Have you got Classic Indie-Rock
Reunion Fatigue? Do you wish that there was a major festival that wasn't bringing back a band from the '90s? Does it sadden you that such long-running rivalries like J. Mascis vs Lou Barlow
and Frank Black vs Kim Deal
came to an abrupt end, hatchets buried for the sake of the cash? Does this nostalgia industry —and the sight of your old heroes playing the old hits— depress you? Do you wonder who will swim against the tide, defying the rushing swells of cash-grab reformations? Then allow this list to wash over you, in all its glory. Every other band that ever was may be reforming for Coachella next year, but not these folks...
1. Cocteau Twins
In 2005, Cocteau Twins
did reform: they were booked to play at Coachella —coming on after Coldplay— and had a whole tour laid out. But then it all fell apart, for reasons that were never discussed. The source was obvious: Cocteau Twins' collaborative core, Elizabeth Fraser and Will Guthrie, were a long-time couple who'd broken up in 1993, and made the band's last two albums without talking to each other. There were plenty of drugs involved in all of this. Fraser was the one who flaked on the booked reunion; no surprise given she's barely made any music, nor performed it, since Cocteau Twins' 1997 demise. When bassist Simon Raymonde lamented the failed tour, he put reunions in the simplest terms: "I would have walked away with £1.5 million tax-free."
Lawrence —the iconic-singular frontman who presided over cult indie-pop act Felt
with a svengali-esque presence— had a dream for his band: they would release 10 singles, 10 LPs, then break up after 10 years; this decade at work perfectly spanning the entire '80s. When the plan came off without hitch in 1989, when Lawrence released the final Felt LP and discontinued the band, it was the fulfillment of a vision. And Lawrence isn't going back on it. "It's to do with sticking to your word," he said, in 2012. "I want to be that person, that fans can say, you don't have to worry about Lawrence, he's not going to reform Felt. Most important, I'm an artist, I want to do new things. Painters don't go back and paint their first painting again."
3. Galaxie 500
"If anyone wants to understand what it's like to be asked to constantly reform your old band," Naomi Yang says, "think of it this way: imagine being asked to just remain the person you were when you were 20 for the rest of your life." Since Galaxie 500
's bitter 1991 break-up, there's been a rift between frontman Dean Wareham and their rhythm-section, bassist Yang and drummer Damon Krukowski. Wareham quickly formed Luna, the others became Damon & Naomi, and never the twain have met: their 1996 box-set was assembled with the two parties not on speaking terms. Krukowski and Yang will clearly never get the band back together, yet Wareham has cashed in on indie nostalgia, performing 'the Songs of Galaxie 500' in his own love-in duo, Dean & Britta.
If there was a band on this list most likely to reform —thereby making their status here instantly redundant— it'd be Hefner, the late-'90s/early-'00s twee
-pop outfit whose following has never, either before or after their demise, gone beyond cult. There's no personal enmity, venomous breakup, or unhealed rifts in their narrative, and leader Darren Hayman has even suggested that, one day, a reunion probably will inevitably happen. Yet, Hayman has long decried the industry of nostalgia and its money-grabbing reunion culture, and it's those sentiments that have turned Hayman into a contrarian figure in the reforming-for-ATP era. Not least in the fact the he issued a solo single lionizing those precious few: "The Bands That Don't Reform."
5. Hüsker Dü
had an infamously checkered career; there now a micro-industry for dirt-dishing books dredging up the most hilarious, ridiculous, and utterly tragic stories of a band heaving with rampant addictions, uneasy homosexuality, and suicidal tendencies. Yet the trio —Grant Hart, Bob Mould, and Greg Norton— managed to survive where the band imploded; and, since Hüsker Dü's 1987 breakup, those old foils Hart and Mould have continued to make music separately. Yet, old wounds run deep, and there's been not a single sign that a Hüsker Dü revival is on the cards. When Hart and Mould played two old songs on stage at a benefit concert in 2004, but each was quick to shoot down any notion it'd become a reunion. Says Mould: "It will never, ever happen."
6. The Jam
"Hopefully I'll never be that skint" is how The Jam's one-time leader, Paul Weller, shot down the notion the trio would ever reform. Weller is a huge figure in UK music —hailed as the Modfather, the man who begat Brit-pop— and his refusal to take the easy cash of the reunion circuit comes, in part, because he's hardly lacked for post-Jam success. Rather that rest his laurels on, like, "That's Entertainment," Weller has kept on working, without a break, since The Jam's 1982 breakup; spending a decade fronting the Style Council, then over two decades as a solo artist. To go back to a band that ended, acrimoniously, in 1982, would be an act of defeat. And, given Weller and Bruce Hoxton didn't speak for over 20 years, an act of unlikely reconciliation.
7. The Smiths
No one has been more dismissive of reformations than legendary Smiths
frontman Morrissey. In 2006, he stated: "I would rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths, and that's saying something for a vegetarian." Yet due to The Smiths' rabid army of fans and towering stature in indie music, reunion rumors persist; in spite of the fact that there was a poisonous seven-year court-case fought by ex-rhythm-section Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce for a greater cut of royalties ("if you come across any Smiths CDs, don't buy them, because all the money goes to that wretched drummer," Morrissey would later quip). At least persistent rumors lead to further entertaining denials from Morrissey. "What's the point?" he wondered, in 2009. "Just to satisfy other people's nostalgia?"
8. Spacemen 3
's breakup became the stuff of legend when it played out on record. Their fourth and final LP, 1991's Recurring
, is famously divided in half: Side A the work of Pete 'Sonic Boom' Kember, Side B the work of Jason 'J. Spacemen' Pierce. By then, their once-fractured relationship had broken completely; each had already debuted their own projects —Kember as Spectrum, Pierce leading Spiritualized
— and began bad-mouthing each other. Years later, the rift hasn't healed, and Pierce has refused to even entertain a reunion. "The talk's always about reforming bands," he told me in 2008
. "[It's] become its own industry: the original line-up, the original members. What lengths can this be taken to? The original audience? The original sound-man? Who cares!"
9. Talking Heads
Technically, Talking Heads have already reformed, playing three songs on stage together at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2002. It was the first time they'd shared a stage since 1991, when the band fell apart amidst personal and artistic acrimony. The division was between leader David Byrne and the rest of the band; with disputes over songwriting credits and attendant royalties. In 1996, the other three —Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, and Jerry Harrison— made a notably Byrne-free album as The Heads (No Talking, Just Head), and Weymouth has called Byrne an egotist "incapable of returning friendship." When Byrne was approached regarding a possible reunion tour in 2004, he requested that he never be asked about it again.
10. The Teardrop Explodes
The Teardrop Explodes
The recording sessions for The Teardrop Explodes' abandoned 1982 album are the stuff of myth; the deals of extreme 'creative tensions' taking on the qualities of post-punk legend. After all, when one member (Gary Dwyer) ends up chasing another (David Balfe) across Welsh hillsides with a loaded shotgun. The band's leader, Julian Cope —who recounted the soap-operatic breakup in his memoir Head On— loathed the 'lost' recordings, and throughout his solo career, has treated the idea of reformation with complete disdain. "Would you ever return to having your mother wipe your asshole?" Cope once infamously said; pointing to all he's done since —solo albums, music criticism, archaeological study— as refusal to wallow in the past.