Updated: May 28
In 1999 Mike Patton asked my band to go on tour with his experimental fusion band, Mr. Bungle. This was a huge deal. We were all massive fans of both Mike Patton and Mr. Bungle. We drove two days straight in our drummer’s cargo van with no seats, getting thrashed around with loose gear and bottles of piss to make it to the first show in CA. What most people don't know (including Mike) is that earlier that week I had been punched in the spine by a drunk dude at a show in Philly, and 2 days later I woke up unable to move. I literally couldn’t even get up to use the bathroom. I remember shuffling into the van and trying to open the door to get in. But there was no way I could even open the door. How was I going to put a heavy guitar around my neck and perform after 2 days of driving in a cramped van, unable to even lay down straight? When we got to the venue, Bungles gear was all on stage but the band was nowhere to be seen. We stood there staring exhausted and silent, but filled to the brim with anticipation and excitement. I was about to meet the guy who wrote the songs that I played so often on my Walkman when I was a kid that they started to sound warped. All of a sudden I saw Patton take the stage to sound check. Here I was 10 feet away from someone I idolized and with whom I was about to tour for 2 months. Mr. Bungle started playing a song and all of a sudden, my back pain was gone. I felt like I could run a marathon. I just couldn’t wait to get on stage and play. That was the first and the last time I have ever been star struck. Why? Because after spending 2 months on the road with him, and collaborating and writing music with him, I learned a secret. He is a real person. Not only is he a real person, but he is an amazing person. Mike actually gives me honest advice while also encouraging me to always look out for myself. Whether it’s reminding me that no record label, manager, or producer should ever tell me how to make my music, or his simply expressing concern about my physical well being, time and time again he reminds me, “Ben, your music is good enough. You need to stop hurting yourself on stage. I worry about you man.” Mike is more than a great musician. He is a great human being. Long live the king… MIKE PATTON!