Circus Magazine | 30.11.1990 | Issue 369
Faith No More: Inside the insatiable Mike Patton
By Gary Cee
Faith No More has a gold album, The Real Thing, in the top 20 of Billboard's LP chart. Their wildly imaginative video, "Epic," is all over MTV. These supremely proficient musicians upend audiences all over the globe with an unbounded frenzy of metal, rap and funk that leaves even the most durable stage divers out of breath. From out of nowhere, they've become one of a handful of bands playing what's left of genuinely exciting hard rock & roll.
But for lead singer Mike Patton, Faith's not enough. The fiery-eyed hellraiser still holds a huge place in his heart for his first band back home in Eureka, California - a powerfunk posse called Mr. Bungle.
"I'm gonna make myself" lead both bands, Patton promises. Even if his record company, Slash, forces him to drop all side projects to keep the Faith. "If you heard Mr. Bungle, you'd fall down the stairs," he says. "With Faith No More, you just, maybe, run." That is a Mr. Bungle T-shirt Patton wears in the "Epic" video.
"When I'm not around, they're still working without me. There's no records yet, just demo tapes." But Patton swears his first band will "absolutely" score a record contract.
Mike Patton was born January 27th, 1968 and grew up in a modest household with his parents and younger brother. He graduated from Eureka High in 1986 and began studying English - "only because I like to write" - at Humboldt State University in Arcata, just down the road from Eureka. "I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was completely lost," he says.
Mike will never forget the first time he and the Bungle boys saw Faith No More at Humboldt. Patton was so impressed with guitarist Jim Martin, bassist Billy Gould, keyboardist Roddy Bottum, drummer Mike Bordin and singer Chuck Mosley, he dropped a Mr. Bungle demo into Jim's hands.
The second time Patton caught Faith, it turned into the most chaotic weekend of his life. Maybe this was an omen.
"Eureka is a really small town," he remembers. "So me and the Bungle guys thought, gee, we're gonna go see Faith No More and the Red Hot Chili Peppers at this club in San Francisco. It's like this big event. We have to organize it with our parents. We drive a few hours down to the city, to the Fillmore. We're just stupid kids, and it's only our second time in San Francisco. We get there, go see the show, and when we come out, our tires are slashed.
"Then we fix the tires. We end up staying at Mr. Bungle's guitarist grandma's house. We park the car in someone's driveway, not thinking, and we come out the next day and it's been towed. What an unbelievable hassle. We swore we'd never come to San Francisco again."
Patton would have to return. The summer before his junior year at Humboldt, he received a phone call from big Jim Martin. Singer Chuck Mosley wasn't working out anymore. Would Patton be interested in joining the Faith?
"I had met Jim once before," Patton recalls, "and I never met Chuck at all. From what I understand, his attitude was getting worse. They were moving in two different directions.
"When I first got the offer, I was a little hesitant. My first inclination was, nah, I can't do this. I was really tied up in my little 'go to work, go to school' thing. I was working at a record store, wow..."
Mike's impetuous stage gymnastics, crazy facial contortions and multi octave vocal range were a strong shot in the arm to Faith's live set. His performance was so over-the-top, it nearly came off as parody. But Patton brought more than a huge set of lungs to the show. The band took a liking to his lyrics, and Mike ended up writing all the words to the ten original songs on Faith's third LP, The Real Thing, in one week. Recording commenced in December of 1988. The album was released in June of '89.
"Was it that long ago?" the malcontent asks. The Real Thing doesn't sound fresh at all to him these days. "It was old and boring long ago."
At the time of this interview, Patton had mixed feelings about opening up an arena tour with Billy Idol. It's not the first time Faith has played the big rooms. They canvassed the West Coast with Metallica a couple of years back.
"I really want to see what kind of people come to these shows," he wonders. "It's probably just gonna be lame MTV people. And I'm really curious to see how Billy Idol is as a person. He's probably gonna be real easy to torment. We're gonna try to find the quickest possible avenue to torture that fucker."
There's no rest for Patton. Just five days after coming off the Billy Idol tour, Mike and Faith will open a month of dates for AC/DC.
"You can see why I'm not really all that stoked on it," he drones. "It's good for the band, but man, I'm gonna be so fucked up by that point."
But eager to reunite with Mr. Bungle. Faith No More will just have to wait.
"Not only do we have zero new songs written," he says, "and I don't know about them, but I'm gonna need some time away from those bastards."