Back from the Beyond but Not Better: What to do When Your Favorite Old Band Makes New Music (and it Sucks)

By Audrey Avril ’19

Sometimes, old bands get back together and try to give it another shot. If you’re a longtime fan of a dead band, left to pick at the remnants of discographies like some kind of music vulture, this can be both wildly exciting, and incredibly terrifying.

Sometimes, when the new music finally drops, you get a pleasant surprise, a burst of nostalgia through new content that combines the sound you miss with new influences. You can and do quickly grow to love their new songs just as fondly as the old, or even more. Sometimes, you get an album that is not entirely the magical experience you built it up to be, but can still be enjoyed as a trip down memory lane with tunes that carry on the legacy pleasantly enough.

Sometimes, though, you get music that makes you feel like the band should have stayed dead. Instead of leaving your fave peacefully at rest, it feels (and sounds) like they’re shambling along as a shell of the music you loved. You get the distinct impression that a once majestic horse has long since passed and is being halfheartedly kicked. It’s heartbreaking. Luckily, us here at WKCO have your back with some strategies and coping mechanisms for when your old favorite comes back, and comes back wrong.

Ignore it. What new album? As the oldest trick in the book for dealing with your problems, ignoring that a new album exists could do you some good for a while. If you hate their new music you can try plugging your ears with their old classics or just screaming “LA LA LA LA.” It’s as simple as that. I mean, you were just fine before this new music showed up to ruin your life.

Deny it. More sneakily than screaming over the new music whenever it comes on, you can deny that it’s truly the work of the band. For example, you could pull the axe handle metaphor, wherein the significant changes in lineups over the years mean the band as it is operating now is not your favorite, even if it shares the name. Maybe time too has changed your band and transformed its members into completely different people and musicians. In this way, you can dissociate the band you loved that made great music with this “other band,” which makes sucky music.

However, despite your best efforts, at some point you’re going to have to acknowledge it, and probably get mad about it. This new, bad music has been made, and by one of your favorite bands. It happened, you must tell yourself, and doing this will cause you to start moving towards facing your painful emotions head on. It will also probably cause you to rant uncontrollably in the comments section of a Youtube video or two, but this is all a part of the healing process.

Reevaluate it. Have you considered that the music isn’t necessarily bad, but just different? Consider whether or not your perception of the band is coloring your opinion of their new music. Maybe, instead of getting a carbon copy of their earlier work, the band has branched out, and as a defensive fan, you are afraid of anything different. Maybe you are also just remembering their best work, and not some of the more mediocre tracks that have faded out of your memory of them. Maybe just give it another listen?

No wait, it actually does stink. Rant some more on the internet. Just let it all out.

Accept that making music is hard. At some point, you have to admit that making music is hard, and it may have been a long time since your favorite has been making it. Even musicians who come out with albums year to year mess up. Maybe it was just a fluke.

If you consider the new music to be a fluke, you can be hopeful about more new music. If you’re lucky enough, this isn’t going to be a one-shot mistake on your band’s record. Maybe they just need to get comfortable in the saddle again, and their next new album will get it together.

If you’re not allowed this luxury, then the best thing for you to do is go back to the classics. Go back to your favorite albums, your favorite songs. If your band has been dead for a while, chances are you’d forgotten about them until you heard about their new music. Take the opportunity to turn remorse into gratitude for what the band has already given you.

Take this opportunity to remember what you loved about them in the first place.

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