Mike Patton talks about changing his approach to ‘screaming’ vocals

MOFO Festival Logo where Mike Patton will be performing with tētēma on the 21st of January 2017Noisey has once again delivered the goods.  This time they’ve interviewed Mike Patton in preparation for his upcoming tētēma performance in Tasmania, Australia.

Now that Mike Patton’s collaboration with tētēma is on the cards for early 2017, the interviews have begun.  Noisey recently interviewed Mike Patton on the tētēma collaboration.  Interestingly Mike talks about how he has changed his approach to vocals over the years.

Here’s a summary of the interesting aspects of the interview:

On how collaboration with Anthony Pateras began:

I’d heard a record that he’d done on Tzadik [records] and it flipped me out. I asked Zorn [John], the owner of the label, “Who is this fucking guy? Where did he come from?” He gave me his email and I was going on tour in Australia with Fantomas and I sent the guy an email saying,  “Let’s grab a coffee and talk”, and in my mind I was thinking “wow, maybe he would wanna work with me at some point,” because I could tell from his record that we had similar… lets just say… instincts. Low and behold I was right.

On how the tētēma collaboration worked: 

He said, “I’ve got a bunch of stuff and I want to send it to you. Give it a think and see if you wanna overdub some stuff.” We were doing this remotely, he was down there and I was up here. Basically, he threw a bunch of stuff against the wall and a lot of it stuck. A lot if it was amazing. I was blown away with the stuff that he sent me and we ended up using most of it. It wasn’t a traditional collaboration. I did get involved much later in the process and we did some sessions together while he was here in San Francisco where we did some really fun ad-lib vocal sessions where he directed me and literally pressed record. We ended up using a lot of that stuff. Then, after the fact, I added more, that’s sort of the way it went.

On screaming into Anthony’s ear to demonstrate the different harmony’s Mike could achieve by varying his throat position: 

That’s the only way I can do it. I’m not a trained musician. I can’t write it down on paper like he does. So I was like, ‘do you want this aaaahhh to be this way, or that way, so I give him options. I did the same thing with John Zorn in the studio as well.

On understanding his voice and screams:

In earlier years I was more of a clown with a big bag of tricks. I’d show up in the studio and kind-of go, ‘well, what do you want? do you want the screaming banshee or the howling owl?’ Now, I’ve got a better understanding of what’s appropriate. It’s not about what you can do but about what fits and what the composer wants, and when you’re collaborating that’s what it’s all about. It’s not even about the person but it’s about the music. With Anthony and I, there was him, there was me, and then there was THE MUSIC and the music pretty much dictates everything.

On the preparation and approach to big rock festivals and avante-garde festivals:

We’re there to recreate musical events that we’ve, in most cases, recorded. Or sometimes not, sometimes it’s an improv gig. I remember playing with John Zorn and Ikue Mori in Taiwan in a school classroom. There were like 15 people there maybe and they were sitting at the classroom desks and we played under the chalkboard. There’s no difference between playing that and the ‘download’ festival.

On his relationship with Australia:

I would say love-hate but the hate part is because it takes so fucking long to get there. I’ve never had worse jet lag in my life. But when I’m there, I’m happy. And most of the experiences, even the big festival stuff, has gone off without a hitch. There’s a couple of promoters that I won’t name but other than that, it’s a great place to play and for whatever reason, they keep asking me back so I’ll keep coming!

The first few times I went to Sydney and Melbourne I thought that it was like California but with English people.

You can read the full interview here.

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