Daniel Robert Epstein of SuicideGirls.com recently conducted an interview with former FAITH NO MORE and current PEEPING TOM frontman Mike Patton. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
SuicideGirls.com: Why is a PEEPING TOM song a PEEPING TOM song and a TOMAHAWK song a TOMAHAWK song?
Patton: "Each one to me is its own little universe. Each one has its own little set of rules and regulations and parameters. The only way I can make sense of my music is to compartmentalize it as opposed to having one band that I have to throw everything into. For me it's just more fun and more challenging to create little worlds where a song or a piece can make sense. With FANTOMAS, for instance, the language that we've developed and that I started out with in mind was, 'OK, I'm going to use these things that I grew up with like heavy metal, hardcore riffs, things that we've heard before. But I'm going to organize them in a really unfamiliar jarring way. I'm not going to make songs out of them. I'm not going to have lyrics. I'm not going to be a traditional singer.' My voice is like a second guitar, so there are the basic rules. You can do a lot within that little box and now we've made three, four records; we'll probably make three or four more. Once I got on the path with PEEPING TOM, I realized, 'OK, this is what this project is and this is what it's going to be.' A lot of times you figure it out as you go along just like life. The longer we live the clearer some things become. With PEEPING TOM, like I said before, I realized I wanted to keep everything in a fairly linear song format and that automatically eliminates a lot of extracurricular activities. With TOMAHAWK that's a whole other beast, that's a whole other universe. That's more of a traditional rock band but it all starts with Duane Denison, the guitar player. It's his baby, he writes the tunes. My role is much different in there. I'm the facilitator so I help him flesh out the tunes and arrange things. Whether I set out to do this or not, each project ends up being its own little world where certain things can happen and other things are impossible."
SuicideGirls.com: Did you ever think that what you were doing, maybe unhealthy isn't the right but some people would consider the music unhealthy.
Patton: "Well, whatever. There's a danger in anything that is unfamiliar. That's the world we live in. People want to be reminded and patted on the back; they want to be told things they already know. We're constantly being fed images and being told what to like and what is good and for the most part, I think people enjoy living that way. It takes a lot of the thinking out of it. Everywhere you look there's someone doing your thinking for you and telling you what to think and when to think of it. So even though this PEEPING TOM record, to me, sounds fairly linear, in my universe this is pop music, this is groove music, whatever you want to call it. This is my romantic soul music for crying out loud. What that means in the real world is quite beyond me. I realize this is not KYLIE MINOGUE or THE STROKES and I realize that everything that I do is always going to be a little bit of a bastard and it's going to fall through the cracks. But I think that good things have a way of finding the cracks and I believe that it's our responsibility or at least mine, to find that shit. That's part of the reason I started a label, to provide a home for some musical misfits and put a roof over our heads."
SuicideGirls.com: The great fantasy artist, Frank Frazetta, had a stroke a few years ago and is now unable to use his right hand, which he's been drawing with for decades. He has had to learn how to draw using his left hand for the first time. Some of the pictures I've seen him do with his left hand are amazing. I know that you have a similar problem after destroying the nerves in your right hand [Patton reportedly destroyed the nerves in his right hand when he smashed a bottle onstage — Ed.]. How are you doing with it?
Patton: "Oh, man, I didn't know anybody knew about that. But it's not that big of a deal. There was a period where it was a very big deal, where I had to learn how to do everything with my left hand. Play basketball, brush your teeth, masturbate, all that good stuff. In terms of writing, that's changed a little bit, I still have the movement but the feeling is not there. I'm just so damn used to it now. But let's just say I'll be writing on guitar. I'll be playing and playing and everything will be fine and then maybe I'm recording or something and all of a sudden it won't be sounding quite right. I'll look down and the pick will have fallen out of my hand and I'm playing with my fingers but it feels the same. So that's a little example of how different that can be. You go, 'Oh, shit. Whoops,' and I put the pick back in my hand. But I wouldn't say that it's affected my writing in any other sense but physically. It's hilarious because the doctors told me that I wouldn't get the movement back but I'd get the feeling back. They were 100 percent wrong and I'm glad they were wrong because I'd rather be able to move the fucking thing."
Read the entire interview at SuicideGirls.com.