In 2012 there have already been half a dozen bands announcing reunion tours, one-off shows, and even new releases. At the Drive In released a statement via Twitter stating that their indefinite hiatus was coming to an end after 11 years. Recently, Van Halen reunited with one of their numerous lead singers to produce one of the worst songs in history, ‘Tattoo’, on top of a North American tour.
2011 was the year of the super group; with collaborations like Lulu, Lou Reed joining forces with Metallica, and The Throne, Jay Z teaming up with Kanye West, both of which were mediocre efforts, considering all parties involved are or were driving forces in their respective fields.
While not everyone has given up on taking risks, but given the current economic climate, internet piracy and streaming services many artists are falling back on what they know the people like, as it is all but impossible for a budding artist to earn a decent paycheck.
While many artists release albums posthumously, they are at the obvious disadvantage of being dead; however, bands who have ceased to be can rise like a phoenix to ride their old coat tails, restart something great or forever ruin their image with a failed reunion.
In the case of At the Drive-In, a band which produced three full length albums and one EP, it will be interesting to see what will come of there once scheduled appearance. Will they continue to produce more music, tour, or will they find that most people find post-hardcore prog rock a thing of the late 90’s and early 00’s. The notable point about it is that most of their fans pledged their allegiance to the band after they had parted ways with former members forming The Mars Volta and Sparta.
There was an extreme extravagance placed on the creative process by the media for these high-profile artists as collaborations were actualized over the course of the year. They seemed to transcended the music scene at first. Lou Reed and Metallica working together seemed more likely thought up in a discussion in a couple of friends basement than in an actual recording studio.
In many ways, it is a response to the public’s discontent with the way the world is at the moment. Artists used their abilities to create hype and buzz with collaborations to inspire ideas or grandeur, but in the end the idea was nicer than the final product.
Now it seems that the next effort from some artists is to go back to the time before everything fell apart. Perhaps if we call upon the music and inspiration during a time of prosperity, things will start to get better.
Simon Reynolds’ recent book deals with this idea of pop cultures obsession with what is retro, or ‘new-retro’ as I like to think of it. We are the most self-reflective generation, which comes from the advent of the internet and social media, so much so that an event that happened as little as a few days ago becomes quaint and antiquated.
In some ways the revival of old bands is an easy way to create an exaggerated hype or, from a less cynical perspective, for band-mates to patch old wounds and return to doing what they love; either way I can’t help but think this revival is another example of our obsession with things past and search for the next cool thing that everyone forgot about.