Named after an educational film of the same name, Mr. Bungle was group of high school friends from California, whose idea of good time involved dressing up in weird costumes and play off-kilter versions of famous pop songs. Some of them would later go on to play with the likes of Faith No More and Secret Chiefs 3, but still found time to record as Mr. Bungle in between sessions with their other bands.
Formed in 1985, the band released 4 demo tapes via such labels as Ladd-Frith before signing with Warner Bros. and producing three full-length albums. Despite being signed to a major label, the band achieved only a cult success (but also gained small, albeit loyal, following). Although Mr. Bungle’s music was cited as influence by the likes of Korn and Incubus, Mike Patton stated that he doesn’t want to be associated with those bands.
Trouser Press commented on the band’s debut CD – “Faith No More fans who picked up Mr. Bungle on a whim to see what Patton’s pseudonymous sextet was like found themselves in possession of one of the most ambitiously random, fractious records in recent memory. Filled with sampled absurdities, sucker-punch time changes and contortionist (and cartoonish) vocal operatics, the album owes a debt to co-producer John Zorn’s Naked City, the Boredoms and ultra-violent Japanese animation. This constant flurry of contrasting noise is jarring, as Patton vents his spleen and various other organs on the proceedings. Among the inexplicable inventions are “Travolta,” “My Ass Is on Fire” and “The Girls of Porn.” If that description sounds unappealing, that this is one of the finest records of its kind won’t make it any more likable.”
Following their 1991 self-titled release the band produced 1995 “Disco Volante” and 1999 “California”. All Music Guide described former as a a record on which the band tackles plodding death metal, deranged children’s songs and even a middle Eastern techno vibe. Latter was described by AMG as even more varied record as the band explored “pop, swing, rockabilly, country & western, bossa nova, Hawaiian and Middle Eastern music, jazz, Zappa-esque doo wop, arty funk, post-rock, space-age pop, spaghetti-Western music, warped circus melodies, and even dramatic pseudo-new age, plus just a smidgen of heavy metal.”
Following The California tour, the band went on hiatus and in 2003 Patton stated in an interview that the band is most likely done. Another band member, Trevor Dunn, mentioned on his website that “Bungle is dead” and he’s “happy about it”. Following the band’s dissolution, members went on to work on various projects – Dunn and Patton played together in Fantomas, while Patton is running his own label Ipecac and, as usual, keeps busy with his countless musical/movie projects.
The band was involved in a feud with Red Hot Chili Peppers and their lead singer Anthony Kiedis, who also complained that Mike Patton copied his style. A feud resulted in the band not being featured in a couple of festivals.
Bar McKinnon (Secret Chiefs 3)
Trey Spruance (Asva, Commode Minstrels In Bullface, Electromagnetic Azoth, The, Faith No More, Faxed Head, FORMS, Holy Vehm, Ishraqiyun, Noddingturd Fan, Plainfield, Secret Chiefs 3, Traditionalists, UR, Weird Little Boy)
Hans Wagner (Sweaty Nipples)
Theobald Brooks Langyal
The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Cass (Ladd-Frith, 1986)
Mr. Bungle CD / LP / Cass (Warner Bros, 1991 / London, 1991 / ArsNova, 2000 / Plain, 2009)
Soil X Samples 6 7″ (Warner Bros, 1992) – a seven-inch that features Flaming Lips covering T. Rex’s “Ballrooms of Mars” and Mr. Bungle with a track called “Sudden Death”
Disco Volante CD / LP / LP + 7″ (Warner Bros, 1995)
California CD (Warner Bros, 1999 / London + Slash, 1999)
“Raping Your Mind” on Trademark Of Quality™ (Warner Bros + Reprise, 1994)
“Chemical Marriage” on Introducing Vol. 3 (Indigo, 1996)
“The Air Conditioned Nightmare” on Future Vintage (Warner Music UK, 2003)
“Retrovertigo” on Word Of Mouth (Warner Music UK, 2004)