Why band reformations don’t work

Open letter from an angry ”˜Old Punk’.

Despite massive pressure from my peers, I’ve decided enough’s enough and never again will I be convinced to go along to a ”˜highly anticipated’ reformation where I watch two burly original members of a band I once proudly scribbled the name of on my maths book puff through slightly slower versions of creations previously considered dangerous, surely this can’t be all there is for me now?”¦

Sure, reunions can work, the sprightly return of the brilliant Magazine for one.
The technologically enhanced concentration of ominous power from Gira’s amazing Swans and similarly, Throbbing Gristle’s unsettling experiments on our central nervous systems, not to mention the almost unprecedented second wind of lo-fi creativity by the truly distinctive Viv Albertine, all other credible examples, showing exactly why people still want them on the scene, whilst throwing new curves into the mix.
These however, are in the minority rather than the majority, Christ, even the mighty Pop Group sounded feeble to these ears.

To compound my malaise, this creeping tsunami of nostalgia we’re watching crudely blossom under our very noses doesn’t just apply to bands reforming.
Younger bands are also in a majority as ones who simply only look back for inspiration, hardly ever bringing anything new to the equation.

Almost every mainstream band launched lately on us with the promise of being the second coming you can track back to someone else specific, (yes YOU Hurts, Vaccines, XX, Mumford, Beady Eye ad infinitum).

It now seems you can’t move for everything having the mothballs of the past attached to it.
Granted it’s hard to be totally original, but we’re looking back way too adoringly to a 60’s, 70’s, and most insidiously, an 80’s, which is something of a marketers dream by keeping dad, mum, and the 2.5 dancing to exactly the same tune.

However proficient the artist, there’s still a Prozac aftertaste, you know it sounds and looks real enough, but try getting emotionally involved?…I’m drawing a blank here too.

I thought a large part of my generation were into cutting edge sounds and only too willing to check anything new and exciting, but it seems to be, from my personal experience at least, that we’re now mostly running on the spot and waiting for the next bunch of chancers who were ”˜third on the bill at the Lyceum’ to give each other a bell so as we can go out and compare the size of our bellies again, where did we give up on the adventure exactly?

This is why I feel so powerfully compelled to turn my back on the last 40 years and only search pastures new. It’s genuinely not a vain attempt at stealing the fountain of youth, (I’m basically just trying to be a good student of the school of Peel), but if I have to make a parallel, this certainly wasn’t what I V-signed Teds and bounced off awkwardly in my bondage trousers to look forward to in later life.
Sadly, it seems I’m once again surrounded by ”˜Teds’, only these are the ”˜Nu-Teds’, who actually used to be Punks or Goths.

To name names at last, here’s a gentle A & B list of what this ”˜Old Punk’ used to enjoy (and still do of course) but importantly, what I’m enjoying and checking now. Even if they may be derivative, remember, they’ve still got the energy and they need your support!

If you liked Blondie, maybe try Keep Shelly In Athens or Hercules & Love Affair.
If you liked Ramones, maybe try Shitty Limits or Flats
If you liked B-52’s, maybe try HeartsRevolution, Cults, or I.O.U.
If you liked Slits, maybe try 10Lec6 or Swahili Blonde
If you liked Throbbing Gristle, maybe try Demdike Stare or Raime
If you liked Monochrome Set, maybe try The Chap, Skeleton$ or Capillary Action.
If you liked A Certain Ratio, maybe try Shackleton, Scuba or Gold Panda
If you liked Danse Society, maybe try North Atlantic Oscillation or Peixe : Avião
If you liked Big Audio Dynamite, maybe try Lone, Bullion or Hudson Mohawke

Also surely a must for any respectable old Punk is Toronto’s criminally undervalued (and LTW faves) Fucked Up whose epic range of sounds are almost a one band potted history of the story of Guitar based music, but no, getting mates to check them has been like trying to drag an Elvis fan along to a Damned gig in ”˜78.
I’d willingly give my signed copy of ”˜Sid Sings’ to see what sort of mayhem they’d inflict on 4,000 people at Brixton Academy, but will they ever get the chance?
If my pals went to one gig this year, was it really too much to ask them to give Damien’s crew a try as well as Steve Ignorant’s inexplicable resurrection of the songs of Crass, or indeed shelling out a ludicrous £50 to see Adam with some faceless new Ants?

Plenty of my contemporaries loved Cabaret Voltaire, Birthday Party and Suicide, so why is like pulling teeth to try to get them to check the euphoric arpeggiated meltdown from London scamps Factory Floor or San Francisco’s superbly intense Mi Ami?…OK, just the one ticket please”¦

PIL diehards could have saved themselves £35 and checked the instinctive bass heavy dubs of the incredible Anika instead, who knows, she may even be able to afford to tour again if you came along and told her you loved her.

So while this phobia of new sounds from a lot of my peers surrounds me, I’m seriously beginning to wonder what would have happened if I’d merely taken the beating from the Rock ”˜N’ Rollers instead”¦
”¦Would it have made a sliver of difference?


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16 comments on “Why band reformations don’t work”

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  1. Oh my god, what’s your point?
    Apart from the obvious, that 50 year olds have less energy than people half their age, that is…
    Up the top you’re whining about derivative new bands that sound like old ones, and further down, you’re championing them.

  2. Personally I’m more bored by people whinging about bands reforming than the gigs themselves – ok so you want to listen to this other stuff, good luck to you etc etc but so what?

  3. Nothing wrong with the well thought out reforms, as certain well known Punk from the original era told me once ‘what do I do, go back to working in a factory, cos I ain’t considered cool anymore ??’ Doors without Morrisson …. No etc etcAdam Ant exceeded my expectations, I saw the Ants in 79 and he was as good of not better. Mick Jones BAD great this time as well, Stooges great, why give up at 60. In parallel checking out new music is the ultimate high, so that should be the main encouragement , but there us a place for both !

  4. And another thing, when did Viv Albertine split up and reform?

  5. Let’s not kid ourselves, the reason these bands reform and tour or play the festival circuit is because there’s a bit of money in it for them. If people want to pay to see them – because they missed out first time or simply weren’t born in time – then why not have a little drink on the proceeds? One or two may still have some fire in the belly and a relevance (see above), but most will be looking at an alternative to whatever role life has thrown at them in the meantime. It’s the modern equivalent of the scampi in a basket circuit… it makes a change from staying in and watching the latest reality programme, but has little ‘relevance’ beyond that…

  6. I’m past the age of caring about “relevance” to be honest

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