desire, anger, sadness, etc.), this is a pretty good representation.

When the band performed it live, Patton played his part, as described in this Decibel magazine story, via Faith No More Followers.

Patton is onstage wearing a hairnet and a silk smoking jacket. He has a snifter of brandy and an electric toothbrush. The former Faith No More frontman is brushing audience members’ teeth, dipping the brush in the snifter to disinfect between mouths. A tall, handsome and hirsute future Decibel scribe is on the side of the stage taking photographs for a publication that shall remain nameless. Patton turns to him and says, “What about you, hippie?”

In the spirit of me learning something new every day for the 365 Days of Mike Patton, I never knew, even though I’ve heard this song maybe 50 times in my life, that this is a cover of a Berlin song from 1983. You might remember Berlin from the Top Gun soundtrack classic “Take My Breath Away” or my personal favorite, “The Metro.” Apparently, Berlin’s version was inspired by the 1977 Donna Summer No. 1 hit, “I Feel Love,” but Berlin’s lyrics were enough to get the band in trouble.

Particularly when singer Terri Nunn (and then Charles 18 years later) sang, “I’m a bi.”

“The entire song received such a strong reaction,” Nunn told Out Smart magazine in 2019. “We were banned in certain states. A couple of states in the South wouldn’t play the record or [allow] us to play live there. They thought it was awful and blasphemous, and we were the devil’s children. I actually heard that said. Now you look at that and it’s nothing … At the time, that had never been said in a song. I think people were up in arms because they’d never heard a woman talk that way, even though women talk that way to each other all the time—about our fantasies, about how we feel, about how guys are, and all that. But it had never been put to music.”

That legacy lives in on the Lovage cover, along with others who have also recreated the song.

“It’s just a script that different actors are taking on and interpreting. And I love that,” Nunn said in 2011, via Easy Reader News.

Here’s Berlin’s upbeat version. It doesn’t feel quite as naughty as Lovage’s cover (but boy does it feel 1980s-tastic).

Previously from Lovage:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “From Out of Nowhere,” Faith No More (1989)

Though The Real Thing album, Mike Patton’s first outing with Faith No More, is best known for the smash hit “Epic”—the song that propelled the record to reach No. 11 on the U.S. Billboard chart—the first single to be released was actually “From Out of Nowhere.”

The video that was released features Patton head-banging and moving around like a man who hasn’t figured out how best to stretch the itches on his skin. The tune is fast-paced with plenty of synthy keyboards and a funky bass line, and it’s Patton at his nasally best (if you like that sort of thing). His dancing in the video also slightly reminds me of the way Emilio Estevez’s character, Andrew, showcased his moves in The Breakfast Club. And no, that’s not necessarily a compliment.

In the YouTube comments, some people wondered if Patton was mocking the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis or Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose with those dance moves? Considering Patton had feuds with both singers, it’s not a bad theory. But I tend to doubt it. It looks like Patton is just experimenting with how he should act as a frontman for the band he just joined.

Is the video cheesy? Oh hell yes. Is the song still pretty great? I’d say so.

(For comparison’s sake, here’s Estevez kicking some ass in the library during that infamous Saturday detention.)

In reality, Patton wasn’t around when the song was created, since it was created before he was even in the band.

“Billy (Gould), Mike Bordin and I wrote that song together at our rehearsal space in Hunter’s Point,” keyboardist Roddy Bottum told Louder Sound in 2019. “It was among the first batch of songs that we wrote after Chuck (Mosley, the original singer) left the band. Typically, the three of us would get the skeleton of a song going on, and then get Jim Martin to put his guitar part on. Sometimes, Billy would write [Martin’s] guitar part for him, but I think in the case of ‘From Out Of Nowhere,’ he wrote his own part.”

After Patton joined, he wrote the lyrics and the melody. Patton said he doesn’t remember even recording the song, and its meaning is unclear. Bottum said it’s “about a chance meeting and how chance plays a role in interaction,” but Patton claimed it’s about “Jello shots, hermetic philosophy, Ptolemaic cosmology… you know, your average commie/junkie jibber-jabber.”

What wasn’t in question was that FNM thought the tempo of the song was the perfect set opener when the band went on tour in support of the album (it was also the second song FNM played on its visit to Saturday Night Live).

“That song was so good because most of our stuff was mid-tempo that the set was always in danger of dragging,” Gould, the band’s bassist, said. “With that one we could at least start things on a high note, and hopefully this spark would keep the rest of the set alive. There’s nothing worse than being on stage for 80 minutes or so when things are not working correctly. Generally it seemed to work out well, and we stuck with it as an opener until with hated it so much we scrapped it from the set altogether.”

It certainly was a staple in the band’s sets from the late 1980s into the early 1990s but on its 1995 tour, it was only played a handful of times, and in 1997, the band only showcased it twice. according to Setlist.fm. Apparently in the three times I’ve seen the band live, I’ve never heard “From Out of Nowhere.”

But when the band reunited for shows in 2010, “From Out of Nowhere” returned to the setlist, and yeah, it still sounded good with a harder edge.

To me, the song sounds better today than it did in its original form 30 years ago. Probably because Patton is no longer trying to find himself as a frontman.

Previously from The Real Thing:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Human Fly,” Zeus! (2020)

On Tuesday, we told you about a new release for the Mike Patton/Anthony Pateras collaboration tētēma, so let’s keep the new Patton music train rolling down the track (so maybe the Patton from 1991 (and his Bungle buddies) can try to hop it).

Plus, Mr. Bungle is re-recording its 1986 death metal demo “The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny,” and Tomahawk reportedly is back in the studio to create its first album in seven years.

It’s a Patton-copia of new music during these tough times! And that includes Patton’s guest starring appearance on Zeus!’ cover of “Human Fly,” originally recorded by the Cramps in 1983.

Considering I’ve never heard the Cramp’s version of this song, this is an interesting tune. On this newest version, there are bits where it sounds a little like Fantomas, a little like Mr. Bungle, and a little like Tomahawk. But more than anything it’s just a fairly standard rock song with Patton singing about being an insect (though the song itself actually sounds a little more interesting (and a little more punk) to me than the Cramps’ version from 37 years ago).

Here’s what the original sounds like.

Revolver said Patton’s version took “the already freakishly fun song to depraved new heights.” But for me, I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. It’s just fine.

In fact, I kind of like the way it was originally sung by Lux Interior and the way he buzzed. Which just goes to show that even though Patton is masterful in the vast majority of his covers, sometimes the original is hard to beat.

Previous Patton collaborations:

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

365 Days of Mike Patton: “Soliloquy,” tētēma (2020)

About a month ago, I had never heard of tētēma. I didn’t know who was in tētēma (nor did I really care). I didn’t know what a tētēma was. And I didn’t know what kind of music I should expect from a band called tētēma.

Turns out it’s a Mike Patton collaboration with Anthony Pateras, an avant-garde musician from Australia, and according to Ipecac, Patton’s record label, it plays “modernist electro-acoustic rock.” Whatever that is. There are actually four people in the band, and its second album will be released in April (the fact Patton had a band I’d never heard of until recently that had already released an album, like, five years ago kind of disappoints me but also doesn’t surprise me).

As for what it sounds like, Ipecac’s press release states, “this record continues to employ the wayward orchestrations and arresting physicality of their 2014 debut Geocidal, yet is renewed by a melodic language which grounds its multi-colored twists and turns in hallucinatory lyricism.”

Okie doke.

Let’s give it a listen, then.

So, that was interesting. Or as Pateras said, “No other band would combine microtonal buchla with hyperactive drumming to serenade Paganini and Leonard Cohen passed out in a hot tub. This track is like pressing fast forward on both a [Giacinto] Sclesi and Yasunao Tone CD on different systems pointed at each other, except it’s performed live. Quite possibly the only track in the world to refer to Deleuze as ‘chichi.’”

I have no idea what any of that means.

But to me, the music sounds like electronica fused with Patton’s screaming and shouting (with maybe hints of a little bit of prog rock?). That’s something I’ve never heard from Patton before. I didn’t love it, and I didn’t hate it. I also probably wouldn’t mind listening to it again.

Previous Patton collaborations:

 

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