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Mike Patton: “Every Guy In Every Band That I’ve Played In Is Better Than Me”


Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, etc. frontman Mike Patton is universally respected as a world-class vocalist and intrepid creative mind, widely regarded as one of the best rock/metal vocalists to ever do it. Still, Patton thinks he has room to grow… and what’s more, believes that he is a worse musician than everyone in every band he’s ever played in, a plainly false assertion.

In a new chat with Forbes, Patton spoke about his continuing desire to learn and evolve, saying:

“I’m always willing to learn. I’m always willing to learn with people and that’s why collaborations with me, as opposed to bands are as rewarding because you’re always going to learn something. I work with DJ QBert and he’s like scratching like a f**king maniac and I’m learning rhythms from him. So everything that you do or footstep that you can take is basically a learning experience. So I keep waiting for that moment where I’m going to sit back and rest on my laurels. But it ain’t happening. It’s not going to happen. [laughs] It’s not gonna happen. I’m too curious, I’m too restless I guess. I wish I could, but no, it’s not gonna happen.”

Later, while reflecting on his uncanny ability to summon certain styles or imitate other singers, he delivered the absurd quote you saw in this article’s headline:

“…There are moments in every band that I’m in where we reference people, like, ‘Hey man, more Tom Araya or more Tom Waits or more, fucking, Nancy Sinatra.’ These things are said in the studio. And it helps me because I’m not a learned, trained musician. I don’t read notes, I don’t speak that language.

“So when I’m working, and I purposefully work with people who are better than me. All of them, every guy in every band that I’ve played in is better than me. They know more and they teach me. A lot of times in Faith No More, what we would do is reference movies like, ‘Hey, make it more like Paris, Texas. Not Paris. But Paris, Texas.’ And I knew exactly what that meant.

“Make it more western. Make it more fucked up and funky. It’s all about communication and how a unit becomes a thing. And it’s tough to do for a band. Different people, different ideas. You know all that kind of stuff. But one day, it will come together. And there are so many examples. But it’s really about, for me, being open minded enough to listen.

“And listening is one of the hardest things for a musician to do. ‘Cause once you’ve achieved some things, you think you know it all. But you don’t know shit. So keeping your ears open and your mind open is the most important thing. Listen to others and then you’ll get better.”

While it’s easy to sit here and say “Oh, Mike, so silly!” it’s this very humbleness and the desire to keep getting better that’s kept Patton relevant all these years. So many musicians DO simply rest on their laurels once they’ve “achieved some things,” a problem we’ve discussed here at length.

You can read the full interview at Forbes.

Tomahawk’s first album in eight years, Tonic Immobility, came out last week. Stream it below.

[via The PRP]

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