How Faith No More Knew they Wanted Mike Patton for ‘The Real Thing’
Faith No More knew they wanted Mike Patton to become their frontman in 1988 when they told him they loved a demo tape he’d given them, and he said his band didn’t sound like that anymore.
They wanted to move one without Chuck Moseley, feeling that hit single “We Care a Lot” represented the furthest they could go with that style of vocal. As they started work on what would be groundbreaking album The Real Thing, which contained the hit single "Epic," they remembered the Mr. Bungle tape that Patton had given them at one of their shows. Soon, they received a new one.
“We got the chance to see them opening up for the [Red Hot] Chili Peppers, and we drove down," Patton told Billboard in a new interview. “Every time we'd go to a cool show in San Francisco, it was like a big event. We always had to figure out whose grandpa's car we were going to borrow, then drive all day, see the show, drive back and go to school the next day. By then, however, Mr. Bungle had a few demo tapes done, and our sound completely changed from the tape Faith No More had. We had gotten very bored of what we were doing, which was like this angular death metal, and had gotten really into Fishbone and the Chili Peppers. So we hired a horn section and changed our whole deal."
“We ran into them [after the show] and let them know again how much we enjoyed the tape,” drummer Mike Bordin recalled. “And they were like, 'We don't sound like that anymore.' Then the next tape we heard was this super-secret spy ska stuff. That, to me and I think most of us in the band at the time, it carried a lot of weight. Mike was evolving… He had such a broad range of music knowledge to be inspired by and draw upon. So he fit in exceptionally well with us, because he was already doing what we were doing on his own exploration."
Patton agreed with the sentiment. “The Real Thing didn't really sound so much like the Faith No More I was a fan of, so I think I was a little thrown for a loop on that, but in a good way,” he said. “It showed me these guys were evolving – they were going somewhere.” He added: “More than the music, I really liked the guys. We all had the same sense of humor and we were all cynical and messed up in the same ways, even though those guys were older than me. But we all could bond over stupid stuff, and obviously music.”
“It was Patton's first foray into a big studio record," keyboardist Bottum remembered. "Given where he was coming from as a young man from a small town, he had a lot to prove. And you can hear that on the tracks. You can hear him really working hard in that regard. So all of a sudden he came down and sang these songs we created and we were all just kind of like, ‘Whoa.’” He continued: “Mike really went places after The Real Thing. After that record, the whole notion of pleasing people went out the window and we just enjoyed fucking off and doing whatever we wanted.”