Mike Patton

Michael Allan Patton (born January 27, 1968) is an American singer, producer, voice actor and film composer, best known as the lead vocalist of the alternative metal band Faith No More.[13] Noted for his vocal proficiency, diverse singing techniques, wide range of projects, style-transcending influences and eccentric public image, Patton has earned critical praise[14] and influenced many contemporary singers. Patton is also co-founder and lead vocalist of Mr. Bungle, and has played with Tomahawk, Fantômas, Dead Cross, Lovage, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mondo Cane, and Peeping Tom. Consistent collaborators through his varied career include avant-garde jazz saxophonist John Zorn, hip hop producer Dan the Automator and classical violinist Eyvind Kang.[15]

Mike Patton
Patton in 2009
Patton in 2009
Background information
Birth nameMichael Allan Patton
Born (1968-01-27) January 27, 1968 (age 52)
Eureka, California, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • voice actor
  • record producer
  • film composer
InstrumentsVocals
Years active1984–present
Labels
Associated acts

VVN Music found Patton possesses the widest vocal range of any known singer in popular music, with a range of six octaves.[16] He has worked as a producer or co-producer with artists such as Sepultura, Melvins, Melt-Banana, and Kool Keith. He co-founded Ipecac Recordings with Greg Werckman in 1999, and has run the label since. Patton's vast number of musical endeavours and constant touring have led to him being widely identified as a "workaholic".

Early yearsEdit

Patton was born in Eureka, California to a social worker mother and a PE teacher father.[17][18] He is part Native American.[19] Patton's home was strictly secular.[20] During his first years, his family had an apartment in San Jose in which they spent much time before they permanently relocated to Eureka.[21] Due to the profession of his father, Patton grew up as a sports enthusiast[22] and practiced them regularly until his touring career began in 1989.[23] He described himself as "restless" when young and looked for different ways to spend time in Eureka,[17] a relatively isolated city in the far north of California (being one of the few big towns between San Francisco and Portland, and surrounded by dense redwood forests).[24] Patton regularly asked his parents to drop him off at the movies, where he secretly watched slasher films, and also Star Wars, whose soundtrack influenced him.[25][26]

Patton studied at Eureka High School where he met bassist Trevor Dunn and later guitarist Trey Spruance, both members of its music theory class and jazz ensembles.[24] Dunn and Patton were part of the cover band Gemini that performed songs by popular heavy metal groups.[27] They quickly gained interest in heavier styles and joined the thrash metal cover band Fiend, but were kicked out and subsequently recorded a death metal tape under the name Turd, with Dunn on vocals and Patton on the instruments; death metal would be the genre that most instilled his passion for music and shifted Patton's focus away from sports.[28] In this period his favorites groups included Venom, Possessed[29] and Sodom.[30] Simultaneously, Spruance, who is a year younger, and drummer Jed Watts were members of Torchure, a Mercyful Fate-inspired band that had played with Fiend, and they formed another two-piece extreme metal band called FCA. Eventually, the four musicians joined up and established Mr. Bungle in 1984.[31][32] In November, they performed its first show in the adjacent town of Bayside.[33] The members of Mr. Bungle often engaged in late night freighthopping as a way to pass the time in Eureka. They would get off at nearby towns or remote, wooded areas, relying on hitchhiking to find their way home.[24]

Patton enrolled in Humboldt State University, located in the nearby town of Arcata, to study English literature.[34][14] At Humboldt, Patton first met his future band Faith No More during a 1986 show at a pizza parlor, where Mr. Bungle played numerous times. After the performance, Spruance, who had invited Patton to the show, gave drummer Mike Bordin Mr. Bungle's first demo The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny.[35][34] From school to college, Patton also worked part-time at the only record store in Eureka until he joined Faith No More in 1988.[36][37][34]

During the late 1980s Mr. Bungle released a number of demos on cassette only: 1986's The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, 1987's Bowel of Chiley, 1988's Goddammit I Love America and 1989's OU818. The last three feature tracks that would later be included on their 1991 debut studio release.[38]

Music careerEdit

Faith No More: 1988–1998; 2009–presentEdit

After the members of Faith No More heard Mr. Bungle's second demo tape in 1987, they approached Patton to audition as their lead singer in 1988.[35] In the next months they performed a few live shows together and Patton would be officially announced as their new singer in January 1989, replacing Chuck Mosley, which forced Patton to quit his studies at Humboldt State University.[34][39] Mosley subsequently formed the bands Cement and VUA, and had several special "one-off" performances at shows with Faith No More and Patton before his death in 2017.[40][41]

Faith No More's The Real Thing was released in 1989. The album reached the top ten on the US charts, thanks largely to MTV's heavy rotation of the "Epic" music video, (which features Patton in a Mr. Bungle T-shirt).[42] Faith No More released three more studio albums—Angel Dust, King for a Day... Fool for a Lifetime, and Album of the Year—before disbanding in 1998. In one interview, Patton cited what he perceived as the declining quality of the band's work as a contributing factor to the split.[43][44]

On February 24, 2009, after months of speculation and rumors, Faith No More announced they would be reforming with a line-up identical to the Album of the Year era, embarking on a reunion tour called The Second Coming Tour.[45] To coincide with the band's reunion tour, Rhino released the sixth Faith No More compilation, The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection in the UK on June 8.[46] The same line-up eventually released a new album called Sol Invictus in 2015.

Solo work and band projects: 1984–presentEdit

 
Mike Patton performing with an elastomeric respirator (without filter cartridges attached) during a Tomahawk show in 2002.

During his time in Faith No More, Patton continued to work with Mr. Bungle. His success in mainstream rock and metal ultimately helped secure Mr. Bungle a record deal with Warner Bros.[47] The band released a self-titled album (produced by John Zorn) in 1991, and the experimental Disco Volante[48] in 1995. Their final album, California, was released in 1999. The band ceased being active following the 1999–2000 tour in support of the California record, although their disbandment was only officially confirmed in November 2004.[49] Mr. Bungle reunited in 2019 with three original members (Patton, Dunn and Spruance) plus drummer Dave Lombardo and guitarist Scott Ian to re-record its first demo from 1986 The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, released on October 30, 2020.

Patton's other projects included two solo albums on the Composer Series of John Zorn's Tzadik label, (Adult Themes for Voice in 1996 and Pranzo Oltranzista in 1997). He is a member of Hemophiliac, in which he performs vocal effects along with John Zorn on saxophone and Ikue Mori on laptop electronics. This group is billed as "improvisational music from the outer reaches of madness".[50] He has also guested on Painkiller and Naked City recordings. He has appeared on other Tzadik releases with Zorn and others, notably as part of the "Moonchild Trio" alongside Joey Baron and Trevor Dunn, named after Zorn's album on which the trio first appeared, Moonchild: Songs Without Words.

In 1998, Patton formed the metal supergroup Fantômas with guitarist Buzz Osborne (of The Melvins), bassist Trevor Dunn (of Mr. Bungle), and drummer Dave Lombardo (of Slayer). They have released four studio albums.

 
Patton playing with Fantômas in 2005.

In 1999, Patton met former The Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison at a Mr. Bungle concert in Nashville, and the two subsequently formed the band Tomahawk.[51] Tomahawk's straightforward rock sound has often been compared to Album of the Year/King for a Day era Faith No More.[52][53]

 
Mike Patton in Milan, Italy as part of Peeping Tom, 2006.

In 2001, he contributed vocals to Chino Moreno's group Team Sleep[54] and released the album Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By with the group Lovage, a collaborative project consisting of Patton, Dan the Automator, Jennifer Charles, and Kid Koala.[55]

Patton performed vocals for Dillinger Escape Plan's 2002 EP, Irony Is a Dead Scene.[56] That year, he joined violinist Eyvind Kang and his ensemble Playground to play the piece Virginal Co Ordinates at the Festival Internazionale di Musica in Bologna. The performance would be release as an album in 2003.[57]

In 2004, Patton worked with Björk and the beat boxer Rahzel on the album Medúlla.[58] That same year, Patton released the album Romances with Kaada and contributed vocals to the album White People by Handsome Boy Modeling School (Dan the Automator and Prince Paul).[59][60] In 2005, Patton collaborated with hip-hop DJ trio and turntablists The X-Ecutioners to release the album General Patton vs. The X-Ecutioners.[61]

In February 2006, Mike Patton performed an operatic piece composed by Eyvind Kang, based on the 1582 work Cantus Circaeus by Giordano Bruno, at Teatro Comunale di Modena in Modena, Italy. Patton sang alongside vocalist Jessika Kenney, and was accompanied by the Modern Brass Ensemble, Bologna Chamber Choir, and Alberto Capelli and Walter Zanetti on electric and acoustic guitars. The singer remarked that it was extremely challenging to project the voice without a microphone.[62] This performance was later released as the record Athlantis in July 2007, through Ipecac Recordings.

Patton's Peeping Tom album was released on May 30, 2006 on his own Ipecac label. The set was pieced together by swapping song files through the mail with collaborators like Dan the Automator, Rahzel, Norah Jones, Kool Keith, Massive Attack, Odd Nosdam, Amon Tobin, Jel, Doseone, Bebel Gilberto, Kid Koala, and Dub Trio.[63]

In May 2007, he performed with an orchestra a few concerts in Italy, by the name of Mondo Cane, singing Italian oldies from the 50s and the 60s.

In 2008, he performed vocals on the track "Lost Weekend" by The Qemists. In December 2008, along with Melvins, Patton co-curated an edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties Nightmare Before Christmas festival.[64][65] Patton chose half of the lineup and performed the album The Director's Cut in its entirety with Fantômas. Patton also appeared as Rikki Kixx in the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse in a special 2 part episode on August 24.[66]

In June 2009 Mike Patton and Fred Frith performed in Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, England as part of that year's Meltdown Festival.[67]

On May 4, 2010 Mondo Cane, where Patton worked live with a 30-piece orchestra, was released by Ipecac Recordings. The album was co-produced and arranged by Daniele Luppi.[68] Recorded at a series of European performances including an outdoor concert in a Northern Italian piazza, the CD features traditional Italian pop songs as well as a rendition of Ennio Morricone's "Deep Down".[69]

On June 18, 2010, Patton performed the 1965 work Laborintus II by classical composer Luciano Berio in Amsterdam, along with the orchestra Ictus Ensemble and vocal group Nederlands Kamerkoor. This show would be released as an album on July 10, 2012.[70] On October 8, 2016, Patton and Ictus Ensemble played this piece in Krakow, Poland, preceded by a performance of the album Virginal Co Ordinates the previous day, alongside its creator Eyvind Kang.[71]

Patton is a member of the supergroup Nevermen, alongside Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio and rapper Doseone (with whom Patton had previously collaborated on the Peeping Tom side-project).[72] In 2016, the group released an eponymous debut album on Patton's Ipecac label.[73]

In August 2017, Patton released a new album with the band Dead Cross, a supergroup that includes Slayer and Fantômas drummer Dave Lombardo and the members of Retox Michael Crain and Justin Pearson.[74]

On December 27, 2017, Patton performed his collaborative EP, Irony Is a Dead Scene, as well as a cover of Faith No More's "Malpractice," with the Dillinger Escape Plan live at the band's first of three final shows at Terminal 5 in New York City.[75]

In May 2018, Patton performed two concerts entitled Forgotten Songs in Modena, Italy, with the American pianist Uri Caine. The setlists of the concerts varied and included songs from Messiaen, Elton John, Slayer, Violeta Parra, George Gurdjieff, among many others.[76] They also performed a new song called "Chansons D'amour" from an album Patton would later release with French musician Jean-Claude Vannier, Corpse Flower of September 2019. The shows were recorded, but it is not certain if the material will get a release.

On January 25, 2020, Patton joined Laurie Anderson and Rubin Kodheli at the SFJAZZ Center for a performance based on the 16th century military manual Quanjing Jieyao Pian by Qi Jiguang.[77]

Other venturesEdit

Film workEdit

In 2005, Patton signed on to compose the soundtrack for the independent movie Pinion, marking his debut scoring an American feature-length film. However, this had been held up in production and may be on the shelf permanently.[78] His other film work includes portraying two major characters in the Steve Balderson film Firecracker.

Patton provided the voices of the monsters in the 2007 film I Am Legend starring Will Smith.

He also worked on the Derrick Scocchera short film "A Perfect Place" for the score/soundtrack, which is longer than the film itself.[79]

In 2009, Patton created the soundtrack to the movie Crank: High Voltage.

In the 2010 film Bunraku Patton voiced The Narrator.

Patton composed the soundtrack to the 2012 film The Place Beyond the Pines.

In 2016, Patton provided the voice to lead character Eddy Table in a short animated film, The Absence of Eddy Table.

In 2017, he scored the Stephen King movie 1922 for Netflix.[80]

Video game workEdit

Patton is an avid video game player.[81] In 2007, he provided the voice of the eponymous force in the video game The Darkness,[82] working alongside Kirk Acevedo, Lauren Ambrose and Dwight Schultz. Patton reprised the role in The Darkness II in 2012.

He also had a role in Valve's 2007 release Portal as the voice of the Anger Sphere in the final confrontation with the insane supercomputer, GLaDOS. He has another role in the Valve title Left 4 Dead, voicing the majority of the infected zombies.[1][better source needed] He also voiced Nathan "Rad" Spencer, the main character in Capcom's 2009 video game Bionic Commando, a sequel to their classic NES title.

ArtistryEdit

Voice, techniques and styleEdit

I'm not a poet. I'm not up onstage to get something off my chest. I'm making musical statements, or, most of the time, musical questions for people to figure out, and I'm not going to get in the way of that.

—Mike Patton on his music, 2013[83]

Mike Patton's vocals touch on crooning, falsetto, screaming, opera,[disputed ] death growls, rapping, beatboxing, and scatting, among other techniques.[50] While already a proficient singer, Patton is fond of manipulating his voice with effect pedals and diverse tools. This has been a prominent feature in his project Fantômas.[84] In a rundown on several songs sung by Patton, vocal coach Beth Roars distinguished his mastery of several styles from popular singers who usually focus on one approach, approximating Patton more to musical theater singers[85] and contemporary classical performers.[83] Critic Greg Prato writes, "Patton could very well be one of the most versatile and talented singers in rock music".[86] He has knowledge on multiple instruments as well.[87]

Mike Patton achieved the first place in a May 2014 VVN Music's (Vintage Vinyl News) analysis ranking various rock and pop singers in order of their respective octave ranges.[88] The article served as a retraction to a previous article, which originally awarded the number one position to Axl Rose.[89] The article praised Patton's impressive 6 octaves, 1/2 note range (Eb1 to E7), versus Axl's admirable 5 octaves, 2-1/2 notes.[16] When asked about his range in a 2019 interview, he referred to the article: "I think that range thing is all bullshit. I don't think that I have the biggest range. And even if I do, who cares! ... This is not like the Olympics of vocals. [laughs] I could make a record without singing a note, and I'll be happy with it."[25]

Former bandmate William Winant singled out Patton's immediacy to concretize musical ideas he has in his head.[18] Faith No More bassist Billy Gould observed his reaction to the backbone of the songs from The Real Thing and concluded: "He was trying to figure us out at first, ... But he has this key to understanding music on a real gut level, and his ideas honestly made these songs even better."[90] Author Blake Butler called Patton "a complete and utter musical visionary and a mind-blowing and standard-warping genius."[52]

Patton is enthusiastic about collaborating with other musicians, stating that "It is really what makes life interesting",[91] but since the 2000s he has only participated in projects he feels close to.[92]

Phil Freeman of The Wire groups Patton with Tom Waits, Frank Zappa and Brian Wilson in what he calls 'California Pop Art' - artists from that area who adapted unconventional sources into their music and created pieces to then hire musicians capable of realizing them.[17] Several writers have likened Patton to Zappa (as well as their bands Mr. Bungle and Mothers of Invention) because of the quantity of their work, wide-ranging influences and recurrent use of humor.[93][94][95][15] Patton is averse to that comparison,[36] but admitted that one of the few records he enjoyed from his parents' collection was from Zappa.[94] Freeman believes that besides superficial elements, their music does not hold many similarities.[17]

Film scores by Patton have been described as blurring the lines between genres, as well as "radical", in a manner similar to popular musicians such as Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who turned to the audiovisual medium without any strict adherence to its orchestral tradition.[87][96]

WritingEdit

Patton bases his vocals on what "the music dictates", whether that is using his voice in a traditional way or as "another [instrument]."[97] Both with orchestras and smaller bands, the singer follows a serial approach on his writing, characterized as tedious; although he has performed with many improvisation and game ensembles through his career,[83] Patton rarely composes vocals through jam sessions.[98] His compositions are preceded by the study of the instrumentals, where he analyzes every instrument and their specific parts,[98] and afterward generally focuses on "blending [his voice] into the band" rather than being at the forefront of the pieces.[99] Patton feels that the best recordings have the vocals "a little buried in the mix" as they interact with the other instruments,[99] contrasting this with the prominence of singers in rock music—as is the case of Led Zeppelin[100] approach which he "hate[s]".[99] Usually, his first composition step is to find the lead melody of a piece, either vocal or otherwise, imagining notes and sounds on top of it.[101][102] After that his writing naturally progresses, e.g. by employing a "third or fourth [harmony]" or "whatever [else] needs to be done".[102] Patton is inclined to produce dense overdubs that include numerous vocals or instrumentations in single passages.[103] When asked about the unorthodox use of his voice - drawing on diverse techniques and effects, or eschewing lyrics, Patton remarked: "The voice is an instrument. No rules, just part of the music."[104]

Patton creates lyrics after hearing the instrumentals[83] and, in the same way as the vocals, he approaches them depending on "what the music needs".[25] His songwriting takes a phonetic perspective instead of a literal one, making sounds paramount[90][101] – "the music tells the story", he says.[105] As soon as he creates the melodies, he generally seeks words that sound the most similar to what he heard in his head.[101] On the other hand, when working thematically, Patton says that each song is usually a character sketch acted out by him, "trying to appropriate their [respective] psycholog[ies]", and does not make them autobiographical.[101] Before writing, Patton tends to read books about the specific topic he wants to address and then fits it into "stolen ideas from other musicians."[106] Music journalists single out the marked deromanticization by Patton on his own songwriting (he once called it "a chore"),[107][108][14] yet, in the 1990s, he either said or hinted that at least a few songs came from personal experiences.[109][110] In some projects such as Fantômas he has avoided lyrics completely in favor of preverbal sounds, because, in these cases, he deems language "distracting information".[97] Patton's free-form approach, both vocally and lyrically, mirrors those of singers Demetrio Stratos[111] and The Boredoms' Yamantaka Eye.[17]

His early songs in Mr. Bungle dealt with "real nasty, offensive stuff".[112] By the time of 1989's The Real Thing, Patton was studying English literature in college while Faith No More was an already established band, circumstances that led him to write its lyrics as if they were a "school project".[113]

On his method of composition for other musicians' pieces and filmmakers, Patton said that the most important quality is to remain flexible and open to any style, as well as to always follow the vision of the author.[114][25]

Music developmentEdit

 
Patton (left) with Gavin Bryars, Bill Laswell and Milford Graves in a 2006 tribute to guitarist Derek Bailey.

Patton claims that his parents became aware that he imitated bird vocalizations as a child and that prompted them to give him a flexi disc of vocal exercises, "like guys that could make odd sounds", which became one of his favorite records but without understanding its purpose at the time.[83] He realized the potential of his voice at the age of eight or nine by doing "things to get attention" at school.[104]

Mike Patton is "pretty much [a] self-taught" musician.[37] He developed the bulk of his style by mimicking[100][94] and drawing from all the singers whose music he admired.[90] Since he began to improvise with John Zorn in 1991,[115] along with his discoveries of Demetrio Stratos and Diamanda Galás, Patton started broad explorations into extended vocal techniques and the limits of his voice.[111][116] Many of these exercises were documented on his 1996 album Adult Themes For Voice.[117] His production methods also grew from him figuring out how to accomplish the sounds he tried to convey every time he was in his studio.[17]

He attributes much of his development to being part of projects with learned musicians.[83] At Humboldt State University, while he studied English literature, his Mr. Bungle bandmates Trevor Dunn, Trey Spruance, Danny Heifetz and Clinton McKinnon were all majoring in music.[118][119] Spruance highlights the great music resources in Humboldt's library, where he spent a lot of time studying,[24] and the band rehearsed at the same place as the college big band, in which the four of them played.[119] Additionally, Patton—along with Heifetz—was tutored on percussion by professor Eugene Novotney.[33]

Composer and saxophonist John Zorn, who met Patton in 1990, is credited with teaching him "many things", such as vocal improvisation when performing with an ensemble.[17] In 2006, Patton spoke about their relationship: "I've been incredibly fortunate to have a friend like that — who is also a peer and a mentor".[97] Some of his recording sessions with Zorn as conductor were so arduous that the singer passed out.[115]

InfluencesEdit

As regards his influences, Patton stated: "You should be able to draw inspiration from any and everything. There should be no limits, it's fundamental. A lot of people listen to music that I make and [do not understand why my songs are so eclectic. But] that's the way I listen to music! ... That's the way I see the world and that's how it comes out of me. ... The deeper that well [of inspiration] is and the more places you can find it, the better."[120] Detailing his composition process, Patton once paraphrased the T. S. Eliot quote, "Good artists copy; great artists steal."[106]

Patton's first bands in high school played heavy metal and by the start of Mr. Bungle the frontman was immersed in death metal and hardcore punk.[121] The band's second and third demos shifted its sound to ska and funk, and the last one of 1989 incorporated a wide variety of genres.[38] Patton considers his work at a record store as crucial for his and Mr. Bungle's evolution: upon his arrival, he "devour[ed]" extreme metal and punk rock music.[121][36] After a few years working there, the singer was allowed to commission albums to have them on sale, subsequently ordering "the craziest shit" he was aware of from diverse styles, with the secret intention of taking those records into his house to make copies of them that he and his bandmates would listen to. This rapidly led their music tastes to grow.[37]

Vocal influencesEdit

Demetrio Stratos (left) and Yamantaka Eye (right) influenced Patton's extended vocal techniques.

When asked about his influences and favorite singers in 1992, Patton said "A lot of people, I don't even know [where to start]", but among them mentioned Diamanda Galás, Frank Sinatra, Blixa Bargeld from Einstürzende Neubauten, H.R. from the Bad Brains, Chet Baker, Elton John and Obituary's John Tardy.[122][90] Several reviewers have noted similarities between his most adventurous works and the music of Galás,[123][124][125] and the solo performances and screams of Bargeld.[126][127] The frontman expresses much admiration for Sinatra's musicality, owning rare live records and outtakes from him, and considers unfortunate that the crooner's private life overshadowed his artistry.[37] Some authors observed that Bad Brains' H.R. presaged the dynamic delivery of Patton.[128][129]

One of Patton's biggest influences was Greek-Italian singer and researcher Demetrio Stratos, leader of Area, who studied the limits of the human range and recorded several vocals-only albums that Patton examined.[130][131] Stratos died unexpectedly amid his research, aged 34, and years later writer Anthony Heilbut referred to Patton as his "most famous heir".[111] The surreal vocals of Yamantaka Eye from The Boredoms and Hanatarash inspired the lyric-less compositions by the singer as well, and the former had also played with Naked City before Patton.[17]

His late 1980s nasal-funky rapping drew comparisons to that of Anthony Kiedis,[132][133][134] and Patton recognized funk rock bands such as Kiedis's Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone as inspirations following Mr. Bungle's death metal beginnings.[35] He went on to be influenced by R&B singer Sade on his arrival to Faith No More,[135] reflected in later songs such as "Evidence".[136]

In 2019, he cited the spoken word-esque lyrical style of Leonard Cohen as inspirational, as well as the voice and note placement of Serge Gainsbourg,[37] in addition to the writing of Bob Dylan. Patton disregarded this type of musicians when he was younger, until he eventually "hear[d] new things" in them.[137]

Other influencesEdit

Nomeansno was a major early influence on Patton.

Early musical influences include Nomeansno and The Residents.[90] The Quietus pointed out "Patton's love of the Cardiacs, and musical digression" in general as well.[138][139] Patton held in high regard the Super Roots EP series by Boredoms, along with the albums A Fierce Pancake by Stump, Ozma by Melvins and Drop Dead by Siege.[140][141] He was also a big admirer of industrial metal band Godflesh[142] and invited its guitarist Justin Broadrick to join Faith No More after the departure of Jim Martin in 1993.[143] The Young Gods would go on to inform him and Faith No More's later use of samples.[144][145]

As of 1992, his favorite genre had become easy listening[122] and years later Patton named composer and arranger Les Baxter as the main influence on one of his film scores.[146] In 2005 the frontman proclaimed: "The orchestration in that music is so dense and so complex and so amazing, if you can get beyond the kitsch. And I can do that in 30 seconds flat. ... I hear new stuff in there every time I listen."[17] Besides Baxter, orchestral pop composer Burt Bacharach is a major influence on the writing by Patton[91] and he constantly expressed his desire to work with him.[121][147] Additionally, the singer was "besotted" with the music of Jean-Claude Vannier after discovering his arrangements for Serge Gainsbourg, and the two went on to collaborate in 2019.[138]

Patton cited disco band Village People as an inspiration on his use of irony and stage costumes, believing that "a lot of people [did not] understand [the band's deliberate sarcasm]".[148] Mr. Bungle covered "Macho Man" as early as 1985 (its second active year).[149] Another ideological influence was shock rock singer GG Allin,[91] who Patton considered "the musician who never sold out" and admired that "he lived and died for what he believed in."[150]

Other musical influences are experimental hardcore band Melt-Banana, which toured with Mr. Bungle in 1995,[91][151] post-rock band Sigur Rós,[152][91] the recording of vocals by João Gilberto,[140] composer Olivier Messiaen, especially his transcriptions of birdsongs, and cartoon music composer Carl Stalling, who was a shared point of reference with John Zorn, whose PhD thesis was on him.[20] The singer expressed fondness for Mauricio Kagel's "negation of opera and the whole tradition of music theater."[20]

Live performancesEdit

 
Mike Patton wearing a mechanic's jumpsuit and a clown mask with Mr. Bungle in 1991.

Reviewing Patton's live performances, The Believer noted that "his gestures are as anarchic as his vocal sounds",[111] while Revolver highlighted his "maniacal and dapper stage presence".[153] As a rock frontman, Patton continually communicates with his audiences, often through dry humor and sarcasm.[154]

When he joined Faith No More, Patton was "wound up tight" about matching his performances with the band's attitude.[155] The singer began, among many other things, to front flip onto the stage and land on the floor,[156] to somersault into the crowds, as well as into Bordin's drum kit, or to eat objects such as microphone windscreens.[157][158] Patton would develop shin splints because of his repeated jumps.[159]

During his third concert with Faith No More, Patton's right hand was permanently numbed after he fell down on a broken bottle that severed his tendons and nerves. The next day, he spent five and half hours in reconstructive microsurgery.[159] Patton learned to use his hand again, but has no feeling in it (despite his doctor telling him the opposite situation would happen).[160]

In London, on March 10, 2002, during the first live performance of Tomahawk Patton started the show by urinating into a security guard and photographers, to much dismay of the press. However, a few days later the band's website said that it was actually a prank-dildo that sprayed water.[161]

During Faith No More's concert at the 2009 Sziget Festival in Budapest, Hungary, Patton swallowed a shoelace from a footwear thrown at the stage, before loudly regurgitating it and then threw it back to the public.[162][87]

Public imageEdit

Fame is like going to Las Vegas. And if you can't laugh first and foremost at yourself, then you are fucked. And when you are going through that, it's hilarious.

—Mike Patton, 2002[18]

Labelled as an "icon of the alt-metal world",[163] and a "reluctant pin-up boy",[90] Patton reacted strangely to his fame. According to a 2002 article from East Bay Express: "[Mike Patton]'s undeniably striking, with piercing Italian good looks and that inexplicable aura shared by first crushes, high-profile criminals, and celebrities ... And he's definitely, well, a little weird." The newspaper singled out his "straight-up devilish grin" and opined that Patton "seems to always be wrestling with some sort of suppressed Guido" through his different fashion styles through the years.[18] In 2003, The Age noted he has a "jittery, high-pitched lilt" when interviewed, deemed him "opinionated" as well as prone to swearing and laugh heartily.[164]

Mr. Bungle, the band of Patton before his sudden rise to fame, already acted bizarrely in the late 1980s: they self-identified as "Star Wars action figure porno freaks", threw out underwears and bras into the audiences, among other antics.[165][166] In interviews with Faith No More from the early to mid-1990s, he went on to claim to be obsessed with masturbation,[167] to have defecated in an orange juice carton of Axl Rose[168] and in a hotel hair dryer,[169] to have munched on a tampon left on stage by a member of L7, to have lived with an aggressive lizard which inspired his lyrics, and many other things.[113] While Faith No More toured at that time, Patton began to carry a voodoo doll named Toodles, sadomasochistic gear, picture books of embalmed corpses and a pickled fetus in a jar.[113][169] During conversations with reporters, he only showed interest in discussing his "various obsessions" and barely referred to his music.[169][113] At the San Francisco New Year's Day show with Mr. Bungle in 1991, Patton gave himself an enema and expelled it over the crowd.[170] On a January 1993 tour in France where a journalist accompanied Faith No More, Patton urinated into his shoe on stage before drinking it, and a few days later he percolated cups of coffee live for the audience.[169] When Fantômas supported Tool in promotion of 2001's Lateralus, Tool's official website stated that Patton was stopped at a Florida airport by security for carrying an extremely large amount of money. In the aftermath, the singer claimed that he carried it to buy an "antique book" there, but could not disclose its name.[171]

The North Coast Journal retrospectively pointed out the "profound lack of fact checking" by some journalists on Patton's statements,[172] and Culture Creature stated that it was hard to determine when he was teasing interviewers.[24] In a 2002 interview, answering the question of which aspects of his claims and public behavior were authentic, the frontman replied: "The more misconceptions, the better".[18] Around ten years after the release of "Epic", the singer was approached to participate in an episode of the documentary series Where Are They Now? on VH1, to which Patton would only agree to do if they had depicted him as a real homeless person living in a cardboard box.[18] East Bay Express commented:

Patton is a genuine rarity: someone who started at the top [with The Real Thing in 1989] and willingly worked his way down [through his artistic and public endeavors following it.] ... Patton's conviction [is] that the only thing in life that should be taken seriously is music ... He was an anti-rock-star rock star who, instead of blowing his head off like Kurt Cobain, just mocked the absurdity of it all.[18]

In the latter part of the 2000s, Patton stopped to continually act irreverently offstage[17] and to claim strange things to interviewers;[92] by the last years of the next decade he had entirely ceased to do so. In 2019, he explained: "I'm already giving a thousand percent to the music ... and I realize what's important and what's not. ... There's an art to [talking to the press] ... And [on the other hand] fucking with [it] and being a dick it's not really worth it. ... and I learned that from an early age, ... there was a while when I was a total asshole and I didn't say anything and all I would do was give you a sarcastic answer, and spread out crazy lies and rumors just because it was funny [laughs] ... [but] I grew up ... And I think, I hope I've gotten a little better at that". The frontman concluded: "It's much easier to just be, what did I say to you before: the easiest thing in the world is just to be yourself."[37]

Criticisms and views on musicEdit

Classic Rock notes the "antihero demeanor" of Patton: the frontman regularly makes sharp criticisms and mockeries of music, but they always seem rooted in his own obsession with it.[15] Patton dislikes the banality and close-mindedness of rock music, in particular the "condescending" attitude of its performers, who tend to follow similar formulas, repeat setlists, and do not improvise. "[They treat] the audience like children. I think that's ridiculous."[28][98] "The crux of what you're doing is to open someone's eyes and poke them with something - make them think. ... art should provoke you in some way".[20] As a means to this end, he has sometimes done deliberate transgressive or shocking acts.[173] Amid the creation of Angel Dust in 1992, he told MTV that most grunge and alternative rock artists were "rehashed"[142] and later stopped listening to those genres entirely because he considered them "pathetic".[140] On the other hand, Patton was fond of experimental bands that took advantage of technological advances, such as Grotus, as well as orchestral-based artists like Frank Sinatra and Mystic Moods Orchestra, which he called "timeless".[142][174] His own label Ipecac Recordings serves as a hotbed for "outsider" artists and avoids traditional, multi-record contracts.[175] Asked to curate the 2008 All Tomorrow's Parties, Patton only chose world music artists, modernist composers and experimental musicians.[175] In the late 2000s, he also showed enthusiasm for the increasing innovations in music softwares and digital instruments, because they would potentially allow younger generations to innovate in music.[175]

Patton expressed cynicism about the infamous lifestyles of rock stars. He told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1995, "It's hard to see as much as you'd like with our schedule on the road, but it's harder to do coke and fuck whores every night. Now that's a full time job."[159] In the 2000 essay How We Eat Our Young, he mocked the romanticization of popular musicians by comparing their work, including his, to peeping toms and thieves.[92] Patton was also fond of "play[ing] with" people whose "egos [got] tied in with" them, for example he constantly made fun of Anthony Kiedis in interviews after the latter accused him of stealing his style,[176] and afterward did the same with new wave band INXS who became upset when Patton laughed at an offer to join them.[18] Around that time, Patton publicly laughed at his then-former bandmate Mike Bordin when he joined nu metallers Korn for a 2000 tour, and said that he "couldn't look [him]self in the mirror" had he accepted a similar deal, regardless of the money.[28] In the early 2000s, Patton was asked to be part of a new supergroup—later named Velvet Revolver—that would feature original members of Guns N' Roses. Patton, again, scoffed at the request, telling a reporter, "I think everyone else knows [why I was not interested], except them. Which is the funny part." He instead joined mathcore band the Dillinger Escape Plan for a 2002 EP.[147][177] Consequence of Sound deemed Patton "the epitome of the anti-rock star."[2]

In 2005, DJ magazine Big Shot contacted Patton to interview dance music artist Moby, who was a fan of Fantômas, to promote his new album Hotel. Patton accepted but decided not to hear the record in advance, and the conversation was awkward, with the singer describing Moby's material as "electronic wallpaper shit".[178] In 2006, a video of him mocking hard rock band Wolfmother during their Lollapalooza set went viral. The incident happened amid an unscripted interview done to Patton in the surroundings of the venue, when he suddenly stopped to remark, "Are you hearing this shit?! What year are we in? [In reference to the band's 1970s rock sound.] Forgive me, but Wolfmother you suck. ... Sorry, I was about to [puke.]"[179] The next year, a TV advert for his group Peeping Tom featured Patton ironically lauding Wolfmother.[180] In 2007, the singer was asked about his opinion on Foo Fighters, among other mainstream rock artists, to which he called it "meaningless to me ... is that even music?", criticizing bandleader Dave Grohl's squander of his massive reach, resources and drumming skills to "dance around with a guitar."[181]

Clothing and fashionEdit

 
Patton in red suit using a cane with Faith No More (2010).

In his first years with Faith No More, Patton had a long hairstyle without facial hair, wore baggy clothes and displayed a "unkempt style".[182] Amidst that time, he shaved the sides of his head a bit, coming close to a mullet,[18][183] while he usually donned baseball caps during his first two albums with them.[184] GQ noted that these looks—also sported by Anthony Kiedis—were common in 1980s Los Angeles, and they differed from the grunge aesthetic which was popular at the time. The magazine considers both vocalists as its best-known exemplars.[182]

Around 1992's Angel Dust, Patton started to explore his "masculinity" through diverse anti-fashion styles.[182] That year he cut his hair short, grew a goatee and began dressing "a bit like an auto mechanic [who] no one would trust".[184][185] In 1992 he and keyboardist Roddy Bottum pierced their right and left eyebrows, respectively.[186] For the 1995 album King For a Day... Fool For a Lifetime, all the members of Faith No More, excluding Mike Bordin, shaved their heads,[187] which in the following months, for Patton, became "unkempt and overgrown, complementing a thick, lazy moustache".[188] During this period, the San Francisco Chronicle observed that the way he dressed lent him to probably "be mistaken for a blue-collar worker".[159]

Since around 2000, the singer has mostly used suits, along with boutonnières, slicked back hair, and both a short moustache and beard. He has sometimes varied them with "slightly hippier" attires or basketball jerseys. GQ praised the first style for its "simplicity and darkness with a touch of European elegance", that stands in contrast with the established looks of mainstream musicians.[182]

FanbaseEdit

 
Mike Patton in Santiago, alongside Chilean president Sebastián Piñera and First Lady Cecilia Morel, in 2013. The singer has a significant following in South America.

Although Faith No More had a major influence on several mainstream American acts, they found more commercial success in other territories after The Real Thing, such as Australia, Europe and South America.[189][190] Patton's charisma and artistry led the band to garner a "cult-like devotion" by numerous fans, as well as to treat him like, what some authors have described, a "deity".[191][192][20] Throughout the world, multiple online communities dedicated to Faith No More and Patton's projects have emerged since 1995, and there were hundreds of websites exclusively about the singer by the mid-2000s.[193][107] Many of those created in the 1990s remain active today.[193] Raziq Rauf at Classic Rock believes that his egotistical, resolute dismissal of mainstream trends and conventions is what led his audience to stuck up for him: "He never asked for their loyalty, but he won it anyway."[15]

In 2002, Patton was reported as having a "mixed relationship" with his fanbase and the press, and, even though a non-reclusive person, some aspects of his fame had "freak[ed] him out" – "[Patton is] a private person who'd much rather shuffle through Burt Bacharach and Joe Meek CDs than talk about himself".[18] At one point, he refused to give any interviews to promote Mr. Bungle.[194]

Notoriously, in 1993 an Australian female fan handcuffed Patton to herself when he was backstage, remaining so for two hours until personnel from Faith No More could free him.[195] Several fans had also tried to live outside of his house as of 1995.[188] In July 2000, after Fantômas played at the Nottingham Rock City in England, a drunken male fan ran toward Patton and bit his neck, leading the singer to slap him across the face.[196] Despite these incidents, he kept conceding to talk or give interviews to his followers on several occasions while touring.[18] In later interviews, Patton thought to have "gotten better" at dealing with admirers and reporters.[164][37]

Personal lifeEdit

 
Patton performing with Faith No More at the 2010 Soundwave Festival in Perth, Australia.

Patton married Cristina Zuccatosta, an Italian artist, in 1994.[197] The couple divided their time between San Francisco and Bologna, Italy, until their separation in 2001,[197] but they later reconciled. Patton has referred to her as his "best friend" and says that "she probably understands [him] more than [he]" himself does.[92] Until 2001, Patton owned a home in Bologna and became a fluent speaker of Italian.[198] These events tied him closely to Italian culture and its popular music of the mid-20th century.[198][175] He was also conversational in Spanish until the 1990s[199] and still understands it.[147] In addition, he spoke Portuguese slang.[23]

He has no children.[25] Patton enjoys his privacy and maintains few deep relationships in his life.[92][18] One of his friends is actor Danny DeVito, who continually goes to concerts by Patton. They met after DeVito and his son attended a Fantômas show at the 2005 Coachella Festival.[200]

The singer's numerous projects and constant touring have led him to be widely identified as a "workaholic".[201][164][197][202] Patton, who is addicted to coffee,[203] has kept around three projects going on simultaneously throughout the years.[92] He says that his workflow is "as normal as brushing [his] teeth"[92] and does not "feel comfortable unless [he has] got a few unfinished things".[18] In 2002, Patton admitted that his hectic schedule had hindered some of his personal relationships, but nonetheless he emphasized that music is his priority.[18]

The frontman owns a large record collection and, as of 2005, he regularly traveled to Japan with John Zorn to buy albums.[17] He considers essential for him to discover new music, telling: "I like going into some place like [record store] Amoeba and saying 'O.K. what's gonna change my life today?'"[94]

Since childhood, Patton has been an avid fan of basketball team Los Angeles Lakers.[22] He is also a baseball fan, which in the past he considered "a guilty pleasure."[204]

LegacyEdit

If contentment really is the enemy of art, then Mike Patton is doing his best to fend off its advances. And considering he's currently got more than half a dozen projects on the go, it's a war he seems to be winning. ... [Patton is] constantly name-checked by bands as an inspiration— ... [1992's] Angel Dust has had more import on today's music scene than any other album released in the past two decades ... It's not, though, something he's too concerned with.

Kerrang!, 2003[107]

A list published by Consequence of Sound based on vocal range acknowledged Mike Patton as "the greatest singer of all time" in popular music.[16] Before the disbandment of Faith No More in 1998, Patton was already highly respected among colleagues and listeners, and this continued with his experimental releases that ensued it. The singer, however, downplays his influence with light-hearted self-deprecation, and was very critical of his earlier work.[107][83]

Patton's roles in Faith No More and Mr. Bungle have often been credited as an influence to nu metal, a form of alternative metal spearheaded by bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit in the late-90s.[18][205][206] He has been less than enthusiastic about being linked to such bands, stating in a 2002 interview that "Nu-metal makes my stomach turn".[207] A reviewer at The Quietus opined that, notwithstanding Faith No More's far-reaching legacy, the most valuable contribution of Patton has been using his platform "to become one of the most potent driving forces in avant-garde and alternative music", through his diverse projects and collaborations, and the experimental artists he has signed to Ipecac Recordings.[3]

Prominent vocalists such as Chino Moreno (Deftones),[208] Brandon Boyd (Incubus),[209][210] Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach),[211] Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan),[212] Jesse Leach (Killswitch Engage),[213] Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw),[214] Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage),[215][216] Tommy Rogers (Between the Buried and Me),[217] Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation),[218] Doug Robb (Hoobastank),[219] Dimitri Minakakis (The Dillinger Escape Plan),[220] Mike Vennart (Oceansize),[221] Spencer Sotelo (Periphery)[222] and Kin Etik (Twelve Foot Ninja)[223] have all cited Patton as their primary influence.

Devin Townsend proclaimed in 2011: "Angel Dust into Mr. Bungle changed every singer in heavy music. Patton is a living treasure."[224] Artistically, he has been named the biggest influence for Corey Taylor (Slipknot)[225] and David Pastorius,[226] and a major one on Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age),[227] Serj Tankian (System of a Down)[228] and The Avett Brothers.[229]

DiscographyEdit

Studio albums

Selected filmographyEdit

Video game voice workEdit

ReferencesEdit

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    Daryl Palumbo: Growing up he was one of my heroes... absolutely. I want to say no because I hear he’s a bitter old man and that he laughs at bands that cite him as an influence. Everybody on M-fucking-TV and all heavy bands everywhere site [sic] Patton as an influence and he talks shit about them? I still think he is the greatest singer in heavy music history but I feel way above any other band that cites him as an influence. Fuck it if he has a problem with it.
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Sources citedEdit

Vang, Jes (2013). "Mike Patton – Vocal Alchemist" (video and text). TC-Helicon. Archived from the original on July 22, 2013. Retrieved August 8, 2020.(Alternative link)

External linksEdit