They formed in 1999 when Mike Patton (Fantômas, ex-Mr. Bungle and Faith No More) and Duane Denison (ex-The Jesus Lizard guitar player) started swapping tapes with the intention of collaborating. Denison then recruited ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier, while Patton recruited then-The Melvins/ex-Cows bass player Kevin Rutmanis into the group.
Early days (1999-2003)
When Faith No More initially broke up in 1998 Mike Patton created the record label Ipecac Recordings, returned to work with his other band Mr. Bungle, and formed the experimental metal supergroup Fantômas with Buzz Osborne of The Melvins and Dave Lombardo of Slayer. Patton met Duane Denison in 1999 at a Mr. Bungle concert in Nashville and the two began exchanging music and jamming.
During May and June 2001 the band recorded their eponymous debut album in Nashville. The album was released on October 30, 2001, it was produced by Joe Funderburk.
After the release of Tomahawk the band began touring extensively, playing in many countries around the world, including the United States, Australia, Europe and Japan. They generally headlined shows but were the supporting act for bands such as Tool. When opening for Tool on their 2002 summer tour of North America, the band was frequently booed for insulting the crowds. Tomahawk also played at various festivals, including the 2002 Big Day Out festival in Australia.
Second album Mit Gas, recorded with producer Joe Barresi, was released in 2003. Tomahawk took part in the "Geek Tour" during 2003, which featured labelmates The Melvins and Fantômas. During the band's early years they were known for dressing up as police officers in promotional photo shoots and during concerts. The band went on a short hiatus from 2004 to 2006 after finishing touring for Tomahawk and Mit Gas in late 2003 as the members began to focus on other projects.
The band's third album, Anonymous, was released on June 19, 2007 through Ipecac Recordings. Kevin Rutmanis left the band during the recording; reasons for his departure are unknown. For the album, Denison and Stanier recorded their parts in Nashville, and then sent their finished product to San Francisco where Patton added his vocals and samples. No live shows were performed during this period. Tomahawk remained inactive from 2008 to 2011.
Return and Oddfellows (2012-present)
In July 2011, Mike Patton announced that Tomahawk was preparing to record its fourth album. In early 2012, Tomahawk announced that Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, John Zorn, MadLove, trio-convulsant) would play bass for the band. On April 21, 2012 the band released Eponymous To Anonymous, a box set containing the band's first three records released on vinyl for the first time.
In late 2012, the band began playing their first live shows since 2003. On December 3, 2012, a full-length video for first single, "Stone Letter", was posted online. Oddfellows was released January 29, 2013. The band were scheduled to play in Mexico for the first time on March 21, 2014 but withdrew due to an illness. On April 9, 2014 the band announced they would be releasing two previously unreleased tracks from the Oddfellows recording session. The single, entitled M.E.A.T., was first released on May 23, 2014 on vinyl.
According to Mike Patton, Duane Denison is currently writing material for a new Tomahawk album.
Style & Influence
Other labels that have been affixed to the group include Progressive Rock, Post-Rock, Hard Rock, and Heavy Metal. Butch Lazorchak of the Boston Herald has compared the band's sound to 1970s Hard Rock groups such as Blue Oyster Cult.
The band's self-titled first album combines Rock with elements of experimental music, Country music, and Hardcore, while their second album Mit Gas features influences from Heavy Metal as well as Punk. The album also includes instrumental segues. The band's 2007 album Anonymous incorporates Native American music elements. Their latest album Oddfellows features a more accessible sound which the band has labeled as "avant-pop". The record includes influences from Jazz music.
1) 2001 Tomahawk (Released: October 30, 2001, Label: Ipecac)
2) 2003 Mit Gas (Released: May 6, 2003, Label: Ipecac)
3) 2007 Anonymous (Released: June 19, 2007, Label: Ipecac)
4) 2013 Oddfellows (Released: January 29, 2013, Label: Ipecac)
1) 2003 "Rape This Day" (from Mit Gas)
2) 2007 "Sun Dance" (from Anonymous)
3) 2012 "Stone Letter" (from Oddfellows)
4) 2014 "M.E.A.T." (two previously unreleased tracks from the Oddfellows recording session)
1) 2012 Eponymous To Anonymous (Released: April 21, 2012)