Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis is a provocateur and has a penchant for saying what is on his mind. For almost 30 years, the singer has publicly and privately shown indignation towards Faith No More frontman Mike Patton.
Faith No More’s debut album arrived a year after Red Hot Chili Peppers made their breakthrough in 1984. However, it wasn’t until the arrival of Patton a few years later that they began to gather steam. Kiedis felt threatened by their emergence, and for a time, it felt as though they had overtaken his band despite being around for less time.
In 1990, Red Hot Chili Peppers were not the festival headlining giants they are today, and their first four albums failed to trouble the charts. Then, Faith No More with Patton came along, and with their album, The Real Thing, the group were sent into the stratosphere, much to the frustration of Kiedis.
The similarities between his own and Patton’s vocal style irked Kiedis, who believed that the Faith No More frontman was deliberately replicating his technique. During an interview with Kerrang in 1990, Kiedis lashed out and threateningly said: “My drummer says he’s gonna kidnap [Patton], shave his hair off and cut off one of his feet, just so he’ll be forced to find a style of his own. Especially in the UK where FNM is much better known than us. In America, it’s a different story, people are aware of the profound influence we had on them.”
Kiedis’ comments confused Patton, and he couldn’t comprehend what exactly encouraged the singer to make such a strong-worded remark. Every interview that Patton conducted, he was quizzed on his opinion of the criticisms and initially dealt with the issue diplomatically.
“That’s an interesting one. I don’t think he has, really. Y’know, we’re not threatened by each other, because our music is really a lot different,” Patton responded. “The similarities are there in a superficial way, but really, there’s a huge chasm between us. We are kind of on different sides of the spectrum – we’re on the rock side, and they’re kinda more on the traditional funk side.”
However, Patton did later admit: “I got a real big kick out of it to tell you the truth. I mean, if he’s gonna talk about me in interviews, that’s fine – it’s free press! It’s pretty out of line. Either he’s feeling inadequate or old.”
In 1999, when Patton reunited his old band Mr Bungle, Red Hot Chili Peppers forced Warner to delay the release of their album, California, because of its similar title to Californication. Allegedly, Kiedis personally told the label bosses they needed to push the record back.
It remained unclear exactly what prompted Kiedis to make his scathing interjection about Patton for over a decade. Then in 2004, he finally revealed, “I watched [their] ‘Epic’ video, and I see him jumping up and down, rapping, and it looked like I was looking in a mirror.”
In 2010, Patton attempted to draw a line under the situation and said: “It’s not worth talking about. I’ve no idea what it was about then and I don’t know now. But I bet we’d have a warm embrace if we saw each other now.”
Kiedis’ original comments were seemingly born out of jealousy towards the success of Faith No More and then morphed into a personal hatred towards Patton’s artistry which made him sabotage the roll-out of Mr Bungle’s album. Although Patton would now enjoy a “warm embrace” with him, one suspects that the Chili’s singer wouldn’t quite be as welcoming.