Mike Patton “Bungles” the Creature Noises in “I Am Legend”
When the mutated victims of a plague come after Will Smith in “I Am Legend,” the malevolent noises they make all come from Mike Patton.
“It just fell out of the sky, to be honest,” said the former lead singer of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle. “The only thing I can cite really is, I had a friend who was working on the movie, and he probably threw my name in the hat at some point, because a lot of the sound people were frustrated with the sonics, the sounds of these infected beasts.”
If anyone could summon the sound emanating from formerly human creatures, it was Patton. As the frontman for the experimental hard rock band Faith No More, Patton became a star with “Epic,” a 1989 hit that melded majestic heavy metal and progressive rock with old-school hip-hop.
But “Epic” only skimmed the surface of Patton’s musical ambitions and abilities. Before, during and after his tenure with Faith No More, Patton led Mr. Bungle, a band prone to Frank Zappa-esque musical twists that could incorporate Middle Eastern melodies, avant-jazz workouts and Beach Boys harmonies — often within one song.
He went on to form the adventurous metal band Fantomas with members of the Melvins and Slayer, started his own influential record label, Ipecac, and collaborated with producer Dan “The Automator” Nakamura on two genre-bending hip-hop projects, Lovage and Peeping Tom.
And somewhere in the middle, Faith No More scored a mellow hit with “Easy,” an extremely Faith-ful cover of the Commodores ballad.
This bizarre resume led the producers of “I Am Legend” to Patton, 39. He was called in to remedy a common problem with the creature sound on big-budget movies.
“Apparently from what they tell me, everybody uses these stock … sounds of pitch-shifted animals, basically. They layer them to varying degree, but he just cited 10, 20 movies that all used that formula — pigs, horses, whatever,” Patton said before letting out a combination horse whinny and pig snort. “They wanted something that was a little more human and a little more organic. I said, ‘Well, I’ll do my best.’ I didn’t know how it would pan out.”
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