Mr. Bungle were always a weird band, but with 1999's California, they did the unimaginable: They got even weirder. Over 44 minutes, the album incorporates elements of Hawaiian music, electro-funk, surf rock, doo-wop, folk, pop, psychobilly, thrash metal, lounge music, jazz, surf rock, piano ballads, sci-fi, horror and spaghetti western film scores and much more. A huge fan of the band, Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows was not into California at all when he first heard it. But over time, the record — which would prove to be Mr. Bungle's last — won him over. In 2017, A7X even recorded a cover of the album's "Retrovertigo," which you can hear below.
"We're massive fans of Mr. Bungle," Shadows commented at the time. "'Retrovertigo' is one of their softer songs and a particular favorite of ours and we thought it'd be a fun twist to make a heavy version. We hope this song encourages the uninitiated to dig a little deeper into the brilliant world of Mr. Bungle. Mike Patton is one of the greatest vocalists of our generation and it was pretty daunting for me to sing one of his songs, but we had a great time recording this track."
Below, Shadows talks more about California and how his perspective on the album changed over time.
When I first heard California I hated it. Total departure from everything I loved about Mr. Bungle. I couldn't wrap my brain around what they were thinking. I remember Brian [Haner, a.k.a. Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates] telling me he had the same reaction when The Rev [Avenged's late founding drummer] showed him the album.
Then one day I heard "Pink Cigarette" in passing and thought it was one of the most beautiful songs I had ever heard. Realizing it came from the one Bungle album I didn't understand made me give it another chance and the brilliance exposed itself to me. We were just talking the other day about the insane melodies of "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare." In fact, three nights ago I poured myself a drink and sat under the stars and listened to California from front to back. It continues to inspire us to this day.