Mike Patton is the recording studio equivalent of Mary Catherine O’Reilly of St. Joseph High School, class of ’99, who slept with not only the entire varsity football team but also the chess club, the library staff and Carl the glass-eyed, gimp-legged custodian. For this promiscuous impresario, maintaining a loyal relationship to just one set of musical collaborators is impossible. Patton is a living, breathing creative id who does whatever he damn well pleases.

Over the course of his career, Patton has worked with a rogues’ gallery of some of the music world’s underground heroes: Dan the Automator, Björk, the Dillinger Escape Plan, Prince Paul, Jennifer Charles, John Zorn, the X-ecutioners, Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. and the Kronos Quartet. And that’s not even getting into the bands Patton has fronted-Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantômas and Faith No More.

But there’s one artist who Patton wants to work with more than any other-Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, death be damned. “Sinatra,” he says. “I’d love to a record of Norwegian black metal or pop standards with him.”

Norwegian death metal? Pop standards? With a six-feet-under Sinatra? Well, why not?

Within the past six months, Patton has released three albums-Kaada/Patton with Norwegian multi-composer Kaada, Gen. Patton vs. the X-ecutioners and Suspended Animation, the fourth release by Fantômas, a noise-metal outfit that will have you thinking of the collective works of Raymond Chandler, Mel Blanc and Yoko Ono at the same time. Unlike Fantômas’s previous release (2004’s one-song, 74-minute-long Delìrium Cordìa), Suspended Animation is a 30-track affair that attempts to capture the whiz-bang, romper-room energy of the Looney Tunes. “Cartoons are manic and unpredictable, changing moods within each piece,” Patton says, adding that capturing the spirit of cartoons “seems perfect for Fantômas.”

As expected, the present tour with Fantômas-which features Buzz Osborne (Melvins), Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle) and Dave Lombardo (Slayer)-is just a sliver of what has been keeping the 37-year-old musician up all night. Lately, he has been working on the much-anticipated debut of Peeping Tom, a long gestating project which is rumored to be Patton’s bid to storm to the top of the pop charts. For the first time since his first days in Faith No More, Peeping Tom could very well be the album that earns the singer more than just accolades from cynical critics and adventurous listeners. Then again, maybe not. “Well, it is hard to call it mainstream. But it is certainly the most straight-ahead and, dare I say, hip thing I have worked on,” says Patton.

Don’t sound so embarrassed, Mike. We always knew you had it in you. From the melodic rap metal of Faith No More to the pet sounds of Mr. Bungle’s final LP, 1999’s California, we always knew you had a soft spot for Top 40 fare, even if you have a penchant for singing about masturbation, employ more voices than Rich Little and record yourself screaming like a toddler who just fell off the swing set.

Although Patton reportedly was courting the major labels with the Peeping Tom debut, he ultimately decided to release the album on his own label, Ipecac, which has put out discs by everyone from the Melvins to Mondo Generator. “There was interest and even an offer, but nothing seemed right. I know what I will be getting with Ipecac,” Patton says of the project. He adds that he has “spent about a year away from it while working on other records and waiting on contributions, but now it is shaping up to be quite a beast.”

For Peeping Tom, Patton has tapped a whole messload of collaborators, some frequent, some new-the Melvins’ Dale Crover; Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto; the Anticon hip-hop collective; rapper Kool Keith; and noted DJs Kid Koala, Dan the Automator and Amon Tobin. Patton hopes to have the album out in 2006.

He also recently finished his first major acting gig, taking on the role of not one, but two characters, in the carny noir, Firecracker. “It was quite a challenge but a lot of fun. I would do it again for the right project, but I’m sticking with my day job,” Patton says.

And before you get any sort of idea that Patton is going to be sitting on his ass playing Grand Theft Auto once the tour is over, think again. He’s working on the soundtrack for the movie Pinion, the next Tomahawk album and the music for a videogame. It’s not too much for Patton to take, though. As the man says, “I thrive in confusion and chaos.”


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