As far as supergroups go, they don’t come much more super, or eclectic for that matter, than Fantomas. The brainchild of indie impresario Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr Bungle, Tomahawk et al) and rounded out by Dave Lombardo (Slayer) on drums, Buzz Osborne (Melvins) on guitar and Trevor Dunn (Mr Bungle) on bass, the band takes its name from the protagonist and anti-hero from a series of pre-WWII French crime novels.
Given that Fantomas is also known as the – “Lord of Terror’ and a – “Genius of Evil’, the uninitiated should have a fair idea of what to expect when the Patton and co. hit our shores for the Big Day Out Tour and for a run of sideshows with buddy Serj Tankian.
“We are so totally not looking forward to coming to Australia,” said guitarist Buzz Osborne down the line in L.A taking a break from a Melvins rehearsal. “We all hate Australia...no, seriously, Australia is a great place and we can’t wait to get back down there.”
In case you have been living under a rock for the past 20 years, the bird-nested haired Osborne and his beloved Melvins are regarded as one of the unsung pioneers of that little scene known as Seattle with such seminal albums like Ozma, Houdini and Bullhead now regarded as sludge-rock classics.
Fantomas (minus Lombardo, who will be replaced by Melvins drummer Dale Crover) will be enthralling audiences with their classically chaotic album The Directors Cut – a collection of iconic movie themes such as The Godfather, The Omen and Night of the Hunter in a way only Fantomas can – what Osborne describes as “anarchy mixed with bureaucracy – a combination that doesn’t really work at all.”
” The Directors Cut is definitely my favourite Fantomas record, so yeah, I’m really looking forward to playing it live at the Big Day Out and hopefully scaring the shit out of some people,” Osborne laughed. “I’d also like to say that everybody is going to get paid and everybody is going to get laid. No, wait, I mean nobody’s going to get paid and maybe luckily a few people may get laid.”
The band recently played the album back to front at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Nightmare Before Christmas festival, which was co-curated by the Melvins and Mike Patton. It was an experience Osborne regards as liberating. “Yeah it was really cool – we just picked a bunch of bands that we like, and there was like no fights over the line-up or anything. The focus was just on the music and none of the other stuff so yeah, it was really cool.”
Arguably one of the most accessible of the Fantomas catalogue (their 2004 release Delirium Cordia was a concept album on the theme of surgery without anaesthesia and contained just one song clocking in at over 70 minutes), The Directors Cut proves just as cinematic as the source material. Its sweeping dynamics would make a manic depressives mood-swings seem put-on, with Patton doing his best (almost an Oscar-winning turn) as the deliriously unhinged brother. So, just what kind of film would Fantomas score if they were let loose on the world of celluloid? Osborne was surprisingly quick to answer.
“It would definitely have to be the most violent Charles Bronson type of exploitation movie directed by someone like David Lynch – that is also a love story.”
Fantomas will play The Directors Cut at all remaining Big Day Outs and joint sideshows with Serj Tankian.