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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Rock Sound | December 2001 | Issue 31

MIKE PATTON Misbehavioural Psychology

Words: Robyn Doreian

Photo: DR


Fantômas frontman Mike Patton talks about the meaning of life, serial killers, fear of shrinks and rap-rock as wallpaper. rock sound listens agog, psyching itself up to ask the inevitable question...


IF drinking piss out of a stiletto shoe blesses me with half the musical genius of Mike Patton, then my potty will be overflowing tonight. Equally famous for his dalliance with scatology as he is for his music, the ex-Faith No More front man has excelled himself with Fantômas' second outing, 'The Director's Cut'. Alongside ex-Slayer skinsman Dave Lombardo, guitarist/mushroom- coiffured Melvins member Buzz Osborne and Mr Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn, the quartet have created an album with more time-changes than those produced by a magnet-wielding jeweller at a Rolex factory.

Patton has reworked tracks from popular film scores with finesse and brutality applied in equal measures. With opening track, The Godfather deceptively subdued, then launching headfirst into a barrage of death metal, you have to wonder where our Mike's musical tastes are at.


Do you have a soft spot for death metal then? "Who doesn't?" laughs the Brylcreem-haired vocalist. "Put it this way, if I have Dave Lombardo in my fucking band, that says it all. I like radical contrasts in music - going from really loud to really quiet - and enjoy exaggerating and exploiting that. You have to pick and choose your moments though, as you can't do that all the time or it's not extreme. I think that is one of the great strengths of Fantômas."

When it comes to performance, Patton also views it as having a definite sense of occasion, depending on the type of music you are playing.

"With Faith No More, I had nothing to do," he says.

"The music was pretty direct and simple, and I just had to sing my parts so I got a little more creative with the aspect of performance. Playing with them I got pretty good at making an idiot of myself, and there were plenty of nights - for every cartwheel and backflip and indecent exposure - where nothing happened, but people don't talk about those nights.

"With Fantômas the music is really hard to play," he continues. "You can't sit back and smoke a dooby and close your eyes and have a feel-good jam session, as it is demanding to play on every level."

The reason Patton has so many bands on the go (Fantômas, Mr Bungle, Peeping Tom and Tomahawk) plus running his own label, Ipecac, is his never-end-ing quest for creative challenge. Playing and working with people who will "bust his ass", Patton feels that his best work is produced from placing himself in unfamiliar environments to see if he can cut it. But there is one situation he cares not to confront.


"I would not want to go to a shrink," says Patton emphatically. "I don't know why, but I am definitely terrified of people picking my brain. It's just a weird irrational thing. I guess it's like anything else - shooting heroin, being a Buddhist or whatever, it just helps you pretend that you are living a meaningful existence. It helps you to kid yourself. I am tricking myself that there is such a thing by playing music." So that gives you a meaning to life?

"Absolutely!" he says-matter-of-factly, "otherwise, I would probably be out there doing horrible things - sitting on the top of buildings sniping people. I need an outlet like this, as it is perfect for me. It's not necessarily about creativity, it is about having something to be obsessive and neurotic over. Something to throw your energy at. This is my baby."

As Fantômas' name is derived from a fictional character who committed heinous crimes, and given the band's alluring version of 'Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer', you can't help but question Patton's own attraction to acts of murder and random violence.

"Anyone who would tell you that it isn't a little bit fascinating would be lying," he confesses. "It is obvious why it is attractive, as it is extreme, crazy stuff and every one of us has thought about it. Some of us, more than one time in a day. I personally don't know anyone who isn't a little bit attracted to that kind of stuff, but then again, I hang out with a bunch of freaks." Did you want to kill Jim Martin?

"No," he says. "Maybe I just wanted to tie him up and torture him a little bit."

Do you ever see him?

"No, I haven't spoken a word to him," states Patton.

"We never really spoke when we were in the band, so there would be no reason to speak to him now. There is no real hatred there, we just weren't friends."


RAP, ROCK AND SCAT


Whether Patton likes it or not, he has had a far-reaching influence on the pack of young, angry bands doing the rounds. One such vocalist, who cites Patton as the sole motivation for his taking up singing, is Corey Taylor (8) from Slipknot.

"I feel sorry for him," he laughs. "He can do better than that and he knows it. I don't know those guys and hear they are really nice, but their music doesn't knock me out. I don't know what they picked up from me, but I don't hear it. Actually, they are not that bad, and at least they don't sound like Limp Bizkit. It is nastier than that, but you are splitting hairs." So you're not a fan of rap-rock?

"It's just not very interesting," declares Patton. "It's not even interesting enough to be hateable. It's like wall-paper."

What do you think about the penchant for nu-metallers to share stories from their fucked-up childhoods with the world?

"Save it," he says dourly. "Rock stars - is there anything they don't know? That's just what I need, some psychological advice from a fucking spoilt brat who is selling millions of records. Get a real job. What are their problems - to buy a mansion or a Ferrari?

Please!"

No conversation with Mike Patton is complete without the obligatory poo question. Not only does he expect it, but it also is the interviewer's job to ask it, so here we go.

Did you ever leave a turd in a ventilation duct?

"Do you believe everything you read?" he says, raising an eyebrow. "Well, that one you should have. Oh, you know, boys will be boys. It is good to know yourself and to know your precious bodily fluids. You go through phases and experiments. What is the big deal? Are people reading this going to get that much of a big thrill from knowing this? Then tell them to go home and try it."




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