Welcome back to Answer That and Stay Fashionable, where every week various members of the Dying Scene team will take a question posed by you, the readers, and pour their hearts out in regards to all things punk rock: from favorite records and show experiences to embarrassing purchases and fashion styles. If it’s punk, it’s fair game. This week’s question:
“Are there any bands that you think broke up before their prime? How about bands that you think should have broken up sooner?”
Read our responses below.
Despite being credited as pioneers of hardcore punk, Minor Threat broke up too soon. They only lasted for three years (1980-1983), spanning two EPs (Minor Threat and In My Eyes) and one album (Out of Step). The reason Minor Threat “broke up too soon” is because the members did not get along with one another, and argued over the direction of their music and how the band should keep going. I even read somewhere that Minor Threat received offers to sign to another label. It’s a good thing they broke up before they could get signed to a major label, it would be weird to hear their songs like “Betray”, “Straight Edge” or “Minor Threat” get played on the radio every day.
I was really struggling with this one (bands that broke up too soon…and haven’t started a reunion rumor/tour) and then yesterday I realized I had been listening to Slapstick at work all day…and behold, my answer. I didn’t discover them until they were “no more” but I was lucky enough to see them play a one-off show at Riot Fest in 2012. While I love listening to them, I also realize that they had to break up (or at least explore other projects) in order for us to receive the greatness that is The Lawrence Arms, so I guess I can live with that!
There are countless answers to both of these questions. When I think of a band that broke up before their prime, the first group that comes to mind is Operation Ivy. I have always felt that ska punk has been underrated and underrepresented in punk rock as a whole, and Op Ivy was pioneering a style that was extremely unique and, obviously, largely impactful on the future of punk for decades and counting. Some could make the argument that they left the scene at their peak and that this worked out to their benefit, but considering the time and the talent, I have to disagree. I would have liked to see at least another album out of the group, personally.
No bands that broke up “too late” are coming to mind, but a number of groups have definitely been floundering in the industry far beyond their prime. Green Day is a great example of this. Their first few albums were stellar, in my opinion – very simple, very fun, very cool. Their early years were undoubtedly their greatest, and since then, their albums have been receiving disappointing review after disappointing review. I do not doubt that Armstrong is a very prolific songwriter, but Green Day passed their prime many years ago.
I’ve been mulling over this question all week and it’s still a difficult one for me to answer. Plenty of early punk and hardcore bands broke up well before they (probably) should have, but as someone who didn’t start listening to punk rock until the 2000’s, I thought it’d be more earnest of me to focus on bands that I was actively a fan of when they called it quits. Enter: Daytrader. The Long Island/Brooklyn based act started in September 2010 and broke up just a little over two years later after their vocalist decided to pursue other projects. Their sole LP, Twelve Years, is a solid representation of what the band was about, and their 2011 EP, Last Days of Rome, is just magnificent. Both are incredibly good examples of where the emo/post-hardcore sound should be these days (and if you haven’t heard them yet: think the intricacy of Sunny Day Real Estate meets the aggression of Hot Water Music meets the pop sensibilities of Jimmy Eat World meets the nasally vocals of Saves the Day).
When it comes to bands that should have broken up sooner… that one might be even harder than the first part of this question. Obviously it’d be easy to say something like AFI, Green Day, or blink-182 have outgrown their welcome, but the fact of the matter is that I’m not really offended by the continued existence of any of those bands. When it really comes down to it I don’t think there’s any particular band that I think should have broken up sooner, although I do think that it would be best if Reel Big Fish retired from the studio. Is that mean? Just typing this makes me feel like I’m being harsh, especially since RBF is easily one of my top 5 live bands of all time- I’ve seen them at least once a year since 2005. But then I remember Candy Coated Fury and I feel slightly more justified in feeling this way.
Any list of bands that broke up too soon has got to include Operation Ivy. The 20-something songs we have from them is minuscule compared to their overall impact on music; It seems any band from the West Coast in the early 90’s listed Operation Ivy as their prime influence. Ivy’s commitment to social justice, ska style, and cult following are legend. Fusing politically charged and unifying lyrics with ska punk beats, Operation Ivy paved the way for dozens of bands that followed them. If their music doesn’t sound innovative anymore, it’s because everyone you listen to is copying them.
As far as bands that should have broken up sooner, I’m going to be ironic here and say Rancid. Armstrong and Freeman, your timing is off.
Although they have recently reunited, I wish Bigwig never broke up. I think their music is good quality and unique. I feel that they are an under appreciated group and that if they had continued playing and putting out records they could’ve been really well known and even more successful. I had written them off as one of the many bands I would’ve loved to see but would never get the chance to, so I am extremely excited that they have gotten back together and I will be seeing them play at Amnesia Rock Fest. Perhaps they will even make some more tunes but then again it seems that in many cases when bands return after a long hiatus their new music isn’t as good as their old stuff. I guess we will have to wait and find out, for now I am just stoked that I will get to see them perform!
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