Meeting Mike Patton (Part 2)

Filed under : Celebrity Stories, Serial Stories

Story 55 of 365

Est. Reading Time 9 minutes

(if you missed Part 1, you’re gonna be confused)

In December of 2001, Cheyenne and I traveled north to San Francisco to catch the final 2 shows of the Tomahawk tour 1well.. final 2 of 3, they later announced and perford on New Year’s Eve that year, but as it was almost a month later, it’s not ...continue. We stayed with a friend of a friend of one of my co-workers (long story, not worth telling) so shit was chill. And shit was freezing g’damn cold. But, damnit, we were in San Francisco and seeing Tomhawk, so shit was awesome.

The opener for these two shows was a guy named DJ Swamp. He was insanely talented, and also the only live DJ I’ve ever seen whose show was entertaining in its own right. This guy scratched faster than the eye could see, but he also smashed vinyl records over his head, lit his LPs and his gear on fire, and spun LPs while they were on fire. It was insane and wonderful. At the time, I was trying to start up a new music-based website called Rockthefrigginhouse.com, so I asked DJ Swamp if he’d do an on-camera interview with us. He was cool about it, and we shot the shit and got a nice little interview.

After Tomahawk performed, Mike Patton was just hanging out in the alley. This being his hometown, apparently he wasn’t accosted by fans quite as much and he could just hang out. I walked up to talk to him, and asked if he would do an on-camera interview for our website. He said he’d prefer I just email his people at Ipecac (his record label) and they’d make sure the message got through to him. I handed him a business card to have him write down the email address, but he just signed his name and handed it back. I said “ohh, ohh.. I … was thinking you were gonna write down for me who I should email. I got your autograph after that first show in Pomona”.  His reponse was “…were you wearing THAT jacket, Jacko?”. As you may have seen in my photo with him in Part 1, I was wearing a bright red vinyl jacket. He thought it looked a lot like the infamous Michael Jackson “Beat It” jacket. I said “actually, I took a photo with you while wearing this jacket”. He said “no, no way..” — “yes way. I get it, you meet a lot of fans, I don’t expect you to remember me..” — “right, but I’d remember THAT FUCKING JACKET! HOLY SHIT!”. I regretted not bringing the photo with me, but.. frankly, why would I have thought to bring that photo? I told him it definitely happened, and he said “ohh.. I must’ve been REALLY high”.

Now, this confused the shit out of me. Mike Patton has spent most of his career making fun of drug-addled rockstars, and has said the only drug he does is Caffeine (which is also my favorite Faith No More song, and the lyrics suggest analogies between the “drug” of stardom not being taken seriously just as the “drug” of caffeine is also not taken seriously).

I became determined to get high with Mike Patton. Even though I rarely get high, I thought nothing would make a better story than saying “yeah, I smoked a joint with Mike Patton”. I spent the morning after, with the nameless friend-of-a-friend, trying to acquire a nicely rolled joint. Since it’s San Francisco, this wasn’t a difficult task, but one I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish on my own if I didn’t have that friend around to hit up people he knew in the city. By the time the 2nd show rolled around, I had this gorgeous little joint, ready for Mike Patton.

After DJ Swamp’s set, he was outside and we hung out a bit while he smoked a joint of his own and I asked his opinion on the joint I bought. He said “looks good man, but I don’t think Mike’s gonna go for it. I don’t even think he smokes weed”. I told him about Mike’s “ohh I must’ve been REALLY high” remark, and he said “ohh… well, shit, yeah he’ll be all about that”.

After the 2nd show, Patton wasn’t out in the alley. He wasn’t anywhere we could find. We’d almost given up. But, as the outside lights went down, and the road crew was loading up the van, we saw Patton emerge from the alley and hop into a pink RAV4. He hopped out of the car to say something to one of the crew members, and he turned and saw us and said “Hey! Red!”. That tingled a little to get a nickname from Mike Patton.

I walked up and said “hey, you’ve given me so much as a fan over the years…” he smiled, put his arm around me and I kinda froze, and he said “no, it’s cool.. go ahead…”, so I continued “…well, I’ve been following your career for half my life, I just wanted to give something back…” and I held out the joint. He looked down, confused. “Ohhh… oh… listen, you don’t owe me anything. I feel a little old knowing you’ve been a fan for that long, but.. I don’t even smoke. Sorry”. I was confused. I told him as much : “but… you said last night you don’t remember the jacket cause you ‘must’ve been REALLY high’ so…” and he quickly apologized “ohh shit. sorry. SO sorry. That’s just a weird joke I say, like ‘ohhh I was SO high’, but… I’m sorry man. I’m flattered. I’m sure that’s a really great joint, but… I just don’t smoke. Never have.”. He gave me a hug, reminded me to hit up Ipecac for our interview, and jumped back in his RAV4 and drove off.

Here’s the interview I emailed him, along with his answers…

ME : Which of your many projects/collaborations are you the most proud of?
Mike Patton : That is one of those impossible questions that is not fair to the many musicians I have worked with. Let me put it this way, there is not anything that I am not proud of.

ME : What’s your personal favorite FNM album?
Mike Patton : *See answer above.

ME : What’s the deal with the “From Out of Nowhere” video — was the label trying to push FNM off as a “Living Colour”-style band or was that whole video a big joke?
Mike Patton : Living Color style band? Huh? All videos are a big joke.

ME : Mike, the world wants to know – just what IS it? (talking about Epic here)
Mike Patton : Did you lose sleep coming up with these questions? “It” is whatever you want it to be.

ME : Who is John Zorn — people have said that he taught you everything you know, any truth to this?
Mike Patton : Not true. I’ve never heard of the guy.

ME : Linked to the question above, where did you learn what you know? (vocally, musically, etc.)
Mike Patton : I listen to lot’s of different types music.

ME : Who influenced you growing up and what are some of the bands/artists that you listen to now-a-days?
Mike Patton : It is hard to pinpoint influences. I listen to everything from Sigur Ros to the Locust to Sammy to Sade.

ME : Any comments on the upcoming Peeping Tom project?
Mike Patton : It is going to be very interesting. Dan the Automator is a very talented guy.

ME : Throughout the years, despite FNM’s popularity both in the earlier days of We Care a Lot and The Real Thing, not to mention the critically-acclaimed Angel Dust – and all throughout the rest of your career w/FNM and your multitude of collaborations, solo projects, side-projects and what-not, you’ve slipped beyond a majority of the press. To my knowledge, there’s been very little talk of you on MTV throughout the number of years (aside from Headbanger’s Ball and a Live N’ Loud performance), Rolling Stone has never done a cover piece on you or any of your projects, and FNM has only been on SNL twice (once again to, my knowledge). Yet, a LOT of artists cite your name and that of various FNM members all the time. Truly you are THE underrated artist of the millenia – even having Angel Dust picked #1 on Blender’s “Best Albums You Haven’t Heard” . Are you at all upset about this, or do you prefer the close-knit following of die-hard fans that you have now to the endless droves of the pop-loving mainstream?
Mike Patton : You know, this is the kind of music industry garbage I hate. Underrated? By who? By what standards? I could give a rat’s ass. This is not a contest. Charts don’t mean a thing to me. I have never been professionally happier in all my life, that is all that matters. Things are going great! I would not trade it for anything. I do not spend time thinking about other bands. I concern myself with MY craft. If people like what I do that is certainly great, but if they don’t, I’m fine with that too.

ME : How do you feel overall about your accomplishments in life — and what drives you to wake up every morning and continue on?
Mike Patton : I don’t spend any time reflecting on my “accomplishments”. I am driven by the next great meal.

ME : (we ask everyone this) You’re stuck on a deserted island for a month with 1 person (alive or dead) and 1 item (let’s suppose you could find food and water pretty easily on this island), what would they be and why?
Mike Patton : It would be Michael Jackson and a sampler. We could make beautiful music.

I felt like an asshole for suggesting he was underrated, or would even care about that shit, so I emailed him a follow-up :

“I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions, I know you must be incredibly busy with everything you’re doing. The reason for the weirdness of the questions, and their basic content was intended to give fans and possible future fans a look into your world very briefly. The few funny questions (about the video, and “what is it?”) were tying in with the general humor of the site. We’re doing a feature piece, like we plan to do with many musicians we feel have done a lot in their time and the interview was meant to tie in with it all. Needless to say, we’re kinda new to this whole interview thing.

On a final note, I meant no comparing or degrading on behalf of the “underrated” question. I’ve had many friends who’ve only recently begun to unfold the various music projects you’ve been a part of. They always say “god… there’s such great music here, it’s strange I’ve never even known about all of this”. So, in that respect our staff decided to ask the question regarding your underground success. I was just worried you may have taken it in a different light than it was meant — and for that I apologize.

Thanx again”

To which, like a goddamned gentleman, he actually responded …

In a message dated 12/10/01 7:20:56 PM, mitcz@rockthefrigginhouse.com writes:
<< I was just worried you may have taken it in a different light than it was meant — and for that I apologize. >>

No apology necessary, I fully understand where you are coming from. Thanks!
-MP

Salt of the earth, that man. I was a dumb kid, projecting weird drama onto him, and he thanked me for it. As a gift for those of you who love Faith No More, here’s some footage I took of their performance of Midlife Crisis last night, with an incredible breakdown, to show you how fucking amazing they are live…

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. well.. final 2 of 3, they later announced and perford on New Year’s Eve that year, but as it was almost a month later, it’s not technically part of that first tour