ARTISTdirect.com editor Rick Florino recently conducted an interview with FAITH NO MORE singer Mike Patton. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
ARTISTdirect.com: Have you always had this fascination with Italy or did it happen after you'd developed an appreciation for the culture?
Mike Patton: It happened after I got married, my friend [Laughs]. I married an Italian lady, and I had to get acquainted. Basically, it started with the language because her family and her parents didn't really speak English. I had to learn the language, so I did that. The longer you spend in a place like that, it really sucks you in. It really envelopes you and makes you feel like one of them. If you say "Ciao," they go, "Oh my God, that's amazing! That sounds great! You're Italian!" It's not like France, where you say, "Bonjour" and they go, "No, no, no, it's Bonjouuurrr!" [Laughs] I had never been taken in like I was in Italy just by saying a few words. That made me feel like I had to put in the effort and I want to be one of them. Have you ever lived abroad?
ARTISTdirect.com: No, I haven't, but I always wanted to go to Italy because I am Italian.
Mike Patton: Well, there you go! You have the best excuse in the world [Laughs]. C'mon! When you do live abroad, you're basically searching for some kind of peace. You don't want to be the fuckin' foreigner. You want to be a part of everyday life there and you don't want anybody to look at you sideways. So you find ways of blending in, and it's a real challenge. I was able to do it, by learning the language well enough and then also really immersing myself in the musical scene there. Oddly enough, I became attracted to the stuff from the '60s and the '70s, and that's where this record comes from.
ARTISTdirect.com: Italian art has always been boundless, from Da Vinci to Dario Argento. That boundlessness is in line with what you've done your whole career. There's never been a set Italian style; anything goes.
Mike Patton: Oh yeah, I think that could be said for most cultures. To be honest, a lot of the tunes that I chose for [the MONDO CANE] record were, in some way, a very strange mirror for what was going on in the States. It wasn't like Italian folk music from novelty or Sicilian choral music. A lot of it was like a very strange refraction of what was going on in America but it came out in a very Italian style. Somehow, I think they put their fingerprint on popular music at that time.
ARTISTdirect.com: Are you going to bring [MONDO CANE] on the road?
Mike Patton: I'm hoping to! It's a difficult and expensive project to bring to life. I'm working on it now. We're doing a tour in Europe in July. It's so much easier to do in Europe for some reason. Maybe later in the fall, I'll do some shows in the States. There are different orchestras every gig. Basically, you show up! We're playing Poland, and they'll be a Polish orchestra. You rehearse with them one day, and then you play concert. Next day, Russia!
ARTISTdirect.com: Given that FAITH NO MORE is back now, what does the band and its catalog mean to you after all of these years?
Mike Patton: Well, it's strange, you know? To be honest, I never thought that I would ever revisit that stuff again. After some reflection and speaking with the guys, I realized, "Well, wait a minute. I'm not embarrassed about it [Laughs]. It's still good music! Is there a way that we can still pull it off and do it justice?" So we rehearsed! When we rehearsed, I realized this is good and I feel great about it. After that, we decided to do some shows. The interest was also kind of staggering. Basically, there's more interest in us now than when we were an active band, which is really strange, kind of haunting and maybe a bit morbid, but it also inspired us. We thought, "Okay, for some reason people are really interested in this. Maybe we should take it as seriously as they are?" [Laughs] You know what I mean?
ARTISTdirect.com: Coachella is a great platform for you to make your big debut back after the San Francisco shows.
Mike Patton: In terms of festivals in the U.S., I can't think of a better one or a more appropriate one. The San Francisco shows are basically warm-ups for us. We're doing them in our hometown and it'll be like a high-five type of evening.
Read the entire interview at ARTISTdirect.com.