Five Things Bands Should Consider Before Reuniting
After reading my colleague Corey Deiterman's musing on why there doesn't need to be a new Wu-Tang Clan album, I got to thinking about what it's like to try and rekindle something with a group of fellow musicians with whom you previously made magic.
Mock-Up of the "Reunion Record" I posted for April Fool's Day
I got a first-hand look at this last year when for a very brief time it looked like the Black Math Experiment might return to active music-making. After we went on indefinite hiatus, which is what you call a breakup where nobody punches anybody, five years ago I'd been more or less content to let sleeping dogs lie and concentrate on writing and occasional audio outings with the Ghost of Cliff Burton. I did miss the experience, though, and when the call came for my former act to hole up in a house with instruments and try to give it another shot, I was down to try.
In doing so I learned a few things, which I present to you if you happen to be thinking of trying something similar. They apply whether you're a giant, world famous rap-group or just a few local guys who want to relive their garage days.
5. There's No Going Home
Loathe as I am to admit it, time travel does not exist, and even it if did you can still never emotionally return to the past. No matter what, time passes and we become new people. It's always fun to catch up with bandmates, but a reunited endeavor is a whole new endeavor. If you go in with the idea that you can pick up where you left off, then you're going to be disappointed.
That's honestly the biggest problem with the Wu-Tang album. It's basically an attempt to deny all the growth the individual members have had outside the collective umbrella. Ironically, you also have to think about...
4. Every Problem Is Still There
Bands break up all the time for a variety of reasons, and sometimes those reasons truly are situational and fleeting. Maybe a key member is simply in too bad a financial position to contribute meaningfully, or perhaps he or she has a family situation that is overwhelming.
What seems to break up most bands though are the usual disagreements over contribution, direction and control, and those disagreements have likely not gone away in interim because they are generally part of the hardwired DNA of each particular member's artistic identity. Before you meet up you had better take a quiet stock of why you stopped in the first place, and be prepared to address them.
3. Know What You Want to Do
There are a lot of ways to be a musician. Which do you like best? Do you like writing and composing the most? Or maybe you're at home in the studio. You might think performing is your favorite thing, the bigger the venue the better, whereas someone else might rather keep it small and low-key.
But when you restart a band, you need a serious plan about what restarting it means. When BME put out the call, I was mostly interested in recording a few songs, filming a weird music video or two, and then vanishing back into the ether, cackling. That was not the goal of some of the other members, who mostly wanted an excuse to hit the boards and play a few shows with new material. That's when you discover that your definition of reuniting may be very different from your mates, and you have to resolve that if anything is going to be done.
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