When members of your favourite band decide to go off on their own and start a new project, it can often lead to some exciting, exhilarating music. You can end up with the experimental music the band members always wanted to make, but never could find a place for in their original band, or you can have a completely new sound appear.
For as long there have been bands, there have been side projects, and today we’re taking a look back at 10 more side projects that deserve some love and admiration.
One of indie-rock’s most revered and most loved bands is Spoon, and Spoon’s frontman Britt Daniel commands a well-deserved level of respect. Understandably, when he decided to hook up with members of Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, and New Bomb Turks, people were incredibly excited. A coming together of some of indie-rock’s most respected names meant that there was some undoubtedly good music on the horizon.
In 2012, Divine Fits’ debut A Thing Called Divine Fits was unleashed onto the world. With fantastic reviews, the album was a definite success for the group, and is a minor classic of recent years. One of the tracks from the album, ‘Shivers’, was a cover of Melbourne’s The Boys Next Door, and stands up as one of the finest reinterpretations the song has seen.
What’s that, you say? Yes, Bon Iver is actually a side-project for frontman Justin Vernon. See, while Justin Vernon has been a musician for almost 20 years, it took almost 10 years for Bon Iver to come about. Starting out as a musician in 1998, he recorded music as a solo artist, in addition to being part of groups such as his high school band Mount Vernon, DeYarmond Edison, and Volcano Choir.
In 2007 though, while part of Volcano Choir, he formed Bon Iver. Starting initially as a solo project, it later grew into a full band. Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was released in 2007 and catapulted Vernon and Bon Iver into international prominence. Since then, Bon Iver has released 2 more albums, including 2016’s brilliant 22, A Million which saw Melbourne reach peak hipster levels with its release.
A Perfect Circle
Back in 1992, Tool’s enigmatic lead singer, Maynard James Keenan happened to meet up with Billy Howerdel, a former guitar technician for Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, and Tool. Fast forward seven years later, and the two of them decided to join forces with Primus drummer Tim Alexander and former Failure guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen to form A Perfect Circle. Soon, Alexander was replaced by Josh Freese of The Vandals, and the group decided to record their debut album Mer de Noms.
After serving as the opening band for Nine Inch Nails and reaching critical acclaim for their recorded music and live shows, the group went on hiatus at various points, but reconvened sporadically to record a further two albums. While we haven’t seen a new album from them since 2004’s Emotive, it looks like there’s a chance we could be seeing something new from them this year.
Them Crooked Vultures
Them Crooked Vultures are possibly the closest we have come to witnessing a real supergroup in recent years. Formed by Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, Josh Homme of Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age, and John Paul Jones of the one and only Led Zeppelin, the group lasted for only one short year.
After recording their self-titled debut album and playing a number of shows, the group went on hiatus. Vocal fans have been calling for a second album for years now, with Dave Grohl occasionally teasing the delivery of new material. Nonetheless, we can only sit back and wait in hope that new music will surface eventually.
Scared Of Horses
Following the release of Something For Kate’s debut album Elsewhere For 8 Minutes, frontman Paul Dempsey decided to seize an opportunity to record a solo album. Adopting the pseudonym Scared Of Horses, Dempsey recorded all of the music on An Empty Flight himself, but called in a bunch of friends to handle vocal duties.
Featuring artists such as Glenn Richards of Augie March, Heinz Reigler of Not From There, and Jamie Hutchings of Bluebottle Kiss, the record was a minor success, but has slipped into obscurity in recent years. It was finally reissued on iTunes in 2010, one year after Dempsey’s first official solo album, Everything Is True.
In 2005, when the critically acclaimed Death From Above 1979 were winding down, Jesse F. Keeler decided to team up with Girlsareshort member Al-P to create MSTRKRFT. The electronic duo quickly made a name for themselves thanks to both their original music and their extensive remix work.
Sporadically releasing albums, the duo played all around the world, with their music being heard everywhere from movies to video games. Even after Death From Above 1979 reformed in 2011, MSTRKRFT are still going strong, having released their third album, OPERATOR, last year.
The early 90’s was a time when grunge music was king. The legendary Seattle sound helped bring names like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains to the forefront of people’s minds. In 1994, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready met up with bass player John Baker Saunders while in a rehab facility. The duo decided to form a band, recruiting drummer Barrett Martin who had played in Screaming Trees, and Layne Staley, the vocalist for Alice In Chains.
After recording some songs which would become the famous album Above, the group went their seperate ways to work with their usual bands. Attempts to bring the band together failed when Staley declined to rejoin, the group brought in Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan and renamed themselves Disinformation. While Disinformation never recorded any music, the group would only last a few more years before Saunders’ death in 1999, followed by the death of Layne Staley in 2002.
Maynard James Keenan is a very busy man when he’s not making us wait for new Tool and A Perfect Circle albums. Despite having been a band in name only since 1995, Puscifer first started releasing music in 2007 to rave reviews around the world. Using Puscifer as a vehicle to explore new styles, Puscifer’s music has seen Keenan tackle a variety of genres such as trip hop, dub, and even country.
For the first few years, live performances were almost completely exclusive to Las Vegas, but in recent years, Maynard has been taking the Puscifer project and its band all over the world. 2013 saw Puscifer land on Australian shores, and with another Aussie tour coming up fast, dedicated fans will most definitely be pleased by the exhilarating live performances.
In 2003, Australia was incredibly lucky to be able witness the birth of a rare local supergroup. Formed by Tom Morgan of Smudge, Paul Dempsey of Something For Kate, Andy Calvert of Whopping Big Naughty, and Juanita Stein of Waikiki, the band were already set for big things. They then decided to up the ante and rope in Morgan’s friend, and honorary Australian, Evan Dando of The Lemonheads.
The band was short lived, but managed to record a well received album, and a couple of memorable tracks, including ‘I Want To Kill A Rich Man’, and ‘Collar To Colour’, which featured on Lindsay ‘The Doctor’ McDougall’s ‘Rock Against Howard’ compilation back in 2004.
The Family are an odd footnote in musical history. They’re famous for being one of Prince’s musical achievements, despite featuring almost no musical input from The Purple One at all. The Family began under the direction of Prince, with members being chosen based on his recommendation and vision. Eventually, the group recorded and released their self-titled album in 1985, which included the track ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, which would later be covered and made famous by Sinéad O’Connor.
The group broke up a few year later, but reconvened in 2009, before renaming themselves fDeluxe. Despite Prince’s direction, the lack of his musicianship left the group lacking the kick they may have needed to make it big. According to legend though, Prince did record a version of The Family’s album on which he sang vocals. However, it is said to be locked in the vaults of his famous Paisley Park Studios.Write a Letter to the Editor