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Shawn Amos

Shawn Amos

Posted: January 5, 2010 05:00 PM

The Seven Deadly Sins of Reuniting Bands

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All of you holding out for an Audioslave reunion can forget about it. Chris Cornell recently tweeted that "School is back in session" and that his other band, Soundgarden, is making a return to the stage (and perhaps studio?) this year. The Seattle bandmates haven't unleashed their grunginess since '97, and Soundgarden's Matt Cameron had joined fellow grunge alums Pearl Jam as their full-time drummer. In fact, the reunited Soundgarden will have to work around Pearl Jam's tour schedule (the band has summer European dates scheduled) so that they can share Cameron.


Soundgarden arrived on the Seattle music scene before Nirvana and Pearl Jam did, but it took them a bit longer for their Zeppelin/Sabbath fusion to catch on. By the time they topped the charts with 1994's "Superunknown," Soundgarden had been together for ten years and tensions were showing.  They split in 1997, saying that they'd been "eaten up by the business." 


What's the most unwelcome band reunion in recent memory? [Poll]


In the ensuing years, Chris Cornell spent his time covering Michael Jackson songs ("Billie Jean") and fighting to get his guitars back from his ex-wife. Oh, and there was that excursion with the Rage Against the Machine dudes. Meanwhile, guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Ben Shepherd have laid low — making sporadic recording contributions to Mark Lanegan and Dave Grohl's 2004 heavy metal side project, Probot. They all could use the kind of career rejuvenation that only a reunion can provide.




No doubt, the members of Soundgarden are better together than apart, and odds are good that they will do themselves proud despite their motivations. Still, motivation is everything, and bands have all sorts of reasons for burying the hatchet to do the one thing they said they'd never do: reunite. Here are the seven deadly sins of band reunions:

 

GREED: WHEN ROYALTY CHECKS AREN'T ENOUGH

The deadliest of the deadly reuniting sins, greed is what caused hell to freeze over for the Eagles and Eddie Van Halen to kiss and make up with Diamond Dave. It's also what keeps the Stones coming back from the dead year after year. Greed will make five dudes take five separate limos to the same stage to sleepwalk through a bunch of tunes they'd rather play with someone else.



 

DESPAIR: THE BROKE BANDMATE

Actually, this may be a virtue rather than a vice. Every band has (at least) one dude who's unable to sell out a Porta-Potty on his own and goes broke. According to Pete Townshend, it was John Entwistle's money woes that guilted him into embarking on those countless Who reunions — that and the checks (see "GREED" above).



 

LUST: FOR THE DAYS OF LOST YOUTH

How does an over-the-hill rock musician spend his golden years? Drunk in a bar, bathed in Bengay, forgetting about his bad back and long-lost groupies. At home, Vince Neil is just another perma-tanned rocker trying to pretend time doesn't exist with a reality show. But onstage with Motley Crue, it's 1981 again and the living's easy.



 

ENVY: WHEN OTHER REUNITED BANDS SCORE HITS

Everyone wants the comeback. Everyone wants to believe they have one more shot at the top of the charts. Most bands who reunite dispense with a new studio album. They're the smart ones. The stage — and 10,000 drunken nostalgic fans — are more forgiving than a recording studio. Ask Fleetwood Mac. They were smart enough to reunite in '97 with a live album, "The Dance." It was an album of oldies, but a #1 album nonetheless.



 

VAINGLORY: CREATIVE BANKRUPTCY

At a certain point, the ideas just dry up for some artists. When that time comes, there are only two choices: make "Bat Out of Hell III" or admit that from this point forward you are a live karaoke machine. This is especially helpful if you've reunited without your singer, like Styx did. Karaoke needs no singer.



 

PRIDE: THE NEED TO PROVE YOU'VE STILL GOT IT

When Van Halen reunited in 2007 with David Lee Roth, the once-acrimonious group said they were "at their best" and that the band was meeting in the future, not the past. Unfortunately, Eddie's rehab and subsequent hand surgery have kept them from stepping too far into the future. And there was that night in Greensboro, NC, when Van Halen's signature tune, "Jump," well... fell flat.



 

SLOTH: HOW TO AVOID A DAY JOB

It's an inescapable truth: most musicians aren't good at much aside from playing music. So when you're Pixies drummer David Lovering, and you're now performing magic tricks for a living, what do you do when the phone rings for a reunion? Or New Kid on the Block-turned-salesman Danny Wood? Singing onstage in front of an arena full of cougars beats sitting behind a desk. It wasn't difficult for him to call in sick for NKOTB's 2008 reunion tour.


 

 
 
 

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