The announcement that Secret Chiefs 3 will be supporting Dead Cross has stirred up that burning question.... Will Mr. Bungle reform?
Before you read on let us state we have no concrete evidence to suggest this reunion could possibly happen, this is all conjecture. Also it's most definite that if we asked band members they wouldn't share that info, even if a reunion had been discussed.
However fans have been willing this to happen for years now, more-so since the reformation of Faith No More.
Mr. Bungle were together for fifteen years and played their final show as a band in September of 2000 at Rock City in Nottingham.
There was no official announcement of a split, the band simply went into hiatus as each member pursued other musical projects. Of course Mike Patton formed his record label Ipecac and forged on with Fantômas. At this time his business partner Greg Werckman was asked to step in as manager for Mr. Bungle who were finding difficulties in holding together.
"Once in a while, I'd give him advice about something, but at a certain point he came to me on bended knee and told me how his band Mr. Bungle was in total disarray and really needed a manager. I was not a big Mr. Bungle fan, but I agreed as a favour to him to sit in with the band for a meeting, and it was absolute chaos and disarray, exactly as he described it. I gotta be honest, I kinda felt bad for them as a band. They were nice people, but they were all going in completely different directions." - Greg Werckman 2013The members of Mr. Bungle, however their musical relationships were strained, still worked together. Trey Spruance's avant-garde group Secret Chiefs 3's early recordings up until 2004 would feature Trevor Dunn, Danny Heifetz and Clinton McKinnon. The relationship between Dunn and Patton endured and they continued to work together with Fantômas and eventually Tomahawk.
It wasn't until 2001 that any reference to Mr. Bungle was made. Patton was asked in an interview with Kerrang! if he had retired the band.
"Maybe. I really don't know. Right now, it's gotta take a rest. There's a few of us that aren't even ready to face it again for a while. We'll put it on the shelf for now and see what happens to it and hopefully revisit it again." - Mike Patton 2001After many rumours the band had in fact split up in 2004. Greg Prato (author of The Faith No More and Mr. Bungle Companion) asked Patton directly for an interview with 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."
"We could have probably squeezed out a couple more records but the collective personality of this group became so dysfunctional," Patton says. "This band was poisoned by one person's petty jealousy and insecurity, and it led us to a slow, unnatural death. And I'm at peace with that, because I know I tried all I could."However it would seem that over the next few years any animosity that may have existed between certain members would fade and they would work together on many different projects including various records and live performances with John Zorn. In 2008 Danny's Australian outfit The Tango Saloon enlisted the vocal talents of Patton and in 2009 Patton rejoined Bär to sing on the Umlaut song Atlas Face. Dunn and Patton would work together further in Zorn's Moonchild Trio. And in 2012 Patton would record the song La Chanson de Jacky with Secret Chiefs 3
The question of a Mr. Bungle reunion arose again in 2013 with the release of Tomahawk's fourth album Oddfellows. This time Trevor would dispel any rumours.
"I've heard the faintest murmurings about it, but honestly I don't think anyone is interested. It's nothing personal, either. We all feel like that band said what it needed to say. It would feel weird and awkward to play that music again. It would take a pant-load of money to make it happen, and honestly, I don't want to do it for that reason. I would prefer to let go of it, respectfully." - Trevor Dunn 2013Patton weighed in on the same subject later in the same month during an interview with Alarm Magazine, but with a little more hope.
"Who knows? It certainly doesn't seem like it's on the tip of anyone's lips, but I could have said the same thing - and, in fact, I did say the same thing - about Faith No More, and that happened. And I think it happened for the better." - Mike Patton 2013In 2014 Mr.Bungle launched their archival store, which under the moniker of MrBungle.com would host an array of merchandise including official reissues of their back catalogue. Also in 2014 Trey addressed the subject of reformation in detail with SF Weekly.
"We have gotten offers. It's funny, because there is this idea that the thing that would make it happen would be a really good offer. Nobody in the band is against getting money to do music [laughs], but the real question is - I think - one of pedigree. We made those records in a state of exultation. Everybody had their own separate ideas that we were bringing together. There was very much a general excitement about all of it. We were able to cultivate these collaborative pieces and everyone was working on shaping the thing together.
"I wouldn't want to speak for Mike on this, but I think he looks at it in kind of a similar way. Unless we had that momentum pushing us - the artistic drive that was motivating us - unless that was there, we wouldn't want to do it. It would be a bad idea. You don't want to put a shitty gloss on something that stands so well against the shittiness of time.
"What's hard about it is I am of the belief that we could do that again; much more so. There are plenty of skills that have been developed in the last 14 years. There are a lot of musical ideas and a lot of fluency with each band member now that's better than it was before. But, as you see, people in the band all look at it differently. You have to be synchronized if you're going to do something like that. The synchronization just hasn't quite happened yet." - Trey Spruance 2014In 2016 we contacted members of Mr. Bungle to conduct interviews in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the debut album. Trey, Trevor, Danny and Bär were incredibly enthusiastic about talking to us and spoke with great adoration of their early work. We popped the question of a reunion to each in turn.
"Ultimately it would take the collective desire, interest and, most importantly, inspiration from the individuals to say something new. I can assure you that if it were to ever happen, the fans would not be graced with material from our past. I am often asked this question and the analogy I continually turn to is that of the exgirfriend. How strange and uncomfortable would it feel to return to a relationship from 15 or 20 years ago? Especially when each had moved on to other loves. There is nothing wrong with things coming to an end having fulfilled their roles. Nostalgia is a double-edged sword and it’s rare that a return to past mind-sets results in something natural as in the way those things originally happened. It would have to be an organic process. I can’t say any of us are really in control of that. " - Trevor Dunn 2016
"Yeah, whatevzz, let’s do this shit you guys; but everything’s in 4/4 this time, dammit. (Ok, maybe one tune in 6/something.)" - Danny Heifetz 2016
"I wish I had the answer to this question. Maybe shitloads of money?? Seriously, it would have to be simply an organic musical interest between the guys to collaborate again. I'm ready and a few others are too. But there's no point holding our collective breath." - Clinton McKinnon 2016The interviews were shared by the band on their previously dormant social media sites, and they began to take active roles in running the pages. Shortly after this their merchandise webpage began to add more items including an exclusive rubber clown mask, which was shared by Patton's social media team.
So could the band reform? It is possible. Take for example the amazing return of Faith No More, who against all odds not only successfully performed around the globe but released their comeback album Sol Invictus to much critical acclaim. All achieved with a DIY attitude.
The issue of band members being scattered around the world can easily be overcome. Patton of course writes for his many projects from his own studio, mailing parts to the other band members.
It would seem enough time has passed to heal any wounds between the members and in some cases they are ready to work as a unit again. Plus the experience they have all gained over the last seventeen years would combine to create something truly outstanding.
As Trevor rightly suggests, a reunion for this band would most definitely involve the creation of something new rather than simply performing their old material.
Is the world ready for more Mr. Bungle? With current disorder in the US and up rise in atrocities around the world we think it the perfect time to bring back Mr. Bungle's own brand of chaos to reset the balance and take control.
We say ......What the world needs now is MR. BUNGLE.......