“Bring that shit in! Ugh!” So the words of Rage Against the Machine singer Zach de la Rocha ring through the ages. In 2000 the dissolution of RATM seemed apocalyptic-without them, who would represent the semi-intelligent state of rap-rock? As it turns out, no one would.
“Bring that shit in! Ugh!”
So the words of Rage Against the Machine singer Zach de la Rocha ring through the ages. In 2000 the dissolution of RATM seemed apocalyptic-without them, who would represent the semi-intelligent state of rap-rock?
As it turns out, no one would. Rap-rock died the death it was supposed to, and the memory of RATM faded from the collective consciousness of teenagers everywhere. Seven years on, and the band that made junior high students don their revolutionary masks is back in action. So far only one show has been announced, for Coachella 2007, but it seems likely that the reunion afterglow will lead to further performances and maybe even a new record.
So what’s the problem? Well, to be perfectly honest, Rage Against the Machine just isn’t meaningful anymore. Rap-rock seemed fresh in the ’90s, but now, long after the fact, most people want to remove that dark time from their memory. Combined with the fact that most of the members of RATM spent all of their cultural currency putting out bad music as Audioslave the past few years, I can’t believe there is much of an audience left.
What really frustrates me about this whole thing isn’t just RATM, but the whole idea of bands reuniting for big paydays. Bands don’t last forever. It’s a fact of life. The people involved with making music are often volatile idiots who rarely know when to quit or when to continue. When bands do break up, regardless of the reasons, they should stay broken up. Dying with dignity and accepting the fate of your band can only lead to good things. Reviving past dreams and slogans for the purpose of money or pointless nostalgia is stupid. Cheapening the legacy of your band isn’t worth the late-life payday.
As such, I put forth the following rules for bands that want to reunite.
The bad breakups rule: If your band breaks up in a particularly public and embarrassing way (i.e., the bassist snorts coke off the ass cheeks of the singer’s mother), you have to stay broken up. These differences are irreconcilable, and any reunion effort is just going to implode horribly.
The time rule: Say that you are in a band and are just really frustrated with the artistic process. You break up, cite artistic differences, and each member goes on to “solo” projects. Eight months and four failed albums later, all of the members of the band realize that they really had a good thing going and decide to get back together. Because the time difference was so minimal, this is OK. Basically, if you can pass it off as an awkward hiatus (defined here as less than a year), then it’s fine.
The motivation rule: If it’s really obvious that the band is only reuniting for the money (i.e., 85 percent of all band reunions), don’t do it. It’s transparently greedy, and if a band is only doing it for money, the performance will be lacking anyway. What few fans a band has left will now hate them, and any legacy they left behind will turn to shit. This goes doubly for trying to put out an album after a one-off reunion concert.
If your band breaks up, deal with it. Don’t get back together later and “relive the glory days”-it just isn’t worth it.