It used to happen all the time. Sometimes it would happen at a table at Showdown or on a friend’s porch. Occasionally it would arise in everyday conversation. Friends and I would talk about music and inevitably the question would come up: “If you could reunite three bands to each record new albums, who would they be?”
Well, there is a science to this sort of thing. You have to look at the direction their material was headed when they disbanded. A band like Creed, who, unfortunately, has reunited, continued making music way past their prime on the first go-round.
You have to take into account the likelihood that the bands you choose might actually reunite in the future. No one is going to bet on a Beatles reunion because of that whole “half of the members are dead” thing, so they would be a great choice in this game.
For the longest time I had my answer set in stone. Refused, At the Drive-In and Rage Against the Machine would be the three ultimate reunions. Each band offered its own brand of politically charged punk rock and it did not seem likely that any of them were going to be making new music together again.
But I have a confession to make. I was wrong.
Rumors abound that Rage Against the Machine will reunite to make another record in the near future after singer Zack De La Rocha announced that there was a “definite possibility” the band would record new material. De la Rocha cited the positive reaction his band received at the Download Festival 2010 as possibly being the necessary catalyst that would push them into the studio to record new material.
What’s that, Zack? The positive reaction you’re band received at a festival is enough to convince you and your anarcho-punk bandmates to reunite? The war in Afghanistan, which America has been fighting since 2001, one year after your band broke up, did not inspire you to write new material? What about a second war, in Iraq? What about a hotly contested presidential election in 2004? Hey Zack, have you ever heard of Barack Obama? His supporters, backed by the slogan “Yes we can,” an empowering mantra if ever there was one, made history when, in 2008, they voted him into office.
I have a slogan suggestion for you and your bandmates: “No, please don’t.”
It’s important to note that 3/4 of RATM were in the super-group stink-fest Audioslave, a band who could pen songs so painfully safe and Top 40-friendly they made Weird Al sound like N.W.A. It will be hard if not impossible to forget that fact if RATM ever records another album. Watching 75 percent of Audioslave on stage with de la Rocha ranting against the oppressive nature of capitalism would just seem disingenuous.
I have to wonder why Zack and the boys are now deciding the world needs a reunion. Perhaps after the meltdown of Audioslave and the flop of One Day As A Lion, de la Rocha’s post-RATM project, the guys found themselves with a lot of time on their hands. Or maybe they felt their pocketbooks getting lighter.
A new RATM album would be like if Ice-T decided he was tired of playing a policeman on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and went back to performing his bombshell of a song, “Cop Killer.”
So Zack and the rest of the gang, keep playing those festivals. Keep scoring those major pay days and raging against the machine that has turned your band into an instant money-maker.
But please, if you care about your legacy, stay away from the recording studio.