Throughout his long, illustrious, genre-switching career, musician and vocalist extraordinaire Mike Patton has only released two official feature length live recorded performances. The first of these films debuted way back in 1990, and featured Patton's second band Faith No More engaged in one of their earliest routines. Entitled Live at the Brixton Academy: You Fat B**tards, the project showcased a young untested talent and offers a pre-screech glimpse at one of the most prolific contemporary artists living today. Its sloppy effervescence may be why we hadn't seen another filmed stage show from Patton until late last year. A known perfectionist, Patton can't stand to watch his own live gigs. Until now, fans have had to rely on unofficial bootlegs (of which there are many and of various differing qualities). Speaking with Patton late last December, he explained what he doesn't like about certain concert films and why he doesn't deem it necessary to release these works to the public, "I am not crazy about music DVDs. Just the thought of sitting and watching a full concert from start to finish is hard enough for me to do in person. Let alone on a fucking DVD. To me, unless the footage looks really spectacular...Unless it's a one-time project that I want to document, I have no burning desire to do concert DVDs."
In 2007, Patton eventually found that one burning desire. Through his own Ipecac record label, the metal maestro and punk-pop god released the first in a continuing line of DVDs entitled Kaada and Patton: Live. This particular concert film featured a one-time live performance from the collaborative album Romances that Patton recorded with Norwegian soundscape artist Kaada in 2004. It is a dreamy, black and white mini-masterpiece that captures these two maniacs at the top of their game. And it also offers a unique glimpse into the backstage life of this often-illusive screamer. About bringing this particular project to the screen, Patton explains, "This was something that we were only going to do one time. We aren't going to tour this record. The entire band is a bunch of Norwegians. And they are all very busy. They are all session guys. And they do a lot of film work. With everybody's schedule, it was a really hard thing to pull off. It is not something we will ever tour. It wasn't a band, per say. It was more like a studio project. The fact that we even accomplished playing a show live, we thought it would be a good idea to film it. It turned out good. I was like, 'We should put this out as a DVD.' So we did."
Initially, Patton had no other plans to put out another live show featuring himself at the helm. He wanted to use his Ipecac DVD imprint to showcase other artists such as Isis (Isis: Clearing the Eye - Visual/Aural Fragments and Excerpts 2001-2005) and the Melvins, and short films like the recently released A Perfect Place (which also contains a full length album orchestrated by Patton) . It wasn't until director Douglas Pledger showed up at a London rehearsal that Patton's third concert film would come to fruition. A friend of The Melvins' own Buzz Osborne, Pledger asked if he, along with his two buddies Matthew Rozeik and Alex Gunnis, could film their May 1st, 2006 Fantomas/Melvins collaborative Big Band performance. Patton okayed their omniscient presence at the show, thinking he would never again see any of the footage. But that wasn't the case. Pledger had taken his film stock and reworked it into an amazing, animated masterwork that impressed Patton enough to release it to the hungry masses. "(Pledger) happened to be at one of the London shows. He said, 'You don't have to pay me. I am going to do this whether you want the footage or not.' I was like, 'Okay. No harm. No foul.' Then he sent us the footage. It is fucking stunning. He added a bunch of visual effects to it. It is more than just a concert film. There is some amazing animation in it. It is really well done."
Though shot in May of 2006, the film is just now being released. The entire project took Pledger sometime to finalize and perfect. But on August 26th, you will be able to buy and view this excellent film for yourself. Pledger and his two cohorts have captured the Fantomas/Melvins Big Band experience from many different angles, and it is hands down the best live show ever captured featuring the likes of Mike Patton and The Melvins. The hour and twenty minute set piece has a cinematic composition that looks stunning when viewed on any HD monitor. Filmed at London's Kentish Town Forum, the concert captures two of today's most prolific metal bands playing in perfect synchronicity with each other. Watching Dale Crover and Dave Lombardo, unarguable two of the best contemporary drummers in the world at the moment, beat out brutal rhythms in perfect unison is a spectacle that needed to be captured and presented in this sort of light. This is the next best thing to seeing them play live, and with the added animation and visuals, it might be a bit more interesting than partaking in the band's real-time ticket sale.
Pledger is able to shake out several subtle moments and eviscerate them with a beautiful touch of madness. He scrapes forth certain hidden cues, and employs these electric conductions with a visual flare not seen in most concert films. One moment the screen is raining washed out blood cells on our team of wicked players. The next, Patton is arching his eyebrows in a barmy bit of throat theatrics only to squeeze them into a bought of fabricated lightning, recreating is persona as some sort of mad scientist. The musical performance is extremely tight, sounding straight off a studio dock. And with the amount of manipulation Patton plays into his brand of Fantomas music, it is no small feat that he pulls this amazing show off live. Neither Fantomas nor The Melvins have ever sounded quite this good on stage. All members from both bands are present and playing their game best. On stage along with Patton, Lombardo, Osborne, and Crover are Mr. Bungle's own Trevor Dunn and The Melvins' Sir David Scott Stone. Remove the imposed theatrics from the screen, and you are still left with an amazing magic show of cacophony and harmony, working hard to out do one another in a knuckle busting bit if musical psychosis.
The sounds heard coming out of Patton's throat are inhuman. Both he and Osborne scorch through an intense set that culls various compositions and pieces from both their oeuvres. The band opens with an ominous, ambient four minute take on Flipper's Sacrifice. It's nothing short of awesome to watch Osborne and Patton trade vocal duties as they switch hit from each other's catalogues. Of The Melvins, we get rousing renditions of Night Goat, Electric Long Thin Wire, Pigs of the Roman Empire, Hooch, Skin Horse, Let it All Be, and Lowrider. The most amazing set comes when Osborne and Patton tag-team through Mombius Hibachi, quickly transitioning it into Page 23 from Fantomas' debut self-titled album. Other pages include 27, 28, 3, and 14. From The Director's Cut, the Big Band beats out the themes from The Omen, Cape Fear, and ends the show with Spider Baby. They also do two dates from the April themed Suspended Animation. The one slightly disappointing thing about the whole endeavor is a certain lack of Patton's trademarked stage banter that only really comes near the end, when he introduces the band in the voice of Bernie (God rest his soul) Mac's Lil' Pimp.
With Kaada and Patton: Live, the only offered special feature was a quick look backstage at the preparation needed for pulling off such an intricate live show. Really, you can see the same footage when you check out any Patton related project in person, as he always sets up his own equipment on stage an hour before the show gets underway. With Fantomas/Melvin Big Band: Live from London 2006, Ipecac has offered up a rather unique and exciting special feature that comes hidden as an Easter Egg. Don't worry, it's really not that hard to find. It's a feature length audio commentary with Mike Patton's new steak-sharing best friend, Limoncello enthusiast, and Fantomas Melvins Big Band manager (or so they joke) Danny DeVito. Also on hand for this must-hear conversation are The Melvins' Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover, booking agent Robby Fraser, and Ipecac co-owner Greg Werckman. Interesting topics of discussion range from the troubles of booking this particular show, to the band's obsessions with Lil' Pimp, to all things Patton related. Osbourne tells a funny story about having to fire Kurt Cobain as the producer of a Melvins' album. DeVito goes in-depth into his role as an actor and film producer, retelling quite a few tales about being in the business. You will learn about Mike Patton's extremely narrow throat, how he often seems to be choking in restaurants, and how, even with his olive complexion, he let him self burn to a crisp with fishing off the coast of Cuba. Crover tells a disturbing story about chocking on a hotdog and a mouthful of beer, and the history of both Ipecac and Fantomas are extrapolated upon in detail. Things get pretty weird when Buzz tells DeVito about bumping into Taxi's Jeff Conway, and they wrap things up with a very humorous story about playing the Orange County State Fair, and how no one has told Patton that he can't swear. If he does, it means no money. This little tale even exceeds the length of the live show, and the commentary, which you will want to listen to all of, continues to play back into the DVD menu page. Pretty amazing.
If you are a Melvins fan, a Mike Patton aficionado, or a Danny DeVito devotee, you will definitely want to add this great disc to your DVD collection. Fantomas/Melvin Big Band: Live from London 2006 will make its debut on August 26th at fine DVD retailers across the country. Be sure to reserve your copy today! Ipecac thanks you!