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Book Review: None of This Rocks by Joe Trohman

Fall Out Boy have been one of the most influential bands in my life. They were vital to me during my teenage years and they remain one of my favourites in my mid-twenties. And Joe has always been my favourite member, so when I found out he was publishing a memoir I was beyond excited. Let’s jump into what I thought about it, and I must warn you, it might be a slightly rambly review!

About the book

I received this book from Hachette Audio as an audiobook copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, memoir

Content warning: Substance abuse, talk of suicidal thoughts, antisemitism, verbal abuse

Summary: Trohman cofounded Fall Out Boy with Pete Wentz in the early aughts, and he’s been the sticky element of the metaphorical glue-like substance holding the band together ever since, over the course of a couple decades that have included massive success, occasional backlashes, and one infamous four-year hiatus. Trohman was, and remains, the emotive communicator of the group: the one who made sure they practiced, who copied and distributed the flyers, and who took the wheel throughout many of the early tours. As soon as he was old enough to drive, that is—because he was all of 15 years old when they started out. That’s part of the story Trohman tells in this memoir, which provides an indispensable inside perspective on the history of Fall Out Boy for their legions of fans. But Trohman has a great deal more to convey, thanks to his storytelling chops, his unmistakable voice, and his unmitigated sense of humor in the face of the tragic and the absurd.

None of This Rocks chronicles a turbulent life that has informed Trohman’s music and his worldview. His mother suffered from mental illness and multiple brain tumors that eventually killed her. His father struggled with that tragedy, but was ultimately a supportive force in Trohman’s life who fostered his thirst for knowledge. Trohman faced antisemitism in small-town Ohio, and he witnessed all levels of misogyny, racism, and violence amid the straight edge hardcore punk scene in Chicago. Then came Fall Out Boy. From the guitarist’s very first glimpses of their popular ascension, to working with his heroes like Anthrax’s Scott Ian, to writing for television with comedian Brian Posehn, Trohman takes readers backstage, into the studio, and onto his couch. He shares his struggles with depression and substance abuse in a brutally honest and personal tone that readers will appreciate. Not much of this rocks, perhaps, but it all adds up to a fascinating music memoir unlike any you’ve ever read.

Add it on Goodreads. Add it on Storygraph.

Review

I must admit that I was scared going into this book. I was extremely excited about it but I also had no idea what to expect, and I seriously didn’t want to be let down because of how much I was anticipating hearing not only about Joe Trohman’s life story but also about what he was going to write about his band, a band that has meant so incredibly much to me. I got into Fall Out Boy when I was around 16 and I fell head over heels with them, listening to them religiously so, obviously, learning about the band from the inside was incredibly exciting. Not only that, I was really looking forward to learn about Joe, my favourite member but also the one that has unfortunately been more in the background throughout the band’s history. And I’m very happy to report that he delivered a fantastic memoir, filled with lots of heart and fun.

Firstly, Joe Trohman truly does not shy away from sharing his biggest insecurities and the nastier episodes he’s gone through in his life and yet, he manages to do so in a deliciously comedic way that does not take away from the severity of some of these stories. From suffering verbal abuse from his mother as a young child to his problems with addiction, his sarcastic delivery of countless jokes lands each and every time, making these harsh topics way more digestible for the reader (or listener).

Obviously, as a fan of the band, I was dying to learn what he had to say. Despite us having vastly different opinions on MANIA, I loved his perspective on the development of the band. He talks about the highs and lows, the fights and the exhaustion, but he does it without resentment. I especially enjoyed hearing him share his experience of the band getting big and his role within it shifting and how that affected him, because I cannot imagine that being an easy thing to go through. Additionally, having him share his back problems and how that affected his performance was extremely valuable. Not jumping and moving around in the stage as much as when they started is something the band in general has been criticised for, and having him share such a vulnerable part of his journey which what I can only describe as genuine sadness and resentment towards his body was genuinely moving.

On a slightly nerdier note, I absolutely adored the fact that he had such nice things to say about doing Warped with My Chemical Romance and about the band in general. That filled my heart since, as you might know from this post, MCR is another one of my favourite bands. Joe also mentions touring with Paramore later on in the book, so I can assure you my heart was soaring by that point.

Throughout the book, we get a very defined idea of what Joe is like and I especially enjoyed hearing him talk about his passion for creating, whatever that creation might be. He genuinely feels like the sweetest guy who, as he himself points out, just wants hugs. At the risk of sounding cliché, Joe Trohman just seems truly relatable: an anxiety-ridden slightly messy person that just wants to be loved and follow his dreams in whatever form they come, I’m sure more than one person can see themselves in him. Despite being in a huge band, he comes across as really down to earth and approachable, which makes this book an even better experience.

Finally, I just want to mention how incredible getting to listen to 7 and a half hours of Joe Trohman was. He says many times just how much he hates his own voice but that is an opinion I cannot share. His delivery and right amount of emotion in all the right parts made this reading experience ten times better than it would’ve been otherwise, so I highly recommend listening to the audio version of this if you can.

All in all, this was a remarkable memoir by and about a lead guitarist in the huge band Fall Out Boy who has remained in the background of his band’s success. This book has it all, from heartfelt and heartbreaking stories to laugh out loud moments. I believe you don’t need to be a fan of the band to enjoy Joe Trohman’s book, but if you love them as much as I do, this is a must read.

*And yes, I wrote this entire post while listening to Fall Out Boy, obviously*

About the author

Joe Trohman was born in Hollywood, Florida but grew up in Ohio before moving to the suburbs of Chicago. He is the cofounder and lead guitarist of the two-time Grammy nominated, multi-platinum, twenty-year-old rock band Fall Out Boy. Outside of his career in music, Trohman writes for television and is currently developing an animated series with Brian Posehn. Together, the two recently released a comic for Heavy Metal Magazine. Trohman has been Bar Mitzvah’d once, and currently lives on the Eastside of Los Angeles, California with his wife, two daughters, and an odd-shaped dog.

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Have you read or do you plan on reading this book? Have you ever listened to Fall Out Boy? Do you like them?

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: None of This Rocks by Joe Trohman

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