Don’t be afraid of this Peeping Tom. It’s just former Faith No More frontman Mike Patton.
Over the years the noise rock Renaissance man has built an avid cult following with such bands as Mr. Bungle and Tomahawk, and now he has unveiled his latest, much anticipated musical incarnation.
Last week, Peeping Tom’s self-titled debut, released on Patton’s own Ipecac Recordings, entered the Top Heatseekers chart at No. 1.
The album melds, rock, electronica and hip-hop, and features a seemingly incongruous cast of guest performers, including Massive Attack, Kool Keith and Norah Jones. But in the end it all comes together to conjure the closest thing to pop music that Patton has made since FNM.
“It’s light on its feet and enjoyable,” Patton tells Billboard.com. “My main focus while I was writing it [was] I wanted to use lyrics and melody to create nice, memorable, catchy, fun songs. What that means in terms of how it can be sold or categorized, god only knows. Is it electronica? Is it hip-hop? Is it rock? It’s not really purely any one of those things, but who fucking cares?”
Patton took a new approach to the way he actually recorded this album, too. Everything was done via file swapping between he and his collaborators.
“A lot of people make records like that,” he says, “and the clearer this record became in my mind, the more I realized there was no other way to do it. The people I wanted to work with were not people you get into a room and strap a guitar to. These are people who work alone on their computers and experiment. So I had to work with them on the level where they were comfortable, and I had to become comfortable with that process as well.
“The trick was to give them enough direction where they felt like they were on your street but leave them a little freedom so that can feel like a part of the music as well,” he continues. “People interpreted those directions in different ways. Some people did exactly what I told them and nothing more. Others didn’t listen at all and did their own thing. Some took the finished track and treated it as a remix. Everyone’s process was different. Figuring out how you’re gonna get the best results out of them was part of the fun.”
Although the first single from the album is “Mojo” featuring Rahzel and Dan the Automator, the song “Sucker” seems to be generating the most attention. That’s because it features Norah Jones whispering such lusty lines as “What makes you think you’re my only lover?/The truth kinda hurts, don’t it motherfucker?”
But Patton doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. “We’re all just musicians. Maybe people assume that I live downtown and she lives uptown, but it’s all just a cab ride,” he laughs.
Obviously assembling such a cast of characters was no easy task — in fact, the album has been in the works for almost six years — but that won’t stop Patton from touring. (Just don’t hold your breath for Jones to make an appearance.) Peeping Tom made its live debut on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” last month in preparation for an upcoming trek.
“More than anything it was a chemical experiment,” Patton notes. “Will this band work? Will these personalities work? And they did.” Artists from the album that will be joining him on the road include Dub Trio and Rahzel, while the rest of the band will be made up of “friends of friends.”
So far the band is scheduled to play a few scattered festivals and some opening slots for Gnarls Barkley in July, but Patton promises more dates will be announced soon.
“I’m just trying to approach this project a little differently than I have a lot of others. That’s why I’m kind of looking at opening slots, which I normally don’t entertain because those offers are always shitty,” he laughs. “You gotta pick and choose how many of those you can afford to do. With this project I think I’ll take it on the chin a little more and try and get in front of some different people, and I think a Gnarls Barkley crowd could easily like this stuff.”