FANTOMAS
by guest interviewer, amy

YOU'VE JUST WITNESSED ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING LIVE PERFORMANCES FROM ONE OF THE MOST CLEVER MUSICAL ACTS AROUND. WHAT'S NEXT? HOW ABOUT AN INTERVIEW WITH 3/4 OF THEM, CAPTURED ON A DYING TAPE RECORDER. TASTES LIKE CHICKEN GUEST INTERVIEWER, AMY, LANDS THE GUERILLA Q&A WITH MIKE, TREVOR AND BUZZ OF FANTOMAS.

CHAPTER ONE: THE DRAMA

In the ladies’ room, hovering over the toilet so my ass doesn’t touch the germs on the seat, the thought hits me. No! I forgot the damn camera! I emerge from the restroom pissed off. I have to hairspray two ugly bitches out of my way because they are hogging up the mirror. I must have thinking space. Mike Patton walks by with some take-out, and I am frustrated. I ask the guy at the t-shirt stand, “Is there a CVS around here?”

Minutes later I am happily trotting up the stairs, new camera in hand, looking for tall people to stand in front of. Testing my tape recorder, my heart sinks. The tiny red light is dying.

I need a Cherry Coke!

CHAPTER TWO: THE SHOW

In the bowels of Detroit, in a dark corner down a darker alley, there is a place. But it’s only there for one night. We are all strapped into our seats at this spooky funhouse. The first turn is jerky, but we can hear some Fantomas playing in the background. Our hosts this evening are Dave Lombardo (yes, from Slayer), Buzz Osborne (The Melvins), Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle), and some guy named Mike Patton. Four musical virtuosos that, when put together, express the intensity of prodigal brilliance. If you get sick easily, I’m warning you now, do not get on this ride. Listening to Fantomas at home while knitting is one thing, but seeing them live is entirely something else. The four were perfectly aligned. Especially considering the track sheets they play from must look like puzzles. It’s amazing to me that they can keep up with each other with the constant shifts. Somewhere along the way, a slicked-back Mike Patton becomes a director possessed. While composing, he starts making unforgiving sounds to the various “pages” from the first CD. Then switching, his voice sonorously sings the lullaby beginning to “Rosemary’s Baby”. He even pumps out some decent urban beat boxing in the middle of the set. The last song played was “The Godfather”, a fitting last note. Then it was over and we were all very sad. We all exited the ride, not really sure what just happened, and not able to walk so well. While others began bitching and moaning about encores, I quietly snuck backstage.

CHAPTER THREE: THE INTERVIEW

Mike: Sorry about keeping you waiting.

amy: It’s okay. Man, I hope this thing doesn’t run out of juice. Let’s start. I noticed the new album, The Director's Cut, is not as chaotic or erratic as the last one. Is Fantômas going more toward a structured format?

Trevor: Well, it’s not original. It’s all arrangements of film music that have already been written. I think Mike wanted to try something different. We’re gonna do another record probably early next year. It’ll be a little more like our first.

a: What’s going on with your other shit? Are you planning on doing anymore stuff with John Zorn, Tomahawk, and Secret Chiefs 3?

M: Tomahawk’s album will probably be out here in November, but not much work with John lately. We’re gonna do a duo record together sometime soon. I was on his last few records. We’re really good friends and we just do stuff from time to time. No concert playing or any stuff like that. It’s very loose.

T: Secret Chiefs 3 is Trey’s project. I have my own trio titled Trio-Convulsant. I did a record about 4 or 5 years ago. Hopefully I’m gonna do a new one soon. And I play with John Zorn.

a: (To Buzz) What’s the deal with The Melvins right now, since you’ve been busy with the Fantômas tour?

Buzz: We’re recording a brand new album, probably December.

a: Do you have any other projects going on?

B: These take up all my time, believe me.

a: So what have you guys been listening to?

M: You mean bands?

a: Whatever.

M: Ah, man, lots of stuff. What did we listen to the past few days? DJ Shadow and Ali Farka Toure, an African guitar player. We have some Creedence in there, too. (laughing)

a: Some Menudo?

M: (laughs) Yeah.

T: Right now I am listening to Grant Green, a jazz guitar player. Also Edgar Verez and Maurice Ravel, a couple of French composers. I listen to all kinds of stuff.

a: I really liked what you did up there tonight. You guys put a little twist on it. I couldn’t even keep track of the songs.

T: Me either.

a: So what’s going on with Mr. Bungle right now?

T: Nothing’s going on right now. We’re all kinda a little sick of each other right now, so we’re taking some breathing space. We’ll see what happens.

a: What’s your songwriting process like for Fantomas?

M: I write everything, and then I make tapes.

a: Do you use any software at all?

M: Not at all.

a: So it’s all hardware.

M: All.

a: What did you think about Napster?

M: I think it’s all pretty overhyped. I don’t think it was doing a lot of harm, but I’m not exactly into the idea of it. I’m a musician, and it shits on what I do. Theoretically, I shouldn’t be into it. Practically, I don’t really give two shits (laughs). But I don’t think it’s helping what I do. I make a living doing this shit.

VISIT THE GUYS OF FANTOMAS HERE.