Loco Hero 

After hitching to stardom with Faith No More, singer Mike Patton rode his twisted genius in all directions, not letting rock, fame, or even truth stand in his way.

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"Oh, man, this is amazing!" We're in the spoken-word section, and Patton has pulled out a CD of recordings of a woman being exorcised, titled I Am Lucifer. At this point he's sufficiently weighed down with new records and appears vulnerable. It's time for the question he hates to answer. "So, tell me about the woman who handcuffed herself to you in Australia."

"Ugh," he grunts, visibly annoyed. "That sucked."

While relaxing backstage at a show in Sydney, a woman rushed up to him and attached herself to his arm. It took two hours for people to unchain the two of them, and afterwards the disturbed woman refused to leave. He pushed her away, and for the next week the streets were festooned with flyers that said, "Patton is a Woman-Basher." He doesn't want to talk about it, but hints around that he tried to remain as calm as he could while he was handcuffed, so as not to make the situation worse, but as soon as he was free, he wanted her to get the hell away from him.

Fan attention, especially of this magnitude, understandably freaks him out. He never looks at the message-board postings on the Ipecac site. He calls it "bad voodoo." "It's not my place to know why people would be interested in me. I don't want to know. I'm just glad they are. I feel great, I feel lucky."

His fan base is bigger in the UK and Australia than it is here, adhering to the unwritten rule that midsized American acts are generally bigger abroad than they are at home. In fact, Patton is so esteemed Down Under that he was actually asked to be the singer for INXS after Michael Hutchence died. Few things make Patton laugh harder than that one, though it sounds suspiciously like one of his stories. "Absolutely it's true!" he laughs. "I couldn't make something like that up!"

The band, however, didn't appreciate Patton's amusement over the invitation, nor that he was laughing about it in the press. "They got all uppity," he says. "From that point on, I just tried to make fun of them at every available opportunity, I tried to talk as much shit as I could."

He even went so far as to badmouth the group on Australian radio, making a tasteless joke in the process. "The DJ kept pressing it and pressing it," Patton recalls, mimicking an Australian accent: "'What do you mean you said no? You didn't even consider it?' And I said, 'Would you?' And he said, 'Of course, they are one of the most prestigious Australian acts,' blah blah blah. He'd ask me a few other questions, and then he'd go back to it. 'So really, about that INXS thing ...' I said, 'OK, look. I did consider it. I told them that the only way I would do it was if I came on stage and could rig up a noose and hang myself while I was singing.'"

That little joke went out on national radio. During National Suicide Awareness Week. While Michael Hutchence's parents were listening. Oops.

Patton seems to regret hurting anyone, but isn't sorry he said it. "I was rough, but hey, you can come out snarling when your back is against the wall," he says. "And plus they suck!" he adds, laughing. "Fuck them! They are fucking godawful! And not only that, I turned them down and they didn't want me to talk about that fact? Kiss my ass! Dingo-loving sons of bitches!"

Besides the whole INXS fiasco, the only other thing that seems to set him off are those who say that Faith No More had an influence on so-called rap-metal or "nu-metal" bands like Linkin Park or Limp Bizkit. "They like Faith No More for some reason. I don't hear the connection," he states flatly. "Or maybe I just don't want to."

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