MR BUNGLE | August 1999 | CMJ
Mike Patton restores faith with a new Mr. Bungle album and a new label, Ipecac.
CMJ New Music | August 1999 | Katherine Turman
"California" is not the record you'd want to spend time with if you were under the influence of hallucinogens. Or perhaps you would- if you're in the mood for a trip in every sense of the word. Mr. Bungle's third opus is a wondrous amalgamation of styles that induces memories of Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean, days at the beach, doses of hardcore rockabilly,
lovable schmaltz and bizarre sound effects. Some songs are so dense and odd, in fact, that singer Mike Patton is wondering how to perform them live.
"We're trying to figure out how to pull that off at the moment!" he chuckles. "There may be some Milli Vanilli stuff going on. It's going to be a whole new approach.
"The record sounds like a picnic with an occasional hailstorm, so we figured 'California' would work," the fast-talking Patton says of the title. "We were going to call this 'In Technicolor', but for obvious copyright reasons, we couldn't." It is indeed a vividly colored and textured soundtrack straight from the twisted and fertile mind of Mr.Bungle main man Patton and his equally eccentric band of merry men - Bar(horns/keyboards), Trevor Dunn (bass/keyboards), Danny Heifetz (percussion/keyboards), Trey Spruance (guitar/keyboards).
"To us it's pop-y," Patton says of songs such as "None of Them Knew They Were Robots," "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare" and "Sweet Charity." "But to some fucking No Doubt fan in Ohio, they're not going to swallow that!"
Patton's previous band, Faith No More- which scored a mega-hit with the 1990 single "Epic," as well as smaller successes-was more radio-oriented than Mr. B, if only barely by the end of that band's run. But Patton's other new efforts will likely garner less airplay than either
of his other lineups. The San Francisco-based musician is now label head for Ipecac Recordings, in partnership with Greg Werckman, who for years helped run Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label.
Ipecac's first release is from the "neo-metal" band Fantaomas,featuring Patton and Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins. The label has a half-dozen releases on deck for 1999, including three Melvins records and a Japanese noise group Patton is working with.
Ipecac (which is a medicinal shrub used in treating accidental poisonings by inducing regurgitation) has Patton excited about his tenure in label-dom. "It doesn't take a brain surgeon: You record an albumcheaply, you'll recoup quickly, and you'll be in the money," he observes. "It's been an eye-opening experience realizing how much more simple it is
than I thought it was."
Of course, Mr. Bungle is on Warner Bros., and Patton is not displeased. "They've been pretty good to this band for a while...I don't know why," he muses. "I was afraid to ask. I don't think they understand us, but I wouldn't have it any other way."