Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rant: At What Point Is A Band No More?

Side Note: For some reason it seems like Thursdays are turning into a day where I rant about some issue. This is not intentional, it just has been the day that I have these articles finished by. We'll see if this 'trend' continues.

The title of this article may be a bit misleading, but I couldn't figure a way to word it any better. By the above I mean; at what point does a band, upon losing original members, stop being the band they were originally? I know that's not much clearer, but stay with me, I will explain.

This thought hit me while I was working on the recent Styx article (Favorite Albums: The Grand Illusion) to which I remarked that when I saw the band live, some years ago, there was only one original member of the band still recording and touring. In a like story, I know that 3 Inches of Blood lost their last founding member a couple of years ago, meaning that when you see the band live, you aren't seeing the group that released Battlecry Under a Wintersun, or perhaps even Advance and Vanquish (I don't know, I didn't spend that much time checking their attendance).

So do you call that truly seeing or hearing the band? I know it's just an argument over details, because these acts are still recording new music, still touring, and still being Styx or 3 Inches of Blood, but there has to be a line when the band isn't really the band, and I'm just querying of when that line is reached.

In the opposing view, at what stage is a member of a band an original member? When the band got together in their garage at the tender age of 16? When they released their first demo/EP? Their first record? Second? Fifth? Take for example: Rush. Now known as Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart, but it wasn't always this way. Original drummer for the group, from 1968 to 1974, was John Rutsey being a member just long enough to record their debut album. So technically, Neil Peart isn't an original member. So if Geddy Lee, and Alex Lifeson decided to take a break and Peart toured without them, could he really call the band Rush (I know he would, but should he is my question).

I know bands split with members all the time. They lose guitarists, drummers, singers, bassists, etc, etc. Hell if a band has been together without a line-up change for more then 10 years it's seen as an accomplishment. How many bands can you name that have never changed (I'm going from the release of their first album)? I can't list any off the top of my head, and you know I'm not about to spend the hours looking that shit up.

So back to the original question: what percentage of original members do you need to actually be the band you are pretending to be? It's not as big of an issue for more modern bands, as they only have a handful of releases. It's when you get to the acts that have been around for twenty or thirty years. Back to the Styx example, they are still putting out albums, but with such a long history, I feel kind of cheated with only one original member.


Robert said...

Typically my rule of thumb is two or more members from the beginning for a band to legitimately have it's name. Of course like you said there are exceptions like 3IOB and Opeth but I don't feel like I'm actually watching a show or listening to the cd of a band if there is only one original member there. Take Megadeth for instance. I saw them for the UA tour and it was just Mustaine with a bunch of hired guns. I wasn't feeling it and then when Ellefson rejoined I was bummed because I couldn't make the Carnage shows because that would have been Megadeth to me.

The Klepto said...

It's hard to pin down. With Megadeth, as long as Mustaine was there I'd be fine, but then again, I'm not a huge fan. I saw AC/DC minus-Angus a few years ago, but I still tell my friends it was AC/DC.
Then there are bands that are constantly switching lineups, like Annihilator, and even Manowar is on it's 3rd or 4th set of guitarists. Or the project bands, where it is one guy writing and recording it all with a touring group, like Nine Inch Nails, Ayreon, Devin Townsend (to a point) - where do you draw the line?