Michael Allan Patton was born on January 27th 1968 in Eureka, California. Patton had an early interest in music, the first album he owned was the Star Wars Soundtrack. He was inspired by records in his parents collection, including Elton John, Frank Zappa and Earth Wind and Fire. He claims he became a singer by accident, filling in for when someone dropped out of a gig. At the age of 13 Patton attended Eureka High and met Trevor Dunn.
The two were in their first band together, Gemini. Their friendship led to heavier musical tastes such as Slayer and they recorded a tape with Patton on guitar and Dunn on vocals under the name Turd. They hooked up with Trey Spruance and Jedd Watts to form Mr. Bungle in 1985.
Faith No More had just recorded their debut album and were on the road with frontman Chuck Mosley. On October 4th 1986 the tour brought them to Humboldt state university in Arcata where Patton was studying English. After their set the band were hanging out when Spruance handed a copy of Mr. Bungle's very first demo cassette The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny to Mike Bordin.
In the autumn of 1988 FNM were on the hunt for a replacement singer. Patton was studying and had a job in The Works, Eureka's only local record store, when he got calls from both Jim Martin and Bordin asking him to audition. Patton hesitated at first but eventually made the 10 hour journey to San Francisco with Spruance and Dunn in tow.
In December the same year the newly completed five piece set about recording The Real Thing. The music was mostly written already, Patton began writing lyrics and it took him around a fortnight to write drafts for the whole album.
The album was released on June 20th 1989, but was preceded by the release of two singles, From Out Of Nowhere and Epic. The band themselves had chosen to release Epic in the US in mid 1989 but it wasn't until the single was released in the UK and Europe on January 30th 1990 that it found real success. The Real Thing took the world by storm and catapulted Patton into a stratosphere of fame. He handled this by being as awkward and childish as he possibly could.
Patton introduced masturbation and porn into almost every interview, sidestepping questions that alluded towards lyrical meaning, his musical influences or his personal life. Patton became a schizophrenic interviewee, who used various personalities, in what appeared to be his way of dealing with the sudden fame and fan adoration imposed upon him. He would advertise Mr. Bungle as often as possible which led to convince the press he would leave FNM at any moment.
Patton also publicly berated celebrities in the press and from on stage while they watched, Lenny Kravitz, Sinead O'Connor, Poison to name a few. This often landed him in trouble.
The press often compared Patton to Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis after he complained in an interview that Patton had adopted his style. Patton enjoyed the chance to make fun of this comparison.
Whether consciously or not Patton found ways to lose the unwanted attention from fans over the next few years. In 1991/1992 Patton had a radical change of image from long haired, hip hop frat boy to greasy, thrift shop, petrol pump assistant! His stage persona matured from clown to brooding masochist. Patton was involved with the writing of the 1992 album Angel Dust from the outset, which saw a distinct change in FNM's music.
The term shit terrorism was first used by Patton himself in December 1992. It was a reaction to living life on the road with Guns 'N' Roses and Metallica. Born out of a distaste for the rock n' roll lifestyle FNM were surrounded by, and a means to fill the long days between gigs. Onstage he threw himself against around so violently that doctors told him he was causing serious damage to his shins.
It became plainly obvious from interviews and tensions on stage that there was a rift between Patton and Jim Martin, a clash of personalities.
After Jim's departure in 1994 FNM employed Patton's Mr. Bungle band mate Trey Spruance to record guitars for King For Day Fool For A Lifetime. Patton was uncomfortable with the appointment due to FNM's volatile situation.
This period brought about much change for FNM and Patton including him getting married to Italian artist Cristina Zuccatosta and relocating to Bologna, Italy.
When FNM regrouped to work on their next recording, Album Of The Year, Patton was unhappy with the material and was becoming more occupied in his own experimental music. Eventually in 1998 FNM split up.
In 2007 Patton attended Roddy Bottum's wedding and reconnected with members of FNM. Even though Patton had commented in the press on more than one occasion that he would never reform with FNM, on February 23rd 2009 it was his publicist who confirmed they were to return.
The Second Coming Tour saw FNM play all over the world over 6 years.
In 2015 FNM released Sol Invictus, their first studio album in 18 years. Patton confessed he had little to do with writing the music and recorded his vocals in his home studio.
FNM toured to promote the album for one year including their first nationwide U.S tour since 1997. Most recently Patton has stated that he unsure about the band's future.
Mr. Bungle released 4 demos, The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny (1986) Bowel Of Chiley (1987), Goddammit I Love America! (1988) and OU818 (1989). But it wasn't until 1990 after Patton had achieved success with FNM that they were signed to a record label. They released their self-titled debut album in August 1991 produced by jazz experimentalist John Zorn.
The record mixed metal, funk, ska, carnival music and free jazz.
Mr. Bungle's second album Disco Volante (1996) was written in 1994 but touring had to wait until Patton had finished playing with FNM. The album was more experimental and avant-guard than the first.
Mr. Bungle's third album California was released on July 13th 1999. A much more easily accessible album. The album was scheduled to be released a week earlier but Warner Bros. held off so as not to coincide with the Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Californication, which was to be released on the same day. Following the album release date clash, Kiedis had Mr. Bungle removed from a series of summer festivals in Europe. Mr. Bungle retaliated by dressing up as members of the RHCP and performed a medley of the songs.
The band played their final show on September 9th 2000 at Rock City in England. No official announcement was made referring to the band's split.
In 1999 Mike Patton co-founded the independent record label with Greg Werckman.
Their first release was Patton's own project Fantômas featuring Trevor Dunn, Buzz Osborne and Dave Lombardo. His second was a collaboration with Masami Akita titled Maldoror.
Ipecac has become a home for alternative acts and Patton has also released many of his own projects via the label. Three more Fantômas studio albums, The Director's Cut (2001), Delìrium Còrdia (2003) and Suspended Animation (2005). His band Tomahawk with Duane Denison, John Stanier, Kevin Rutmanis and Trevor Dunn have released four albums, Tomahawk (2001), Mit Gas (2003), Anonymous (2007) and Oddfellows (2013). An album of Italian pop songs involving a full orchestra entitled Mondo Cane (2010). A pop/rap album entitled Peeping Tom (2006). Two albums of mood music from the collaboration with John Kaada, Romances (2004) and Bacteria Cult (2016).
Ipecac released Faith No More's Sol Invictus.
In 2017 Patton released a hardcore album by Dead Cross featuring Dave Lombardo, Justin Pearson and Michael Crain.
Most recently Patton collaborated with French composer Jean-Claude Vannier on Corpse Flower.
Inspired by John Zorn, Patton has been experimenting with different styles and genres in his own music since 1996 when Tzadik released two solo albums, Adult Themes For Voice and Pranzo Oltranzista (1997).
He has collaborated with countless musicians including Zorn on many occasions, including Hemophiliac and the Moonchild Trio series of albums. He joined up with Dan The Automator and Jennifer Charles to create Lovage (2001). The Dillinger Escape Plan (2002), The X-Ecutioners (2005), Ictus Ensemble (2012). Patton and Australian composer Anthony Pateras released the Tetema album Geocidal (2014) and Necroscope (2020). Patton's long awaited project Nevermen with Doseone and Tunde Adebimpe released an album in 2016.
He has provided guest vocals on countless projects with artists including Bjork, Sepultura, Secret Chiefs 3 and Zu....plus many more.
Patton has written and produced music for several film soundtracks, A Perfect Place (2008), Crank : High Voltage (2009), The Solitude Of Prime Numbers (2011), The Place Beyond The Pines (2013) and the 1922 Soundtrack.
Patton has also appeared in front of the camera playing the parts of 'Frank' and 'David' in Steve Balderson's film noir Firecracker (2005). In 2007 he provided voice overs for the vampiric villains in I Am Legend.
He has also lent his vocal talents to several computer games.
(In short Patton has done a SHITLOAD of stuff.....to be continued)
Photo © Jimmy Hubbard