Creating music, like any other type of art, can be a difficult thing. It can be a laborious, draining, and sometimes unfruitful task. This is why so many bands grow unstable and ultimately break up.
There are obvious benefits and drawbacks to creating music with other people. In one way, sharing responsibility and burden is something that can make the creative process much easier. On the other hand, “creative differences” are some of the most common reasons that you might see the departure of a member of a band, or the disbanding of the group as a whole.
Bands and musical groups disband all the time, and with great frequency lately, more and more have been getting back together.
Certain bands get stuck in the actual “we’re breaking up” phase, where they tell themselves and the fans that they are breaking up, and three years later, they are still together and playing shows. Hardcore band Bane is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Bane has been playing “last shows” for years now, which has become well recognized by many in the community.
In August of 2015, metalcore band Underoath announced that they would be reuniting, only about two years after their 2013 breakup. While fans are delighted at the chance to see and hear the band once again, it begs the question: why get back together so soon after being broken up?
For some bands, I imagine, they simply just miss playing in a band with the people they have spent years creating art with. I think this is the most likely the case for a majority of bands that reform. Sometimes, however, a band’s reunion might be fueled by other things. Andre 3000 of Outkast made a point of publically saying that he initiated the band’s reunion because of money. He mentioned in the same interview that he had a teenaged son who was getting ready to go away to school, and that the funds from an Outkast reunion would be very helpful. Some people may have an issue with his reasons, but at the very least, his honesty on the matter is refreshing to hear.
Whether your favorite music group is reuniting for the passion to create art again, or doing it for monetary reasons, should you really care? It gives people a chance to see artists they may have missed out on the first time around, so regardless of the motives, the music comes alive once more.
Some bands, however, get back together for reasons that are a lot less straightforward, particularly in cases where the band feuds and causes the departure of members or the entire group disbanding. The Smashing Pumpkins, for example, have gone through many members in their years as a band. Founding members James Iha and D’arcy Wretzky left the band just around the turn of the millennium due to creative difference with singer/guitarist Billy Corgan. Only a few months ago, Iha played his first show with The Smashing Pumpkins in 16 years, with most of this time spent out of contact with Corgan after the falling out between the two. Whether or not Iha will once again become a permanent fixture of the band is unclear.
2016’s biggest and most interesting musical reunion, though, is the addition of Slash and Duff McKagan back to Guns N’ Roses, after about 20 years away from the band. Axl Rose and Slash famously had a falling out, which resulted in the departure of multiple original members, leaving Rose with an ever-changing Frankenstein of a band.
Though GNR has been active since 1985, many fans turned away once Slash and McKagan left. With their reenlistment in the band and the band’s upcoming performance at this year’s Coachella music festival, many fans are ecstatic about this classic band getting back to its roots.
So all of this begs the question: is a band breaking up a sign that they are ultimately not that committed to the band anymore, or is the reunion of a band a sign that they are ultimately not that committed to the idea of being broken up?