Known for his eclectic influences and experimental projects, Patton has earned critical praise for his diverse array of vocal techniques. VVN Music found Patton to possess the highest vocal range of any known singer in popular music, with a range of six octaves. He has worked as a producer or co-producer with artists such as John Zorn, Sepultura, Melvins, Melt-Banana, and Kool Keith. He co-founded Ipecac Recordings with Greg Werckman in 1999, and has run the label since. Patton's vast number of musical endeavours and constant touring have led to him being widely identified as a "workaholic".
Patton was born and raised in Eureka, California, where he formed Mr. Bungle, with Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn, in 1985. During the late '80s Mr Bungle recorded the cassette-only recordings, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, Goddammit I Love America, Bowel of Chiley and OU818, featuring tracks that would later be included on their first Warner Bros. Records release.
According to Steffan Chirazi's 1993 book The Real Story, Patton first met Faith No More during 1986. In the book, Patton was quoted as saying "Faith No More played Eureka in a pizza parlour place Mr. Bungle played dozens of times. There were 6 people there and 3 of them were my friends. It was really bad, a really pathetic show and I remember them standing around the van really upset. Puffy was really uptight wanting to know where to get weed. Nobody was talking to him, I think he asked us because we were just hanging around. Their situation then never even registered with me, touring was unreal, Warner Bros. was like a Tom and Jerry cartoon. At that time I didn't wanna know about any of that shit".
Patton was approached to join Faith No More after they heard Mr. Bungle's demo tapes in 1988. This forced him to quit his studies at Humboldt State University. In January 1989, he officially replaced Chuck Mosley as lead singer of the group. Mosley subsequently formed the bands Cement and VUA, and has had several special "one-off" performances at shows with Faith No More and Patton.
Faith No More's The Real Thing was released in 1989. The album reached the top ten on the US charts, thanks largely to MTV's heavy rotation of the "Epic" music video, (which featured Patton in a Mr. Bungle T-shirt). Faith No More released three more studio albums before disbanding in 1998 (Angel Dust, King for a Day... Fool for a Lifetime, and Album of the Year). In several interviews, Patton cited the declining quality of the band's work as a contributing factor to the split.
However, on February 24, 2009 after months of speculation and rumors, Faith No More announced they would be reforming with a line-up identical to the Album of the Year era, embarking on a reunion tour called The Second Coming Tour. To coincide with the band's reunion tour, Rhino released the sixth Faith No More compilation, The Very Best Definitive Ultimate Greatest Hits Collection in the UK on June 8. The same line-up eventually released a new album called Sol Invictus in 2015.
When interviewed about his lyrical content with Faith No More, Patton responded, "I think that too many people think too much about my lyrics. I am more a person who works more with the sound of a word than with its meaning. Often I just choose the words because of the rhythm, not because of the meaning".
During his time in Faith No More, Patton continued to work with Mr. Bungle. His success in mainstream rock and metal ultimately helped secure Mr. Bungle a record deal with Warner Bros. The band released a self-titled album (produced by John Zorn) in 1991, and the experimental Disco Volante in 1995. Their final album, California, was released in 1999. The band ceased being active following the 1999-2000 tour in support of the California record, although their disbandment was only officially confirmed in November of 2004. Patton explained to Rolling Stone "I'm at a point now where I crave healthy musical environments, where there is a genuine exchange of ideas without repressed envy or resentment, and where people in the band want to be there regardless of what public accolades may come their way. Unfortunately, Mr. Bungle was not one of those places."
Patton's other projects included two solo albums on the Composer Series of John Zorn's Tzadik label, (Adult Themes for Voice in 1996 and Pranzo Oltranzista in 1997). He is a member of Hemophiliac, in which he performs vocal effects along with John Zorn on saxophone and Ikue Mori on laptop electronics. This group is billed as "improvisational music from the outer reaches of madness". He has also guested on Painkiller and Naked City recordings. He has appeared on other Tzadik releases with Zorn and others, notably as part of the "Moonchild Trio" alongside Joey Baron and Trevor Dunn, named after Zorn's album on which the trio first appeared, Moonchild: Songs Without Words.
In 1998, Patton formed the metal supergroup Fantômas with Buzz Osbourne (of The Melvins), Trevor Dunn (of Mr. Bungle), and Dave Lombardo (of Slayer). They have released four studio albums.
In 1999, Patton met former The Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison at a Mr. Bungle concert in Nashville, and the two subsequently formed the band Tomahawk. Tomahawk's straightforward rock sound has often been compared to Album of the Year/King for a Day era Faith No More.
In 2001, he contributed vocals to Chino Moreno's group Team Sleep and released the album Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By with the group Lovage, a collaborative project consisting of Patton, Dan the Automator, Jennifer Charles, and Kid Koala. The next year, Patton performed vocals for Dillinger Escape Plan's 2002 EP, Irony Is a Dead Scene.
In 2004, Patton worked with Björk and the beat boxer Rahzel on the album Medúlla. That same year, Patton released the album Romances with Kaada and contributed vocals to the album White People by Handsome Boy Modeling School (Dan the Automator and Prince Paul). In 2005, Patton collaborated with hip-hop DJ trio and turntablists The X-Ecutioners to release the album General Patton vs. The X-Ecutioners.
In February 2006, Mike Patton performed an operatic piece composed by Eyvind Kang, Cantus Circaeus, at Teatro comunale di Modena in Modena, Italy. Patton sang alongside vocalist Jessika Kinney, and was accompanied by the Modern Brass Ensemble, Bologna Chamber Choir, and Alberto Capelli and Walter Zanetti on electric and acoustic guitars. Patton remarked that it was extremely challenging to project the voice without a microphone.
Patton's Peeping Tom album was released on May 30, 2006 on his own Ipecac label. The set was pieced together by swapping song files through the mail with collaborators like Dan the Automator, Rahzel, Norah Jones, Kool Keith, Massive Attack, Odd Nosdam, Jel, Doseone, Bebel Gilberto, Kid Koala, and Dub Trio.
In May 2007, he performed with an orchestra a few concerts in Italy, by the name of Mondo Cane, singing Italian oldies from the 50s and the 60s.
In 2008, he performed vocals on the track "Lost Weekend" by The Qemists. In December 2008, along with Melvins, Patton co-curated an edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties Nightmare Before Christmas festival. Patton chose half of the lineup and performed the album The Director's Cut in its entirety with Fantômas. Patton also appeared as Rikki Kixx in the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse in a special 2 part episode on August 24.
On May 4, 2010 Mondo Cane, where Patton worked live with a 30-piece orchestra, was released by Ipecac Recordings. The album was co-produced and arranged by Daniele Luppi. Recorded at a series of European performances including an outdoor concert in a Northern Italian piazza, the CD features traditional Italian pop songs as well as a rendition of Ennio Morricone's 'Deep Down'.
Patton is a member of the supergroup Nevermen, alongside Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio and rapper Doseone (with whom Patton had previously collaborated on the Peeping Tom side-project). In 2016, the group released an eponymous debut album on Patton's Ipecac label.
In August 2017, Patton released an new album with the band Dead Cross, a supergroup that includes Slayer and Fantômas drummer Dave Lombardo and members of Retox.
In 2005, Patton signed on to compose the soundtrack for the independent movie Pinion, marking his debut scoring an American feature-length film. However, this had been held up in production and may be on the shelf permanently. His other film work includes portraying two major characters in the Steve Balderson film Firecracker. He has also expressed a desire to compose for film director David Lynch.
Patton provided the voices of the monsters in the 2007 film I Am Legend starring Will Smith.
He also worked on the Derrick Scocchera short film "A Perfect Place" for the score/soundtrack, which is longer than the film itself.
In 2009, Patton created the soundtrack to the movie Crank: High Voltage.
Patton composed the soundtrack to the 2012 film "The Place Beyond the Pines".
In 2016, Patton provided the voice to lead character Eddy Table in a short animated film, "The Absence of Eddy Table".
Patton is known to be an avid video game player. In 2007, he provided the voice of the eponymous force in the video game The Darkness, working alongside Kirk Acevedo, Lauren Ambrose and Dwight Schultz. Patton reprised the role in The Darkness II in 2012.
He also had a role in Valve Corporation's 2007 release Portal as the voice of the Anger Sphere in the final confrontation with the insane supercomputer, GLaDOS. He has another role in the Valve title Left 4 Dead, voicing the majority of the infected zombies. He also voiced Nathan "Rad" Spencer, the main character in Capcom's 2009 video game Bionic Commando, a sequel to their classic NES title.
Patton married Cristina Zuccatosta, an Italian artist, in 1994. The couple divided their time between San Francisco and Bologna, Italy, until their separation in 2001. Patton used to own a home in Bologna and speaks Italian. Regarding his close association with Italy, Patton stated, "It happened after I got married. I married an Italian lady, and I had to get acquainted. Basically, it started with the language because her family and her parents didn't really speak English. I had to learn the language, so I did that. The longer you spend in a place like that, it really sucks you in. It really envelopes you and makes you feel like one of them."
Patton's right hand is permanently numb from an on-stage incident during his third concert with Faith No More, where he accidentally cut himself on a broken bottle and severed tendons and nerves in his hand. He has use of the hand, but no feeling in it (despite his doctor telling him the opposite would happen).
Patton's reaction to this fame has been unconventional. He has acted irreverently towards the music industry, and expressed his distaste for the infamous lifestyles of rock stars. In a 1995 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, he stated: "It's hard to see as much as you'd like to with our schedule on the road, but it's harder to do coke and fuck whores every night. Now that's a full time job."
In a 2001 interview with Kerrang!, Patton reflected on his musical influences, stating —
Patton's vocals touch on crooning, falsetto, screaming, opera, death growls, rapping, beatboxing, and scatting, among other techniques. Critic Greg Prato writes, "Patton could very well be one of the most versatile and talented singers in rock music"; colleague Blake Butler called him "a complete and utter musical visionary and a mind-blowing and standard-warping genius."
A list published by the Chicago-based music website Consequence of Sound (CoS), acknowledged Mike Patton as "the greatest singer of all time." The May 2014 article referenced VVN Music's (Vintage Vinyl News) analysis of various rock & pop singers, ranking them in order of their respective octave ranges. The article served as a retraction to a previous article, which originally awarded the number one position to Axl Rose. Both articles praised Patton's impressive 6 octaves, 1/2 note range (Eb1 to E7), versus Axl's admirable 5 octaves, 2-1/2 notes (while mentioning, for transparency, that world record holder Tim Storms has a range of 10 octaves). Others in the top 10 included Diamanda Galás, David Lee Roth, Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, Mariah Carey, Phil Anselmo, German singer Nina Hagen, and Devin Townsend.
AllMusic labelled him as an "icon of the alt-metal world". He has often been credited as an influence to nu metal, a form of alternative metal spearheaded by bands such as Korn and Limp Bizkit in the late-90s. Patton has been less than enthusiastic about being linked to such bands, stating in a 2002 interview that "Nu-metal makes my stomach turn".
Prominent vocalists such as Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Brandon Boyd (Incubus), Doug Robb (Hoobastank), Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw) and Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach) cite Patton as their primary influence.1990 – Live at the Brixton Academy, London: You Fat Bastards by Faith No More (VHS)
1993 – Video Macumba – Short film compiled by Mike Patton containing abstract and extreme footage
1993 – Video Croissant by Faith No More (VHS) Released in 1993 it features some of the band's music videos up to that date.
1998 – Who Cares a Lot: Greatest Videos by Faith No More (VHS)
2002 – A Bookshelf on Top of the Sky: 12 Stories About John Zorn
2005 – Firecracker – Frank/David
2007 – Kaada/Patton Live – Live performance DVD
2007 – I Am Legend – Creature Vocals (voice) (credited as Michael A. Patton)
2008 – A Perfect Place – Short film soundtrack by Patton (Released with film as CD/DVD special edition)
2008 – Live from London 2006 – Live DVD release of a performance by the Fantômas/Melvins Big Band in London on May 1, 2006
2008 – Metalocalypse – Patton voices the character of reformed rocker Rikki Kixx on episodes "Snakes n Barrels II" part one and part two. This special 2 part, half-hour presentation aired on Adult Swim August 24, 2008.
2009 – Crank: High Voltage – Film Score
2010 – The Solitude of Prime Numbers – Film Score
2010 – Bunraku – Narrator
2012 – The Place Beyond the Pines – Film Score
2016 – The Absence of Eddy Table - Voice of Eddy Table
2007 – The Darkness – Voice of The Darkness (Starbreeze Studios)
2007 – Portal – Voice of the Anger Core (Valve Software)
2008 – Left 4 Dead – Infected voices, Smoker, Hunter (Valve Software)
2009 – Bionic Commando – Voice of Nathan Spencer – the Bionic Commando (Capcom)
2009 – Left 4 Dead 2 – Infected voices, Smoker, Hunter (Valve Software)
2012 – The Darkness II – Voice of The Darkness (Digital Extremes)
2016 - Edge of Twilight - Return to Glory - Vocals for Lithern and Creatures (FUZZYEYES)