20 July 2017
FAITH NO MORE | July 1992 | Vox Magazine
"You wanna know a great way to get even with somebody?"
Vox Magazine | July 1992
Faith No More singer Mike Patton asks. It's a sunny afternoon in San Francisco, and we're seated at La Cumbre, one of the hippest Mexican restaurants in town. "My particular vengeance was against a business that had f***ed me over really bad," the 24-year-old continues. Today, his muscular six-foot frame is housed in workboots, skater shorts and a service station attendant's shirt that reads, 'Ron, Service Station Attendant'. He waves his arms for emphasis and speaks in a booming bass voice that makes the other cantina patrons a bit nervous.
"So one morning, see, I woke up, ate an entire burrito, drank a half-pint of rum, downed some castor oil, then drank some Ipecac syrup, which takes about half an hour to work. Then I walked down to this business, and I'd timed it perfectly."
Suddenly the food in front of me doesn't look so hot. I swallow the last bite and brace myself: 'Uh, barforama?'
"Yeah! This place had a nice, clear counter and no janitor either It kinda backfired, though, because I took too much castor oil, which coats the stomach, so not a lot of food came up. But a lot of blood did, though!"
A few heads turn to look disgustedly at Patton, who's now cackling. If they'd look closer, the lunchers might recognise him as the guy who rolled around onstage In furry pants while Faith No More plumbed out the power chords to their US Top 5 hit. Epic, on an MTV awards show. In the UK, where the raucously eclectic Angel Dust has just been released, the band's popularity has been on the up and up since Patton joined them in '89 for their third album, The Real Thing.
First discovered in his tiny California hometown of Eureka, idling with his Mr Bungle outfit, the singer has become a commanding showman and a meteoric vocal presence for Faith No More, his outrageous outlook melding perfectly with the grainy, funky raunchy rock the group had patented since forming in 1982 as a 'hippie-hate' band.
Patton still records and performs with Mr Bungle. In fact, in a fit of bacchanalian excess at a New Year's Eve show in San Francisco last year he gave himself an onstage enema. Patton says, "I heard the crowd got a nice little spray but I didn't see it because I was bent over."
Why such extreme measures? "Hey, it was a nice, dirty show, a lot of dirty people, everything was dirty. So why not have a little clean segment - wash out myself, wash out the audience...?"
When Mike Patton drops the scatology and starts sounding logical, there's bound to be a big, walloping, wrecking ball sailing your way. And Angel Dust is its crushing crane. Given that the self confessed caffeine junkie Patton "came in at a really strange point on the last record, when all the music was written, so I just threw some lyrics on top of it" the maturity he displays on this effort is downright electrifying. Through 13 strikingly diverse numbers he snaps, snarls, gargles, growls, wails and warbles, producing a schizo persona for each track.
His small-town upbringing came in handy. "In Eureka you drink so much coffee, you try and make believe there's something to do, he says, remembering his hometown as being comprised of 'hippies and loggers'.
"Faith No More played in Eureka, and I can't believe they came. No bands came there. But here they were, in their shitty van, all rotten and stoned, and I gave 'em a tape of Mr Bungle. They liked the tape and called me up."
Now, with Angel Dust building on the success of The Real Thing, Patton and his mates have entered the big league.They can call their own shots at a major label, land slots on top-drawing tours and feel free to develop their music. But at what price?
"When you enter the music business, you essentially become a prostitute, and anyone who denies that is full of shit," Patton says.
When it comes to his craft, though, a nerve-shaking zeal comes into his eyes.
"You've got to be defencive, even when it's uncalled for. And my personal way of dealing with fame is simply not being satisfied. Ever ."