Mike Patton’s Mr. Bungle reunited for their first shows in 20 years this past February. Patton and fellow original members Trevor Dunn (guitar) and Trey Spruance (bass) teamed up with Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo for half a dozen shows spread across San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.
They ended each performance with a cover of ‘USA’, the 1982 single from Scottish punk band The Exploited. The song pulls no punches in its critical examination of the land of the free and home of the brave. “There really is nothing nice about USA,” screams Exploited vocalist Wattie Buchan. He goes on to criticise the country’s privatised healthcare system, sweeping wealth inequality, nuclear weaponry and the hypocrisy of America’s founding myths.
Nearly 30 years later, Mr. Bungle sound just as furious on their version of ‘USA’. They crank the tempo on what was already a blistering speed punk number. And while Patton might be best known for his anthemic vocal performances on Faith No More’s ‘Epic’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes’, his throaty scream gets a righteous workout here.
The release of ‘USA’ comes as the country confronts its long history of police brutality towards African Americans. The release is also set against the backdrop of COVID-19, which has killed nearly 110,000 Americans and brought about job losses for a further 40 million. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has failed to produce a plan that could see the country recover from the twin disasters.
Acutely aware of this fact, Mr. Bungle are donating all proceeds from ‘USA’ to MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund. MusiCares aims to help members of the music community who’ve been affected by the pandemic. Mr. Bungle have also produced a brand new, limited edition ‘USA’ T-shirt, the proceeds from which will also go to MusiCares.