The curious case of the first demo tape Mike Patton ever sang on is worth retelling. What at the moment might have seemed like a bunch of teenagers fucking around and exploring their vast collection of musical curiosities, turned out to be a hidden gem from one of the turn-of-the-century’s most acclaimed experimental acts. It was also the cassette that would land Patton his place within Faith No More.
As its name hints, The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny was recorded during Easter of 1986. The band members of Mr. Bungle, all of whom were Eureka, California locals and High School students still, must have been enjoying a little break from their studies.
They all gathered at what most likely was Trey Spruance (guitarist) house, where he took it upon himself to record his band with nothing but an 8 track tape recorder, whatever microphones they could get their hands on and all the instruments they seemed to have owned at the time.
Mr. Bungle’s 1986 Line Up
In those days, the line-up for Mr. Bungle was the same that founded the band just one year before. That is, Trevor Dunn (Bass, Kazoo, Backing Vocals) Mike Patton (Lead vocals, Bongos, bass) They Lengyel (Saxophone, Hawaiian Nose Humming), Jed Watt (Drums, Harmonica) and the aforementioned Mr. Spruance, who apart from guitar and engineering played trumpet and also mixed the demo tape.
Other friends would participate in the fun little endeavor as well. One Martin Fosnaugh played the Jew’s Harp. Also, fellow Eureka musicians Julie Frith and Brian Ladd handled production duties, apart from graphic design and mastering (respectively).
The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny was actually one of Julie and Brian’s first experiments with producing other people’s work. They had an experimental industrial band “The Psyclones” in the early 1980’s and started Ladd/Frith productions shortly after their brief collaboration with Mr. Bungle.
The Sound Of Curious Teenagers
But back to the tape, it’s one of those things where you have to zone in your attention and take its context into account in order to appreciate some parts of it. Much of it is only heightened by what these musicians went on to do afterward, but by itself, it’s really just pure mayhem. Unapologetic experimentation from young, eager and musically savvy minds.
The tape wasn’t actually released again and it definitely never saw other formats. Certain fans have taken it upon themselves to post it online, but it isn’t available on streaming platforms. Nevertheless, some websites have actually reviewed the thing. Some highlighted opinions are:
“Oh man, what a mess do we have here.” – Metal Archives
“An awkward attempt at cramming as many styles in 3 minutes as possible” – Sputnik Music (speaking of song “Evil Satan)
The first minutes are what you would expect from many obscure tapes of grindcore and death metal acts from the mid-1980’s that have probably been long forgotten. It starts with an eery guitar, brushed with some early digital chorus pedal, which then gives way to a Slayer-like intro of grandiose drums and power chords.
Then it’s all faux speed metal for a while. At times they fall into odd-time signatures. There are other moments were the low notes on the bass just overtake the whole mix, likely not intentionally, and you can’t really pay attention to what the other parts are doing. Not that they’re simple. In those days, they were all certainly working hard on their chops.
There’s also the humor. Song titles like “Raping Your Mind” and “Spreading The Thighs of Death” make it evident from the get-go that these are not lyrical think pieces. Just sort of a metal parody. An inside joke between friends. At some point, they even do a rendition of Mexican folk song La Cucaracha.
If the mentioned song titles weren’t enough humor, check out the rest of them:
- Grizzly Adams [Spruance]
- Anarchy Up Your Anus [Spruance]
- Spreading the Thighs of Death [Dunn]
- Hypocrites* [Patton, Dunn]
- Bungle Grind [Spruance]
- Raping Your Mind [Dunn]
- Evil Satan [Spruance]
- Sudden Death [Patton]
To be more specific than above, here’s what each band member played and in each track:
- Mike Patton: Vocals, Bongos, Wolfwhistle, Trainwhistle, Bass on *
- Trevor Dunn: Bass, Kazoo, Backing vocals, Guitar on *
- Trey Spruance: Guitars, Video games, Trumpet, Backing vocals, Vocals on *
- Jed Watts: Drums, Harmonica, Backing vocals, Party favors
- Theo Lengyel: Sax & Hawaiian nose humming
Mike Patton’s Raging Vocal Style
In those days or that Easter break at least, it seems like Mike Patton stayed within the “growl all the way from your stomach” territory. It sounds like he was beginning to fool around with that technique, and maybe for a while, it was all he did during rehearsals, mastering one roar at a time. Upon first listen, the guys in Faith No More actually thought he must’ve been one massive dude. In the words of Mike Bordin (FnM’s drummer), recounting upon the time when they first listened to these songs:
I’ll never forget it; Jim turns around and says to us, ‘This guy has got to be this giant fat guy with all the power that he’s got in his voice!’ And time goes by, and then when we were looking for a new singer, Jim was like, ‘Let’s get that big fat guy from Mr. Bungle!
And that guy from Mr. Bungle was exactly who they got. Rather than a “big fat guy” though, they got a scrawny 20-year old by the name of Mike Patton, who was at first reluctant to accept the offer.
The Tape and Faith No More
So that brings us to the mythical tape story. In 1986 Faith No More was no stadium band. They had just signed to a small label called Slash Records and they had only one record under their belt that was released by an even smaller label called Mordam Records. That was 1985’s We Care a Lot. So the shows they could secure in other cities back then weren’t exactly packed.
One of them was a pizza parlor in Eureka where Mr. Bungle used to play. They played for about 6 people, two of them were Mike Patton and Trey Spruance. After the show, Trey approached Mike Bordin and gave him the tape. That was the first time the guys in Faith No More ever heard Mike Patton sing.
An Unexpected Break
Starting from 1987 and through most of the 90’s Mike Patton would simultaneously front Mr. Bungle and Faith No More. Many believe that it was the critical acclaim of The Real Thing that led to Warner Bro’s (Slash’s parent label) to sign Mr. Bungle in 1990.
You could definitely say that The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny led to much more than its creators ever intended.