Mike Patton, Phil Anselmo, and Survival: An Interview with Child Bite
Shawn from Child Bite is a pretty interesting dude with lots of stories to tell and a monster intellect. One of the most fascinating individuals in metal, he fronts the hardcore freaks Child Bite – perhaps Phil Anselmo’s current favorite band. Listening to him talk about life, the universe, and everything is a true pleasure.
Matt: How the hell are you?
Shawn: I’m good man! I’ve just been having a whirlwind summer on tour. So it’s been good, and now we’re towards the end of the tour and then I get to go home and chill out for a month.
But you’re like permanently mobile now right?
It is kind of a weird thing because I live in a Tiny Home. I’m permanently mobile at the moment. We’re going back to Detroit to load the gear back into the practice space. Then I’m having dinner with my parents because I haven’t seen them in a while. Then me and my wife are probably going to drive out to Ohio to see some other relatives and maybe Indiana. This is all leading up to our tour with Negative Approach in November.
How is being mobile going to work with band stuff?
It’s going to depend on the scenario. For this tour there was only a brief gap between this tour and the Down tour and we didn’t change the set too much anyway. I think they got together and practiced once and I just kind of boned up on them in the headphones. I was on the west side of Michigan when the time came for tour, so they just picked me up on the drive to Seattle. This time I will go back for a few days to practice and write since we haven’t done that in a while. We’re kind of spread out, so when we can get together we do as much as possible. We all kind of get ready on our own though.
One thing I wanted to ask you about was your bicepful of Mr Bungle tats…
That’s just a matter of being a white trash seventeen year old kid. I guess not too white trash because then I might have chosen a different band. But growing up with friends getting tattoos you’re like “Oh I’m going to get tattoos too!” and the first tattoo I got was the Disco Volante cover when I was 17 because that was all I cared about. That was in 95-96; I must have been eighteen though because my parents didn’t sign off on it. I was like “This is my favorite album right now so I’ll get that”. I don’t regret it; I could have made much worse decisions.
I don’t listen to that shit every day now, but it still is an influence and makes sense with what we’re doing and my life. It was my favorite band growing up so it makes sense that it’s still part of what I’m doing now with my life.
How does Mr Bungle influence your life?
I think as far as being eccentric weirdos and being different musically. We don’t sound like them but we definitely are kind of out there and we have that in common. We don’t fit in.
I introduced Child Bite to one of my close friends who also has a Mr Bungle tattoo as a metallic hardcore-y Mr Bungle!
I’ll take that any day!
What do you think of the other Mike Patton projects?
I don’t own all of it because that would be a feat in and of itself. I have the first couple solo project ones, and I love Fantomas and Tomahawk. I grew up on Faith No More – they were technically the first band I ever saw live. I was like 14 and I saw the Metallica and Guns & Roses arena tour and Faith No More was opening, and I had never heard of them and the next day I had to have my mom take me to the mall. She had to buy Angel Dust for me because it had a parental advisory on it. So she said “Okay, but I’m going to listen to it with you first to make sure it’s not a bad influence!” And we listened to it and she couldn’t understand any of the weird shit and none of it on that record is that bad. I think “Be Aggressive” is about gay blowjobs There is a song called “Jizz Lobber” but I guess she didn’t see that. Mom gave it the thumbs in the mini van when I was 14.
We need to tell Mike Patton that he’s Mrs. Knight approved…
For sure! I met him a coupe of times but always in a backstage and nervous capacity The last time was when we were recording with Phil. Faith No More was playing in Detroit on my wife’s birthday so I flew up for less than 24 hours and she picked me up and we went to the show and got to go backstage. I was trying to think of something to take about.
I was worried about it because when we did that music video with Buzz Osborne it was my job to keep him occupied between scenes and I was just being dumb – like “So you’re doing Fantomas stuff?” and he was like “Ask Mike Patton!” and he was all grumpy! Then he bitched about it on stage and I felt bad.
So when I talked to Mike Patton I was like “Oh let’s talk about gear” because that’s a much greater equalizer than just praising his band. Talking about gear stuff is not so fan-ish. I decided to ask him about vocal effects and he had some cool opinions and ideas. I don’t remember what the question was, but that probably sufficiently answered it!
Any excuse to talk about Mike Patton!
I’m into all of that! I’m into stuff beyond that. When my wife and I moved out to Connecticut fifteen years ago after college the first thing we did – the night we moved in – was go down to Brooklyn to see Secret Chiefs on tour. I’ve done flyers and stuff for them too. I’m a big fan of all that kind of stuff. Everything that is Bungle and Zorn related…
Well that’s part of what attracts me to Child Bite… no one else sounds like you… is that fascination with weirdness shared with the rest of the band?
Yes we’re all on the same page with that. What’s more is we all came from different musical backgrounds. Shawn’s old bands are more in an emo type of thing. But they were always also black sheep within that realm and very eccentric and explored boundaries. I think they just got lumped into emo because of the vocal styling. Brandon our guitarist was more of a punk and hardcore guy. Jeff the drummer… I don’t even know because he was kind of isolated early on and his bands were weird. Personally when I got past my parents’ stuff and started getting into my friends’ stuff I had people showing me the Misfits and Dead Kennedy’s, but I was also getting introduced to Metallica and Anthrax and all that stuff. It was the big stuff in the late 80s and early 90s. I was part of all these membership things where you would get twelve CD’s for a penny so early on I was getting into all sorts of music but mostly thrash metal and punk, and it would be weird for Child Bite to do something else but it would also feel weird if we did a genre piece. I think in a lot of bands you have a lot of people who grow up on the same niche of music and it gets kind of dull.
We’re so different that when we get in a room together I might be throwing in an idea and somebody else perceives it as something else entirely. Once I played a riff that I felt was Celtic Frost-y and someone heard it more as Soundgarden and I was like “Okay!” and it was a cool new direction.
Is that why Phil Anselmo is so obsessed with you?
We were very pleasantly surprised that he liked us. It was through a friend of a friend that he took interest at all. His first introduction to us was the instrumental tracks for the Anal Cunt project we did. So I don’t know what he thought we were and then we played a show with Down. That was back when I still had synths in the live set up and it wasn’t quite as heavy but we were starting to go down a heavier path. I think if some people heard our first few records compared to the new stuff they might say ‘Phil made them heavier’ and we were afraid he might Pantera-ify us. But getting to know him better, that was the last thing on his mind. He was like “I just want to be here to help you and make sure you get the best performances.” He was definitely not going to try to change our tone, our amount of double bass, or whatever. He’s into all sorts of shit even though he’s known for certain types of stuff. He was excited to have a band where he could do that as opposed to constantly working on blast beats.
So… in the time I’ve spent hanging out with you and talking to you… growing up in Michigan seemed to be very interesting…
I guess I don’t know any different? There’s definitely some anecdotes. Blowing off my finger was just being a dumbass. I was never afraid to be the crazy guy or the jester of the group. I was always the guy willing to do the craziest things. Which is for better or for worse. There was buddies of mine that were just as wild. We would get into stupid shit.
For some reason me and my high school buddies were obsessed with roofs and late at night we would climb on buildings. Just going where you weren’t supposed to be.
Did you ever get arrested doing that?
We never got arrested but we got chased. There was one place near a suburb of Detroit called Northville, and there’s a place there called the Northville Tunnels. It was a home for the mentally challenged. There was an area that had a bunch of 19th century buildings that were for mentally disabled people. One had a bowling alley in the basement; another had a pool in it. There was a dozen or so buildings and they were all connected with these underground tunnels. That was the cool place to go. Obviously it had been shut down forever and boarded up. We’d drive down a half mile or a mile away and then sneak in and explore these tunnels. Sometimes we would even do paintball there. We were too poor to have paintball guns. Instead we would go to the Army/Navy store and buy slingshots. So we’d get those and a sachet of paintballs. Then we would go shooting paintballs at each other and almost shooting out each others eyes and almost falling through floors.
With our high school and other public buildings we would climb up and then do paintball up there late at night. Sometimes your goggles would get fogged up and then you couldn’t see that the roof was ending and you would fall. Sometimes we would break into them and take whatever stuff we could find from the cafeteria or whatever. There were definitely times we definitely tripped alarms or whatever. We kept going on roofs though. I don’t know why. I think it was the high school metalhead mentality of pushing boundaries.
The only time I got arrested then was for stealing a pack of bubblegum which was the stupidest thing I ever did. I was 18 so I could actually get charged for crimes. That was also the year I blew off the finger because I was old enough to buy gunpowder at the time… Anyway I remember the cops taking me out of the grocery store and putting me in jail for stealing bubblegum and my dad had to talk to the owner of the store so he wouldn’t press charges. That was when my petty theft stage ended. By the time I got caught and put in jail I was like “This is not worth it all!” Some kids are a little dense as I can attest to, and you need to touch the oven to see that it’s hot. C’est la vie!
Child Bite just wrapped up their tour with Ken Mode. Follow them on Facebook to keep up to date with their latest adventures.