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Mike Patton Opens Up on Mental Health Struggles: “I Became Completely Isolated and … Afraid of People”

"I got some professionals helping me, and now I’m feeling better and getting closer to diving back in"

Mike Patton mental health struggles
Mike Patton, photo by Jay Blakesberg
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    In September of 2021, both Faith No More and Mr. Bungle canceled their planned tour dates as singer Mike Patton cited “mental health reasons” as preventing him from hitting the road at the time. Now, in his first interview since then, the legendary vocalist has opened up about some of the specific issues that he was and still is facing.

    Coinciding with the announcement of a new album from his band Dead Cross, Patton spoke with Rolling Stone about his mental health struggles.

    “It’s still going on — but it’s better,” said Patton. “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 f**king 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.”

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    He continued, “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.”

    Patton plans to head out on tour with Mr. Bungle in December for a South American outing, which will mark his first tour dates since canceling the shows last year. When pressed on whether the “other issues” he mentioned were alcohol or drug related, the singer responded, “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.”

    He added, “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.”

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    Patton went on to say that he started to realize he had a problem “right around the time that Faith No More was about to go back on the road.” He revealed, “That’s when I kind of lost it, and it was ugly and not cool. A few days before we were supposed to go on the road. I told the guys, ‘Hey man, I don’t think I can do it.’ Somehow my confidence was broken down. I didn’t want to be in front of people, which is weird because I spent half of my life doing that.”

    As for where Faith No More stand right now, Patton responded, “Radio silence. [Laughs]. I don’t know. We may reschedule stuff; we may not. I’ll just leave it at that. It’s a little confusing and complicated. So if we do, we do. If we don’t, that’s cool, too.”

    Overall, the singer is still building up the mental strength to return to touring, saying.”[I need to] keep doing what I’m doing. Keep seeing who I’m seeing and listening and just trying to stay grounded and not freak out. That’s the plan.”

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    Back in October 2020, Patton spoke with Heavy Consequence, and discussed how he was navigating the pandemic, telling us that it was important for him not to become isolated. “There’s no end in sight so this is the way we’re going to live for now,” he told us at the time. “So it’s on me to figure out how do I adjust, and not just close myself up and isolate.”

    As mentioned, Patton just announced a new album II from his hardcore band Dead Cross, which also features former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. The LP will be released October 28th via Ipecac Recordings, and it features the newly released single “Reign of Error.”

    Read a lot more from Mike Patton in his interview with Rolling Stone. Watch Dead Cross’ video for “Reign of Error” below, followed by Heavy Consequence‘s video featuring rock and metal artists discussing mental health.

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