'REINTRODUCING CHUCK MOSLEY: Life On and Off the Road' REVIEW
In September an advance yet unfinished copy of Doug Epser's book Reintroducing Chuck Mosley: Life On and Off the Road landed in my inbox courtesy of the author himself. This was for my considered evaluation and I was honoured. However for several reasons it sat there unread.
One, I have read, re-read and dissected Adrian Harte's perfectly detailed history of the band in Small Victories: The True Story of Faith No More, I have studied the back story of FNM through magazine articles and I have also spoken to members of the band. Therefore surely this new text would be a story I knew by heart.
Two, Chuck's death affected me emotionally. I had got to know the guy through many interviews, phone calls and actually meeting him face to face... he was in fact (dare I suggest) a friend. Therefore was I ready to read about his demons.
And three, I simply had no free time.
Had Doug Epser not asked me to help with the cover design and a few promotional tools and I may have never read it.
At the beginning of November Scout Media decided to launch the book earlier than scheduled and a digital version was now available one month before the paperback hit the shelves... no excuses I had to get this read.
Let me make it clear from the outset, Reintroducing Chuck Mosley: Life On and Off the Road is not what I expected. It is not a biography, it is not a history of Chuck's difficult life or his amazing achievements. It is in fact Doug's story of his time spent with the late legend. That said, this is a book about Chuck Mosley but skilfully told from the perspective of Chuck's friend Doug. There are hilarious moments, chapters that deal with Chuck's addiction, which are extremely awkward yet somehow moving, and there is much great insight into (as the title suggests) Chuck's life on off the road.
There are testimonies from band mates, friends, family and members of FNM. These help to tell this insane but true tale of music, drugs and more.
The book starts with a brief history of Chuck's musical chronology but soon launches into the narrative of how Doug helped to rekindle the ex-Faith No More frontman's career. From the late 90s until present day the author gives us a wonderful insight into Chuck's tortured and artistic persona plus a fly on the wall look at how he and many others orchestrated the singer's comeback.
There are two particularly awesome chapters regarding the 2016 Chuck Mosley and Friends shows in LA and SF, which promoted the re-issue of FNM's debut album We Care A Lot.
Here is a section from the book published here with the permission from the author.
Doug follows a broken path right up to the journey's end when we tragically lost Chuck to his addictions. We are there surprised by a chapter written by Chuck himself. When reading this section it's hard not to hear Chuck's slow drawling but comforting tones in your head... at this point the book will break your heart!
For two days before the Chuck Mosley and Friends shows in 2016, Faith No More practiced with Chuck in California. This blurb is taken from my book, Reintroducing Chuck Mosley: Life On and Off the Road. It was from the beginning of the first practice as the band and Chuck tried to get things started.
Bill, still peering down with occasional glimpses at his band mates, asked, “So how do we want to start this thing?”
Mike shrugged. “Chuck, are there any songs from the list we sent that you feel strong about?”
Chuck still avoided eye contact while staring at the notebook. “Nah, man. I’m good with whatever.”
I leaned forward. “So, the original list we got from Tim (Moss, the band’s tour manager) had seven or eight songs on it, but then Tim texted another list as we drove here with twelve or thirteen on it. We’ve been, well, Chuck’s been practicing the ones from the old list, so maybe start there?”
Chuck stands, shaking his head. “Nah. Whatever, man. Just start playing, and I’ll work it out. Might take a few passes with some of the other tunes to get the lyrics down, but I will.” He giggles. “Eventually.”
The quiet returns as each of the guys retreats to his corner.
Jon drops onto his knees, pulling cables and muttering. Apparently, whatever he heard earlier still bugs him. I recognize a few of the effects pedals, but his set up is way beyond the one I plug in for Chuck prior to our shows.
He pushes the board aside and grabs a smaller backup board. With that installed, he stands and riffs.
Roddy asks about the We Care a Lot reissue, which they’ll release in a few days. Bill motions to boxes stacked along the wall to the right of the entrance, and they discuss some of the details of cobbling it together.
They talk until Mike interrupts to ask again about how to begin. It appears every time someone in the band asks a question, they all look to Bill, expecting the final word to come from him.
Instead, he shrugs and says something about doing whatever feels right.
The anticipation boils to the surface, but none of them appear ready to take the first step, until Roddy plays the first notes to “As the Worm Turns.” Instantly, the guys focus. Mike tightens the sticks in his hands and shuffles on his throne. Billy slides his fingers to the first note’s location; Jon clicks a few pedals and waits, and Chuck steps to the microphone, notebook tossed on the piano bench.
“As the Worm Turns” was one of the first, if not the first tune Chuck recalls singing actual lyrics for with Faith No More. It has become a cult classic, often appearing in setlists since the band reformed. They even rerecorded it with Mike Patton in 1992.
The song has a clean piano-line intro that gives way to a synthesized sound just before Bill slides his bass, howling like a caged animal, and the drums snap to life. The guitar riff is simple, the bass driving, and the drums feel restrained for such a huge and heavy song.
Chuck watches with excitement and wonder as his ex- bandmates play. As they all groove together, he says something like “Good God.” But I’m not 100 percent sure, as the PA system in the room is no match for the thunderous band.
One of Chuck’s challenges with these old Faith No More songs will be to hit his cues. With such a long intro, he runs the risk of coming in too early or getting distracted and missing his mark. Either one can be disastrous on these tunes that focus more on repetitive groove than on powerful, dynamic, loud- then-quiet-then-loud peaks and valleys. It doesn’t help that Chuck’s vocal patterns often run counter to any drum fills that mark the start or the end of a section.
He glances at me, unsure if he missed his mark, but I shake my head. As the cue approaches, I nod his way, but Chuck has recognized it. He’s off and running without my help.
Bill’s head sways back and forth. Jon appears calm, nodding slightly. Mike hits his drums hard, man, even at practice. Roddy must still be unsatisfied with the sound he’s chosen as he peers at the various knobs on his new keyboard. Singing the first words correctly and on time has relaxed Chuck a ton.
I hear him calm down enough to croon a few lines, sustaining notes longer than normal to showcase vocal control he didn’t possess while singing for the band. He’ll be the first to tell you that he wasn’t a vocalist then, just a fill-in guy who normally played piano and keys. With the PA not up to the challenge and no monitors present to let Chuck know how he sounds, he overcompensates by singing louder than he typically would, almost yelling. The vocals sound slightly distorted, but they cut through the music with a clear message: Chuck is back. On the album version of this song, the final vocals have Chuck singing, “Oh-oh,” but today the vocals escape as a relieved, proud, excited yell.
The guitar rings out; Mike Bordin hits a few cymbals, and Chuck gasps for air, less from the rigors of the song and more from the emotions of the moment.
“Good,” Roddy says. “That sounded nice.”
Chuck grins but plays things cool. “I’ve had a little practice on that one.”
Roddy returns to finding sounds, this time playing the intro to “Crab Song.” Chuck suggests they play “New Beginnings” next. He confessed to me during the trip here that he planned to sound way better singing that song this week than he ever had back in the day. To his credit, he nailed it in the car. Remember though, Chuck is prone to greatness with no pressure on his back.
Bill noodles at his side of the room, and I’m not sure if it’s anything to recognize or him simply feeling out his strings. Either way, a surge of adrenaline bursts, hearing his signature tone, up close and isolated.
It’s a shame these guys don’t get to enjoy the songs and these moments the same way I do. To them, it’s work, and baggage is attached to each song.
Mike isn’t ready for the momentum to backslide, so he hits a four count on his crash cymbal to alert everyone to play “Introduce Yourself,” a galloping punk-rock tune with that quirky Faith No More twist. This song wasn’t on the original list the band had sent over, thus Chuck hasn’t practiced it, but there’s no way he won’t give it a go now.
Though he turned his back, expecting some time to prepare for the song he had requested, he swings around and starts singing. He missed the first few words, as the lyrics start with the music.
It sounds sloppy and awesome, like the guys have loosened up.
The short-length song ends as abruptly as it started. Now none of them want a break.
Bill peers across the room. “Want to try ‘Mark Bowen?’”
Chuck’s jitters return. Here is the song he screwed up the last time he played with them. Here’s a song sung at the top of his vocal range—a song that can make or break the mood.
The guys nod and get set.
It’s like they’re all playing while holding their breath. Hell, I’m holding my breath. I brought my tablet to edit a short story as I listened to practice, but I sit on the edge of my seat, praying for this song to work. Let Chuck shine.
The author picks up the story in the next chapter and leaves us with a devastating tribute to his friend's life.
Chuck Mosley: Life On and Off the Road is detailed, funny, heartbreaking, stranger than fiction and a must read for any fan of Chuck Mosley or Faith No More. It is a truly inspired piece of writing that serves as a great reminder to Chuck and his legacy. We are sure he would've been proud if not a little embarrassed...[ha ha].