Roaring Back: 7 Bands Who Reunited With Great Success
High-profile band reunions are always a tricky arrangement. The quest for artists to reclaim their glory days once they’re long in the tooth can be a truly ugly one, while others have little luck building on the original formula that brought them success in a new musical atmosphere. Then there are the rare reunions which honor and even outshine their original incarnations, finding a wave of new success and momentum with a rejuvenated lineup and enraptured revitalized fanbase.
Below, we recount 7 of the most successful band reunions, featuring groups who’ve returned from the purgatory of inertia to find a new life in their second – or even third – acts.
Black Francis (a.k.a. Frank Black) struck gold with his merry band of Pixies in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but inner conflict led to the band’s unceremonious end on the radio in 1993. Then out of nowhere, the Pixies reformed in 2004 to play their first show together in 11 years. They found their sweet spot on the nostalgia-driven festival circuit, but last year’s Indie City bridged the chasm between then and now after the departure of bassist Kim Deal.
Mid-’90s rock was largely a posturing mess of trend hopping, but Failure was another beast entirely. The post-hardcore rockers failed to find a wide audience initially with 1996’s Fantastic Planet, but would find their influence ranging from avant garde garage rockers to platinum rock outfit A Perfect Circle (who did a fantastic cover of “The Nurse Who Loved Me”). Years later, frontman Ken Andrews and guitarist Greg Edwards saw a new opportunity in Failure, and performed their first show together since 1997 in February 2014 and kicked off a reunion tour in the spring. Their fourth album, The Heart Is a Monster, is easily their best yet.
The mid-90s legend of Swedish hardcore gods Refused reached Godzilla-sized proportions, with a massive void of vitriolic authenticity left in their wake after Dennis Lyxzén & co angrily split in 1998 amid meager success. They were name-dropped by scenesters as the great lost hope, punk’s shining poster boys who refused to keep the fire lit for the sake of reassurance. But fourteen years later, a wildly successful reunion tour got the juices flowing again, and three years after that the album Freedom was released – an incendiary, glorious blast of power highlighted by “Dawkins Christ” and “Francafrique”.
Alice In Chains
Is it really Alice In Chains without Layne Staley? To many, the answer will be a flannel-clad “hell no”. But after the overdose death of Staley, AIC came roaring back in 2005 with a new singer and something to prove. The project had always been a creative centerpiece for guitarist/singer Jerry Cantrell, and with new vocalist William DuVall on deck, the band went onto release 2009’s remarkable Black Gives Way to Blue and 2013’s The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.
Death From Above 1979
Toronto blast-rocker duo Death From Above 1979 carved their own dance-punk niche in the early 2000’s, crushing with You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine and touring with Nine Inch Nails and others. Then, without fanfare, they abruptly broke up. Five years later, out of nowhere, singer/drummer Sebastien Grainger announced the band would return to tour and release their maniacally celebrated sophomore album, The Physical World, in September 2014.
The Eagles were an unstoppable force in the ‘70s, buoyed in no small part by the band’s iconic 1976 release Hotel California. But the personalities of Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner were in sharp contrast with one another, resulting in an acrimonious split in 1980. But after a run of successful solo careers, the Eagles defied their own promise never to reunite when they returned to the stage with the Hell Freezes Over tour. “For the record,” Glenn Frey announced at their first live concert, “we never broke up, we just took a 14-year vacation.”
My Bloody Valentine
Shoegaze champions My Bloody Valentine began in Ireland in 1983, and struck gold with their second album, Loveless, which catapulted the band to stardom in 1991. Six years later, there was no follow-up, and the band dissolved unceremoniously, much to the chagrin of the pre-emo legions. Then, a decade later, Coachella organizers convinced the band to reunite for the 2008 festival, and the band have been major festival mainstays ever since. The icing on their musical cake came via the band’s third album, 2013’s m b v, which was widely regarded as a massive triumph.