Mike Patton on Record Stores, Music Scores, and Doing More with Bungle

After three sold-out shows in February, Mr. Bungle is back with a brand new album. Fortunately for Discogs, we got to hear from Mr. Mike Patton himself about his thoughts during this strange time.

Mike Patton: I should be on the road right now … My whole year got canceled, so I’m taking the quarantine as, “Oh this is an opportunity to record!'”So I’ve done three records during the quarantine. What else are you going to do?

What Discogs is doing is a great thing. You’re documenting what people like me do. I wouldn’t have the stones to do that.

In terms of what I’m listening to, I’ve just gone way back since I’m not able to go to the record store anymore. I’m listening to stuff that I either haven’t listened to fully or even opened. Like my house — and I always thought this way — I spend so much time on the road that when I come home I want to feel like it’s a fucking amusement park. I want to go to a certain section of vinyl or CDs or open up a drawer and go, “Oh, wait, that thing! I never listened to that.” The one thing that I’ve been tripping off is Fred Buscaglione. He’s an old Italian singer from the ‘50s that has this faux Americano, Al Capone kind of vibe and the music is so good, it’s so good. I’ve got this weird record that plays at 16 RPM which my record player doesn’t do, so I listen to him sped up and it’s really cool. It’s a weird reference point but that’s the last thing that I listened to that I’ve gone crazy over.

I’m not really a collector; I don’t have multiple copies of anything. I get records as fuel for the music that I make and that’s the purpose it serves. Other Music in New York I’ve always loved, but they’re done. There’s one in Austin, Texas that always has weird shit. Here in San Francisco, Aquarius was always my go-to. Where normal people have a shopping list, “I need milk, eggs, and some fucking bread.” I used to do that with records and then I realized that was total bullshit.

What you need to do is walk in with a completely open mind and just go, “OK, I’m going to the jazz section today.” Amoeba Records is great for that. You can just pick a section and say “Something is going to blow my fucking head off today and I’m going to find it.” Aquarius was great for that, too. We’re on an adventure here and I’ll take a chance on something if I like the way it looks and the way it feels in my hand.

For me, Amoeba is the greatest record store in the world. The idea of it is incredible. We did an in-store performance with Faith No More there, and I’ve played there with other bands too and I’ve gone to see other bands, friends, and whatnot. It’s not really a record store, Amoeba, it’s more like a fucking community center. It really feels like that. And I have no idea what it’s going to look like after this.

In regards to the new Mr. Bungle album: The initial idea to do something is when I get the most excited. The recording and release, I could take it or leave it. When the genesis of it happens, that’s where the sparks fly deep in my mind. For us, Trevor [Dunn] basically suggesting “Hey, what if we played the Raging Wrath stuff with [Dave] Lombardo?” and both me and Trey [Spruance] were like, “Oh my fucking god, YES, we gotta do that! … At some point … At some point.” It was just an idea. And I think the most exciting thing about making music is the idea stage. When you have the idea and maybe make small steps to execute that idea and then you realize that it’s real and then it becomes what it is.

On a virtual performance this Halloween: You know, due to the pandemic, there’s even a limit on how many camera people can be there. It may be really awkward. None of us have ever done anything like this, even Scott [Ian], Dave, the elder statesmen. They’ve never done shit like this. The only thing I can compare it to is the YouTube videos I did with S.O.D. and Dead Cross. All it is is a camera in your face and you fucking play, you just play. This is different because it’s an entire band in one room and … well … fingers crossed.

Talking horror: I kind of documented most of my horror favorites on the Fantomas Director’s Cut album, but the one thing we didn’t do on that record was The Excorcist. I watched that the other day, and I’ve seen it a thousand times, but good god, how amazing is that score? And how haunting is that score? Incredible. There are lots of others. Here’s one … La morte ha fatto l’uovo (Death Laid an Egg) The director is Giulio Questi, and next to [Dario] Argento, he’s one of the Italian maestros of horror, but he’s way more pornographic and weird. But so many of the films that I could talk about are scored by E Maestro … That’s Ennio Morricone and he’s another guy we lost this year. And it weighed heavily on me.

Eddie Van Halen, yeah. Ennio Morricone … Hell yeah. I can’t even talk about film score without him. There’s so much that he did and people know him for the Westerns and his bombastic style. You wouldn’t believe the absolute depths of his work. And not that he was a film composer, but that he was a classical composer on the level of Mozart, and just because he worked in the medium of film he’s kind of denigrated as some kind of sell-out. I encourage you to read John Zorn’s piece in The New York Times, it’s amazing. I got asked to give commentary about him and I froze, I couldn’t find the words and I declined. Zorn really stepped up and did the right thing. This guy was a fucking giant in the world of composers. You wouldn’t believe the amount of stuff that he did … the quality, the level, and it wasn’t recycled bullshit.

Oh right, I’m talking about a death metal record I made. I know my place. My place is, “Hey, I do stuff that makes me feel good,” and it’s always a little bit of this and a little bit of that and it’s always an amalgamation that’s never gonna fit anywhere. At my age, I know that. I know that this isn’t gonna affect anybody, but I still do it because I feel compelled to do so. I have this compulsion. And most of the people that I play with have this weird compulsion where we say, “Hey, we gotta make music, no matter what. And no matter who likes it. And no matter how successful it is.” And the beautiful thing is, hey, it gets us through the day, it gets us through a month.

I really was hoping to transfer out of being in bands into doing film scores. That didn’t really work out for me. Pandemic, lack of interest, whatever, I don’t take it hard. What I take it as is … You pivot, you pivot, you move, you adjust. And that’s what I think we’re all doing right now, we’re turning to the left, turning to the right, and figuring out how to make ourselves work in this new world. No fucking choice.”

In celebration of the release of The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo, Mr. Bungle will stream a virtual Halloween concert beginning at 12 p.m. PST on October 31. Tickets can be purchased here.

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