Bands are cohesive units that work together to create art that anyone can listen to. They build a legacy that is recorded through albums and memorable live performances. Band members cement bonds and build friendships that can last a lifetime. However, what happens when a band member decides to call it quits, or gets tired of the same old routine? There are hundreds of cases like these that occur when this phenomenon happens. Whether it be from a breakup or mutual departure, is it wise for a band member to take the chance to head out and make a name for himself? It would take far too much time to focus on all of the wayward solo artists that were originally in respected bands, but I have narrowed it down to three that have most recently embarked on their own journeys.
3. Gerard Way
The newest member to the solo frontman club Gerard Way, formerly of popular pop-punk band My Chemical Romance, has hit out on his own for the first time. While his first full-length album called Hesitant Alien will not be released until September 30th of this year, he has already previewed the majority of its tracks at the massive Reading and Leeds Festival in the UK. In interviews with NME Magazine, Way has described it as a tribute to Brit pop and cited Jarvis Cocker and Damon Albarn as inspiration. The album itself has the signature cries and howls of Way, but is layered with guitars and Shoegaze instrumentation. Tracks like “No Shows”, “Millions” and “Zero Zero” exemplify his influences the most and are catchy pop songs to boot. Perhaps the real question is if Way is ready for his new role as a standalone artist and will he earn the same kind of popularity he received while playing with MCR? While in the band, he created a unique image and personality that fit with the style MCR became known for. Epic, moody, and fast-paced songs that personified teen angst was the band’s forte. Way, like many artists that find success using the same formula, finally grew tired of this method and has created an album that is a tribute to a time of pop-rock musical evolution. Hesitant Alien is more upbeat and proves that Way still has the ability to keep his audience’s attention. Old fans of his band may groan and complain about the direction he is taking, but in reality, this could be one of the most exciting new outfits Way has ever donned. Look out for his short U.S. tour in October and catch him in Australia early next year.
Final Verdict: Good (hopeful for the future)
Julian Casablancas is no stranger to the solo scene as he has already released an album in 2009 called Phrazes For The Young. It was well received by fans and critics alike and produced several insanely catchy songs like “11th Dimension” and “Out Of The Blue”. While nowhere close to being as popular or loved as his main band, The Strokes, Casablancas was still able to forge himself a reputation as a competent solo artist. At the start of the year, Casablancas revealed that he was already working on a brand new solo album calledTyranny, with back up band The Voidz. The album is set to be released on September 23rd of this year, but as always, tracks have been released. Hell, Casablancas has already played some of them at his recent gigs and they are raunchy, rock-infused fair that has the signature drawl of The Strokes, but is in a way more punk then alternative. You can tell that he is veering away from the space rock that defined his last solo album and is going in a more garage punk band direction. While there is nothing wrong with trying something new, Casablancas runs the risk of alienating fans of his previous work. In fact, it sounds as if that is exactly what he wants and he may get his wish. Here is to hoping that the other unheard tracks have enough kick to keep his fan base or, at the very least, gain him a new following.
Final Verdict: Downright Dumb (it is good to try a new direction, but not one that completely alienates all fans)
3. Damon Albarn
All hail the king of side projects! With several successful side ventures, Damon Albarn is one of the most respected artists in the world of modern music. Having been in bands like Blur, Gorillaz, and The Good, the Bad & the Queen, Albarn has gathered a diverse range of styles to choose from. These bands have helped shape his illustrious career from Brit pop hero to one of the UK’s most loved musicians. Internationally, Albarn is known for experimenting and meshing together a variety of genres like hip-hop, electronica, opera, and world music to produce mesmerizing songs that are catchy and, at the same time, supremely original. With his debut solo album titled Everyday Robots, Albarn has managed to once again astound critics and listeners alike. He may have received the most attention and adulation in his career while fronting bands like Blur and Gorillaz, but as a solo artist, Albarn finds himself in a position to reap the benefits of years of experience in the music industry and to head out on his own to carve yet another niche for himself.
Final Verdict: Really, Really Good (not much he can do wrong at this point in his career)