By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Faith No More singer and man of a thousand voices Mike Patton takes the stage at the Chapel this weekend for two nights of unique collaboration with virtuoso scratch master DJ Qbert starting Friday.
The pairing will spotlight the talents of two iconic Bay Area musicians who have both rightly earned reputations for being among the greatest performers at their respective instruments. While Patton came to fame as the frontman for established SF alternative rock band Faith No More in 1989, he had already been singing with his Eureka-based group Mr. Bungle for four years, exploring an evolving schizophrenic mix of influences that included death metal, ska, funk, soundtrack music and avant-garde jazz.
With Patton providing his warped lyrics and charismatic delivery, Faith No More scored a massive hit with The Real Thing fueled largely by the MTV hit “Epic” that matched the singer’s rapped vocals to a soaring chorus and headbanging metal riff. The success of the album led to a record deal for Mr. Bungle, who recorded their experimental funk-metal debut with NYC punk-jazz maverick John Zorn.
Patton would help Faith No More move down an increasingly unorthodox and genre-busting path on subsequent hit efforts Angel Dust and King For a Day…Fool For a Lifetime, even as he and Bungle ranged into far weirder territory on their critically acclaimed second album, Disco Volante. While both FNM and Mr. Bungle split by the end of the ’90s, the singer maintained a busy schedule with new projects.
Patton would expand on his already impressive vocal range, incorporating an arsenal of effect pedals and other tools as he crooned and screamed with his avant-metal all-star group Fantômas featuring Melvins guitarist Buzz Osbourne, Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn and with the more traditional noise-punk outfit Tomahawk with Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Dennison. In the 2000s, the singer branched out into other creative projects like his downtempo/lounge acts Peeping Tom and Lovage and his adventure into orchestral Italian pop, Mondo Cane in addition to a growing body of work on film soundtracks (Crank: High Voltage, The Place Beyond the Pines) and video games.
Even after reuniting with FNM for several international tours playing festivals leading up to the band’s celebrated first album in almost two decades, Sol Invictus in 2015, more recently Patton maintained his hectic schedule with two new groups — the industrial/hip hop trio Nevermen with TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adibempe and rapper doseone and the incendiary hardcore metal crew Dead Cross with Lombardo. Like his regular co-conspirator Zorn (whose music he interpreted in yet another experimental group, Moonchild), Patton has regularly explored improvisation with unusual partners including an album and tour with scratch DJ trio X-ecutioners and a U.S. jaunt with renowned beatboxer Rahzel. The singer will team with an equally formidable musician in this onstage pairing with Bay Area turntable assassin DJ Qbert.
Emerging from the mobile hip-hop DJ culture in San Francisco and Daly City during the late ’80s, Richard Quitelvis aka DJ Qbert would found the pioneering scratch crew the Invisibl Skratch Piklz with Mike Schwartz (Mixmaster Mike) and Apollo Novicio (DJ Apollo) after initially working as Shadow of the Prophet and FM2.0. Each individual turntablist would also established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the competitive DJ circuit with both Qbert and Mixmaster Mike winning major titles on their own and with a groundbreaking duo routine in 1993. But it was the ISP’s approach to making music together that found the DJs holding down lead and rhythm parts as well as exploring jazz-influenced call-and-response dialog that elevated the turntable to a musical instrument.
While Apollo would break from the group, the Invisbl Skratch Piklz expanded to include DJ Disk, DJ Shortkut and DJ Flare as members participating in live performances and the studio creation of a string of breakbeat “battle records” (specially designed vinyl used by DJs to compete and develop routines), mixtapes and videos that further cemented the group’s reputation. Qbert would push the art of scratching even further with his other projects, recording the landmark Dr. Octagon album with producer Dan the Automator and rapper Kool Keith as well as making his proper solo debut Wave Twisters in 1998 which also served as the soundtrack to the demented animated sci-fi film of the same name that was released a couple of years later.
ISP would go into retirement as a collective in 2000 after hosting the day-long conference Skratchcon 2000, leaving Qbert to focus on developing DJ equipment like his all-in-one turntable/scratch mixer the QFO and a specialized needle cartridge while maintaining a steady schedule of international appearances. He’s gotten even busier in recent years with the celebrated 2011 reunion of the Skratch Piklz at FaderFest in San Francisco and the release of his ambitious sophomore album Extraterrestria/Galaxxxian in 2014. Last year ISP released the group’s first proper album — 13th Floor Elevator — and recently staged a momentous expanded reunion performance at the Independent that featured Qbert onstage with DJ Apollo, Shortkut and Mixmaster Mike for the first time in 25 years.
After the first announced show collaboration at the Chapel on Friday sold out so quickly, the venue added a second show Saturday (on sale Thursday, Feb. 8, at 5 p.m. PST). Both shows will feature an opening set from keyboardist and producer “Money” Mark Nishita, a talented musician who made his name playing with the Beastie Boys starting with their seminal album Check Your Head in 1992. He continued to work with the group through the rest of their career in addition to his own solo albums and tours and sessions with the likes of David Byrne and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. No word on whether Nishita will be joined by the same “Electric Friends” playing him for a headlining experimental set Thursday evening.
Mike Patton and DJ Qbert with Money Mark
Friday-Saturday, Feb. 9-10, 9 p.m. $38-$40 (Friday sold out)