Mr. Bungle – Mr. Bungle (1991)

As one of the (never resting and) “brilliant” journalist stated: they were the “most ridiculously terrible piece of festering offal ever scraped off the floor of a slaughterhouse”. 😀
1991 was a very good year, quoting a famous song title. Yesterday I mentioned Metallica’s “black album”, today’s Mr. Bungle’s turn and their self-titled debut album for Warner Bros after previously they released four cult demos.
In 1989 Mike Patton became the lead vocalist for San Francisco’s Faith No More replacing Chuck Mosley, getting the job after guitarist Jim Martin heard him on a Mr. Bungle demo. Patton in only two weeks, had written all the lyrics for the songs that would make up the Grammy award-nominated “The Real Thing” released in 1989. Mr. Bungle was formed in 1985 and Patton continued to be a member of both bands simultaneously and the band established a following in Northern California, but mainly the success of Faith No More secured them a record deal with Warner Bros. And between “The Real Thing” and “Angel Dust” it was “Mr. Bungle” – released 20 years ago, on 13 August.

Mr. Bungle was formed in 1985 in Eureka, California. The original line-up included Trevor Dunn on bass, Mike Patton on vocals, Trey Spruance on guitar, and Jed Watts on drums. The band took its name from two short films which appeared in early episodes of the “The Pee Wee Herman Show,” in which an ill-mannered, un-hygienic puppet clown demonstrated how good grade-school kids should not behave. Only later they find out through Faith No More bassist Bill Gould, that the porn flick “Sharon’s Sex Party” also stars a character named Mr. Bungle and consequently, samples from this movie were included on their debut album along with other samples from Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial outtakes, items from the videogames Super Mario Bros., Altered Beast, Smash TV, and R.B.I. Baseball, and the pinball games Cyclone, Earthshaker, and Haunted House.
1989’s “OU818” was the band’s final demo tape before finding themselves with a major label record contract. It was also the first to feature drummer Danny Heifetz & tenor sax player Clinton “Bär” McKinnon, and contains tracks that make up half of Bungle’s first major label release: “The Girls of Porn”, “Love Is a Fist”, “Slowly Growing Deaf” and “Squeeze Me Macaroni” while “Carousel” and “Egg” originated from the previous “Goddammit I Love America!” demo.
Only early pressings title the first song “Travolta”. At the request of Warner it was renamed “Quote Unquote” – the name of an unofficial biography of the actor – to avoid legal complications. “Quote Unquote” is the only Mr. Bungle song to have an official music video; however, this video was never aired on MTV. However, the video is in the MTV Two archive and has been played on their show 120 Metal Minutes. Anyway, the album sold pretty well despite MTV refusing to air their video and a lack of radio airplay, something possible back in the 90s, quite impossible nowadays…

Track listing:

01. “Travolta/Quote Unquote” – 6:56
02. “Slowly Growing Deaf” – 6:58
03. “Squeeze Me Macaroni” – 5:38
04. “Carousel” – 5:13
05. “Egg” – 10:39
06. “Stubb (a Dub)” – 7:19
07. “My Ass Is on Fire” – 7:47
08. “The Girls of Porn” – 6:42
09. “Love Is a Fist” – 6:00
10. “Dead Goon” – 10:02

Total play time: 73:19

The album was co-produced by John Zorn and the band, engineered and mixed by David Bryson, digital edited by Matt Murman and mastered by Bob Ludwig. Mr. Bungle was: Vlad Drac (Mike Patton) – The Singer, Heifetz (Danny Heifetz) – drums, Scummy (Trey Spruance) – guitar, Trevor Roy Dunn – bass, Bär (Clinton McKinnon) – tenor saxophone and Theobald Brooks Lengyel – alto & Bäri Intonation. On the recordings also featuring: David Shea – turntables, and backing vocals from Yeesus Krist, Maximum Bob (Robert Barnum – singer of rock band Deli Creeps), Kahli and Jennifer.
There’s no box, proper label for the music they made. Maybe something “sick” as some label it, mainly categorized as a mixture of metal, funk, ska, carnival music, and free jazz, and it was “normally” described as “funk metal”. Eventually the “Frank Zappa of Heavy Metal”. Critics were divided between consider it madness or genius. It’s fair to admit, for most, it was “a difficult, not very accessible record”. 😀
From the cutting riffs of “Slowly Growing Deaf” to the twisted shifts from “Egg” and to the avant-garde jazz-metal fusion of “Love Is a Fist”, this records have everything and “ultra-all inclusive”. Hard to follow, violently shifting between styles and genres, “Mr. Bungle” is something one in a million. I was always fascinated how these guys memoriesed these songs? It’s kind of unbelievable. On the other hand I was quite convinced, they had lots of fun doing and playing this as I have always listen it.

“Rotting from the inside
Over-incubated by the heat of fear and love
The self’s coagulated


Totally… Goddammit, I forgot the word! … Is there a word for this? I don´t really think so. This is Mr. Bungle. “Boo!” (perhaps “Redundant”, but definitively not “Boring”). Brilliant. “Excuse me, I am lost!” 😀

Singer Mike Patton was known to have had a bad relationship with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ frontman Anthony Kiedis, beginning when Kiedis saw Patton performing with Faith No More and accused him of imitating his style. Mr. Bungle parodied the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Pontiac, Michigan on Halloween of 1999. Patton introduced each Mr. Bungle band member with the name of one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, before covering the songs “Give It Away”, “Around the World”, “Under the Bridge” and “Scar Tissue”, with Patton deliberately using incorrect lyrics. Mr. Bungle also satirized many of the mannerisms of the band, mocking heroin injections and on-stage antics.
The things escalated in the late 1990s, with Kiedis removing Mr. Bungle from a number of large music festivals in Europe and Australasia…

Mr. Bungle was a quite sick “something”, but it was a rarely genius one.

Mr. Bungle discography:

Demo albums

The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny (1986) – Ladd-Frith Productions
Bowel of Chiley (1987) – Playhouse Productions (1991); Rastacore Records (1997)
Goddammit I Love America! (1988) – The Works
OU818 (1989) – “B” Productions

Studio albums

Mr. Bungle (1991) – Warner Bros. Records
Disco Volante (1995) – Warner Bros.
California (1999) – Warner Bros.

Following the California tour the band went on hiatus. Although no official break-up announcement ever materialized, after the dissolution of Mr. Bungle the members have gone on to numerous different projects. Mike Patton co-founded the record label Ipecac Recordings and is involved with several other ventures, including various works with composer John Zorn, and most notably the bands Fantômas, Tomahawk, and Peeping Tom. In 2009 and 2010 Patton embarked on a world tour with Faith No More after they reunited. Trey Spruance is involved with various bands, including Secret Chiefs 3 and Faxed Head. Trevor Dunn joined Patton in Fantômas as well as forming his own jazz band, Trevor Dunn’s Trio Convulsant and also occasionally played bass with Secret Chiefs 3. Danny Heifetz’s projects included playing with Secret Chiefs 3 and in a country/punk band called Dieselhed. He now resides in Sydney, Australia, and plays in outfits such as The Exiles, The Tango Saloon and The Fantastic Terrific Munkle. Clinton McKinnon also played with Secret Chiefs 3; he now lives in Melbourne, Australia, and plays with The Ribbon Device and UMLäUT.

Mr. Bungle – Official Site
Bungle Fever (excellent site! – take a tour!)
Mr. Bungle @ Facebook

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