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Mike Patton

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Mike Patton
Patton in 2009
Patton in 2009
Background information
Birth nameMichael Allan Patton
Born (1968-01-27) January 27, 1968 (age 52)
Eureka, California, US
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • actor
  • record producer
  • multi-instrumentalist
  • film composer
Years active1984–present
Associated acts

Michael Allan Patton (born January 27, 1968) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, multi-instrumentalist and film composer, best known as the lead vocalist of the alternative metal band Faith No More.[7] Patton is also the founder and lead singer of Mr. Bungle, and has played with Tomahawk, Fantômas, Dead Cross, Lovage, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mondo Cane, and Peeping Tom.

Known for his eclectic influences and experimental projects, Patton has earned critical praise for his diverse array of vocal techniques. VVN Music found Patton possesses the widest vocal range of any known singer in popular music, with a range of six octaves.[8] He has worked as a producer or co-producer with artists such as John Zorn, Sepultura, Melvins, Melt-Banana, and Kool Keith. He co-founded Ipecac Recordings with Greg Werckman in 1999, and has run the label since. Patton's vast number of musical endeavours and constant touring have led to him being widely identified as a "workaholic".[9][10][11][12]

Early years[edit]

Patton was born and raised in Eureka, California, where he formed Mr. Bungle, with Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn, in 1985.

Dunn and Patton often engaged in late night freighthopping as a way to pass the time in Eureka.[13] They would get off at nearby towns or remote, wooded areas, relying on hitchhiking to find their way home.[13] Spruance later joined them in doing this.[13]

During the late '80s Mr Bungle released a number of recordings on cassette only: The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, Goddammit I Love America, Bowel of Chiley and OU818, featuring tracks that would later be included on their first Warner Bros. Records release.

According to Steffan Chirazi's 1993 book The Real Story, Patton first met Faith No More during 1986. In the book, Patton was quoted as saying:

Faith No More played Eureka in a pizza parlour place Mr. Bungle played dozens of times. There were 6 people there and 3 of them were my friends. It was really bad, a really pathetic show and I remember them standing around the van really upset. Puffy was really uptight wanting to know where to get weed. Nobody was talking to him, I think he asked us because we were just hanging around. Their situation then never even registered with me, touring was unreal, Warner Bros. was like a Tom and Jerry cartoon. At that time I didn't wanna know about any of that shit.[14]

Music career[edit]

Faith No More: 1988–1998; 2009–present[edit]

Patton was approached to join Faith No More after they heard Mr. Bungle's demo tapes in 1988. This forced him to quit his studies at Humboldt State University.[14][15] In January 1989, he officially replaced Chuck Mosley as lead singer of the group. Mosley subsequently formed the bands Cement and VUA, and had several special "one-off" performances at shows with Faith No More and Patton before his death in 2017.[16][17]

Faith No More's The Real Thing was released in 1989. The album reached the top ten on the US charts, thanks largely to MTV's heavy rotation of the "Epic" music video, (which features Patton in a Mr. Bungle T-shirt).[18] Faith No More released three more studio albums—Angel Dust, King for a Day... Fool for a Lifetime, and Album of the Year—before disbanding in 1998. In several interviews, Patton cited the declining quality of the band's work as a contributing factor to the split.[19][20]

However, on February 24, 2009, after months of speculation and rumors, Faith No More announced they would be reforming with a line-up identical to the Album of the Year era, embarking on a reunion tour called The Second Coming Tour.[21] To coincide with the band's reunion tour, Rhino released the sixth Faith No More compilation, The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection in the UK on June 8.[22] The same line-up eventually released a new album called Sol Invictus in 2015.

When interviewed about his lyrical content with Faith No More, Patton responded, "I think that too many people think too much about my lyrics. I am more a person who works more with the sound of a word than with its meaning. Often I just choose the words because of the rhythm, not because of the meaning".[23]

Solo work and band projects: 1984–present[edit]

Mike Patton performing with a gas mask during a Tomahawk show in 2002.

During his time in Faith No More, Patton continued to work with Mr. Bungle. His success in mainstream rock and metal ultimately helped secure Mr. Bungle a record deal with Warner Bros.[24] The band released a self-titled album (produced by John Zorn) in 1991, and the experimental Disco Volante[25] in 1995. Their final album, California, was released in 1999. The band ceased being active following the 1999–2000 tour in support of the California record, although their disbandment was only officially confirmed in November 2004. Patton explained to Rolling Stone: "I'm at a point now where I crave healthy musical environments, where there is a genuine exchange of ideas without repressed envy or resentment, and where people in the band want to be there regardless of what public accolades may come their way. Unfortunately, Mr. Bungle was not one of those places."[26]

Patton's other projects included two solo albums on the Composer Series of John Zorn's Tzadik label, (Adult Themes for Voice in 1996 and Pranzo Oltranzista in 1997). He is a member of Hemophiliac, in which he performs vocal effects along with John Zorn on saxophone and Ikue Mori on laptop electronics. This group is billed as "improvisational music from the outer reaches of madness".[27] He has also guested on Painkiller and Naked City recordings. He has appeared on other Tzadik releases with Zorn and others, notably as part of the "Moonchild Trio" alongside Joey Baron and Trevor Dunn, named after Zorn's album on which the trio first appeared, Moonchild: Songs Without Words.

In 1998, Patton formed the metal supergroup Fantômas with Buzz Osborne (of The Melvins), Trevor Dunn (of Mr. Bungle), and Dave Lombardo (of Slayer). They have released four studio albums.

Patton playing with Fantômas in 2005.

In 1999, Patton met former The Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison at a Mr. Bungle concert in Nashville, and the two subsequently formed the band Tomahawk.[28] Tomahawk's straightforward rock sound has often been compared to Album of the Year/King for a Day era Faith No More.[29][30]

Mike Patton in Milan, Italy as part of Peeping Tom, 2006.

In 2001, he contributed vocals to Chino Moreno's group Team Sleep[31] and released the album Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By with the group Lovage, a collaborative project consisting of Patton, Dan the Automator, Jennifer Charles, and Kid Koala.[32] The next year, Patton performed vocals for Dillinger Escape Plan's 2002 EP, Irony Is a Dead Scene.[33]

In 2004, Patton worked with Björk and the beat boxer Rahzel on the album Medúlla.[34] That same year, Patton released the album Romances with Kaada and contributed vocals to the album White People by Handsome Boy Modeling School (Dan the Automator and Prince Paul).[35][36] In 2005, Patton collaborated with hip-hop DJ trio and turntablists The X-Ecutioners to release the album General Patton vs. The X-Ecutioners.[37]

In February 2006, Mike Patton performed an operatic piece composed by Eyvind Kang, Cantus Circaeus, at Teatro comunale di Modena in Modena, Italy. Patton sang alongside vocalist Jessika Kinney, and was accompanied by the Modern Brass Ensemble, Bologna Chamber Choir, and Alberto Capelli and Walter Zanetti on electric and acoustic guitars. Patton remarked that it was extremely challenging to project the voice without a microphone.[38]

Patton's Peeping Tom album was released on May 30, 2006 on his own Ipecac label. The set was pieced together by swapping song files through the mail with collaborators like Dan the Automator, Rahzel, Norah Jones, Kool Keith, Massive Attack, Odd Nosdam, Amon Tobin, Jel, Doseone, Bebel Gilberto, Kid Koala, and Dub Trio.[39]

In May 2007, he performed with an orchestra a few concerts in Italy, by the name of Mondo Cane, singing Italian oldies from the 50s and the 60s.

In 2008, he performed vocals on the track "Lost Weekend" by The Qemists. In December 2008, along with Melvins, Patton co-curated an edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties Nightmare Before Christmas festival.[40][41] Patton chose half of the lineup and performed the album The Director's Cut in its entirety with Fantômas. Patton also appeared as Rikki Kixx in the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse in a special 2 part episode on August 24.[42]

In June 2009 Mike Patton & Fred Firth performed in Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, England as part of that year's Meltdown Festival[43]

On May 4, 2010 Mondo Cane, where Patton worked live with a 30-piece orchestra, was released by Ipecac Recordings. The album was co-produced and arranged by Daniele Luppi.[44] Recorded at a series of European performances including an outdoor concert in a Northern Italian piazza, the CD features traditional Italian pop songs as well as a rendition of Ennio Morricone's 'Deep Down'.[45]

Patton is a member of the supergroup Nevermen, alongside Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio and rapper Doseone (with whom Patton had previously collaborated on the Peeping Tom side-project).[46] In 2016, the group released an eponymous debut album on Patton's Ipecac label.[47]

In August 2017, Patton released a new album with the band Dead Cross, a supergroup that includes Slayer and Fantômas drummer Dave Lombardo and the members of Retox Michael Crain and Justin Pearson.[48]

On December 27, 2017, Patton performed his collaborative EP, Irony Is a Dead Scene, as well as a cover of Faith No More's "Malpractice," with the Dillinger Escape Plan live at the band's first of three final shows at Terminal 5 in New York City.[49]

In May 2018, Patton performed two concerts in Modena, Italy, with the American pianist Uri Caine. The setlists of the concerts varied and included songs from Erik Satie, Elton John, Slayer and Violeta Parra. They also performed a new song called "Chansons D'amour" from an album Patton will be releasing with French musician Jean-Claude Vannier. The shows were recorded, but it is not certain if the material will get a release.

Other ventures[edit]

Film work[edit]

In 2005, Patton signed on to compose the soundtrack for the independent movie Pinion, marking his debut scoring an American feature-length film. However, this had been held up in production and may be on the shelf permanently.[50] His other film work includes portraying two major characters in the Steve Balderson film Firecracker. He has also expressed a desire to compose for film director David Lynch.[51]

Patton provided the voices of the monsters in the 2007 film I Am Legend starring Will Smith.

He also worked on the Derrick Scocchera short film "A Perfect Place" for the score/soundtrack, which is longer than the film itself.[52]

In 2009, Patton created the soundtrack to the movie Crank: High Voltage.

In the 2010 film Bunraku Patton voiced The Narrator.

Patton composed the soundtrack to the 2012 film The Place Beyond the Pines.

In 2016, Patton provided the voice to lead character Eddy Table in a short animated film, The Absence of Eddy Table.

In 2017, he scored the Stephen King movie 1922 for Netflix.[53]

Video game work[edit]

Patton is known to be an avid video game player.[54] In 2007, he provided the voice of the eponymous force in the video game The Darkness,[55] working alongside Kirk Acevedo, Lauren Ambrose and Dwight Schultz. Patton reprised the role in The Darkness II in 2012.

He also had a role in Valve's 2007 release Portal as the voice of the Anger Sphere in the final confrontation with the insane supercomputer, GLaDOS. He has another role in the Valve title Left 4 Dead, voicing the majority of the infected zombies.[56] He also voiced Nathan "Rad" Spencer, the main character in Capcom's 2009 video game Bionic Commando, a sequel to their classic NES title.

Personal life[edit]

Patton performing with Faith No More at the 2010 Soundwave Festival in Perth, Australia.

Patton married Cristina Zuccatosta, an Italian artist, in 1994.[11] The couple divided their time between San Francisco and Bologna, Italy, until their separation in 2001.[11] Patton once owned a home in Bologna and speaks Italian.[57] Regarding his close association with Italy, Patton stated, "It happened after I got married. I married an Italian lady, and I had to get acquainted. Basically, it started with the language because her family and her parents didn't really speak English. I had to learn the language, so I did that. The longer you spend in a place like that, it really sucks you in. It really envelopes you and makes you feel like one of them."[57]

Patton's right hand is permanently numb from an on-stage incident during his third concert with Faith No More, where he accidentally cut himself on a broken bottle and severed tendons and nerves in his hand. He has use of the hand, but no feeling in it (despite his doctor telling him the opposite would happen).[58]

Patton has expressed distaste for the decadent lifestyles of rock stars. He told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1995, "It's hard to see as much as you'd like with our schedule on the road, but it's harder to do coke and fuck whores every night. Now that's a full time job."[59]

He stated in a 2019 Bloody Disgusting interview that he is a fan of crime and horror films.[51]

Technique, influences and legacy[edit]

Patton (left) with Gavin Bryars (bass), Bill Laswell (bass guitar) and Milford Graves (drums) in a 2006 tribute to guitarist Derek Bailey.

In a October 2001 interview with Kerrang!, Patton reflected on his musical influences, stating —

The first music I was probably exposed to was early '70s crap that was on the radio when my parents took me to the supermarket. Styx, Kansas – some shit like that. At that age I wasn't at all interested in music. I only got into music when I couldn't hang around anyone else. At school, I was a hyper geek and I got hassle from the jocks. I wanted to be one of them, that was the thing. So one of the first things I got into was collecting old 45s, beginning with The Partridge Family or something. Then I got into death metal and hardcore: anything that was fast, loud, nasty and retarded. In my early 20s, I had got to the point when I realised all I had played in were rock bands and thought I could do other things with my voice and put it into contexts that have nothing to do with rock music at all.

— Mike Patton[60]

One of Patton's biggest influences was Greek-Italian singer and researcher Demetrio Stratos, who studied the limits of the human range and recorded several vocal albums.[61][62] Stratos died unexpectedly at age 34 and writer Anthony Heilbut would later refer to Patton as his "heir".[63] Some authors believe that vocalist H.R. from seminal hardcore punk band Bad Brains presaged and may have influenced the dynamic delivery of Patton.[64][65] His band Tomahawk had planned to make a Bad Brains cover album[66] and the first song Patton chose for a KCRW broadcast of his favorite music was "Pay to Cum" by that band.[67]

Patton's vocals touch on crooning, falsetto, screaming, opera,[disputed ] death growls, rapping, beatboxing, and scatting, among other techniques. Critic Greg Prato writes, "Patton could very well be one of the most versatile and talented singers in rock music";[68] colleague Blake Butler called him "a complete and utter musical visionary and a mind-blowing and standard-warping genius."[69] Australian paper The Age said in 2003 that "Mike Patton is undoubtedly one of the most enigmatic and unpredictable personalities in rock music."[70] Chicago-based music website Consequence of Sound proclaimed him the "busiest man in metal."[71]

A list published by Consequence of Sound acknowledged Mike Patton as "the greatest singer of all time."[72] The May 2014 article referenced VVN Music's (Vintage Vinyl News) analysis of various rock & pop singers, ranking them in order of their respective octave ranges.[8] The article served as a retraction to a previous article,[73] which originally awarded the number one position to Axl Rose. Both articles praised Patton's impressive 6 octaves, 1/2 note range (Eb1 to E7), versus Axl's admirable 5 octaves, 2-1/2 notes. He said in 2019, "I think that range thing is all bullshit. I don't think that I have the biggest range. And even if I do, who cares? This is not like the Olympics of vocals. I could make a record without singing a note, and I'll be happy with it."[51]

AllMusic labelled him as an "icon of the alt-metal world".[74] He has often been credited as an influence to nu metal, a form of alternative metal spearheaded by bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit in the late-90s.[75] Patton has been less than enthusiastic about being linked to such bands, stating in a 2002 interview that "Nu-metal makes my stomach turn".[76]

Prominent vocalists such as Brandon Boyd (Incubus),[77][better source needed] Doug Robb (Hoobastank),[78] Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach),[79] Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan),[80] Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw),[81] Howard Jones (Killswitch Engage),[82][83] Tommy Rogers (Between the Buried and Me),[84] Dimitri Minakakis (The Dillinger Escape Plan)[85] Mike Vennart (Oceansize)[86] and Spencer Sotelo (Periphery)[87] have cited Patton as their primary influence.

Patton is noted for his unorthodox inteviews,[88] particularly during the 1990s. In 1992, he famously ate a sandwich while being interviewed by MTV,[89] while at other times he has been described as having lied to interviewers.[88]


Studio albums

Selected filmography[edit]

Video game voice work[edit]


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  80. ^ Prindle, Mark (September 2003). "Greg Puciato – 2003". Archived from the original on July 7, 2013. Retrieved November 28, 2017. Growing up, I was always a huge fan of his. If there's anybody that I tried to mimic when I was a kid, it was him [Mike Patton]. I probably wouldn't have even started singing if it wasn't for him. He and H.R. from Bad Brains were my two big influences when I first started it when I was really young. Not only is it an awesome honor and everything to have to come after him, but it's also not as difficult as you would think just because I was already so influenced by him to begin with.
  81. ^ "DARYL of GLASSJAW". June 2002. Archived from the original on January 10, 2003. Retrieved December 7, 2017. Q: Was Mike Patton a big influence on you?
    Daryl Palumbo: Growing up he was one of my heroes... absolutely. I want to say no because I hear he’s a bitter old man and that he laughs at bands that cite him as an influence. Everybody on M-fucking-TV and all heavy bands everywhere site Patton as an influence and he talks shit about them? I still think he is the greatest singer in heavy music history but I feel way above any other band that cites him as an influence. Fuck it if he has a problem with it.
  82. ^ "Up all night: Q&A with Devil You Know vocalist Howard Jones; band set to perform at El Paso's Tricky Falls". El Paso Times. Los Angeles, California. July 9, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2018. Q: Your voice is very unique in that you can go from very melodic to very heavy from one phrase to the next. Who are some of your influences and where did you learn to sing so melodically?
    Howard Jones: I think, obviously, Mike Patton from Faith No More is a big one. [...]
  83. ^ Mahsmann, Steffi (March 29, 2004). "KILLSWITCH ENGAGE (HOWARD JONES)". Archived from the original on May 11, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2018. [...] I’d say that the band that probably influenced me more than any was probably Faith no more. Just because I listened to it so much, when they were active. [...] I would say “The last to know” by Faith no more! I sing that song in the shower all the time. And I actually wrote the chorus to the song “Breathe life” on our album, I wrote that in the shower. (laughs)
  84. ^ "Giles - Interview mit Thomas Giles Rogers, Jr". BurnYourEars (in German). June 27, 2005. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  85. ^ Webb, Brian (November 1, 2000). "Interview: Dillinger Escape Plan". Archived from the original on March 30, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2018. Q: Who would you list as your influences?
    Dimitri Minakakis: [...] Mike Patton is a big influence on me. When I was 12 or 13, that's when they came around. [...]
  86. ^ Jentsch, Thomas (December 11, 2003). "Oceansize im Interview @ HELLDRIVER MAGAZINE (Dezember 2003)". (in German). Würzburg. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2020. I'm a big fan of almost everything Mike Patton does. My favourite is Mr. Bungle. He's probably the reason why I even thought about singing.
  87. ^ Tristan (January 6, 2016). "An Interview With : Spencer Sotelo (Periphery)". Archived from the original on December 7, 2017. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  88. ^ a b "Interview with Trey Spruance of Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, Secret Chiefs 3 – Culture Creature". August 30, 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  89. ^ Hartmann, Graham. "11 Unforgettable Mike Patton Moments". Loudwire. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  90. ^ Andy Couch. "Ipecac Recordings – News". Retrieved July 1, 2013.

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