Tag Archives: 365 days of mike patton

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:

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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:

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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.

365 Days of Mike Patton: “The Bit,” Fantomas (2002)

Recorded live in 2000, the Fantomas and the Melvins combined for a live album that features some of the former band’s more accessible songs. The Bit, though, happens to be a Melvins tune from the 1996 album, “Stag,” and according to Metal Archives, this was around the time it was clear that the Melvins would not be the next Nirvana, apparently necessitating their exit from the major label level of rock music.

The music, after all, is probably a little too strange for the mainstream.

Here’s the Millenium Monsterworks 2000 version of the song.

And the Melvins version from four years earlier.

And just for kicks, here’s Mastodon’s live version.

As Metal Archives wrote re The Melvins:

The uniqueness of this band is made clear within the first notes of opening track (and masterpiece) “The Bit.” This anthemic brute treats the listener to a minute of lovely sitar music before the tumult ensues, swallowing the world in a sea of dropped-d devastation. “Not too fat, not too lean, the foundling die is close excitedly. Raise head and STOMP the BLOOD, I’m not even soundly.” Ever-shrouded in mystery and mythos, the poetry of [Melvins guitarist and singer] Buzz Osborne has had scraggly-haired stoners scratching their heads since the early eighties. Buzz-O is not the type to be imprisoned by the boundaries of English or syntax, creating a wordcraft all his own. “The Bit” would appear to be anything from a moral commentary on animal cruelty to dialogue on the inner workings of the entertainment industry. Whatever it is, it’s fucking profound, and it’s punctuated perfectly by the percussive punishment of Dale Crover.

Crover, the band’s drummer, is the one who wrote the song. And personally, I like the Melvins version better and Osborne’s vocal intensity. It’s one of the few times I can recall—if not the only time—that I’d rather hear somebody other than Patton sing the song.

Previously from Millenium Monsterwork 2000:

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Archie and Veronica,” Lovage (2001)

Throughout Mike Patton’s many, many projects (that hopefully will produce at least 365 songs, at least for the sake of this series), he doesn’t participate in duets with many female vocalists. One notable exception was the Lovage album Songs To Make Love To Your Old Lady By, where he teamed up with Jennifer Charles for a number of tunes. Including “Archie and Veronica.”

There are a few songs on this album that really excite me. This really isn’t one of them, but it’s solid nonetheless.

So, what is Lovage? Well, it’s kind of confusing. At least, according to Wikipedia, which wrote “Lovage is a collaborative project headed by Dan the Automator, under his pseudonym ‘Nathaniel Merriweather’ (a persona he created for the project Handsome Boy Modeling School).” Along with Patton, Charles, and DJ Kid Koala, the foursome produced an album of tongue-in-cheek romantic ballads.

The singing by Patton and Charles is enjoyable. But it wasn’t supposed to be serious.

As Pop Matters wrote, “It’s an album of stylish, funky, dreamy trip-pop, with hip-hop allusions here and there and a slightly cartoonish side. [Charles] croons in a sultry, pretty voice while [Patton] either growls or sings with a dramatic, art-rock lilt that’s somewhere between Nick Cave and that guy from Queensryche (Writer’s note: his name is Geoff Tate, for god’s sake!). The odd balance (and, particularly, the fact that Patton’s vocal style is too wild for your average slow jam) is the main thing that gives the album the air of a spoof …”

Patton told Decibel magazine, via Faith No More Followers, that he was simply trying to fill a role in Dan the Automator’s project.

“In some ways it was more acting than music,” Patton said. “There was a lot of performance on that record. I was basically playing a persona, which was a lot of fun. Jennifer and I didn’t do much of it together, but the stuff we did do together was pretty entertaining. There were definitely some episodes involved in that that I shouldn’t disclose.”

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Separation Anxiety,” Faith No More (2015)

I remember where I was in 1998 when Faith No More announced it had broken up. I was sitting in the computer lab at my freshman dorm in college, and I was reading version 1.0 of whatever music site I was perusing. I was devastated. Even though I had been obsessed with FNM for only three years, I felt like I had lost something special in my life.

My love of the band (and really, most everything Mike Patton related) only grew for the next dozen years. We thought FNM was done for good, and because I had seen the band live in 1995 and 1997, I could accept it and move on with my life. I had closure.

Then, the band started playing European festivals in 2009, and since those shows had gone over so well, the Patton community wondered if the band would make new music together.

For the next half-decade, most of the quotes from the band members weren’t filled with optimism. Then one day, we learned that FNM was indeed creating new tunes for the first time in 18 years, which set the stage for the U.S. tour we hadn’t gotten since the late 1990s. The album is Sol Invictus, and I think it’s glorious. No, it’s not the masterpiece Angel Dust is or the hard rocker that King For a Day, Fool For a Lifetime was. But it’s pretty damn special. Mostly because we never expected to get it and because, well, it’s good.

And “Separation Anxiety” is one of my favorites. It’s creepy. It’s hard. It’s filled with Patton’s talents, both crooning and screaming. And the video is interspersed with clips from the 1955 noir film Dementia.

The song, the video, the old band making new music. It was all so long in the making—and it was such a long way away from the moment in Russell Hall I read the news that my favorite band had exploded.

“I remember the day that we collectively decided—and I kind of came in a little nervous, because I thought it was only me—again, we weren’t communicating,” Patton told Rolling Stone in 2015 about the band’s breakup. “I just said, ‘I think I’m done.’ It took a lot to just say that and be honest and I didn’t know how to react. The amazing part was we all looked at each other and felt the same way. It totally disarmed me and that also reinforced my feeling that it was a natural progression and it was over.”

But only for nearly two decades.

Said Patton: “Look at us now, how wrong I was.”

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365 Days of Mike Patton: “Desert Search For Techno Allah,” Mr. Bungle (1995)

One of my favorite songs on Mr. Bungle’s Disco Volante album is the Arabic-tinged, bass-heavy track “Desert Search For echno Allah.” I’m not even a techno fan, but when that bass drops at 59 seconds into the song, it’s hard not to feel your heart in your throat.

Like plenty of Mr. Bungle songs, this has multiple layers. There’s the techno aspect. There’s the almost horror movie type soundtrack at other points in the song. There’s Patton’s spoken word and screaming. There are the lyrics that read “Qiyamat a tawil” and “Qiyamat insan al kamel” (which reportedly roughly translate to “the great resurrection of the beginning” and “the great resurrection of the perfect man”).

It’s a strange song, but the more you listen to it, the more normal it becomes because you come to realize it’s not some gimmick tune. There’s real structure and real thought put behind the song. That’s probably why I love it even though I never enjoyed techno.

Even Urban Dictionary has an entry for “Desert Search” that reads “A very kickass Mr. Bungle song, off their second album Disco Volante. Prince of Persia on acid. Ruined people’s speakers back in the 90s.”

Yep, that rattling I heard in the speakers of my 1993 Saturn I drove in college and into young adulthood? You can probably blame it on Sevendust’s “Rumble Fish” and “Desert Search For a Techno Allah.”

And just for the heck of it, here’s a live version from 2000. Mr. Bungle played this song at the show I attended in 1999 but I don’t really remember it. Which is too bad, because it’s pretty awesome.

 Previously from Disco Volante:

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