INTERVIEW: Mike Patton

The existence of Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane should be no surprise to anyone. Even Patton’s most commercial musical endeavour – Faith No More – was pretty damn uncommercial, a few big hits notwithstanding. Mr. Bungle were always the musical equivalent of a sophisticated sugar high, Fantomas is like soundtrack music for a fever dream, and there are plenty of other non-obvious, non-pop entries dotted throughout Patton’s musical resume. Yet still Mondo Cane stands out as one of his most surprising yet most ‘that totally makes sense’ musical endeavours: sweeping versions of 1950s and 60s Italian pop music, rendered with respect and creativity rather than as a joke. Faith No More fans might have seen hints to this in that band’s occasional Burt Bacharach covers or some of Bungle’s more leisurely moments on California, but Mondo Cane is the fully-realised expression of this side of Patton’s musical personality. Fans in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will be able to experience the splendour first-hand when Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane performs at the Harvest Festival and at a sideshow in Melbourne this month. 

What are the logistics of pulling something like this together? 

Well, it’s a lot of phases, a lot of steps. To go back to the beginning it’s selecting the songs. In the beginning I probably had about 150 tunes that I was in love with and thought that maybe I could do some justice to. Then you whittle them down, whittle them down and keep whittling them down. Then you want variety, you want this composer and that composer, and you try to paint the kind of brush strokes that you envision. So you have to eliminate certain things that are fantastic but could maybe be saved for later or something like that. And once you decide that, it’s ‘Okay… who am I gonna get to help me?’ And I was very, very lucky to find Daniele Luppi, who has since become a very, very dear friend. He helped me transcribe all of this stuff. I had the arrangements in my head how I wanted to change each tune and the sort of instrumentation I wanted, and he helped me put it down on paper and make it intelligible to the rest of the world. Read More …