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Decibel | 2013 Issue 101

Smooth Operator

Decibel Magazine Issue 101. Story by J.Bennett. Portraits by Ransom & Mitchell.

LOVAGE ARE PLAYING THE MIDDLE EAST DOWNSTAIRS in Cambridge, MA. The R&B super group, featuring Mike Patton, Elysian Fields vocalist Jennifer Charles and Handsome Boy Modeling School/Gorillaz beatmaster Dan the Automator, have just released their one and only album, the ultra-smooth Music to Make Love to Tour Old Lady By. 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?"

And so our first, uh, brush with Mike Patton resulted in whiter choppers, a brighter smile and possibly even less plaque. To say nothing of the devastating effects of gum disease and gingivitis that he may very well have helped prevent. But that's the thing about Patton: He's just that kind of guy. He cares. A lot. 

When we recount our tale to the culprit himself, he chuckles knowingly. "I thought you were gonna say something else, because there's another story from that tour that Dan never lets me forget because he says he's still scarred by it. At a different show there was another hippie near the front of the stage, a very hairy guy. Dan would always encourage me to mess with the crowd a little because the Lovage shows had a cabaret kind of feel. That night he gave me a can of spray whipped cream. So, I found the hairiest, ugliest guy I could and made him take his shirt off. Then I covered his entire chest—which was like the Black Forest—with whipped cream. And then I went to town.' 

Several mouthfuls of whipped cream and nipple hair later, he knew the hot taste of strange. "I'm glad that wasn't you," he adds. Which makes two of us. 

The point is... well, the point is that Mike Patton isn't just a vocal contortionist known for his dizzying array of musical projects past and present. Sure, he is or has been one of the driving forces behind Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantomas, Peeping Tom, Lovage and Mondo Cane. And he's collaborated with the likes of John Zorn, the Dillinger Escape Plan, Norwegian electronic composer Kaada, Japanese noise master Merzbow and DJ crew the XEcutioners, to name but a few. He's not just the co-owner of Ipecac Recordings, purveyors of high-quality releases from the Melvins, Isis and Ennio Morricone—not to mention many of Patton's own projects. He doesn't just write music for films, video games and commercials. He doesn't just speak fluent Italian. No, he also enjoys picking his fans' chest pubes out of his teeth. 

But the thing people tend to forget after years of hearing our man scat, growl, grunt and scream his way through the better part of the last 15 years? Mike Patton can sing—and we mean SING—like a motherfucker. You can hear it on "Stone Letter," the latest single from Tomahawk, the band he plays in alongside Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison, former Helmet drummer John Stanier and former Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn. The chorus might be the closest thing to a straight-ahead rock song that Patton has recorded since Faith No More's 1997 swansong, Album of the Year.

 "He has such an amazing voice'" Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum enthuses. "Almost as soon as you hear it, you can tell that it's the kind of timeless voice that you'd hear on the radio. I felt the same way when I heard Nirvana. Mike has that kind of a voice."


It all started, as these things do, in his teenage years. In Patton's case, the early '8os. "I was hanging out with the wrong crowd and ended up at a rehearsal of a friend of mine's 

band," he explains. "Their singer didn't show up, so as a joke they asked me to fill in. I had no idea what I was doing, of course—not that I do now—I was really flying by the seat of my pants. But I did it, and it was fun. Then they fired their singer and asked me to do it."

The friend was future Mr. Bungle/Fantomas/Tomahawk bassist Trevor Dunn, who'd overheard Patton singing, complete with vibrato, at Dunn's 16th birthday party. The band was called Gemini. And the song? 

"I know it was a cover song, but I can't remember what it was," Patton laughs. "I'm sure it was some horrifying Rush song or any other prog-slash-metal abomination." 

Prior to meeting Dunn, Patton's musical exposure was limited. Up until that point, the tastes I had were determined by what was in my dad's musty closet, as opposed to me having any kind of impulse to seek things out," he explains. I came from a small town, there was like one record store, and it just wasn't part of my vocabulary at that point. But I remember my dad had a Frank Zappa record that completely decapitated me, as well as a couple of Earth, Wind & Fire records. That's all I really remember." 

The combination—Zappa meets Earth, Wind & Fire—pretty much sums up the bizarre direction Patton and Dunn would eventually take with their first real band, Mr. Bungle. But let's not forget the inexorable influence of heavy metal. "The records we traded with each other as kids, it was mostly metal and rock stuff, "Dunn confirms. "Mike and I basically rode the crest of metal all the way through the '8os. We were big metal-heads. I remember us walking around with a boom-box by the river listening to the first Slayer record after it came out. It still blows my mind that 20 years later we were playing in a band with Dave Lombardo."

Patton and Dunn grew up in Eureka, the main city in Humboldt County, CA, a place known primanly for its massive redwoods and extensive pot farms. Mike and I met in junior high, when we were about 13, Dunn says. "We were kinda inseparable in high school. We hated everyone else. We mocked everybody and had nicknames for everyone—it didn't matter if we knew them or not. Like most high schools, most of our peers would go out on the weekend and get completely drunk, but he and I decided not to drink at all. We were basically straight-edge all through high school, even though we didn't look it. We'd go to parties and not understand why people were drinking themselves into oblivion. Now I get it. But back then I was a little naïve."

While the kids at Eureka High were getting shitfaced on the weekends, Patton and Dunn were riding the rails like a couple of teenage hobos. "We'd go down to the railroad, hop the freight train to the next town, and then hitchhike home," Dunn recalls fondly. "We were kind of obsessed with it, actually. It was super fun on a summer night. We'd write songs based on the rhythms of the tracks—Mr. Bungle had a song called 'Freight Train' In fact, the first Mr. Bungle album has a 10 minute sequence of us on the freight train that I taped on my little handheld tape recorder."

It wasn't long before Patton got a job at The Works, Eureka's one and only record store at the time. "Boy, that opened a lot of avenues for me," he enthuses. "It really opened my ears. I had a real thirst for music, so I was soaking it all in—metal, rap, even the dreadful hippie music and reggae that some of the other guys who worked there would listen to. We would get new records in, open them up and listen to them, and then reseal them and sell them. The ones that were good, we'd make tapes of. So, we had these crazy mix-tapes playing in the store because everyone would have to be accommodated. You'd have David Lindley followed by Venom followed by Run-DMC and things like that. In some sense, those years definitely helped shape what I would do in the future."



After hooking up with guitarist Preston Trey Spruance and drummer Jed Watts—then members of a rival band across town—Patton and Dunn started Mr. Bungle in 1985. "It started out as a metal band," Dunn recalls. "The first time we jammed, we played classic hits of the Big Four, you know—Megadeth and Metallica songs. Then we started writing our own. Our first demo was total death metal, basically. But at the same time, we were all interested in different kinds of music. Trey and I were checking out jazz and classical. Patton was into all kinds of different stuff, too, and eventually we got burnt out on metal and started doing other weird stuff." 

Mr. Bungle's first gig took place later that year at the Bayside Grange in Bayside, CA. "It was this community centre on the side of the road near the forest, kind of in between Eureka and Arcata," Dunn explains. "There were probably four bands or something, and I think it cost like four bucks to get in. It was just after Halloween, so there were some Halloween masks laying around and we decided to wear them— partly as a way to mock the metal scene and how serious it was. Eventually it caught on, which is why we ended up wearing costumes all the time. We also got into the habit of throwing stuff into the audience. There was a local bread company in town called Big Loaf. Somehow we came across this box of discarded Big Loaf bags, so we threw them into the audience and everyone started wearing them on their arms as sleeves." 

By now, Patton was getting comfortable with his role as frontman. "I didn't take it seriously enough to get stage fright," he says. "There was somewhat of a mindlessness in it in that I didn't really care what happened or what people thought. It was sort of a wilful ignorance, I guess. As a singer, you have to have a little bit of that, I think. You can't be afraid of looking like an idiot."

Patton and Dunn graduated high school the following year. Dunn went on to pursue a music degree while Patton enrolled as an English major at Humboldt State University. "As a musician, Mike always kind of pissed me off because I started studying music at a young age, took private lessons, got a music degree, practiced hours and hours on my instrument, and he's one of these guys who doesn't have to practice at all," Dunn marvels. "It took a while for me to understand that he has perfect pitch and a really great ear. He can hear a style of music or a certain phrasing, and it all comes naturally to him. The rest of us were all mimicking styles that we liked, but he can just do it."

It wasn't long before other musicians began to take notice. One night during Mr. Bungle's early days, Patton and Spruance went to see Bay Area funk-metal outfit Faith No More play at Humboldt U with then-vocalist Chuck Mosley. "The show was in a pizza parlour on campus, and there were about 30 people there," Patton recalls. I wasn't completely head over heels, but I thought they were really good and super-nice guys. We gave them a copy of Mr. Bungle's first cassette, a little demo thing. A few years later, they called and asked if I wanted to try singing for them." 

At first, Patton was less than enthusiastic about auditioning for Faith No More. "I resisted it. I honestly did," he says. 'Oddly enough, some of my friends in Mr. Bungle were like, 'Just 

do this. It doesn't mean you have to leave our band.' At that time, I was more concerned with completing my degree and finishing school. I didn't see Faith No More as some yellow brick road to success or anything. I just thought I would try it. The music wasn't quite what I was about at the time, but I took it as a challenge."

"At the time, Mr. Bungle was basically a garage band," Dunn points out. "We played a few shows in town, but none of us had any great visions of being rock stars. We knew our music was weird. But Faith No More was hardly known at that time as well—they were a local band in San Francisco. They did have a couple of records out, though. And the idea of being in multiple bands was nothing new to us. I quit working in a pizza joint so I could 

join a local bar band, which ended up being my job all through college. So, joining Faith No More was just a great opportunity for Mike. We were all fans of theirs, so the rest of us were excited about it." 

Patton drove down to San Francisco for the audition. "I brought Trevor or Trey with me," he recalls vaguely. "I said, 'Hey, let's take a vacation. You can come laugh at me while I try out 

for this band.' I mean, the idea of an audition is enough to make anyone want to puke, but I did it. And that first rehearsal felt a lot more comfortable than I thought it would. But they didn't give me a thumbs up or down right away."

"I think we might've sent him some songs first, stuff we were working on for The Real Thing," Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum offers. "I'd never seen Mr. Bungle, and I think I actually met him for the first time at our rehearsal studio. I remember thinking he was really young, like eight or nine years younger than the rest of us. And at that age, whatever age I was, that's kind of a big cultural generational gap. Like, he played video games. 

I'd never done that. But he and his crew of friends were very into eating up culture in that way—video games, MTV—and kind of aping it in ways that I had never really done or even really thought about. They were really interesting because they were from a small town, and it became clear to me what a small world it had become. I mean, we weren't even talking about computers at that point—we were talking about people being in touch with the greater scheme of things because of MTV. It just struck me as like, Wow, anyone from anywhere can learn anything.' He and his friends knew what was going on culturally in the world, just via television." 

Generational differences aside, it immediately became clear that Patton was the man for the job. "It seemed really obvious," Bottum confirms. "He had a really great voice, and he was really in tune with modern music. He wasn't scared about where to take it. The Real 

Thing was a very mainstream record for the likes of us, and it's where we all collectively had decided to go with our music. It was still crazy, experimental and weird, but we were also dabbling with sort of high-end commercial pop music. That was actually something we liked to throw in people's faces, because people in San Francisco had such strict morals about what they would do with their art form. We'd cross the line of what people would think was cool and not cool." 

When Patton joined Faith No More, the vast majority of the music for 1989's The Real Thing was already written. But the new frontman was left to his own devices to come up with lyrics and vocal melodies. "Right from the get-go, Mike's takes on some of the songs were not arty," Bottum points out. "They were very catchy pop music takes. At the same time. we knew his background and his takes on the other songs were in the complete opposite direction—very arty and weird. And that back and forth kind of embodied what we were doing at the time. It was a weird breed of hard rock with loud guitars and keyboards, and he had the scope to do it. I remember when he first sang us his take on Falling to Pieces, and it was like, 'Whoa! He's gonna sing it like that?' It was a straight-ahead pop song with harmonies, really slick-sounding. But then a song like 'Surprise! You're Dead!' was like extreme, arty, noisy stuff. It was a really neat balance."


It wasn't long before Faith No More would enter the stratosphere on the strength of the video for Epic, a clip in which Patton infamously wore a Mr. Bungle T-shirt. "Probably not the best decision on my part," he concedes with a laugh. "But I asked the other guys before I did it. I was like, 'Hey, nobody knows about my stupid band. What do you think about this?' And they were like, 'Yeah, sure. 'But later on? Yeah, if I had to do that one over again, I wouldn't wear the shirt."

The Rea! Thing landed a Grammy nomination and "Album of the Year" honours from Kerrang! before eventually going platinum. Patton and his band mates—Bottum, drummer Mike Bordin, bassist Billy Gould and guitarist Jim Martin—were catapulted into a whirlwind of endless touring and media exposure that they were not prepared for. "Well, who is? Who could be?" Patton posits. "Once you think you have your universe figured out, when something like that happens, it takes a while to digest it. And it wasn't just me—it was everyone in the band at that point. I remember we were in Europe playing to 15 or 20 people a night on a pretty wretched tour—but we were enjoying ourselves—and we 

got a call from our manager about two or three days before we were about to come home. He said, 'Hey, remember that video you made? It's on MTV now, and we gotta talk about your next tour.' Here we were, mentally prepared to go home, and we kinda had to start all over again. We just kind of looked at each other and laughed. It was surreal. There's no way to prepare for something like that. You take it on the chin and deal with it the best way you can." 

Meanwhile, Patton was navigating the inner world of Faith No More, which had its own problems. "There were personality clashes in the band long before I came along," he laughs. "I entered into this culture that had already been operating in this dysfunctional way that somehow still worked. It took me quite a while to figure out how I fit into it. Sometimes that meant sitting back and shutting my mouth. But it took me a while to learn that. At that time, the people who were in the band related to each other in kind of a strange way. But I was the new guy, so who was I to question it?" 

Despite the difficulties that went along with it, Mr Bungle were able to capitalise on Faith No More's success and land a recording contract with Warner Brothers. "It wasn't the best fit," Patton concedes. "But at that point I'd been in Faith No More for a while and, to be honest, there was a lot of concern about me playing in another band. You gotta understand, not a lot of other people at the time—at least not peers of mine—had more than one band. That was pretty much frowned upon. Not necessarily by the people I was playing with, but by record companies and management and so forth. So, I had to really look in the mirror and ask myself if I wanted to do it, because I was stirring the pot. I'm glad I did."

Not long after signing with Warner Brothers in the early 90's, Mr. Bungle played more than a few shows in the Bay Area with then-locals the Melvins. "When I first met Mike, he seemed really standoffish," says Melvins ringleader Buzz Osborne, who would later become Patton's band mate in Fantomas. "But as I know now, he was actually more shy than you might imagine. At that point, I think he was just getting his head cut off with the Faith No More thing. That must've been a heavy head trip, from everything I can tell. I certainly don't know all the details, but I think he had a hard go of it from every angle. I can't imagine what it was like for him to be like 20 years old and thrown in the deep end like that." 


Patton would spend most of the 90's playing in both Bungle and Faith No More, offering just one bizarre hint as to what might come next. Released in 1996 by avant-garde composer and saxophonist John Zorn's Tzadik Records, Patton's vocals-only solo album Adult Themes For Voice revealed more about the singer's future than even he could foresee at the time. "John Zorn asked me to do a vocal record," he explains. "At first, I was surprised, but the more I sort of thought about it, the more I realised that I could do it, and that I'd had impulses to do it before he'd even asked me. I was a big fan of [Greek-Italian singer] Demetrio Stratos at the time, who'd done several vocal only records that are completely mind-blowing. I knew I couldn't do that, because he's very studied and almost academic in a way. But I thought maybe I could take that same approach and do it with what I'd learned. So, I took a four-track with me on tour and did most of it on the road." 

Wikipedia's entry on Adult Themes assesses the album with remarkable accuracy: "The 34 tracks aren't considered singing in any conventional sense, as they consist mainly of Patton shouting, screaming, clapping, squeaking and moaning... The compositions do not adhere to the traditional song writing structure of Western pop music. The body of work could rightfully be classified as free-form experimental sound utilising a singular vocal instrument."

It would prove to be the canary in the coalmine for vocal styles Patton would incorporate on later projects. "Absolutely," he enthuses. "Doing that record gave me the tools to do some of the things I would use later in Fantomas."

But Decibel managing editor Andrew Bonazelli sums it up for Patton fans everywhere when he says, To me, Adult Themes was the fork in the road where you either stepped back and admired [Patton's] more conventional rock-based stuff, or plunged balls-first into oblivion."

Oblivion would prove to consist of quite a few things. Toward the tail end of Faith No More, Patton recorded demos for what would become his next project—Fantomas. "I thought that I had some unfinished business with hardcore and death metal, he explains. "It had always been a part of my lingo, so to speak, but I never felt like I'd channelled it right and made it my own. I wanted to do something a little more jarring. Vocally, I didn't want lyrics to be involved at all. I wanted the voice to sound like another instrument. It was 

definitely liberating to do, and I realised very quickly that it made sense to nobody else."

In fact, it didn't even make sense to the drummer he initially enlisted for the project: Igor Cavalera, formerly of Sepultura. "Igor and I really wanted to work together, but I think 

he just didn't get the music," Patton recalls. "Then I thought of Dave." 

Dave Lombardo from Slayer, he means. Not exactly a lightweight. "We'd only been sort of acquaintances in the past, but I reached out to him and he was probably more excited about it than anyone. He called me back leaving a rambling message about how much he was into it. He was doing, like, mouth-drumming on the phone. That's when I realized, 'I think I found my guy.'"

The rest of the line-up fell into place like super group clockwork. Patton recruited Buzz Osborne on guitar and his old friend Trevor on bass. "I was blown away by the demos he gave me, but when he told me who was in the band, I couldn't believe it," Dunn enthuses. "I'd met Buzz a couple of times, but I didn't know Dave at all. I mean, when Slayer released Reign In Blood in 1986, that was kind of it for Mike and I as far as metal goes. We figured it couldn't get any better than that, so we kind of stopped listening to it. I thought he had a lot of balls to call those guys up, but he did, and they were both into it."

"Mike had all the music worked out in advance," Osborne says. For the record, I have nothing to do with the music in Fantomas. No one other than Mike does. We do not jam, ever. There's no discussion of any of us coming up with anything that's different or better. People always ask me what it's like to collaborate with Mike Patton, and I always say I have no idea. I've never done it. It might be fun, but I've never had that experience. I think Mike's a super-talented guy, and I'd really like to do a real collaboration with him in some form of another. But I've always wondered why he didn't just put the Fantomas demos out. I thought they sounded fine, personally. I didn't understand how we were gonna make it any better, I still think he should put them out."



With Fantomas came the birth of Ipecac Recordings, the label Patton co-founded on April Fools' Day, 1999, with former Alternative Tentacles general manager Greg Werckman. Prior to working for AT, Werckman had managed a stable of notorious characters that included Hunter S. Thompson, Timothy Leary, Mark Lanegan and Jello Biafra. "I met Mike in 89 or 90, right when Faith No More were getting big," Werckman says. "I remember they were leaving to go on tour with Billy Idol, which I thought was funny. I was working in San Francisco at Alternative Tentacles at the time, and Mike was a big fan of some of the bands on the label, especially Nomeansno. Whenever they came to town, Mike would come to the shows. We both loved video games and pro basketball, so we kind of bonded over that.

Once in a while, I'd give him advice about something, but at a certain point he came to me on bended knee and told me how his band Mr. Bungle was in total disarray and really needed a manager. I was not a big Mr. Bungle fan, but I agreed as a favour to him to sit in with the band for a meeting, and it was absolute chaos and disarray, exactly as he described it. I gotta be honest, I kinda felt bad for them as a band. They were nice people, but they were all going in completely different directions."

Sometime in the mid-to-late 90's, Patton got back from one of the last Faith No More tours and asked Werckman if he could help out with a couple of new projects he wanted to put out. By that time, Werckman had left Alternative Tentacles and was winding down a stint as an A&R man at Mercury Records, so he agreed. But first there was a legal issue to navigate. After Mr. Bungle broke up, Mike was still under contract to Warner Brothers," Werckman explains. "Howie Klein was still at Warner Brothers and he was a good friend of both Mike and I. I told him about Fantomas and he goes, 'I hate to be the bad guy here, but we have first rights of refusal on Mike's new project.' Now, you gotta remember—on paper, before any music came out, Fantomas looked potentially appealing to a major label. You've got Mike from Faith No More, Buzz from the Melvins, Dave Lombardo from Slayer and Trevor Dunn from Mr. Bungle. Kind of an ugly super group, right? So, Howie told me to come down and bring some music. Over the phone I was telling him, 'I'm sure this isn't the right fit for Warner Brothers.' and he was like, Well, we love Mike.'"

Werckman relented and flew down to Los Angeles with the Fantomas album. "I'll never forget being in Howie's office and popping in the CD," he laughs. "He listened to about 10 seconds of it, which was probably about three songs, and was like, 'Oh, you're free to do whatever you want with this. The meeting lasted about five minutes at most. I don't even think I got a free meal out of it."

Patton and Werckman decided to strike out on their own. Werckman called his contact to set up distribution for their as-yet-unnamed label on the strength of the Fantomas album alone. "We figured if we could get like 10,000 people in the world who would buy Fantomas, it would be a huge success," Werckman recalls. "If we could find 20,000, we'd do cartwheels down Market Street and then hand each other gold records. We decided to press 25,000 CDs and hope for the best. Then our guy at Caroline calls and says that pre-orders for Fantomas were already at 30,000. So, then we start thinking we've maybe got a real label on our hands. At that point, Buzz mentioned that the Melvins didn't have a home, so we should do the next Melvins record. What's funny is that Mike and I had already had a meeting where we made a list of bands that we'd like to get if we were to start a label. The only two we could agree on were the Melvins and the Cramps. We actually did try to get the Cramps— they were very nice to us, but they wanted to stick with what they were doing." 

Now all they needed was a name. "Buzz actually came up with the name," Werckman reveals. "I didn't even know what an ipecac was, but Mike did because he tried it once in 

his crazy Faith No More days when he was bored to death, so he drank a bunch and made himself throw up. It just seemed like it fit, because we knew the stuff that we'd be putting out would make some people sick."


When Ipecac opened for business, so did Patton's creative floodgates. One Patton project after another emerged under the Ipecac banner. After Fantomas and Maldoror came 

Tomahawk, which was followed by Kaada / Patton, General Patton vs. the X-Ecutioners and the long-awaited Peeping Tom album, which featured collaborations with Kool Keith, Massive Attack, Norah Jones, and about a dozen other beat-makers and musicians.

"If there's one thing I learned from Peeping Tom, it's that working with so many collaborators takes a hell of a long time'" Patton says. "It was challenging to be a whip-cracker and a composer and be sympathetic at the same time. I didn't even meet a lot of these people until years later. Doing everything via email or an FTP site is certainly a more impersonal way of making music, but in other ways it can be more direct because you're getting unfiltered ideas. If I do another one, I'd change some things. But it was definitely a worthwhile experience."

Outside of the Ipecac purview, Patton did the Lovage album, which basically consisted of him singing breathy double-entendre-laden duels with Jennifer Charles over Dan the Automator's lounge-lizard beats. "That was really Dan's project," Patton offers. "I just tried to fill a role, and in some ways it was more acting than music. 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."

In 2002, Patton recorded the Irony Is a Dead Scene EP with New Jersey noiseniks the Dillinger Escape Plan. "We'd been friends forever, but they were between singers and asked me if I'd be interested in working with them," Patton explains. "At that point, I think I already had a record or two out with Fantomas, and I didn't know if I could join another band that was going a thousand miles an hour like that. So, I was a little hesitant at first. But when they said it was just gonna be an EP, I said, 'Great, let's do it.' I just wanted to make sure I wasn't leading them on in any way. But I love those guys and we're talking about doing some more stuff together, especially me and Ben [Weinman], the guitar player." 

"People think it's weird that Mike has so many bands and so many projects, but he couldn't imagine being in just one band and singing the same songs over and over every night," Werckman offers. "I saw those last Faith No More shows before they broke up - Mike had his back to the audience most of the time. He was singing to the drummer. He was changing the lyrics. You could tell he was bored. Generally, he's not like that. But that's probably because he doesn't let himself get into a rut. He loves so many different types of music—why shouldn't he try them? He loves so many different musicians—why shouldn't he play with as many as he can?"

And so the ever-flowing stream of Patton projects continues—onwards and outwards until he collapses from exhaustion. "If you love your work, it's not really work," our man concludes. "It becomes something you do without thinking about. It becomes a bodily function, like waking up in the middle of the night and taking a leak. Except I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea. One thing I try to be conscious of is not putting out everything I write or record. It's like working out or exercising—that's how I see it. What I love about what I do is the work and the process of creating. It's not the producing of a document in the form of a record or even a live concert. It's the actual spark of having an idea and putting it down—for yourself. Later on, you decide whether it's worth putting out so the world can hear it."

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