Why So Many Indie Bands Never Really Break Up and are Lured Back Together

Breaking up is hard to do, especially in an age when no one makes any money selling music. All the cash is in live performances these days, so when promoters come calling on bands that say they’ve broken up, they think really hard about getting everyone back together. Just ask LCD Soundsystem, Ride, Slowdive, The Streets, Lush, Veruca Salt…

This is from The Guardian.

The last 15 years in music have made over-enthused geeks of us all. Fans carp and applaud every time a group of people who haven’t hung out for a while decide to hang out again, enthralled by the mere act of reunion. Recently, however, the trend has accelerated. Bands are reuniting after just a few years apart, and embark on a huge “final” tour before they go; a chance for a long, profitable goodbye.

Take LCD Soundsystem, for example. In 2011, they announced their final show at Madison Square Garden, a show immortalised in their concert film Shut Up and Play the Hits. Just four years later, they released a new song, Christmas Will Break Your Heart. A huge reunion tour followed, then a new album – their first to US No 1 – and another massive tour. Mike Skinner, who said he’d stopped playing music as the Streets after a final gig in 2011, has just announced a new tour. Whole genres have been getting in on the act, too: in the wake of the My Bloody Valentine reunion a slew of 90s shoegaze bands such as Ride, Lush and Slowdive all announced new tours. When Wild Beasts and the Maccabees recently announced they were breaking up, there was a sense that it wouldn’t be forever.

While it’s easy to be cynical about these kinds of manoeuvres, options for indie bands in particular have narrowed as the genre has fallen out of favour both critically and commercially: there was not a single indie band among the Top 20 bestselling albums of 2016, nor among Pitchfork’s Top 10 albums of the year (Radiohead were at 10 with a deeply un-indie record), despite the website once being the bastion for beardy guitar bands. Popular culture now celebrates solo artists with strong visual identities who flirt with the mainstream. Groups that have found ways to incorporate some of that (Wolf Alice, the 1975, London Grammar) are doing well, but the closer bands stick to the old formula, the harder it is.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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