Book Review: The Faith No More & Mr. Bungle Companion
On one end of the music fan spectrum, you’ve got people who only know an artist’s hit songs and could name maybe one or two members. On the other hand you have the obsessive — they know the personal history of every band member, own every note the band has released, and can spend hours discussing the differences between guitar solos on different obscure bootlegs.
As far as my appreciation for Faith No More and its demented brother band Mr. Bungle goes, I probably reside somewhere on the middle of the curve. I know the players, I know all of the tunes — or at least in the case of FNM, all the albums since Mike Patton joined — and I can confidently assert my fan status, but beyond that I know very little about the groups. Or rather, knew.
But now, thanks to Greg Prato’s latest book — The Faith No More & Mr. Bungle Companion — I have officially been elevated to the next level of fanhood. And the best part is that it was a fun, easy process!
Prato, who writes in a very easygoing, conversational style, has succinctly and in an engaging style traced the history of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle from their formation to the present day. He provides some brief biographical information on all the key players in FNM and Bungle.
The chapters are for the most part divided up to cover each of FNM’s six studio albums and associated tours, as well as Mr. Bungle’s three albums. Peppered throughout are anecdotes and lavish praise from many of the musicians who played with and were inspired by the two bands, such as Jason Newsted, Fieldy and Brian “Head” Welch of Korn, Wes Borland, and Kim Thayill of Soundgarden.
Prato also relates many of his own experiences listening to and seeing the groups live, which puts the Companion squarely in a category of “by a fan for fans” rather than “here’s a studied and measured band biography.” Whether or not you care for this approach is of course a matter of taste, but I think Prato did a fine job in keeping the book from turning into a 200-page fan letter. It also helps that Prato and I seemingly agree on the fact that Angel Dust and King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime are completely awesome in their own ways.
Of most interest to me was Prato’s recounting of the early FNM days, when the group was making a name for themselves in the San Francisco area and forging their unique identity with original lead vocalist Chuck Mosley. I’m always fascinated by band dynamics, particularly when lineup changes are involved, and I was interested to learn just how Mosley and guitarist Jim Martin made their highly visible exits.
I also got a kick from reading about Faith No More’s rather tumultuous tour opening for Metallica and Guns N’ Roses — lest anyone forget, they were the third band on the bill the night of August 8, 1992, when fans in Montreal rioted after James Hetfield burned his arm and GNR ended their set early.
As might be expected in anything written about these two bands, Mike Patton tends to dominate the proceedings. This is only natural, as he remains a larger than life force and is arguably the most integral member of both groups. He’s certainly the most interesting member to read about, although I honestly could’ve done without an entire chapter devoted to stories about Patton’s obsession with feces (“Shit Terrorist”). Yes, you read that right.
Poop issues aside, I enjoyed this The Faith No More & Mr. Bungle Companion a lot. It certainly has given me a deeper appreciation for just how essential the music of these two groups was and still is. I recommend it highly both for casual fans and for die-hards.
The Faith No More & Mr. Bungle Companion is out now and is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.