When it came time for Tool to choose an opening act for its current arena tour in support of the chart-topping Volcano album "Lateralus," the prog-metal act named the somewhat obscure group Tomahawk t

When it came time for Tool to choose an opening act for its current arena tour in support of the chart-topping Volcano album "Lateralus," the prog-metal act named the somewhat obscure group Tomahawk to the surprise of many, including Tomahawk frontman Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas). The trek hits Buffalo, N.Y. tonight (Aug. 23).

"They are friends of ours and I guess they like our band," Patton tells Billboard.com. "God bless them that they have the balls to follow through with their instincts. I'm sure that there were a billion and one people trying to talk them out of it because we don't sell a lot of records and we're not going to pay them to play with them. Basically, us being on this bill is not doing anyone any favors, industry-wise."

Tomahawk is the vision of former Jesus Lizard and Hank Williams III guitarist Duane Denison, who writes the music (Patton writes the lyrics), which can be described as an oblique rock and electronic endeavor. Rounding out the group is former Helmet drummer John Stanier and Melvins bassist Kevin Rutmanis. Compared to the studio, Tomahawk's live presentation pulls no punches.

"It is probably a little bit nastier and a little more poke-you-in-the-eye vibe," says Patton. "When you are in a situation like this, it is very easy for the people to sit back, eat their popcorn and cotton candy, and ignore you. We're trying to combat that."

Tomahawk is preparing to go back into the studio later this year to record the follow-up to its 2001 self-titled debut, released on Patton's own Ipecac label. For Patton, it will be just another assignment in an already packed calendar that includes recording a new album with Fantomas, finishing a disc with producer Dan "the Automator" Nakamura titled "Peeping Tom," and collaborating on a new release
with the X-Ecutioners. All three albums should be out next year. By the way, Patton insists Mr. Bungle is on permanent vacation.

Whenever Patton's name comes up, questions about the status of Faith No More are requisite. As for any hidden gems left in the vault, Patton says there may be a few tracks that haven't already appeared on a greatest hits or compilation release. As for whether they will ever be released, that's a different story.

"If it is up to me, no," he admits. "But it ain't up to me, so maybe. If I believed in them I would have put them out long ago. There are reasons that bands and musicians make demos and outtakes -- because they are not good enough to make the record. A lot of people forget that."

While Patton doesn't rule out playing again with his former band, the idea of reuniting and recording holds no interest for him. Right now his mind is focused on Tomahawk's live set, which includes a few new tracks and covers. As for being an opening act, it's familiar territory.

"I've never been in any other role," Patton says. "I've never played places this big on my own. So to me, we've all been on tours like this. Every band we've played in has been in this situation and it is actually really healthy and really fun. Especially a tour like this where we are actually translating, we're going over. Our record sales have come up and people seem to be responding to it pretty well, or making an effort at least."