Faith No More is Back...Could Mr. Bungle Be Next?
Mr. Bungle at Fitzgerald's in 1999.
Photo by Heather Leah Kennedy via Wikimedia Commons
Tonight at Bayou Music Center, Faith No More will play in Houston for the first time in almost 20 years. Their first Texas date was on Sunday night in Austin, and I was there. It was absolutely incredible. Anyone going tonight is in for something truly special for the dedicated fans who have waited so many years to see this band onstage together again.
But through the weekend, as I played the hell out of almost everything Mike Patton has ever sang on, I couldn't help but be struck by how much I wish another band of his would reunite. I'm talking about his high-school band turned Faith No More side project turned post-Faith No More primary project, Mr. Bungle.
Mr. Bungle were pioneers of avant-garde metal, and for many, Faith No More is an awesome gateway drug to the ridiculous weirdness that they put out into the world. Yes, Faith No More on their own are one of the greatest metal bands of all time, and one of the weirdest, but Mr. Bungle went even further off the deep end. For many of us, it was exactly what Faith No More left us craving.
They started off in the '80s as Mike Patton's main band, before he was recruited by Faith No More to replace Chuck Mosley. Using all that “Epic” money and hype, Patton managed to get Mr. Bungle signed and their first album, Mr. Bungle, was released in 1991. It was a masterpiece of funk-metal, jazz and weirdness, and it propelled many down the rabbit hole of avant-garde music.
They continued intermittently as Patton divided his attention between them and Faith No More. 1995 saw not only the release of Bungle's Disco Volante, but Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance joining Faith No More for their most experimental record, King for a Day...Fool for a Lifetime. That partnership didn't even last until the supporting tour, but it was yet another crossover moment that connected the brother bands.
When Faith No More disbanded in 1998, Patton shifted his full attention back to Mr. Bungle and continued with them for one more record, California. It was their softest, but no less strange and shocking. Sadly, Bungle disbanded a year later. The split was apparently acrimonious, though none of the parties said a whole lot about it. In the intervening years, it would seem that the individual band members grew out of whatever drove them apart in the first place.
Bassist Trevor Dunn joined Patton immediately in Fantomas, eventually becoming a member of Patton's supergroup Tomahawk as well. Perhaps the most well known divide between Bungle members, and the one that seemed to cause the original split, was between Patton and Spruance, but even the ice melted there as Patton has since performed numerous times with Spruance's project Secret Chiefs 3.
And so it came to pass that Patton also mended bridges with Faith No More, reuniting the group in 2010 for extensive touring outside the U.S., and now the album Sol Invictus and tour that has finally brought them to Houston.
If Faith No More can reunite, it shows that almost anything can happen in the world of Mike Patton. We know the members of Mr. Bungle are on decent enough terms to play in each other's projects again. Since Faith No More reunited, Spruance even joined them for a one night only performance of King for a Day...Fool for a Lifetime in its entirety, the first time Spruance had ever performed live with Faith No More.
It's enough to give fans like myself the hope that maybe we can one day catch Mr. Bungle live and in the flesh again. The timing is right, and now it feels like we're all just playing the waiting game. With all the renewed interest in Patton and Faith No More, it's only a matter of time before more and more fans discover Mr. Bungle and their bizarre musical mastery. Could it be much longer before Mr. Bungle finally reunite? We can only hope, but the odds seem to be increasing every day.
Faith No More and special guests Napalm Death perform tonight at Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas. Doors open at 7 p.m.
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