The Art of Dying -- the totally bungled interview with Mr. Bungle's Mike Patton -- by Gary Aker
ŅI doubt that anyone else on earth  can possibly imagine what Patton is hearing in his head.'
Mike Patton pic

They call him the Frank Zappa of the next generation; but instead of the guitar, the voice is his virtuoso instrument. Mike Patton and his merry men of Mr. Bungle are touring the mid-sized venues in support of their latest CD, California.

Although Patton, formerly of Faith No More, is back in the bosom of the big label, Warner Brothers, Mr. Bungle has taken on this demanding road show without any tour support. Some might say they're lucky just to be back on the label, which, Patton says, has no idea what to do with them--promotionally speaking. The latest Mr. Bungle has been called cartoon circus music for the intellectual freakazoid set. That being the case, there's no shortage

of fan support out there in the twisted tributaries of America. Mr. Bungle sold out Seattle before selling out Portland's Roseland theater the next night. Then it was off to Salt Lake, their first night off spent driving, where they sold out as well. Grueling is an understatement.

Body surfing to acapella Sammy Davis Jr. croonings, "Only in Portland," Patton deadpanned to the crowd as he segued from lounge act satire to Japanese geisha falsetto to Slayer-like death metal growls (using a microphone held to his vocal cords and a free standing mike). What is this? For sound engineer and tour manager Jayson, it's a nightmare. With anything Patton, the point is to not try and figure it out. But Patton damn well wants Jayson to figure it out and get the sound dynamics right. Good luck. I doubt that anyone else on earth can possibly imagine what Patton is hearing in his head.

After the show, I visited with Patton at the lip of the stage. He remembered our previous interview last October when he was touring his death metal shoved out the window of Fantomas. "That was one of the most bizarre interviews I've ever done," he said. Great. I knew I had him hooked.

Patton's never been afraid of the bizarre; he thrives on it. So we set up a telephone interview after he reached Salt Lake. No such luck.

The next night I caught up to them still on the bus, two drag ass hours out of Salt Lake. No interview. The next day I hooked up with Patton at the DV8 club during load-in/sound check. He complained that the place looked small, more like 500 than 1000 capacity. And it was hot. "It's gonna be a sweatbox," he said. At last, we started our interview.

Crossed wires in the new Exotic office meant every time line 2 rang we couldn't hear each other talking over the bleed through. Satan was in the phone line. My co-worker had a melt down at that moment, as he tried in vain to conduct his business as well, and started hurling insults at me from across the room. I interrupted my interview with Patton, already dead in the water, to yell back and throw a pen at his head. It had all turned to shit. I called back later at midnight and was promptly dismissed by Jayson as they were having some "crisis with the club." What I managed to learn in our brief, uninterrupted time together was that Patton is a patient man, up to a point. But he was as fed up with the fuck-ups on my end as me.

Patton's quite pleased with being back with