Warner Brothers. "We got great up-front money for recording," he said. "That's a big plus; we can record it the way we want to and spend the necessary amount of time . . . even though we're a bunch of paranoid cheapskates and we nickel and dime ourselves to death . . . A good budget, what does that mean? We can go out to the most expensive studio and drink champagne every night? No. You do what it takes to record your record as cheaply as you can because that money that you're spending is your fucking money, and you're just basically taking out a loan. That's the way we look at it."
California was self produced, saving more budget. "A producer is a little bit like 'sanitation executive.' What's that? It's a janitor. If you're hearing the music the way it should be, if you know what you want and if you learn how to get it, you don't need a producer. Producers are for people who want help to formulate ideas. Producers are great. Some are guys who just sit around and read the paper and take the check. It's a very overrated and somewhat useless job title. If you know what you want, you are your own producer."
I wanted to find out the meaning of "Ars Moriendi," the cryptic Latin title for a cut on the California CD. "That means the art of dying," as the beast belched and gobbled up more of our conversation. Moving onto lyrics, I found out a Mr. Bungle web site is being built that will provide that and much more. In the meantime, I pressed for lyrics to the gothic, morbid, dreamy "Retrovertigo" cut. He almost sang it for me through the crossed phone lines, fused wires, dying technology, dead relationships, fading interviews and the knowledge you can never go back.
Now I find that truth is a ruin/
nauseous end that no one is pursuin' . . .
I tried. We tried. Maybe it's close enough for rock-n-roll. Unintentionally, I wound up giving Patton the road weary memory of another bizarre interview. We probably won't speak again. By the time he reaches Pittsburgh, you might be reading this, buried in the sex ads so some might profit from this labor.
There's a vintage thirst returning/
but I'm sheltered by my channel surfing . . .
Patton forged on with the song's lyrics, struggling to remember without doing the whole number from the top. I joked with him about Frank Sinatra playing Atlantic city with a teleprompter. I thought I heard him laughing, as the connection was breaking up.
It's a simple choice, to the left or the right, that all gamblers must make out on the highway. Somehow, even embedded as we are in our binary technology, we've lost sight of that simplicity.
Ahhh. "Retrovertigo" and the art of dying. That's what this whole thing was/is about.