Friday, August 20, 2010


Numerous bands formed while the musicians were navigating through the perilous process that is high school. I wouldn't be the first writer to draw parallels between the present world of entertainment and the laborious languidness most face in the halls. As a defense many align themselves with like minded individuals and form cliques. While none of the super groups in this article formed that way, it's not difficult to imagine what kinds of cliques these groups would be classified as by listening to their music and analyzing their respective histories.

The Last Hard Men (the outcasts)
Kelley Deal (the Breeders, Kelley Deal 6000), Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins, Zwan, Jimmy Chamberlin Complex), Jimmy Flemion (the Frogs) & Sebastian Bach (Skid Row)

I snagged the Last Hard Men's only album in a second-hand store a few years back for $6. There's a reason why it was $6. Uneven and eccentric, it's still worth a listen for kitsch value alone- especially the weird School's Out cover that appeared on the Scream soundtrack. Recorded in 1996 and 1997, Atlantic Records refused to release the album. Kelley Deal's label, Nice Records, issued a limited release of 1000 copies in 1998. Finally in 2001 Spitfire Records released the album with additional material included.

Monsters of Folk (the overachievers)
Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes), M. Ward (She & Him) & Jim James (My Morning Jacket)

Refusing to be confined by the genre found in the band's title, MoF straddle the line between classic and soft rock. Formed while each member's hugely successful bands (by independent standards) were on hiatus; they have been known to switch instrumental duties during live shows in true overachieving fashion. (Every time I look at the album cover of their self-titled 2009 release I think 'why is Brian Posehn a Monster of Folk?')

Them Crooked Vultures (the punks)
Josh Homme (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) & John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)

Because Josh Homme is too restless to stick with one musical outfit, Them Crooked Vultures brings together three of the most prolific figures in modern rock. The album is a great pallet cleanser to all the mainstream pop of late and Mind Eraser (No Chaser) is without a doubt one of the best rock songs of the year. You can listen to the album in its entirety and watch some very inane tour videos on their official site.

Broken Social Scene (the arty kids)
Many members including Brendan Canning (By Divine Right, Len), Kevin Drew (KC Accidental), Lisa Lobsinger (Reverie Sound Review) & John McEntire (Tortoise), former and occasional members include Elizabeth Powell (Land of Talk), Emily Haines (Metric) & Leslie Fiest (Fiest)

The collective voices in BSS reject the super group label due to the size of the band and the proclamation that everyone in the indie scene is involved with numerous projects at any given time. Mixing together elements of orchestral grandeur and indie rock, BSS broke through with their 2002 album You Forgot It In People. That album rightfully won the Juno for Best Alternative Album and includes choice cuts like Cause = Time and Anthem For a Seventeen Year Old Girl. Their latest, Forgiveness Rock Record, reached #1 in Canada, #34 in the US and has been shortlisted for the 2010 Polaris Prize.

The Highwaymen (the hicks)
Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson & Kris Kristofferson

When these four (then) living legends of country recorded and released the single Highwayman in 1985 they didn't have a name for the assemblage. After the song, a Jimmy Webb cover, rocketed to #1 the name of the group was a natural choice. Highwayman 2 would follow in 1990 and the last recording before Waylon Jennings' death was 1995's The Road Goes On Forever.

The Traveling Wilburys (the über-popular)
Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne (the Electric Light Orchestra), George Harrison & Roy Orbison

The name of this seminal super group came from the recording session for George Harrison's Cloud Nine. Whenever an error in recording would arise, Harrison would jokingly say to producer Jeff Lynne "we'll bury [Wilbury] 'em in the mix." The group came together when Roy Orbison, Harrison and Lynne traveled to Bob Dylan's house to record a B-side for Harrison's This Is Love. Harrison had left his guitar at Tom Petty's house and he returned from retrieving his axe with Petty in tow. Much like the Donnas and the Ramones, the band members adopted pseudonyms saying they were all half-bothers, sons of the fictional Charles Truscott Wilbury Sr. The original line up would be fractured by Orbison's death in 1988. As an homage to Orbison, when his vocals come up in the video for End of the Line a rocking chair cradling his guitar is shown. The album Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 won the Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Group or Duo in 1989. Handle With Care lived on to be covered by many artists, including Jenny Lewis with Ben Gibbard, M. Ward and Conor Oberst.

The Dead Weather (the goth kids)
Jack White (the White Stripes, the Raconteurs), Allison Mosshart (the Kills, Discount), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) & Jack Lawrence (the Raconteurs, the Greenhornes)

Jack White was struck by bronchitis while on tour with the Raconteurs in summer 2008. White asked Allison Mosshart of the Kills, who were the opening band, to sit in on some of their songs. The chemistry was so stirring that White suggested they try their hand at collaborating along with White's house guest, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stoneage. The result, 2009's Horehound, shot to #6 on the Billboard hot 100. Their second album Sea of Cowards was released earlier this year. As a side note I had the pleasure of being backstage during the Dead Weather's set at Ottawa Bluesfest 2009, although I was only there to chase down Dan and Alexei of Handsome Furs for an interview.

Bastard (the drop outs)
Courtney Love, Patty Schemel (Hole), Louise Post (Veruca Salt) & Gina Crosley (Rockit Girl, Veruca Salt)

Post-Celebrity Skin, Courtney Love attempted to bring her dream of an all girl rock band to reality by merging members of Hole and Veruca Salt. Unfortunately Love's usual combative ways spelled disaster and demise for Bastard. Conflict between Gina Crosley and Love is cited as the main reason for the dissolution. After a few attempts at recording material the band imploded. Nashville Pussy bassist Corey Parks was also briefly involved. No video, recording or image of the band has ever been released. As Love sings in Celebrity Skin, "My name is might-have-been, my name is never was."

BT photo
BT photo
BT photo

Love & Micko Larkin performing as Hole July 9 2010, Love's 46th birthday, at Ottawa Bluesfest.


  1. nice pictures from bluesfest.
    HAHA the last hard men, forgot about them.

  2. I think everyone else forgot about them too or have never heard of them XD