Mike Patton isn’t a fan of improvising

As Mike Patton prepares to perform at the Sacrum Profanum festival in Poland, he is interviewed by onet.pl about performing, improvising and communicating through music.

With two upcoming performances at the Sacrum Profanum festival, Mike Patton sat down for an interview with a Polish web portal, Onet.  Onet is third in Poland’s the list of most popular sites.

Jarek Szubrycht has done a great job with the interview. He covered a lot of material around performing, improvising, recording and communicating through music.

Here are the highlights of the interview, based on google translate.

On whether there’s a difference between a Faith No More or Tomahawk show and his upcoming performance:

I approach everything very seriously, I’m quite a perfectionist, so I take the time to prepare for everything I do. The real difficulty is not having enough time to rehearse. This is the case for Sacrum Profanum where I’m a guest of all these wonderful artists. Fortunately, the Ictus Ensemble and Eyvind Kang are world-class musicians. I just want to fit in with them and make them play as best I can. In these appearances it’s not about me, it’s about being part of the whole.

But as I said, not much is different from my work with other projects. Singing in Tomahawk or Faith No More is teamwork, there isn’t an easy task. The genre doesn’t affect the amount of work that needs to be put into preparation – at least for me it doesn’t. I’m never one to jump on stage and be pleased with all that I’ve done. This isn’t a session. I sink into the music, I carefully study the all the instrument’s parts, and I try to do my part as best I can. This stems primarily from the respect I have for the musicians I collaborate with. They approach it very seriously and I’m rather picky.

On performing at a rock concert with people screaming, clapping and singing vs. a concert like Sacrum Profanum where people sit and listen intently.

I prefer concert conditions. Having drunk fans, yelling what we should play, or throwing stuff at me is no fun. Do not get me wrong, I draw energy from the audience, but that doesn’t mean that the audience has to scream loudly. Firstly I focus my attention on the people I’m accompaning on stage. I know who I ‘ll be performing with at this festival and I have no doubt that the result will be excellent. I hope that the audience will be entertained as much as I am.

On collaborating and performing with Eyvind Kang.

I knew of Eyvind’s music long before I was lucky enough put out a couple of his CDs on Ipecac Recordings. [Something about the festival organisers showing intiative in having Eyvind and the Ictus Ensemble accompanying him]. I was glad that I can take part in the festival. This year, I took time off from concerts and traveling, but for something like this festival I had to make an exception.

On improvisation:

I’m not a fan of improvisation. Frankly, I avoid it at all costs. I prefer to know where I’m going and how to get there. I trust my instincts, so when circumstances have forced me to improvise, I ‘m able to deal with it. The concerts we’re talking about will not be improvised, but may have improvised parts. In rock music, improvisation is rare, because most rock is boring. Rock is based on the songs that people know and demand. Besides improvisation can just really go wrong, there are few things worse than a conceited improvisation that gets out of control.

On whether Mike likes the studio, or whether it’s a necessary evil to allow for touring.

No, it’s nothing like that. I’ve recorded a lot of material that I’ve never performed live. Working in the studio is fun for me, if I thought otherwise I wouldn’t do it.

On whether music is a language to communicate with the world or an escape from communicating:

I wouldn’t say either. I’m not a storyteller, I’m not preaching political or social messages. I’m a musician. I don’t have an overwhelming need to communicate with the world. I don’t think there were many things that the world could learn from me. I sing and use my lyrics to be part of the music, not to stick out. It amuses me that some people spend so much time looking for for hidden meanings. Why can’t a song is just be a song? The same song can have different meanings for different people. No one can say which interpretation is correct. As we see and hear at Sacrum Profanum, music can be the message, but at the same time it doesn’t have to carry a linear or specific meaning. Just make music to to enjoy it!

Of course, many artists have a story to tell. Some of them are great, but I chose a different path.

You can read the full interview here in Polish or the Google Translate’s English version.

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