Mike Patton Hopes Dead Cross Will Release ‘A Few More Records,’ Faith No More on ‘Extended Break’ [Interview]
Mike Patton was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio program. The singer spoke about his involvement in Dead Cross from initially wanting to sign the band to his record label to becoming their frontman. He commented on the freedom he has within the band, their plans for the future and he gives an update on what’s currently going on with Faith No More. Check out the chat below.
We’re here to talk about your most recent project. The self-titled debut from the band Dead Cross is out now. You’re singing on it and initially you approached Dead Cross about releasing their album on your label. Had you already envisioned what you could add to this music when they asked you to join?
To be honest, no. I just thought it was a really good band and based on the people that were involved and I heard a note of the music and I was like, “I want to release it, I want to release it.” And so I hit up [Dave] Lombardo about that very thing and he goes, “We’re talking to a few labels.” So I figured, “Eh maybe it won’t work out.” Normally when bands say that, they’re kind of fishing around and they are probably going to get a better advance or something like that. So I figured, “Well look, it’s a bunch of friends of mine, but maybe they don’t want to be part of my team and that’s okay.”
A few weeks passed with like literal radio silence and then Dave texted me and he goes, kind of timidly goes, “Mike [Crain and] Gabe [Serbian] just quit the band.” And I know Gabe. He’s the ex-singer, right? He was totally great, totally great — totally fitting for this music and [Lombardo] goes, “Gabe quit and we might be looking for another singer.” And I go, “That sucks.” And he goes, “What would you say to do it, to be a part of it?” And like 30 seconds later I was like, “I’m in. If you want me I’m in, I’ll try it.” I wasn’t sure if it would work but —
You had already heard the music?
Some of it, yeah. But I kind of knew what it was and, I don’t know, just instinctively I said yes, maybe before I should have. But it made sense. I mean, damn, I’ll be honest, I was going through sort of a midlife phase where I was listening to old hardcore bands that I had grown up with and kind of going, “Wow this is actually really, really good and like this is still inside of me.” Like figuring that out. And when they asked me, it was when Dave said that, I was like, I think that vocabulary was in me and I think I can do it.
It seems like it was a perfect fit when you hear the record.
Not necessarily, not necessarily. I don’t know. I was busy doing a bunch of other stuff. Like it couldn’t be more opposite. I was working on a film score and an easy listening record and I had to put all that on hold to do this. I don’t know. I mean, all I can tell you is when you have that stuff inside of you, it’s going to come out. In my case, it comes out in maybe strange ways and it becomes something else. Yeah, so it’s a hardcore record, but it’s our hardcore record.
The lyrics on Dead Cross are vicious and in some cases fairly direct. Which had a greater influence on your lyrics: the heaviness of your music or the state of the world right now?
The music. It was all about the music and I’ve never written lyrics that were this pointed or provocative, especially considering the state of the world that we live in now. So I thought it was a good opportunity to kind of go there. I’m not really going there like say Jello Biafra would go there. But I’m hinting on it and I’m also injecting a lot of humor and a lot of like nasty imagery. I think that hopefully it helps people think a little bit.
I’m not really a big lyric fan, to be honest. I think the music tells the story. Lyrics are just kind of background to me in normal — most bands that I played with. This one, I kind of took a different turn. I don’t know if it works. Who knows? It feels good. That’s all I can tell you.
So far everything about Dead Cross, writing, recording and rehearsing has been frantic by the seam of your pants. How has that approach served the music to make it better?
Oh, well, I don’t know if it’s better but it’s the only way we know how to do it. So, like — I joined this band after they were already a band, understand? They had a singer, so in a sense the only thing that I can compare it to is like, when I joined Faith No More which was kind of similar. They had a singer who they didn’t — weren’t getting along with or that singer quit or got fired — I don’t know. I don’t get involved in that s–t. But I came in after the fact and so, the Faith No More experience taught me very well how to deal with this experience, which is — hey, they hired me to do vocals. I’m not going to rewrite the Bible here. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. So all I did was, I contributed vocals and it came at a really good time where I was listening that stuff and kind of rediscovering that stuff and also examining myself. I thought that Fantomas would get that out of my system but it didn’t, so its still in there and this was a perfect way to contribute to someone else’s vision and also make it comfortable for me.
You mentioned earlier about the fact that Dead Cross was already established when you joined, just like Faith No More. What were some of the deja vu moments when you were working on your parts of the song?
[Laughs] Well the difference is that Faith No More had a few records out so they were I guess, more established? So I was coming into a situation that was a little more ingrained I should say. This was new and there was no record out, so what I did with this band was — and we talked about it — their previous singer had melodies and vocal parts already written and they told me, “No, forget all that s–t.” So I’m releasing my mind a little bit and they go, “Write your own stuff.” So I did. Some of it’s similar and some of it is very different. So I’m not sure if that answers your question or not, but that is the way I approached it. From a clean slate point of view, even though there was other stuff that was going on before I joined. Does that make sense?
Totally. I feel like what you did worked. It was kind of amazing hearing the record. Dave played it for me in the car when I hung out with him a few months ago. I was just — first of all it was so cool to hear your voice on that music. It’s not like you guest vocal stuff or sing for a ton of other bands, it was such a cool thing to hear and I was like, “Holy crap this really works! It’s awesome!”
It’s weird. I told them, I warned them, I was like, “Guys, when I sing on this it’s not going to be full on 100 percent genre-specific hardcore. It’s going to be weird.” There’s nothing that I do that belongs anywhere [laughs]. They were like, “We’re up for it, do your thing.” They gave me, to their credit, full reign on all the tunes. “Do whatever the f–k you want and however it sounds, we’ll deal with it.” So I have to tip my cap to them for giving me the freedom to do it. It wasn’t like, “You’ve got to be like Ian MacKaye or Henry Rollins or whatever.” It was, “Do you.” That made me feel really, really comfortable and that’s why I did it to be honest.
Stylistically you’re involved in a lot of different music. What’s the one element that’s the same in anything that you do whether it’s Dead Cross, Fantomas, Faith No More or scoring a Stephen King movie for Netflix?
Gun to my head I would just say the similarities between the things that I do are because I’m working with good people and people that I trust. I really try not to get involved in situations where maybe something could go horribly wrong. Meaning, someone I don’t really know or trust. I need to have a security blanket in anything I’m working on.
Dead Cross is in the same vein as music that affected you as a kid. What changes and what’s the same when you’re making that kind of music as an adult?
Well, I don’t know. I can only speak personally but the way that I would describe it is, this band had some of the elements that supercharged me when I was a youngster and reminded me of that s–t. I think the only way I can describe it is, well — we’ve all had a lot of experience since we were 16. Me and Dave, he’s over 50 and I’m about to turn 50 so we were like, “How can we make this ours?”
Even if I were to sit down on paper and draw out, “Okay, this is what a hardcore singer should do,” I wouldn’t follow it. I’ve got to do my own thing. So it’s going to be impure and I realized long ago that anything I do with whatever band is going to be some sort of weird hybrid. Some sort of bastardization of what I’m really trying to do and that comes from experience and I don’t know — a lot of influence and many years of doing it. So, yeah, is this a hardcore record? I think so. A lot of really close friends have told me, “No, this is something else. It’s something totally different and it’s really exciting.” So that just proves the fact that what I’m hearing in my head is not what everyone else is hearing on the outside.
Mike, is this a one time thing for this Dead Cross album or do you think you’ll continue beyond this?
I think we should. It’s going so well and it feels really good — we get along real well. I don’t see why we shouldn’t put out a few more records and keep touring. So, we’ll see. I’ve learned to not make too many promises in advance, so, who knows? [laughs]
Is there anything you can share about the status of Faith No More?
No, I would share but I don’t know anything. So, we’re kind of on a extended break and if something happens, it’ll happen organically and naturally but I kind of don’t think it will. I kind of feel like we’ve tipped the scales a little bit, but we’ll see, who knows? I’ve learned my lesson not to say “No.”
It was amazing to have you guys back and doing some shows and hopefully if the time is right and the opportunity is right you guys will get together and do some more.
It’s one of those things, kind of like going to a family reunion and get along with your uncle and you’re like, “Oh, we’re going to go to the next BBQ. Fine.” It’s really the way it is for us.
What are your thoughts on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Faith No More is eligible and I feel like a band that —
What does eligible mean?
Timing wise in terms of when your first album came out, there’s a certain amount of years –
There’s a criteria for that s–t?
Yes. I’m guessing you don’t pay attention to that stuff.
No, no. [laughs] That’s why I’m asking. I have no clue. I don’t know. If that happens, wonderful, if not, fine. It never crossed my mind until you just said it. I mean, we’re old enough I guess, right?
I think it has to do with the age of the band and the album releases and stuff.
But yeah, that’s what I mean. Age and age of the band is kind of the same.
I think if it were to happen you guys would deserve it, just saying.
Meh, who knows. Put in a vote for us. [laughs]
My vote means zilch, but I will put in a vote for you. Mike thank you, this has been awesome.
Thank you, I hope I didn’t let you down.
Thank to Mike Patton for the interview. Grab your copy of Dead Cross’ self-titled debut at iTunes and Amazon and stay up to date with everything the band is doing by following them on Facebook and make sure to follow Mike Patton as well. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
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