The fashion of MIKE PATTON in FAITH NO MORE

In our endless quest to find new and interesting articles to celebrate special Faith No More occasions we contemplated various ideas to mark the 51st year of Mike Patton’s wonderful existence. We could’ve chosen from countless subjects including his many and varied influences, his incredible vocal range or his witty and poetic lyrics...... Instead we opted to discuss his quirky dress sense.
Crazy huh? We are sure there are readers who will opt out here. Hell I considered stopping writing here! However the man of a thousand voices is also the man of a thousand styles, whether unconsciously or not, reinventing his persona for each musical era of FNM. And come on let's admit it. Patton fanatics everywhere have had their hair shaved underneath, pierced their eyebrow and maybe even donned a hairnet?
Through the years said fanatics have been able to determine the approximate date of a press photo by his clothing and appearance, that alone makes chronicling Patton’s fashion history a worthy subject.

1988 - 1991 The Real Thing Era
'It's so cool, it's so hip, it's alright, It's so groovy, it's outta sight'


As a fresh faced collage boy Patton joined Faith No More in late 1988 and it was around this time that the first publicity shots were taken of the newly completed five-some. Patton’s long-hair, chiseled profile and goofy facial expressions meant it wasn’t long before he became a pin up poster boy for music publications all over the globe. He graced double page pullouts in not only metal magazines but also teeny bopper smut such as Just 17 and Smash Hits. His style was cool, hip and happening yet also unexpected and outrageous, not the attire associated with metal monsters of the time (Jim Martin had that covered). Baseball caps, basketball sneakers, shorts, bomber jackets and the ultimate fashion item of the 90's a bum bag (fanny pack) were all in his wardrobe. He would’ve looked more at home in Public Enemy than on the metal scene. 



The cynical and foolish would draw similarities with that funky scamp Anthony Kiedes, but it was simply a trend and other metal acts such as Anthrax and Primus were shedding the black leather in favour of a less ghoulish look. It’s safe to say that FNM were not only part of a movement which was changing metal through their music but also through their fashion.
Patton could questionably take the blame for the hip-hop style adopted by Nu Metal acts ten years later.

During TRT photo shoots it did feel like Patton was dressing up for the camera and being as excessive as possible, perhaps living the characters he became so adept at creating through his lyrics. However in possibly the most iconic image of their early career the opposite was true and, led by photographer Ross Halfin, FNM stripped down. Mike Patton was left in only the most un rock 'n' roll underpants ever seen.




FNM had a flight case full of T-shirts acquired during their relentless touring that they would share amongst themselves, these included blatant adverts for fellow bands such as Sepultura, Godflesh, Metallica and Primus. Patton also had his own selection which were adorned with some of his heroes: Alfred Hitchcock, Sade and Bugs Bunny to name a few. Some were more tongue in cheek such as one bearing the YAD (Youth Against Drugs) logo as seen by 1000’s at the Reading Festival, accompanied by a kilt to finish the ensemble.

His favourite t-shirt by far would proclaim that there was ‘a Tractor in my balls...again’, an unashamed advertisement for his other band Mr. Bungle. Patton wore the shirt in photo shoots, onstage, on Top Of The Pops and in the promo video for Epic. The shirt, along with playful comments to the music press, fuelled the constant rumours he was leaving the ranks of FNM to return to his high school buddies. At the time Roddy Bottum referred to the shirt in HM Magazine
"I care about him as a person, but I think he looks like an idiot. Anyone who wears their own band's t-shirt looks like an idiot."

In another video promo for the song Falling To Pieces, director Ralph Ziman encouraged the singer to go the whole hog and dress up as an assembly of different characters including: a homage to Alex the lead droogie from Stanley Kubrick‘s A Clockwork Orange, as well as an incompetent bloodstained surgeon, and decked out German lederhosen.

During live shows Patton similarly expressed himself through his attire, in fact the band would get to the sixth song before he had wrapped his t-shirt around his head and then discarded it much to a feverish audience's delight.
There were occasional much more outrageous stage outfits: on one occasion he draped himself in a silver cape, on another he wore a poncho and on another sported a blond wig to impersonate Madonna. One constant outfit however were Lycra cycling shorts underneath surf shorts and a vest, the man of many shorts.

During tour dates in 1990 Patton took his dad's suit (probably) and cut off the trousers from the knees down. This waste coat / T-shirt combo became a regular occurrence which was immortalised in the You Fat Bastards VHS release. Patton’s props at Brixton Academy included a toy police helmet and a skull mask probably from his ‘Bungle box’.


As fame reared it's ugly head Patton’s luscious locks, which he had been growing since his teens, underwent a few drastic changes. As he lifted his hair in classic shampoo commercial style he revealed shaved tramlines and later red streaks. In January 1991 FNM landed a place on the historic lineup for Brazil’s Rock In Rio II festival. At this point in their career FNM were on the verge of achieving godlike status in South America for which Patton revealed another extreme haircut. Possibly inspired by Pantera front man Phil Anselmo (or more likely 
Roddy who had a similar cut) Patton’s new undercut became the most sought after style of the 90's and saw fans trooping to the barbers with a copy of Kerrang! in their hand. This was the first sign of a conscious attempt to unburden himself from unwanted media idolisation, opting to go from pop pin up to punk rock pioneer.



FNM’s next touring stop was Chile and Patton’s wicked sense of style was realised with a lurid shirt and tie combination which he again wore to accept an award, affectionately christened ‘the golden dildo’, at the Bay Area Music Awards.
As 1991 came to an end Patton grew out his impulsive buzz cut and a few whiskers sprouted on that prominent chin, these were the first traces of an incredible metamorphosis and a new era in Patton Fashion.

1992 - 1993 Angel Dust
'Forget the glamour and mumble a jackhammer'


January 1992 and the first shots of FNM to promote their second album with Patton as front man were published in the pages of Kerrang!. His hair was shorter and greased back with liberal amounts of goo, he had self styled pointy side burns and now a generous amount of hair on his chin. 
The backward baseball cap was still there however his clothes were less flamboyant, Patton had begun to frequent thrift shops. 




Grunge had replaced hair metal as the predominant force during 1991, and with the success of Seattle bands a fresh and modern take on the rock genre which heavily relied on high emotions was now here. Thrift shop style was their thing, dull and dirty colours and an apathetic attitude. This style seemed to suit Patton’s regeneration and soon he and contemporaries such as Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell were in the same club.


In fact in June 92 Select Magazine were on-scene at Gateshead Stadium and described Patton as "aesthetically underprivileged" or a "scuffy bastard, clothed in leather knickerbockers bought, at an Iranian flea market in Paris and hewn from such crusty hide that "it feels like I've got half a dead cow wrapped around my balls". On his feet are boots a brickie wouldn't be seen dead in, on his back a tea towel masquerading as a T-shirt, on his head enough grease to fry a Full English Breakfast."

During FNM’s first concert on the Angel Dust tour at The Marquee in London four fifths of the band, including Patton, saluted UK extreme metal outfit Carcass. Patton became 'Dave'  the gas attendant for the evening by wearing his shirt (curiously inside out) , a leftover from his Midlife Crisis video costume. This wasn’t the first time he had expressed an appreciation for oil companies, one of Patton's shirts was from Texaco and his favourite baseball cap in 1992 advertised California’s own 76 petrol station (sowed on upside down).


T-shirts were still at the front of Patton's closet and being as rebellious as always Patton opted to wear long sleeves under short sleeves. He continued the tradition of promoting other musicians, such as Greg Werckman and Dean Menta’s band Duh and thrash metal band Deadhorse. However the most talked about T-shirt, which was made infamous by a Sky Magazine article, proclaimed that ‘Girls are ok, but they're not the real thing’ complete with a gross Tom Of Finland-esque image of a man jerking off in a public toilet! This shirt was given to band members by super fan Kerry White who told us about it's origin




"I had them printed in 1992! The Tom of Finland-esque print is adapted from an old t-shirt I got many years before from Frisco Leathers in the Great Gear Market in the Kings Road London,  I already had a bit of an idea regarding the ‘Real Thing’ play on words the shirt contains and the picture seemed appropriate! It was a bit of a labour of love sizing up the picture (the picture on the original shirt was far smaller) and this was before the advent of computer scanning! I can’t remember how many I had printed, maybe 20 or so...some of them had the back print, and some of them didn’t. It cost quite a lot of money to do, so I had to take orders from all those who wanted them amongst our friends, (the old skool FNM followers – you know who you are, guys!) and charge them a £10 each...that was quite a lot of money back then! It sort of followed an old tradition amongst us early day followers for finding novel ways to stand out (and pass the time between shows) on the tours; I remember earlier handmade badges crafted from a badge kit and each had a different band member’s face!  I kept back 5 of the shirts for each member of the band and handed them out to them, we’d been going to see them since 1988, so we got to see them as familiar faces quite a lot – and that’s how Mike Patton got his. " 

A brief addition to the singer's image was an eyebrow ring, and in similar fashion to the undercut fans headed to their local piercing salon to imitate (I did). We were probably more intent on gazing into Patton's eyes to notice that Roddy also had facial jewelry. More often than not Patton and Roddy would practise their fashion statements together and in February 1993 Roddy told Select Magazine that it was "an erotic fashion statement". He went on to explain why he and Patton had it done.

"The eyebrow is an ambiguous statement. I like the reactions I get.... Mike and I thought, because he had his right done and I had my left, that we could connect ourselves onstage. But we haven't so far." 

As the AD tour moved into 1993 Patton ditched the petrol pumper look for something equally eccentric as he slipped into Elvis Presley style Hawaiian shirts. With his hair now a rather conventional short back and sides he was embarking on the next phase in Mike Patton fashion

1995 King For A Day

'So wear the hat and do the dance. And let the suit keep wearing you.' 

As much as Patton resembled a vagrant in appearance he had always seemed to have control of his style and made a conscious effort to look downbeat but cool. However in 1995 this was not the case, he simply looked downbeat! With at addition of a moustache that a 17 computer nerd would’ve been proud of, Patton’s unsanitary looks matched his infamous shit terrorism antics.The young collage boy of TRT era was well and truly dead and his new persona could have lifted right out of a Hunter S. Thompson novel. In an article from March of this year Select Magazine again made note of Patton's appearance, "his once perfectly coiffured, slicked back hair and neat goatee now unkempt and overgrown, complementing a thick, lazy moustache. He looks older, maybe even a little wiser." 

In the Evidence video director Walter Stern managed to clean up the singer and force him into a shirt and trousers to portray the suave dude that would define his identity in later life, however this was clearly just for the cameras.

The whole band seemed to again follow Roddy's stylistic example (or collectively have head lice) with a drastic hair cut for their return to South America at Monsters Of Rock festival, four fifths of FNM had very little hair at all. Patton, looking like a character from the movie Trainspotting, certainly didn't have his look tainted as he was drenched in the saliva of 50,000 Chilean fans.



1997 Album Of The Year
'I can dress up the dead man, but I can't bring him back to life'

Whether Mrs. Patton (mum or wife) sat her boy down and said ‘you look like shit’ we will never know, but there was a mammoth remodelling of FNM’s image for the promotion of their fourth album with the singer. Individuality took a backseat and a band uniform was adopted. Not unlike gangsters from a Scorsese or Tarantino movie, FNM suited up in white shirts, black ties and black suits. It was yet again Ross Halifn’s camera that gave us our first glimpse of this (the last) incarnation of FNM for the late 90's and Patton with his suit, slicked back hair and neatly trimmed beard finally looked like a boy your mother would approve of. 

Patton got chance to play some eclectic characters in the band's promo videos. In Last Cup Of Sorrow director Joseph Kahn recreated scenes from the classic Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo and Patton took great delight in filling the shoes of James Stewart's lead role of Scottie, looking rather refined in his 50's suit. 
In complete contrast Patton dressed down as he was cast as a euro-trash terrorist for the video for Stripsearch directed by Phillipp Stölzl


The black stage wear however meant much more for the band than we guessed at the time, it was indeed funeral attire. 

1999 - 2009 Ipecac and Beyond

With FNM now laid to rest Mike Patton’s musical career exploded in countless different directions and for each project a different persona was created. A great way to visualise this is using the funko style dolls that Ipecac Records released, each one being a very unique character based on the singer. Just as each Patton project had a different voice and musical style it also had a different wardrobe: Fantomas saw Patton dress as a sailor and a cricket player amongst others, with Tomahawk he dressed as a cowboy and a police officer, in Peeping Tom he became the smooth operating pimp with a hairnet. His civilian wardrobe expressed his love of sport and he would slum it in a Lakers shirt. 



2009 - 2014 Faith No More 2.0
'There's one perfect fit. And, sugar, this one is it.'

2009 marked the return of Faith No More after an eleven year hiatus. It seemed that the members of the band revisited their old tailors and at their very first show together in their beloved Brixton Academy, and as unconventionally as ever, four members (Mike Bordin opting for more suitable drumming clothing) were decked out with pastel suits and floral buttonholes. Patton in a shade of peach!

In fact it had been Bill Gould who sourced their unconventional stage wardrobe as Adrian Harte discovered in his book Small Victories : The True Story Of Faith No More, "One week before the show, Gould went in search of stage attire. The original quest was to find some zoot suits as a departure from the suits of 1997–98, so Gould headed to Mission Street, to the city’s number-one zoot suit store, Spiegels. But something else caught his eye: ‘I saw these really cheap suits. Pastel suits, all different colours. There were five different kinds of suits in five different colours. And I said, Oh, we have to do those!’ Gould emailed photos to the rest of the band, and, later that day and the following morning, the rest of the band made their way, one after the other, to the store and picked out their suits."

Two days later Mike Patton limped onto the stage at Download Festival, to the astonishment of 100,000 metal-heads, leaning on a cane and dressed in a red sequined suit . After a string of FNM influenced bands wearing traditional 90's nu metal regalia Patton and co looked spectacular dressed like a bunch of businessmen on there way to a meeting chaired by the devil himself!



During the Second Coming tour Patton would also acquire a silvery grey suit to hang next to the red and pastel pink and it would seem that suited and booted was now Patton’s thing.

In 2011 FNM played four shows in South America including an unprecedented gig in their second home of Chile, at which they performed the album King For A Day. Fool For A Lifetime in it's entirety. For the occasion the band ditched the suits in favour of crisp white outfits and strings of voodoo beads that were given to them by the Brazilian Candomble group who permitted the band to wear them onstage.
These shows saw Patton add another item of head wear to his collection, a white Panama hat with red trim. For their show at SWU Festival  he had his own pair of customised white sneakers. 
In July 2012 Patton also performed in a mask and shirt to support female punk-rock group Pussy Riot during the band’s concert in Moscow after the women had rushed the stage. 

For the next two years Patton looked towards other projects. He performed with Mondo Cane and, on stages in Italy and backed by an orchestra, he dressed the part in fine style. He also took to the road with Duane DenisonJohn Stanier and Trevor Dunn a.k.a Tomahawk. His latest fashion accessory, which in England is mainly associated with farmers and pensioners, was the flat cap.



After these two Faith No More less years to celebrate Independence Day 2014 the band made triumphant return to the stage at BST Hyde Park in London. At approximately 6pm FNM walked into the evening sun dressed as catholic priests. Patton’s face was decorated with two fake tattoos: hands clasped in prayer (which would later become the logo of Reclamation Recordings) and a teardrop. The teardrop tattoo is sometimes the mark of ownership placed on rape victims in prison! Mike, Mike, Mike......



2015 Sol Invictus
'Pull the white sheet off your face. March forward, my son.'

The first official publicity shots of the band in 18 years were particularly striking yet typically Faith No More. Taken by Dustin Rabin the band lined up in tuxedos raising glasses of champagne. This would have been most conventional and elegant if not for the addition of a kneeling man in a gimp outfit! The gimp would of course go on to make several stage appearances with the band, each time a different 'actor' and once played by Duff Mckagan of Guns 'n' Roses fame. A second photo by the same photographer had our five favourite musicians dressed in casual clothes, a rarity not seen since 1995.

"They perform in white, surrounded by bouquets of flowers, like an avant garde wedding band, accompanied by a man in a black rubber gimp costume." As described by The Guardian, when the band hit the road for a 12 month slog around the world they dug into their wardrobe for the pure whites and voodoo beads of 2011. Whereas the black suits of the Album Of The Year era signified the slow death of the band, these whites signified a rebirth. Patton ditched the hat and cane and the first shows in Tokyo saw him humouring the crowd by covering his mouth ‘bandit style’ with a neckerchief, and then for the Australian dates he added white gloves. 
Occasionally Patton would take to the stage wearing his spectacles which was unseen up until this point.



The band stuck to their whites for almost the entirety of their tour only choosing a change of attire on a few occasions, for example Vienna Rocks Festival in Austria saw the band opt for traditional lederhosen.
Another now iconic image for the band was again captured by Ross Halfin's camera when the band were garbed all in black for a feature in Metal Hammer magazine. Patton alone would take the cover flourishing a red matador's cape.
Off stage Patton was seen in a football shirt belonging to Brazilian team Palmeiras, the preferred team of friend Max Calavera. This was given to Patton by a fan, a tradition which has now seen him wearing various football shirts during performances. 

2017 - 2018 Dead Cross and More

Patton's comeback with FNM reached a halt in 2016 and he turned to other projects. His main focus was on Dead Cross, the hardcore outfit with comrade Dave Lombardo. The band hit the road for an extensive tour of the States and Europe in 2017. 

Just when we thought that Patton had abandoned casual clothes onstage in favour of a suit his Hawaiian shirts made a comeback, as did wearing two pairs of shorts, and with his hair a touch longer comparisons were made to his Angel Dust days. 
On display again was his preference for T-shirts with striking designs. Some notably cool shirts advertised Patton's love of the traditional Mexican dish tacos! With parodies of the famous Ramones and Misfits logos. 

In complete contrast when he resurrected his ambitious Mondo Cane project for four nights in South America during 2018, Mike Patton dressed to impress favouring a look not disimliar to Robert De Niro in the Godfather Part 2.  



So in conclusion what has this rummage through Patton’s fashion history taught us? Absolutely fuck all! However, as it happens I did enjoy writing it and I hope reading this provoked some enjoyable memories to help you celebrate on his birthday. 

Next year, Mike Patton’s eating habits! Only joking. 











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