‘Isolated, Antisocial and Afraid of People’: Mike Patton Is Finally Ready to Talk About Last Year

Rolling Stone, July 19, 2022

Dead Cross singer opens up about battle with agoraphobia that derailed Faith No More and Mr. Bungle’s tour plans last fall and how he hopes to get back on the road again this year

To the surprise of everyone on his team, Mike Patton wants to talk about how his life derailed over the last few years. “It’s funny because my manager and publicist were like, ‘Do you want to talk about mental health [in an interview]?’” he says. “’They’re gonna ask you these questions. We can say no.’ And I’m like, ‘No. Let them ask what they want. I got nothing [to hide].’ It actually helps to talk about this shit, you know?”

Now that Dead Cross, the hardcore-punk supergroup he joined in 2016, are gearing up to release a second album, he’s ready to open up. And when you ask just how the record came together, he just laughs. “Oh, boy,” he says. “How much time you got?”

The band, whose last release was a 2020 cover of Black Flag’s “Rise Above,” has been trying to rise above ever since. First, guitarist Michael Crain, who also plays in Retox, was diagnosed with Covid and later advanced cancer. (He has since gone into remission.) The cancer scare inspired him to write a series of devastating riffs as a means of catharsis that he recorded with his Dead Cross bandmates, bassist Justin Pearson (also of Retox and the Locust) and drummer Dave Lombardo (Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits, formerly of Slayer.)

When Faith No More and Mr. Bungle canceled their concerts, you released a statement citing problems with your mental health. Can you talk about what you were going through?
It’s still going on — but it’s better. [Pauses]. It’s easy to blame it on the pandemic. But I’ll be honest, man: At the beginning of the pandemic, I was like, “This is fucking great. I can stay home and record.” I’ve got a home studio. So I was like, “Yeah, what’s the big deal?” And then something clicked, and I became completely isolated and almost antisocial [and] afraid of people.

That sort of anxiety, or whatever you want to call it, led to other issues, which I choose not to discuss. But I got some professionals helping me, and now I’m feeling better and getting closer to diving back in. Towards the end of the year, I’ll be doing my first shows in, like, two years, which is the longest time since I started doing this, that I’ve been out of the game.

When you say you had other issues, do you mean substances? Alcohol?
It was a little bit of everything. But mostly, in my experience, it was mostly mental. I saw some therapists and all that stuff, which is the first time I ever had to do that in my life. And they basically diagnosed me as having agoraphobia; like, I was afraid of people. I got freaked out by being around people. And maybe that was because I spent two years basically indoors during Covid. I don’t know. Maybe it reinforced feelings that I already had. But just knowing about it, talking about it, really helped. And we’ll see how it goes in December.

What keeps you grounded?
My dogs keep me completely at peace. And my garden; that really helps. And also the help that I’m getting, like, psychotherapy, psychiatrists, all that stuff. Even though it can be labor-some, I know that it’s helping me. And then also AA, I gotta admit, really is helpful.

I’ve always admired AA’s “serenity prayer.” It felt especially important during lockdown like, “OK, this is what I can change. This is what I don’t have control over.”
Yeah, that’s a great thing. Even during the pandemic, it was like going to online meetings instead of in-person, that shit still works. It’s all about the ritual of it. There’s some amount of it that gets repetitive, but the more that you do it, the deeper it goes. That’s what all my friends tell me, so…

I’m sure having a routine, like making albums, helps.
Oh, for sure. But those also have some downsides meaning I’ll get back into bad habits, when I’m doing that kind of stuff [and] when I’m working the way that I used to work. So I’m changing the way that I work a little bit not so manic and obsessive and just letting it come when it comes… [+]