Musical Virtuoso Mike Patton

My senior year of high school, I became friends with a group of guys who I’ve known multiple decades now (how has it been so long?). Since I don’t typically refer to other people by name on this site, I won’t do that here, but they know who they are. Anyhow, although we had a lot of overlap in terms of musical tastes, they introduced me to an entirely new world of incredible music from vocalist Mike Patton. I had, as is true for many, heard Faith No More’s Epic before. But I really hadn’t been exposed to much else from the band. Apparently, I had been missing out on a massive catalog of incredible music, not just from Faith No More, but also from other Patton projects.

In some respects, this is going to be a two part post. Initially, I was working on a portrait of me and a couple of the guys I mentioned above. It was a scene from after a Mr. Bungle concert, another of Mike Patton’s bands. It was a fun sketch, and it got me thinking about a drawing I did a few years ago of Faith No More’s members. That sketch is not very good (wobbly and uncertain lines) and is just in graphite pencil. The mood struck me to draw the band again, which then shifted to just drawing Patton himself. I dove into the project, then started thinking about what to write afterwards…eventually, the planned post was becoming too unwieldy. I decided to split it into one post featuring the Patton portrait, with a brief discussion of him as a musician, then a second of me and a couple of the guys, with a write-up specifically about that Mr. Bungle show.

If you’ve only heard Epic by Faith No More, like I had back in 1998, and you broadly like rock music, you owe it to yourself to check out more of their music. Epic is a fine song, but it’s probably not even in my top 50 with Patton on vocals. One of the most amazing things about Faith No More, and Patton’s other bands as well, is that each new album is incredibly different. The album after The Real Thing, Angel Dust, was essentially an entirely different rock sub-genre. Patton’s vocals are recognizable, but it feels almost like a different band. Likewise for the transition from Angel Dust to King for a Day Fool for a Lifetime. Since it’s harder to put into words than to just simply listen to the differences, here are some samples from various phases of Patton:

With these samples, I tried to keep to the less experimental tracks…particularly when it comes to Mr. Bungle. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that aspect of Patton’s music as well – I’m just going more for an “intro” playlist here. Fair warning if you have kids around: These songs don’t have heavily explicit lyrics, but there may be a couple of drops of profanity here and there. Also, this selection doesn’t necessarily showcase the biggest hits, but I think they are decent representatives of given time frames. I did not include anything from the latest Faith No More album Sol Invictus because I actually bought a physical CD (weird right?) and it’s still in my car’s disc player. But it’s yet another evolution of sound, definitely worth checking out.

Aside from being a musical genius, another thing I appreciate about Patton is that he approaches fame in very unconventional way. It seems like he does everything he can to subvert expectations; early in his career especially, he was basically rock music’s version of an Internet Troll. Poking fun, provoking, and providing a little chaos to a variety of situations. He has a history of providing unusual/sarcastic answers to questions and giving offbeat interviews. One of my favorite examples is Patton loudly eating giant sandwich during interview. He’s also done some incredibly bizarre things on stage. There’s a lot more on YouTube, but here’s a pretty funny compilation that includes the sandwich interview (Warning: Definitely NSFW):

I know music I like, and I can describe that in very basic terms. But I’m no expert, so describing Mike Patton’s status as a virtuoso is probably better left to people who know more than I do about it. So, here are some various quotes about Patton I thought helped outline the his unique genius:

“We found that Axl Rose is still a formidable force, but he is not the artist with the biggest vocal range. He drops to number 2 on our list behind Mike Patton of Faith No More who was the only singer we found with a range greater than six octaves.”

Consequence of Sound, Revision of “Best Singers by Octave Range” List, 2014.

“Patton could very well be one of the most versatile and talented singers in rock music.”

Critic Greg Prato, 2007.

“Good god, this man is relentless, not to mention a complete and utter musical visionary and a mind-blowing and standard-warping genius.”

AllMusic Review by Blake Butler of Tomahawk’s self-titled album.

“The word ‘genius’ is overused in music journalism, wider writing and the world in general. When it comes to Mike Patton, however, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe the man….Patton has become a voyager of music. An explorer of the eclectic. No genre is left unspoiled.”

Louder Sound, The A-Z of Mike Patton.

“I hate music DVDs, I’ll be honest with you.”

Mike Patton in a 2011 interview with Quietus, in which he’s supposed to be promoting a concert DVD.

I could really go on and on about Mike Patton, Faith No More, and various other associated bands. But I’ll go ahead and get to the artwork now before I start repeating myself like a lunatic. Here’s the finished version, which I follow up with some discussion and a progression .gif as usual:

For a portrait that was very spur of the moment, this one turned out really well. The original photograph is a really good angle and the strong shadows were appealing from a drawing perspective. I found it on Pinterest, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to figure out the original photographer yet via Google reverse image searches so I can give credit to him or her. The drawing itself ended up being very loose, which is tends to mean good things when it comes to my work. It’s when I tighten up or worry too much that the end result usually starts to suffer.

As I mentioned at the beginning, originally this was going to be an add-on piece to one I already did of a couple of friends (coming in the second part of this series). Despite that, I think it turned into a fairly strong finished product. It’s definitely far and away better than that first Faith No More sketch I did. I had a little slip up with some pink and ended up making Patton’s eye look bloodshot, but it actually sort of works. I’m also happy with how the slicked back hair blended.

One thing I’m not happy with is how the photographing the paper went. I’ve discussed previously how I feel I’ve gotten better at capturing images of my artwork, and this is still better than how I did even a year ago. But it’s not my best; in literally dozens of attempts, I couldn’t get rid of some odd biege artifacts in the background, especially near his suit and neck. Maybe it’s just how the sun was that day, and an overcast environment would work better? I’m not sure, but at least I can try to get a better one later if I feel like it really needs it.

Here is the usual progression .gif. Not as many frames as I prefer, but enough I think:

So, that’s the Mike Patton write-up! Obviously, I’m a big fan. And I should mention, this ode to Patton is not to take anything away from Faith No More or any of the other musicians he’s played with. Roddy Bottom, Billy Gould, Mike Bordin, and all the rest are great in their own right, and I do also enjoy the Chuck Mosley vocals-era Faith No More.

Anyhow, hopefully I convinced a few people to check out Patton’s vast catalog. The man is always putting out new music, from video game soundtracks to 1950s Italian pop music covers. Next on deck, hopefully soon, will be that write-up specifically about one of my favorite concerts of all time – the 1999-2000 Mr. Bungle California tour!

4 comments

  • I always love seeing how you start your sketches—it looks so different from how I do it so that’s really cool to me. I’m not sure exactly what it is that distinguishes our styles of sketching, but you seem to have a good way of capturing the “necessary” elements to the drawing before you flesh the whole thing out (pun sort of intended).

    • Well played on the pun! Thanks Anna, that’s one of the things I’ve most loved about WordPress – getting a peak into other peoples’ processes and approaches. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I don’t think I would have seen the same improvement over the last few years without that learning element. For example, I first learned of thick colored pencil layering/heavy burnishing from your Drawing Through site and Luisina Juliete’s YouTube videos. And I’ve picked up so much from artist bloggers like Steve Kidd, Hilda Rogers, and others.

      I believe we do both start with outlines typically, right? After that, I tend to fall into the same flow: 1) base layers, 2) shadows, 3) blending, 4) detail, 5) more blending. Do you tend to follow consistent patterns or does it just depend on the subject? I was looking through some of your Drawing Through pieces, and it looks like on “The Eye” you went with details first and skin color towards the end. But the portriat of Bodo The Dog actually seemed really similar to how I approached the few pets I’ve drawn.

      • It’s funny, I am generally a super neat and organized perfectionist, but often when it comes to drawing, especially using color, I seem to approach things at random! I noticed that when I do a fully monochrome pencil sketch, I will jump around even more, adding shadows before the general outline is done, whereas the nature of colored pencil leads me to be more precise—erasing is not really an option, so there is more planning and intentionality involved, and the initial sketch must leave out details I would otherwise include, in order to avoid the pencil marks showing through in the final piece. Thanks for listening to my TED talk. 😉 I’m curious about how you see your approach to colored pencil drawing differ from your previous pencil-sketching style—maybe a post idea if you run out at some point? I don’t recall your book going into that specific comparison (if I even worded that in a way that makes sense…) Do my overly lengthy replies hint at the current quarantine? Haha

      • Hey I guess that’s the spirit of art though right? Going where the pencil takes you, not fighting that creative part of your brain. That’s a fair point about erasing though, I feel like I’ve definitely gotten into trouble in the past with un-fixable mistakes.

        Also, fantastic idea on writing about the differences between colored pencil and the graphite approach! Although I’ve certain explored colored pencil changes over time, I really don’t think I’ve touched on that at all. In hindsight, it’s kind of a “why didn’t I think of that” moment – it would have been a great thing to talk about in in some detail in the book! Because it is definitely a different approach. I’d have to ponder it a bit more, but I think my graphite approach was more similar to yours with a lot of jumping around.

        (100% there too on quarantine stuff by the way)

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