Book review: Small Victories : The True Story of Faith No More

Book review: Small Victories : The True Story of Faith No More by Adrian Harte

Review by: Douglas Esper

In 1998 when Kerrang published, “The Band That Had To Die,” about Faith No More I wondered what it could mean, but after reading Small Victories by Adrian Harte (Jawbone Press 2018), I’m amazed the band held it together as long as they did on their first go-round. While touring relentlessly, fighting each other, harassing the press, giving the middle finger to radio, and pushing back against their record company, these guys love testing the limits.

One of the most frustrating things about Faith No More is also the most endearing, that is, their absolute inability to answer questions seriously. Their sarcastic, bratty, playful, and even sometimes mean-spirited approach to the press, broadcast media, and the pop world at large provided me endless reasons to cheer on the band and laugh along with them. On the flip side, as a fan subject to the American media blackout, I felt like Faith No More kept themselves distant, a mystery. It came across as if they were too uncomfortable with their fanbase to mingle, or worse that they didn’t, in fact, care a lot (groan, I know, I know, my wife made me do it).

Over thirty years after Faith No More formed and twenty years after they broke up…or quit, or well, whatever they did it was Puffy’s fault, Adrian Harte has given us the best glimpse of the true band, zits and all.

While not officially linked to the band, Adrian interviewed dozens of former bandmates, managers, booking agents, and even has some new quotes on record from the three main components to the band. I have read other reviews stating the book is incomplete without direct input from long time guitarist, Jim Martin and vocalist, Mike Patton, but I vehemently disagree. It’s Mike Bordin, Bill Gould, and Roddy Bottum who have guided this ship from the start and the only three with the proper perspective to speak on the band as a whole.

I reveled in learning about the early years, shacking up in an abandoned Hamm’s Brewery to practice, burning incense onstage to help create a mood, playing single notes until the crowd wanted to revolt, and having the foresight to tape everything they did to pick and choose bits down the road. Hearing outsiders, or even semi-insiders, like Joe Pop-o-Pies, recall their dealings with the band gave me a much clearer picture as to who this band is and why they operate the way they do.

Adrian moves the narrative along with a swift pace, almost too fast to cover with great detail, but I gobbled the book up and now I hope Mr. Harte announces this as a trilogy so I can soak up more.

Just as information in America was hard to come by during Faith No More’s later years, the second half of the book felt leaner, eager to avoid dwelling on the dark days of the mid to late 90’s. It comes across that some of the wounds the members inflicted on each other still fester, leaving you to wonder how the fragile current status quo will play out.

I don’t know how Adrian finally got the go-ahead from the band to write his book, but I salute him for releasing THE inside look at one of the most interesting rock bands ever.

Out now on Amazon:

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