Mike Patton - The Real Thing Era (1988-1991)
It has been almost 35 years (don't do hiatus math) since Mike Patton replaced Chuck Mosley as the fifth member of Faith No More. His magnificent vocal fluidity, manic stage persona, tongue in cheek lyrics and frat boy good looks helped to catapult FNM from alternative college-radio cool dudes to award winning mainstream subverts.
On his birthday we explore the early days of Patton's career with FNM, affectionately known by fans as The Real Thing era.
How Patton Joined Faith No More
On October 4th 1986 Faith No More played a show at Humboldt state university in Arcata.
In the crowd was 18 year old Mike Patton with his friend and Mr. Bungle band mate Trey Spruance. After the set Spruance handed a copy of Mr. Bungle's very first demo cassette The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny to Mike Bordin.
'We played the college up there with Chuck. It was a small college. But there were only like three people in the audience [laughs]. And after the show, this guy comes up to us and says, 'Hey man, I'm really glad you played, thank you for coming. But you understand, school is not in session yet which is why nobody is here.' So we played up there when school is on vacation. But I'm talking to this guy and he was like, 'I got this band, here take my tape.' And that was Trey, and the band was Mr. Bungle, and the album he gave us was The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny.' - Mike Bordin | Noisey | 2015
The cassette was passed around the band, but it was guitarist Jim Martin who loved it.
'He didn't get the tape directly from my hands NO, God NO! It always kinda makes me wonder, because he likes maybe 5 or 6 bands in the whole world. So why would he like Mr Bungle ever in any form? It may well have been savage tape, but the world is filled with savage music so why would he like this one? I always wondered about that, right to this day. How does Mr Bungle fit in with Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, the DUNE soundtrack, the PLATOON soundtrack and Celtic Folk music? I don't get it, although it was obviously some weird misfortune, a twist of fate. It shouldn't have happened that way, but he was the only member of the whole band who liked that tape.' - Mike Patton | The Real Story | 1993
Patton and friends ventured out to see FNM again at The Filmore in San Francisco on December 28th 1987.
'So this tour comes to San Francisco and we're playing The Fillmore, and I see Mike Patton. So I go to him, 'Hey, Jim really likes you and you should sing in our band.' But then Mike says to me, 'Oh we don't sound like that anymore.' [laughs] So he gives me another demo tape, which was Bowel of Chiley, and it was like fucking Madness meets James Bond. It was this secret super spy ska music, and it was awesome. And I was like, 'Oh dude, I'm so glad you don't sound like that anymore, because who wants to be one dimensional?' And he was like, 'Yeah, man.' That was the one thing that gave him maybe even a second of thinking about joining our band, that we would be available or open to evolution. Because I didn't say, 'Oh fuck that, you gotta sound like The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, because that's what you do!' I just think in that regard right there, that's really the thing that happened with Mr. Bungle. They evolved, and we applauded it. Well, three of the four guys in the band applauded it [laughs]. And by the time we were considering him to replace Chuck, he was already on to something else [laughs].' - Mike Bordin | Noisey | 2015
After arguments and the occasional fist fight Chuck Mosley was fired from FNM sometime around July 1988 and Faith No More were on the hunt for a replacement singer. The band asked old friend Joe Pop-O-Pie and Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell to audition but both turned down the chance.
Patton was studying English at Humboldt State University, while also working in Eureka’s only record store. when he got calls from both Jim Martin and Mike Bordin asking him to audition.
'Yeah Puffy called, the band diplomat. And I think the reason I did it was opportunity, to have a laugh, I'm not sure. I know my first reaction was 'I can't'. I was going to school, I was in a band, maybe I could do it on my Summer vacation but I didn't want it interfering with what I was doing up there. As I remember, Puffy was greasing me in a peculiar way like,. ‘We really like your tape and we're thinking of a couple of guys, maybe you could come down and practice.' - Mike Patton | The Real Story | 1993
'We auditioned about five other people, and it was pretty clear that Patton had superior natural ability. We called him and told him to come down; we wanted him to go to work immediately. He was very hesitant, like: 'I can't do this right now; it's not a good day. I have a school box social to go to. And tomorrow is show and tell. If I had plenty of advance warning, I might be able to come down for a little while, but today is not good.' I told him he was at a crossroads in life one way was to become a singer, the other way was to be a record store clerk in a shitty little town in Northern California. He really was like that. Very clean and shiny, nice kid. Milk and cookies type.' - Jim Martin | Kerrang | 1989
'I was against the idea. But then he came down and tried out. We told him to just sing with our music, whatever the first idea off the top of his head was to just sing it, and he had a million ideas. He totally understood what we were doing in a real physical sense. He took cues off the music and sang over it. We tried out a few other guys, but he was the one although I felt a bit guilty about it. Guilty because it seemed too easy. It seemed like he was gonna get exploited to death; a young innocent with long hair. Too easy to sell! But he could sing, he knew what we were doing and he was the most natural choice.'
Patton hesitated at first but eventually made the 10 hour journey to SF with Trey and Trevor Dunn.
'I resisted it. I honestly did. 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 failure 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.' - Mike Patton | Decibel | 2013
Recording The Real Thing
Mike Patton got the job and the newly formed five-some began piecing together Faith No More's third studio album.
Writing the music for The Real Thing had begun in August before Patton had joined the band's ranks with Billy Gould and Roddy Bottum occupying the rehearsal space during the day and Mike B with Jim at nights. Patton made the move from small-town Eureka to big-city San Francisco in October '88 and the band finally began speaking the same musical language. The four demo tracks sent to Slash - Falling To Pieces, Surprise! You’re Dead, The Cowboy Song, and Underwater Love - convinced the label that the band's new singer was perfect.
The 20 year old's outstanding vocal ability was recognised by his fellow band members and utilised throughout the album.
'The first song I heard with Mike P was 'Out of Nowhere'…we had a rehearsal recording and he came over to my house to work on his vocal ideas to a few songs. I hadn’t heard his voice recorded before, and within 30 seconds of hearing his contribution, it almost freaked me out on how well it worked. And it wasn’t even in a control room, per se, but I could hear it and it was quite exciting.' - Bill Gould | FNM Followers | 2019
'I was surprised how instantaneous his takes were, and how effective they were. His vocals were really stylised in a way I hadn’t heard with our music before, and it changed
everything.’ - Roddy Bottum | Small Victories
Even though Patton did not contribute the music he did write lyrics to the entire record in less than two weeks.
'I was really impressed with Patton. The band had already written all the music, and he was given just two weeks to come up with all the lyrics and melodies. He really rose to the occasion. He's the most phenomenal singer I've ever worked with, and when he's backed against the wall he s absolutely brilliant.' - Matt Wallace | Kerrang | 2002
'Yeah, it [Zombie Eaters] deals with my somewhat absurd fascination with babies, and birth. In many ways it is of course very beautiful, but it's also so f**king gross, grotesque: the way kids grow up and can be influenced by anything to me. Don't ask me why I think about babies and birth, it's just one of my subconscious thoughts. I pretty much write the words to fit the song, so with 'Surprise! You're Dead' type thing, I ended up writing lyrics that reminded me a bit of Slayer. 'Epic' is much more about sex and sex, we had to change some words because they were considered too obscene. Things like, 'So you lay down and you do it some more' should've been, 'fuck some more' but I guess because they were being printed and everything it was thought to be too much. 'From Out Of Nowhere' is more about people who are obsessive and feel the need to fill up on somebody else.' - Mike Patton Kerrang! 1989
Patton's First Faith No More Gig
Prior to the recording process, on November 4th 1988, Faith No More played at the I-Beam in their hometown of San Francisco. This was their first live performance with Chuck's replacement fronting the band. Steffan Chirazi, who had already championed FNM since 1987 and written the band's only magazine feature in Kerrang!, wrote this preview.
FAITH NO MORE - I Beam SF.
Your chance to check out the new version of the SF funk/punk/metal/rap kingpins. New vocalist Mike Patton of Mr Bungle has come on board to replace Chuck Mosely. Early indications are that the group's moving in a more metal direction. These guys are god-like in England by the way. - Bam Magazine | October 1988
This show was to judge public reaction to the new music and more importantly the new singer. The reaction of the crowd was not all positive and not all returning fans were taken by the radical change in vocal style.
'The first show I did was in San Francisco about November 1988, and after the gig the bouncer brought this note back and said, 'Some girl asked me to give this to you' I'm like, 'Oh great, cool, neat- my first groupie!' And silly me, the note read: 'You stupid, sexist, macho asshole. What are you doing? Get off the stage. Where's Chuck? He rocks... All this stuff you know. I just went, 'Killer! I'm going home'' - Mike Patton | Australian Publication | 1990
However Chirazi's review of the show was much more complimentary.
Who knew what to expect when FNM unveiled their new singer at The I-Beam recently? But Patton lay waste to the band 's previous singer. Patton's advantages. He wasn't drunk, he can sing, he can dance. He has energy and conviction. The band seems recharged and ready to roar with new material that could break the band big. By the evening's end, the scene sported a return to real ugliness, broken glasses, a broken camera and a piece of Patton hate mail that read 'You guys were cool, but get this long haired asshole off the stage...' To the person that write that - stop taking drugs and realise it when talent spits you in the face. - Steffan Chirazi | BAM Magazine | December 1988
The music for The Real Thing was recorded, mixed and mastered by the end of January 1989, however due to problems with the artwork release was delayed. Undeterred the band set off on the road in the U.S. During recording of the video for the lead single From Out Of Nowhere at the I-Beam on April 7th Patton suffered an injury to his hand which pushed the release date even further along.
On the week of the album's release the band began their tour in support of TRT by jetting to the UK. FNM had received a warm welcome in England during 1988 on tour with Introduce Yourself, and the same acceptance also came quickly for the band this time around.
'We got great reviews in the UK; things were steadily, slowly building over there. But in America we were having a real struggle. We didn't fit into the whole scene at the time. Our music was wrong, our image was wrong, and I don't believe our label knew what to do with us. In fact, I don't ever think our company had any idea how to market us. They we re completely confused by this rap-metal type of thing. We didn't have the white shoes, long hair and big ballads which were easy to sell. In Britain, things were different. The label had a lot more understanding of where we were coming from.'- Mike Bordin 2009
For Patton this would be his first time on a plane and his first trip out of the USA.
'He was just a kid, never left his crappy little backwoods town before he joined us. Never been on a plane. Then we were off to Europe. That's gotta f**k with a young man's head. But those crowds really loved his type of crazy.' - Jim Martin 1990
The first UK venue FNM played was Edwards No.8 in Birmingham on July 4th, the following date was in Manchester, and the third and forth shows on July 6th/7th were at the Marquee Club in London.
Sauna For The Soul | Sounds Magazine | Issue 15.07.1989
By Neil Perry
'New singer Mike Patton's vinyl performance may have hinted at a certain something lacking but, onstage, there are no worries. Faith No More are now realising the multi-pronged vision you knew was always there, but had never achieved before, FNM were devastating. They began with 'Chinese Arithmetic', the strongest song from the last LP, followed by a demented version of the title track itself, 'Introduce Yourself', after a frenzied moment of drum repairing. Whatever demon drummer Mike Bordin exercises every night, you sure are glad there's a set of skins for him to take it out on. The new material furthers FNM's exploration of uncharted rock territories - their brutal rhythms are now more colourful, more thoughtful, more up, but brutal all the same. It's the weirdest metal you'll ever hear, a sauna for the soul.' - Sounds Magazine | Issue 15.07.1989 | Neil Perry
Rave reviews seem to follow the band and in September 1989 Faith No More returned home to join friends Metallica on the Damaged Justice tour. From a marketing perspective this line-up was the perfect marriage - Metallica would gain an up an and coming touring companion, FNM would reach a new audience which should translate into record sales. FNM however received little love from the crowd and threw insults in return, taking pleasure in taunting the metal headed audience.
After 14 shows with the trash giants FNM returned to the UK, and the first venues hit were Edwards No.8 in Birmingham on the 10th of October '89 and Sheffield Polytechnic on the 11th.
'If the last UK tour back in July saw new boy vocalist Mike Patton busy introducing himself with a fair degree of nervousness to the Faith crowd, this time around he runs the joint.
Memories of his predecessor (Chuck Mosley) have clearly been banished, and rather than trying to get Mike to wheel out the old material the Faith chaps go straight for the far superior stuff from current platter, 'The Real Thing'. 'From out Of Nowhere' is perhaps the finest opener anyone could ever ask for. where Patton is in his own element, 'Surprise, You're Dead!' (introduced as 'Like A Virgin') is devastating. 'Underwater Love' is sensual and classy. "Ya know singing for this band is a fuckin' dirty job! states Patton before launching into 'We Care A Lot' (from 'Introduce Yourself). The truth is that Patton does with aplomb and soul. The dirt and grime is still part of the FNM sound, but they've found a new sense of professionalism.' - Raw | Issue 32 | Phil Alexander
Mike Patton was becoming somewhat the sensation in Europe and his unique and often crazy stage antics were gaining him much attention from the press and fans.
Fame and Fortune?
It wasn't however until the Dali-esque water drenched video for Epic found it's place on MTV until The Real Thing began to shift from record shop shelves. This sudden success drove Slash Records to send FNM to the UK and Europe for a third time in January 1990 for a month 0f back to back tour dates. The first was in Sheffield.
'This is still something very special. Why? Because FNM have got vocalist Mike Patton in their ranks, that's why. I Knew the guy was good from the record, but boy, can he ever cut it live! Wandering on stage like the bastard son of Alex in 'Clockwork Orange', Patton soon dispenses with his stripy pullover and pork-pie hat to unleash a vocal performance of pure magnitude. Patton is the difference between Faith No More and most rock acts. He sings with the soul of a black man, raps like he's just left Public Enemy and lights up the stage with a magnetic presence which is impossible to ignore.' - Kerrang | Issue 275 | Howard Johnson
FNM were now hot property in Europe, the USA and Australia and soon a solo Mike Patton would grace centerfolds of countless magazines around the globe. In an attempt to deflect attention he would engage in conversations about masturbation, video games and torture. This bizarre behaviour however only endeared him to fans more.
'Masturbation is a lot easier to do than relating to someone. It's like playing a video machine. You can relate to a machine a lot easier than a human being. You can just pound yourself for hours and hours and not think about it. With sex, no matter how great it is, there's always something missing. The only difference now is that I masturbate in front of people. There was this girl in Philadelphia--I hung out with her all day and we ended up in my room. I ended up masturbating while she watched. Masturbation is like this little knot I have inside of me that I can't untie.' - Spin Magazine | December 1990 | Frank Owen
Not only did Patton's voice in the press have him spinning heads but he also made some provocative onstage comments. One example was during FNM's performance at Roskilde Festival in Denmark, June '90.
‘You’re a special crowd, so I’m going to tell you a secret. Right now, the Jesus of hippies, Lenny Kravitz, is fucking the Virgin Mary, Sinead O’Connor, in the hospitality tent.’
FNM ended their year of well earned success in 1990 after over 300 shows. Patton posters covered countless bedroom walls and The Real Thing was heralded by many as album of the year. However the ride was not over yet for FNM's first appearance in South America they had their largest audience yet and the largest Brazil's Rock In Rio had ever seen - around two hundred thousand. The TV and press coverage was immense and the media storm that followed FNM around Brazil was intense - they were mobbed by fans in the street and interviewed for numerous TV stations including several features for MTV. Their set was broadcast throughout Latin America by TV Globo.
This show and two nights at Viña Del Mar in Chile promoted Patton to the status of living god, with South American fans becoming the singer's most adoring fanbase.
The Metamorphosis Of Mike Patton
It's no secret that during the promotional tours of The Real Thing Patton had found it difficult to adjust to his new way of life. His distaste for everything was apparent. He rubbed against his fellow band members and the press, behaving like a spoilt brat and constantly suggesting he was about to leave the band at any time to concentrate on Mr. Bungle.
'That was in the period I gave a lot of interviews that I shouldn't have given. I was fed up with Faith No More. Nobody bought our albums and we just kept touring. I was disillusioned. When you're touring, sometimes as a band you get the feeling you're living like rats. You're kept busy and stupid temporarily. You're treated like a pimp treats a whore. And if you don't want to be a part of that, it gets frustrating. We needed people to bang our heads against the wall. I wanted to crawl away. That's why I was delighted to record an album with Mr. Bungle. The interviews I did during that time were pretty negative. I said things like: Faith No More is like a job to me. Because I felt like that. But I don't think I portrayed myself correctly; It made me look like a spoilt son-of-a-bitch more than anything else' - Mike Patton | OOR 16 August 1992
Over the course of 1991 a transformation began. His attitude became more relaxed, it seemed he had come to terms with being a part of FNM and was comfortable in his role. His hobbies became more mature, albeit still rather twisted.
'In a relationship, in the beginning, there's inhibitions. After a while, all of those things fall apart, and that's how you get comfortable with somebody. I think that's probably how it happened. You learn how to fart and cuss in front of them. That's healthy. The way the band operates, politically, is, whoever steps out of line, everyone pounces on him. So if you're constantly afraid of doing something, nothing gets done. When everybody gets a little more comfortable, you can pull out any idea, and it can be manipulated, raped, made fun of, whatever. But still ... that's OK. Because that's how shit gets created; I'm convinced of that.' - Mike Patton | Bam Magazine 1993
Mike Patton - Angel Dust Era (1991-1993) coming soon........