BOOK REVIEW | "SMALL VICTORIES: THE TRUE STORY OF FAITH NO MORE" BY ADRIAN HARTE
SMALL VICTORIES: THE TRUE STORY OF FAITH NO MORE (JAWBONE PRESS, 2018) is an exhaustively RESEARCHED and adroitly CRAFTED biography of the expansive GENRE-DEFYING creative unit that is FAITH NO MORE. since discovering the band via a BRITISH classmate's taped copy of ANGEL DUST (SLASH, 1992) back in middle school shortly after arriving in NIGERIA in 1996, the band has continued to be one of my all-time FAVORITE groups (along with DEVO, THE SMITHS, MASSIVE ATTACK and JANE'S ADDICTION) through all of its iterations. reading this book was a bit of REVELATION, as it truly ENLIGHTENED and EDUCATED the reader to the inner personal dynamics of the group and the INSPIRATIONS and ALLUSIONS present in much of their EXTENSIVE catalogue. reading this book is not necessary to properly appreciate the music of FAITH NO MORE, but it brought their CAREER and LEGACY into a proper focus that i had hitherto not fully appreciated.
like most fans, i am obsessed with the work of MIKE PATTON, in and of his involvement with FAITH NO MORE. he's been on a CREATIVE STREAK for years with his myriad of COMPELLING yet DISPARATE projects like the seminal MR BUNGLE as well as FANTOMAS, TOMAHAWK, LOVAGE, PEEPING TOM and COLLABORATIONS with the likes of ZU, HANDSOME BOY MODELING SCHOOL, THE DUB TRIO and composer JOHN ZORN among many others. PATTON is very much a singular entity in modern music well beyond the confines of ALTERNATIVE ROCK and is UNIVERSALLY CELEBRATED by most modern rock musicians, end stop. SMALL VICTORIES makes the INTRIGUING CONNECTION between the CHARACTER STUDIES he inhabits in his lyrics and his formal pre-band STUDIES as an ENGLISH major in college, which i was most definitely not aware of. but it makes total sense since his FEARLESSNESS as a VOCALIST and writer come from a PERFORMATIVE need to due the MATERIAL justice (regardless of its author), not of SELF-EXPRESSION per se. case in point, PATTON's abundant ENTHUSIASM to sing "BE AGGRESSIVE" on ANGEL DUST, a song about the pleasure of homosexual oral sex as written by bandmate RODNEY BOTTUM about his own experience with the subject. for PATTON, this was a SINGULAR professional OPPORTUNITY and CHALLENGE presented to him that he did hesitate from, instead throwing himself into the track. something arguably most IMAGE-CONSCIOUS frontmen from the period would have second thoughts regarding, not wanting to associate themselves with what was then still very much a TABOO subject that would raise questions about their MASCULINITY (which we all know is bullshit). it is a FASCINATING dynamic that the singer, usually the focal point of a band, within the context of FAITH NO MORE, is just ANOTHER INSTRUMENT. in fact, the core of the creative unit is essentially BASSIST BILLY GOULD and KEYBOARDIST BOTTUM (who were childhood friends) and DRUMMER MIKE BORDIN. this means that one of the truly INNOVATIVE and INVENTIVE modern rock bands was steered in general not by the GUITARIST or lead SINGER, but rather by the RHYTHM SECTION. its a wholly UNIQUE situation in that regard and a sign of each members' ability to control their ego for the sake of the whole, especially the VOCALIST.
that being the case, the band was blessed with two entirely DIFFERENT yet highly EFFECTIVE generationally TALENTED frontmen in CHUCK MOSELY and MIKE PATTON. this was after years of a rotating cast of stand-ins that even famously included COURTNEY LOVE at one point. for GOULD, BOTTUM and BORDIN the focus was on the quality of the INSTRUMENTALS and the VOCALS was an ancillary necessity in order to secure live gigs. same with GUITARISTS. if you listen to ANGEL DUST the CRUSHING guitars fo not take center stage but act as a rhythmic bed for the EXTENSIVE PRODUCTION elements like the PROMINENT SAMPLES and KEYBOARDS and processed VOCALS. that immersive aural landscape is what provided contextual COMPLEXITY for the more traditional DISSONANT guitar tones of JIM MARTIN, and is what made that record such a MIND-MELTING experience for the listener. FAITH NO MORE were not a straight METAL band, or arguably a METAL band at all, but their SOUND transformed sonic expectations for the genre through such EXPERIMENTATION, as well as their SPECIALIZED sense of HUMOR and CONTRARIAN penchant for ABSURDISM that bucked audience and industry expectations. ultimately it is that STUBBORNNESS that has led them to be such a BELOVED cult(?) band.
SMALL VICTORIES shines in its attention to important details and its fondness for SESQUIEDALIAN passages that immerse the reader into the MINDSET of individual band-members through time. i recommend this book to anyone interested in FAITH NO MORE or the cultural underpinnings and history of the pre-NIRVANA ALTERNATIVE ROCK movement of the late 80s and early 1990s. i am most definitely going to seek out more publications by the author ADRIAN HARTE. SMALL VICTORIES is quite an achievement and one of the better biographies i have read since beginning this blog.
RIP CHUCK MOSLEY
SPOTLIGHT | JUSTIN HAWKINS RIDES AGAIN
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
i discovered the JUSTIN HAWKINS RIDES AGAIN channel a few months ago on YOUTUBE and was really taken aback by how INFORMATIVE it all was. if you are unfamiliar with JUSTIN HAWKINS, he is the frontman and main songwriter for BRITISH ALTERNATIVE glam metal band THE DARKNESS who first came to fame in the 2000s along with the wave of other INDIE ROCK REVIVAL groups. whereas other ENGLISH and SCOTTISH groups from the period (including BLOC PARTY, FRANZ FERDINAND, THE LIBERTINES, THE FUTUREHEADS and THE CRIBS) seemed heavily influenced by both the POST PUNK and INDIE ROCK movements, THE DARKNESS felt like a breath of fresh air with their stadium-sized AMBITION to be more in the vein AC/DC, MOTLEY CRUE, AEROSMITH, THE CULT or especially QUEEN. they definitely stood apart and where not afraid to look absolutely RIDICULOUS (which i appreciate)! personally i still rock DARKNESS singles like "GROWING ON ME," "OPEN FIRE," "NOTHIN'S GONNA STOP US," "BARBARIANS," "ROCK AND ROLL DESERVES TO DIE" and "LAST OF OUR KIND" on regular rotation while driving to work, i just have to watch my speed in the process.
the JUSTIN HAWKINS RIDES AGAIN channel is reminiscent of RICK BEATO's channel in that HAWKINS also dives into and EXPLAINS music theory and recording / production techniques on popular songs. what differentiates it though is his sense of self-effacing HUMOR that knowingly showcases the ABSURDITY of his life's work as well as his unbridled capacity to call out musicians and industry participants. and he does such from a place of EMPATHY. in other words, he has actual first-hard EXPERIENCE being a ROCK N ROLL star and its that kind of insider KNOWLEDGE that makes his YOUTUBE channel FASCINATING. HAWKINS' channel appears to be a way of BYPASSING a BRITISH press that has long abandoned and even mocked his musical efforts. its rather BEAUTIFUL that an artist in today's DIGITAL ecosystem has the ability to CULTIVATE and COMMUNICATE directly with an audience sans middlemen and gatekeepers.
i feel its also great that he has used this new platform to promote artists he's discovered (sometimes even through his audience). it was through him that i became aware of two INCREDIBLE modern AUSTRALIAN PUNK bands, THE CHATS and AMYL & THE SNIFFERS. if anything, i tend to rely on HAWKINS through his channel as a vehicle for DISCOVERING new bands, which is always a fun thing. my hope is that HAWKINS continues to be PROLIFIC with his channel and further PROMOTE an INCLUSIVE community that follows his lead as a highly IDIOSYNCRATIC, but musically KNOWLEDGEABLE and stylistically OPEN-MINDED guide to new cultural ideas and sonic terrains.
i look forward to seeing where HAWKINS takes this.
SPOTLIGHT | THE HENRY ROLLINS SHOW
there was once a brief moment when HARDCORE legend and spoken-word artist HENRY ROLLINS (S.O.A., BLACK FLAG, ROLLINS BAND) had of all things his own cable show on IFC. ever since he left his regular gig at a GEORGETOWN HAAGEN DAZ to join BLACK FLAG on tour, anyone familiar with ROLLINS life narrative is acutely aware that he is not one to say no to an enticing opportunity and with THE HENRY ROLLINS SHOW (IFC, 2006-2007) he really took advantage of the situation, lining up interview guests in an INSANE who's who rolodex of ROCK N ROLL's biggest movers and shakers. everyone from MUSICIANS like OZZY OSBOURNE (BLACK SABBATH), PERRY FARRELL (JANE'S ADDICTION, PORNO FOR PYROS), IGGY POP (THE STOOGES), GENE SIMMONS (KISS), TOM MORELLO (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE), MARILYN MANSON, CHUCK D (PUBLIC ENEMY), STEVEN TYLER (AEROSMITH), SERJ TANKIAN (SYSTEM OF A DOWN) and JOAN JETT (THE RUNAWAYS) to FILM DIRECTORS like WERNER HERZOG (AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD, FITZCARRALDO), JOHN WATERS (PINK FLAMINGOS, FEMALE TROUBLE), KEVIN SMITH (CLERKS), PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON (BOOGIE NIGHTS, THERE WILL BE BLOOD), PENELOPE SPHEERIS (THE END OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, WAYNE'S WORLD) and OLIVER STONE (WALL STREET, NATURAL BORN KILLERS), not to mention ARTISTS like SHEPARD FAIREY and ACTORS and COMEDIANS like JEFF BRIDGES, EDDIE IZZARD, JOHNNY KNOXVILLE, CHRISTOPHER WALKEN, PATTON OSWALT, WILLIAM SHATNER, TIM ROTH and STEVE BUSCEMI among many others.
the impetus for these interviewee selections no doubt was compelled by the many interests of ROLLINS and not whether a major commercial project was in need of promotion. what comes off seamlessly are NATURAL conversations based on mutual RESPECT and ADMIRATION, which is pretty cool to watch. there is no pandering to an in-studio audience or limiting topics for the sake of the fleeting interest of a perceived general audience in tv land. sadly and arguably such INDIVIDUALISM is likely the reason that THE HENRY ROLLINS SHOW only lasted two seasons on IFC.
the musical choices were likewise staggeringly GREAT, so attached below are performances by the likes of THOM YORKE, SLAYER, BOB MOULD, DINOSAUR JR, PEEPING TOM, BILLY BRAGG, DEADBOY & THE ELEPHANTMEN, ROBYN HITCHCOCK, SLEATER-KINNEY, DANIEL JOHNSTON, THE STOOGES, PEACHES, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE QUEEN and SHANE MACGOWAN.
definitely enjoy. what a great run he had.
parodies & text by nacrowe
back on new years eve of 2019 i did a DEER GOD RADIO episode on one of my all-time favorite artists in MIKE PATTON. his work with FAITH NO MORE alone basically marked a turning point in my childhood, especially after listening to the glorious epic mindfuck that is ANGEL DUST (review linked HERE) when i was in middle school in the late 1990s. concurrent to FAITH NO MORE (and actually preceding it by a few years) he similarly fronted the relatively more experimental MR. BUNGLE, which likewise has maintained a diehard cult following.
whats interesting about PATTON is that he is not particularly nostalgic and is constantly and fearlessly chasing his muse, usually juggling several unrelated projects simultaneously and maintaining a virtually unmatched streak in quality for what is now decades. notable past projects include FANTOMAS (collaboration with members of MELVINS, MR. BUNGLE and SLAYER), TOMAHAWK (collaboration with members of THE JESUS LIZARD, MELVINS and HELMET), DEAD CROSS (collaboration with members of SLAYER, LOCUST and RETOX), PEEPING TOM (collaboration with members of MASSIVE ATTACK, KOOL KEITH, AMON TOBIN and NORAH JONES), LOVAGE (collaboration with DAN THE AUTOMATOR and JENNIFER CHARLES), TETEMA (collaboration with ANTHONY PATERAS) and NEVERMEN (collaboration with members of TV ON THE RADIO and DEEP PUDDLE DYNAMICS). even more varied and extensive are his guest appearances on albums by the likes of BJORK, JON ZORN, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, MERZBOW, THE X-ECUTIONERS, ZU, MELVINS and JOHN KAADA. he even did a solo album where he sang classic ITALIAN film music (MONDO CANE). its quite the exhaustive discography that very much runs the gamut from ALTERNATIVE ROCK,POST HARDCORE,TRIP HOP, PUNK ROCK, METALCORE, HARDCORE, INDIE ROCK, POST PUNK, avant garde CLASSICAL MUSIC, POST ROCK and even HIP HOP. the dude has limitless range.
whats funny for me is that this late 2019 episode was the second time i used this playlist (the first was in 2018 on EPISODE 8 which has since been lost to the livestream gods) and i still failed to include music from every project he had been a part of up to that point in time. it was my second attempt and i still failed! some collaborations and projects are very obscure and ive only come to learn about them recently. but this just proves as evidence of his remarkable range as a singer and artist as well as his eclectic taste in art. i pretty much look at PATTON as a compass in that anytime i feel jaded, like nothing is new and exciting, i just check out whatever is going on with his solo projects or IPECAC RECORDINGS label and i am dissuaded of that notion. cant think of a higher compliment than that.
if you are unfamiliar with PATTON then the show embedded below is a good teaser but is anything but comprehensive regarding his ever growing exhaustive discography. he is most definitely worth checking out.
parodies by nacrowe
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO celebrating SLUDGE METAL icons MELVINS!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
in 1996 i moved to NIGERIA and basically hung out with the 8th graders as a sixth grader. i was tall for my age and looking back a lot of the kids on the compound (yes, i lived on a compound) that were my age were pretty lame. they were from places like TEXAS and LOUISIANA and to tell you the truth i am still processing stuff from that time well into my 30s. just the racist bullshit i saw from my direct peers. regardless, there were a string of bands i got into through these older friends: bands like UGLY KID JOE, ALICE IN CHAINS and FAITH NO MORE. by that period i was familiar with the COLLEGE ROCK and ALTERNATIVE ROCK played on 106.7FM KROQ in LOS ANGELES (NIRVANA, SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM, THE OFFSPRING, GREEN DAY), but somehow ALICE IN CHAINS and FAITH NO MORE missed my radar, which is pretty odd in retrospect. maybe i was just clueless or not paying close enough attention in CALIFORNIA.
regardless, once i heard ANGEL DUST (SLASH/REPRISE, 1992) my pre-teen mind was blown completely blown off its hinges. production-wise that album is real mind-bender and i have heard that producers have been A/B-ing their mixes to it, along with SOUNDGARDEN's SUPERUNKNOWN (A&M, 1994), for years. ANGEL DUST sonically is strong departure from its successful predecessor THE REAL THING (SLASH/REPRISE, 1989) as well as previous records during the pre-MIKE PATTON era of singer CHUCK MOSELEY in that it intricately interlaces keyboards, found sounds and even BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD samples into a dense wall-of-sound that is absolutely massive. key songs that showcase this approach include "CAFFEINE," "EVERYTHING'S RUINED," "MALPRACTICE," "LAND OF SUNSHINE," "SMALLER AND SMALLER," "MIDLIFE CRISIS" and "KINDERGARTEN." this expressive, textured sonic landscape is the perfect palette for PATTON's operatic voice to truly take flight and enter orbit beyond the exosphere.
which is to say that PATTON is a truly fearless singer. keyboardist RODDY BOTTUM wrote the song "BE AGGRESSIVE" which lyrically an ode to homosexual oral sex and PATTON conveys it with unflinching gusto and commitment. so much so that i didnt realize what the song was about until high school. again, i was clueless. when i reread the lyrics and i learned what the song was actually about i particularly admired that someone i assumed to be heterosexual (which was a big assumption on my part) would be so unguarded and transparent in his delivery, especially when the album came out in 1992. this topic in a METAL song would be arguably still be considered bold in 2021. it is one thing to promote inclusiveness and support the right's of others, but PATTON basically inhabits another's perspective and really does it justice in this song. so yeah, my adoration of PATTON and his approach to singing really began with this song in particular.
whats interesting is that this sort of boldness was not shared in the band and guitarist JIM MARTIN left shortly thereafter. it was undoubtedly due, from what i've read over the years, to a combination of the lyrical subject matter as well as the less prominent role of the guitar in the overall sound. that is not to say that the album lacks in terms of big riffs and memorable moments surrounding distorted guitar tones, if anything this is "the" FAITH NO MORE album that guitarists dissect and analyze for such. i think he just saw the writing on the wall for what the direction was moving forward and in some ways he is not correct as later albums had a more stripped back aesthetic regarding guitar tones and a multi-layered and multi-textured electronic aesthetic.
i should also mention the boldness of closing the album with an iconic cover of "EASY" by THE COMMODORES. it is a straight take on the easy-listening piano-based ballad by LIONEL RITCHIE that really showcases PATTON's range as well as frames RITCHIE's songwriting abilities. it almost feels like a throwback to a begotten time when the likes of FRANK SINATRA and TONY BENNET would effortlessly cover songs from the GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK. its an odd choice but only in a METAL / ALTERNATIVE ROCK context where everything is formulaic. as an admirer of songwriting, i'm sure FAITH NO MORE just thought it was a great song by a gifted songwriter, their close-minded audience be damned.
so anyway, great album by a great band arguably at the peak of their powers. one of the cornerstone albums of my childhood that still crushes more than 30 years later.
CHECK OUT THIS BAND | DEAD CROSS
photo manipulation by nacrowe
with a rhythm section that includes former members of RETOX, THE LOCUST and the almighty SLAYER, DEAD CROSS would be worth the price of admission alone before any mention of vocalist MIKE PATTON. obviously PATTON is a gifted talent whose depth and range precede him, but what makes this project standout among his discography is its undiluted aggression and utter lack of subtlety.
this is a straight-up, confrontational spit-in-your-eye HARDCORE record in the best tradition of the genre. it holds up with the discography of all members involved.
definitely worth diving into a check out. love this band.
thanks to DEAD CROSS for sharing our IG story promoting this entry!
parody by nacrowe
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO dedicated to the enigmatic, wide-ranging career of the singular musical talent of MIKE PATTON, easily one of my all-time favorite musicians for his work in FAITH NO MORE, MR. BUNGLE, TOMAHAWK, FANTOMAS, PEEPING TOM and his various other collaborations over the years. this playlist really only scratches the surface of his impact and legacy.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW and CLASSICAL-ISH WITH NUTMEG are available here at the DEER GOD website.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
somewhere along the way, legendary guitar player SCOTT IAN of THRASH METAL icons ANTHRAX learned he had a real gift for storytelling. his obvious mentor in this regard was HARDCORE frontman HENRY ROLLINS of BLACK FLAG/ROLLINS BAND fame who has maintained a longstanding second career as an in-demand spoken-word artist.
given his stature, IAN has seen things over his 30+ year career and his second memoir ACCESS ALL AREAS: STORIES FROM A HARD ROCK LIFE (DA CAPO PRESS 2017), which he penned himself, maintains his acerbic wit, cadence and voice. reading through this it is not hard to imagine him standing beside you performing each narrative as a spoken-word routine, which is definitely a compliment. there is a reason why most musicians don't write their own memoirs, and IAN proves himself a highly capable narrator. his style is very much utilitarian in that he doesn't get too wordy or overly clever with descriptions, which in a way describes his iconic no-sense rhythm guitar work and that of his musical idol, MALCOLM YOUNG of AC/DC.
obviously i don't want to give away any of the stories, but i will say that they deal with his outside pursuits regarding professional poker, moonlighting in tv shows like THE WALKING DEAD and GAME OF THRONES, relationships and of course touring. highlights include stories that include the pranks of legendary PANTERA guitarist DIMEBAG DARRELL (R.I.P.), hanging out with MADONNA and the wardrobe choices of the immortal LEMMY KILMISTER (R.I.P.) of the almighty MOTÖRHEAD.
IAN comes off as a hardworking musician more than aware of how fortunate he is to have his career and the respect of his peers and this book, along with the previous I AM THE MAN: THE STORY OF THAT GUY FROM ANTHRAX (DA CAPO PRESS 2014), seem to be a celebration of that community of musicians. a celebration of how they touched his life, so in that regard i hope he keeps writing.
also keep a look out for the dude in concert. just learned he's touring with MR. BUNGLE in 2020. MIKE PATTON and SCOTT IAN sharing a stage. man, life certainly does not suck.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
back in college i spent writing a senior thesis on BILLY WILDER, specifically his early FILM NOIR cycle of films. this was in part a compromise as my advisor originally told me that in order to write about FILM NOIR, i needed to watch a majority of the 520 films considered to be a part of the genre. NOIR films in general were a reaction to the psychic trauma and intense political/cultural upheaval that was the post-WWII period. these films examined power structures in all their manifestations, much like the ROMAN NOIR literature that inspired it, and served as a sort of existential crisis for american society to work through what society they wanted to create after such an intense overseas engagement. i got through 150 over a few months and was beginning to lose my mind.
then i saw at the suggestion of my advisor what became my favorite film of that entire genre, CHARLES LAUGHTON's unnervingly prescient THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (UNITED ARTISTS 1955). the film is a marvel.
this film specifically goes after how god, faith and country can be manipulated, how religion can be corruptly utilized for profit and to empower. PULITZER PRIZE-winning writer JAMES AGEE's screenplay unnervingly exposes the ease at which unbridled human greed can be wrapped in the sanctimonious garb of religiosity to prey on the weak, in this case children. this is the role ROBERT MITCHUM was meant to play and is his crowning achievement.
deftly shot and framed by legendary cinematographer STANLEY CORTEZ, who would later go on to collaborate with SAMUEL FULLER, with homages to GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM and their haunting use of low-angled chiaroscuro lighting, this film is a visually stunning.
this is film is also an anomaly as it marked the only film directed by notable film and theater actor CHARLES LAUGHTON, as it was a box office failure. much like ACE IN THE HOLE, it cut too deep at the heart of the american life and called into question a still taboo issue that hasn't been addressed in the era of mega-churches and televangelists swarming on unfortunates like flies on pigs in a stye. it is quite the achievement that a 60+ year-old film hasn't depreciated in relevancy one iota. sadly due to its initial commercial failure this also marks the only collaborative effort by all its principal participants, which is a real tragedy in and of itself as today this is regarded in the same breath by critics as ORSON WELLES' influential classic CITIZEN KANE.
easily one of my favorite films and should be required viewing for anyone interested in film in general. cannot overstate how great this film is.