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  • Writer's pictureFaith No More Followers

Who Cares Anyway Mike Patton Extract

We have previously reported on the book Who Cares Anyway Post-Punk San Francisco and the End of the Analog Age by Will York. The author discussed the Faith No More and Mr. Bungle content in a recent interview with us.



With Mr. Bungle dominating the headlines at present Will has generously shared an extract from his book which includes quotes from Danny Heifetz and Trey Spruance concerning the teenage life of Mr. Bungle members in Eureka and the move to San Francisco. You can purchase a copy HERE.


Life Beyond Eureka

When Mike Patton joined Faith No More, the ripple effects extended well beyond his impact on the band’s own fortunes. His eventual move to San Francisco in 1991 initiated a small caravan of sorts. “It was all within that same year or two that everybody I knew was moving to San Francisco,” recalls Danny Heifetz, the drummer in Patton’s other band, Mr. Bungle, as well a founding member of Dieselhed, another Humboldt County band that made the move south around this time.

Much like the Thinking Fellers contingent had done a few years earlier, the Humboldt County crew brought an influx of new talent as well as a different sensibility. “What I appreciated about Mike,” notes Will Carpmill, “was that he brought Northern California in. San Francisco’s always been a magnet, but it was mostly pulling people from L.A. and the rest of the country. Northern California’s actually a really cool place. So he sort of put it on the map. I don’t think a whole lot of people, unless they smoked pot, had heard of Humboldt before.”

“It would have been a fairly weird place to grow up,” says Heifetz, who attended Humboldt State University in Arcata along with the other members of Mr. Bungle but, unlike them, did not grow up in the area. “Eureka’s a fairly redneck kind of place. It’s a lumber town—they have huge lumber mills there. And Arcata’s a pretty liberal university town, I guess. You’ve got a lot of hippie elements, so there was a lot of hippie/redneck vibe going on up there.”

“There was always this rivalry between Eureka and Arcata bands,” adds Kris Hendrickson, a Eureka native. “Arcata was more of an intellectual place. Eureka was more of a metal/rock kind of place. And so it was like ‘the punkers versus the metalheads.’” Heifetz’s old band, the Arcata-based Eggly Bagelface, fell more on the “intellectual” side of this divide (band name notwithstanding). Mr. Bungle, in contrast, fell squarely on the metal side. Their first demo, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, was basically unadulterated thrash/death metal, not counting the occasional satirical song title or lyric (e.g., “Evil Satan,” “Anarchy up Your Anus”). On subsequent demos, they abandoned death metal in favor of a ska-funk-metal hybrid. In any case, they weren’t punks, musically or otherwise.

Rebecca Wilson: When I first met Trey, he was kind of like this rocker guy coming from Eureka. All those Mr. Bungle guys, their first band was like a rock band. They were wearing Spandex and doing headbanging and air guitar, and it wasn’t a parody. They were serious metal guys.

Kris Hendrickson: I know Mike loved Mötley Crüe very much, because he had a real Nikki Sixx kind of look going on. He and Trevor played in this band called Gemini. And there was a little of a Mötley Crüe influence in there. He would probably never admit that.

Trey Spruance: We were definitely metalheads. Instead of being punk people who are smart, literate, and socially aware, we were violent, leather-jacket-wearing heshers who were introduced to punk through crossover hardcore. We weren’t into Mötley Crüe or Poison or anything like that. We were into Exciter and all these weird underground bands. We were total snobs, importing records from European death metal bands. Patton was a buyer at the local record store. That record store had amazingly well stocked death metal. We were lucky.

But there was never any listening to the Dead Kennedys; there was never any concern of any kind for politics for us—ever. There was nothing of any real value as far as punk rock is concerned. My friends were listening to Crass or that kind of stuff; I would listen to the Exploited or something. But there was no legitimate punk-rock core to Mr. Bungle at all.

Danny Heifetz: You know, a lot of times when Trey’s saying “we,” he’s talking about the core: he, Mike, and Trevor. And beyond that, probably even including all the previous members from the first demo or two, like [original drummer] Jed Watts. I definitely don’t think of Bär as a metalhead. I was a metalhead, but in a totally different era. Even though I’m only four or five years older, I was like a generation away. I really couldn’t have cared less about Metallica. Didn’t like Slayer. When I was 14, 15, I was listening to Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow.

IN FRISCO

As Patton settled into life in San Francisco, he did so as a full-fledged rock star and teen idol. Within the past year, he’d appeared on Saturday Night Live, the MTV Video Music Awards, and Yo! MTV Raps in addition to gracing the covers of glossy magazines from Spin to Kerrang. That said, he wasn’t exactly living like a rock star. In 1991, he and Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance moved into a house in the Sunset District, a quiet, residential neighborhood on the west side of town. “I used to stay there,” recalls Rebecca Wilson, who was dating Spruance at the time. “And that place was so disgusting. Talk about filthy—I mean, garbage everywhere.”

One of their neighbors was the notorious Smelly Mustafa, a rural Michigan transplant who fronted the band Plainfield. “Mike and I would be watching [televangelist] Robert Tilton at three or four in the morning,” recalls Spruance, “and Smelly would just show up at that time, drunk out of his mind, and climb through our fucking window. And for some reason that was ok—I guess because our house was filled with garbage and shit-eating videos and pornography and a rotting refrigerator. It was horrible. You wouldn’t believe it. This was at the height of Patton’s stardom. Just living in fuckin’ filth and slime, watching a television preacher and getting attacked by a punk-rock redneck in the middle of the night.
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