’90s band reunions: Good idea or bad idea?

and 06.10.09 8 years ago

AP Photo/Matt Sayles and AP Photo/Richard Drew

It may be 2009, but this summer touring and release schedule could easily pass for 1997.

No Doubt, Blink-182, Sugar Ray, Faith No More, Limp Bizkit, Creed, Third Eye Blind, Jane’s Addiction, Alice In Chains, Blur… all of these acts have reconvened in some fashion and are re-enterting the musical landscape like a crush on your conscience.

Below, HitFix music correspondents Melinda Newman and Katie Hasty — who both successfully survived the ’90s in their own unique fashion — debate via instant message the central thread of these reuniting acts: was this a good idea or a bad idea?

Katie: Good Idea or Bad Idea?
Katie: At the Grammy’s, when they made their announcement, you could practically hear the world shrug. BUT they’re doing the tour right….
Melinda: I like the idea of this one. First off, they get played on radio still so much that they have a new audience that hasn’t ever seen them live. Plus, I feel like they’re doing the tour for the right reasons… MONEY!… Just kidding. There’s that, but it does seem as if Travis’s plane crash really was a life altering experience for him.
Katie: but, like, how?
Melinda: Then again, you can tell by the lack of other activity for Tom and Mark (Angels & Airwaves who?) that it’s time to pretend you can’t live without each other one minute longer
Katie: I just wonder if they really got their solo/other group careers “out of their system” or if they just knew this was more profitable. The crash got them talking again, apparently, that at least required some soul-searching. Or maybe inspired some more tattoos on Travis.
Katie: The tour’s on the $money$ because they got some blockbuster acts to tour with them, not because they can carry their own weight…
Katie: You’re as good as the company you keep.
Melinda: Opening acts or “tour partners” for Blink-182: It’s a really good blend of acts that aren’t strong enough (with the exception of Weezer) to sell tix on their own, but it’s smart packaging as the boys and girls at CAA would say
Katie: dude, Fall Out Boy?
Katie: They’d prolly destroy Blink in a headlining tour tango
Melinda: Not after this last album….
Katie: No way. FOB still makes the girls scream.
Melinda: Agreed, but this album stiffed. Very smart for them to go out with Blink, have some fun and then go back into the studio. Plus, they already toured this album, so the demand for a solo tour isn’t there
Melinda: And that’s the key to a good summer package. Throw together some acts, each of whom has a few hits that people want to see, but don’t have a strong enough catalog to really draw on their own, price the tour reasonably and throw it into an amphitheater so Live Nation can make some beer and merch money.
Katie: Yeh, i just wonder how much of a demand there was for a Blink tour until they announced who their “openers” would be…
Melinda: I hear you, but it doesn’t matter. We’ll never know. Kind of like a tree falling in the forest…

Katie: Speaking of trees falling in forests… I hear that tour ticket sales for Creed are tanking b-b-b-big time
Melinda: Yes. It’s a weird thing, isn’t it? They were so of-the-moment, but what seems to happen with these tours is there has to be some since of nostalgia for it to be a success and there doesn’t seem to be that sense for Creed, despite selling millions of records.
Katie: They turned into a punchline
Katie: at least Scott totes cut his hair. Comeback Step 1 completed!
Melinda: There’s that, but there were never a critic’s favorite anyway or a hip choice, so even while pundits made fun of them, people were still buying their albums.
Katie: yes, the Nickelback Syndrome
Katie: Critical acclaim: 0. Records bought: holy s*** millions.
Katie: They were the epitome of the growl-rar-undecipherable-roar-rar singing style.
Melinda: Creed haven’t really been gone long enough for us to miss them, in a weird way.
Katie: It just makes me think they can’t do anything else, and that era left ’em behind
Melinda: If you look at some of these bands from the ’80s who are making oodles on the shed circuit, they bring back a time that people feel they loved — their lost adolescence or a time when life just seemed simpler. No-one is looking back at 2002 in that way…thank God
Katie: ha!
Katie: can they remake their image in a way that is a Good Idea?
Katie: or should they stick to the hits?
Melinda: Remains to be seen. I imagine, just like Scott’s solo album, the new album will be a big yawn, but I never count anyone out. OMG, can you imagine the rush to the beer line when Creed says those dreaded words this summer: ” And here’s a new one we’ve never played live before!”
Katie: part of me wonders if they went balls-out Christian, they’d be taken back into the fold with, erm, arms wide open.
Katie: I guess after Stapp’s whole Kid Rock/porn thing, balls-out isn’t the best of descriptions…
Melinda: They burned too many bridges to do that, although you may be right. Folks love a good tale of a sinner who returns home… the prodigal son…

Katie: I like your idea of “nobody wants to remember 2002″… which makes me think of No Doubt
Katie: Because Gwen Stefani has always been with us. Just like DNA. Or a scar. Or herpes.
Melinda: Oh, you’re harsh. Don’t you know it’s against the law to hate on Gwen?
Katie: She’s so fabulous and I just wanna cut her.
Katie: I can’t forgive the following from Gwen’s solo career: 1) Harajuku girls as accessories 2) “Hollaback Girl”
Melinda: “Hollaback” — What’s the matter with you? are you B-A-N-A-N-A-S? I love that song. But totally agree with “Harajuku Girls.”
Melinda: No Doubt are doing it right. A straight-ahead greatest hits set (and they have enough to actually do it, as opposed to three hits and filler). Plus, they are practically giving away lawn seats for $10. They are truly a great bargain (or you could be cynical and say they’re papering the house with slightly expensive paper).
Katie: but what will that mean for after the tour?
Katie: will people care if they release a record? That’s the trajectory
Melinda: Yes — people will care. They are building up excitement and good will. This isn’t a band that has experienced any kind of sales slump or true downward slide yet.
Katie: I agree with you that they’re doing the tour right. PLAY THE HITS! ALSO, YOU LOOK REALLY GORGEOUS, ALL OF YOU.
Katie: I think Gwen scored gaggles of new little girl fans who want to be her when she grows up
Katie: so will they care about a new album?
Melinda: the thing is Gwen, as she’s aged, has only become a better role model — she, despite her own fears expressed in her songs, seems to have it all… the cute, cute husband (never mind the fact that he surprised her with that kid he fathered long before they met… Oops), kids that are cuter than buttons and a strong career. Unlike some of these other acts we’re talking about (CREED, we’re talking about you), there’s no sense that No Doubt has really left us or are doing this for the wrong reasons.
Katie: love, marriage, babies and a multi-platinum career. She’s remade her image without much actual image overhaul. she’s just a girl (heh) who’s a woman now.
Melinda: Here’s the other thing about Creed — that split, if you recall, was really acrimonious, so it just smells bad that they, all of a sudden, have to get the band back together because they’ve missed each other SOOOOO much…
Katie: yeah, right? Gwen was like, I’ll go do this weird thing over here for a little while and start a clothing label. I’ll be back later, probably…
Katie: Recording would only be a good idea if they made a hit. Do they have it in them? If they can’t pen another one now, I don’t know if they ever will, no matter how much they swear they’re touring for “inspiration.”
Katie: without a hit, they may become just a nostalgia act that’s cashing in.
Melinda: Uh… all true, but don’t you want to at least hear the new stuff before you condemn them to a thousand deaths?
Katie: I want a hit, dammit.
Melinda: I hear you! For now, you can dream that there’s a big one coming.

Katie: is this worth talking about?
Katie: because it’s really hard for me to say anything rotten about Perry Ferrell, even though I’m not falling all over myself to see ’em live again.
Melinda: too close to over. However, I think they’ve had a bit of a struggle selling tix too. I’ve never seen Perry Farrell when he wasn’t entrancing…
Katie: seriously. of the acts we’ve touched on, the dude has the most cred. Such a compelling performer.
Katie: so I want nothing of his to fail
Katie: that being said, when they were billed as a headlining spot at Lollapalooza (duh, just duh), I was like, this year’s Lolla isn’t nearly as amazing looking as last year’s… Radiohead? Bruce Springsteen? Nine Inch Nails?
Melinda: I’m somewhat similarly intrigued by Trent Reznor, though he scares me a little bit. …And, please, if you can’t headline your own legendary festival tour that YOU started, where can you headline…?
Katie: for real. And, re: NIN, Reznor as a performer does a lot more for me than just intrigue, but that’s a conversation for another beer.
Melinda: I HEAR YOU 10000%

Katie: Limp Bizkit: you have one word to describe this reunion…
Melinda: WHY?
Katie: No!
Melinda: I have a confession to make… the few times I interviewed Fred Durst, he was very smart and very nice.
Katie: Bless his heart.

Katie: what do you think of the new Sugar Ray single “Boardwalk?” Sugar Ray just makes me think of when I was 15 (and of some of the ways I was cooler when I was 15 than I am now)
Melinda: Don’t you believe that for a minute!!! No one is cool when they’re 15… no matter what the cheerleaders and jocks want to believe…
Katie: <weeps into my varsity jacket> YOU’RE RIGHT
Katie: Back to Sugar Ray, they know their place in history as a summer band.
Katie: And what better way to take it home than by saying the word “summer” a lot!
Melinda: Very True. And it has a slow, insinuating groove, that makes it feel perfect for hanging at the beach, slow dancing and drinking a beer
Katie: beer drinking, sure. or maybe even anti-depressant meds. seriously, is it me, or does this song have no energy?
Melinda: My problem is Mark McGrath has to be 40 or so now and the lyrics are much more geared toward a summer fling from high school or college.
Katie: is it ageist to say he’s too old for this?
Melinda: NO! That’s not ageist… please, maybe one of them wrote it about their teenage son! Ha!
Melinda: It has a nice, sloping, almost doo-wop feel, which I applaud. But I kind of kept waiting for it to kick in and it never does.
Katie: I think it’s the clichés. And the formula. “Let’s just use the same formula we used for ‘Someday…'”
Melinda: Even some of the same lyrics.
Katie: also, Sugar ray is due for a logo revamp.
Katie: …and 311. And Blink-182
Melinda: The other thing is they are capable of writing clever lyrics, even if I don’t know what they mean. For example, I always loved the line in “Fly” about “all around the world, statues tumble for me.” Love it — don’t understand it — but love it.
Melinda: Similarly, love the line about the halo and the four-poster bed from whatever that song is called.
Katie: I hear me. Growling.
Melinda: You’re going to take a shiv to that boardwalk and wreak some havoc, aren’t you?
Katie: Sugar Ray will be writing in minor key from then on.
Katie: Do you think Sugar Ray have what it takes to thrive or survive 2009?
Melinda: I don’t know. They really need to sell themselves as a party band… Mark is good at that. He’s never taken himself too seriously and he’s got the personality to pull it off.
Katie: If they wanted to stick with the party band feel, they should’ve come out the reunion gate with togas and sparklers and bikinis and stuff. The most explosive about this comeback so far is the title of the record. “Music For Cougars.” Raaarrrwr!
Melinda: What’s a cougar to someone who’s in their 40s? Susan Sarandon?
Melinda: Who looked AWESOME at the Tonys, by the way.
Katie: Ha! Susan Sarandon is hotter than “Boardwalk.”

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