From Hell's Heart
"From Hell's Heart..." is an editorial column written by the Metal-Rules.com team. Every other month or so we
pick a metal-related topic and share our thoughts, feelings and ideas on it.
For the Music or For The Money? (August 2000)
To reform or not to reform? Thatís a question Iím sure a few now-defunct bands are asking themselves with the recent successes of reformed acts such as Crimson Glory, Venom, etc... , not to mention Iron Maidenís highly publicized reunion with vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith. But what are the real reasons for these musical reunions? Is it that the band members see a light at the end of the tunnel after the severe beating Metal took during the 1990's and are ready to reconnect with their audiences? Or do they simply hope to make some quick cash now that the metallic tide seems to be turning?
But when you really think about it, the days of becoming a multi-millionaire by playing Heavy Metal are long gone. Itís possible to make a comfortable living at it if a band can make it to the "top of the Metal heap", but for the most part Metal musicians have to supplement their incomes with regular jobs. This being the case, how can bands that decide to reform actually be in it for the money? Like anybody else, they just want to make a living doing what they enjoy. And until recently, the musical climate was such that they couldnít make a living playing Metal. No matter how much they mightíve wanted to continue making music, if the rent couldnít be paid and food kept on the table then a new line of work had to be found.
So before anyone starts screaming "SELLOUTS!", keep in mind that for a small niche market, Heavy Metal has an incredible number of bands catering to it and that itís next to impossible for a limited number of Metal fans (all with limited incomes) to support every band in the scene. And of course, musicians are usually the lowest paid members of the music industry. Even if a band does reasonably well, record companies, managers, etc... , all get their (bigger) cuts of the profits before the band members. With this in mind, I think itís safe to say that very few (if any) of the reformed/reforming bands are hoping to get rich quick.
Motley Crue - Reunion For The Money Or The Music?
In late 1991, Motley Crue signed a four-album deal for $25 million with Elektra Records after the release and success of their best-of compilation Decade of Decadence. Before the ink had dried, the band booted lead singer Vince Neil out and replaced him with ex-Scream vocalist John Corabi as Vince began his new solo career. Neither Vince nor the Crue had success as separate units, seeing poor album sales and even worse concert attendance. After Warner Brothers Records dropped Vince and Elektra told Nikki Sixx that they would not support an album without Vince, they finally wised up and reunited for a major tour.
Now, you might think that money played a large part of this reunion. Sure it did, doesn't it always. Yet, I believe the real reason behind the get-together was the fact that Motley Crue, musically, was known, and loved for their raw, crunchy guitar sound and Vince's powerful melodic vocals and they're right. More importantly, their fans missed their music. Individually, the band members are financially well off and will continue to make money through future royalties. Since they've gotten back together, the Crue has released two studio albums, Generation Swine and New Tattoo, a live album and a Greatest Hits package that has sold very well. They also took the opportunity to re-release their entire back catalog with bonus tracks. So musically, Motley Crue has made great strides which was made possible by the fact that they put aside their differences and became a band again. The money is the icing on the cake.
Why do bands reunite? Is it for the love of the music or is it for the money. I would have to say that they are closely intertwined. Crimson Glory, Venom, Destruction, Jaguar, Black Sabbath and a host of other bands have reunited in the last few years. I will not downplay the importance of money in many of these reunions. Black Sabbath obviously made a whole lot of money by reuniting, touring and releasing a live CD. But Black Sabbath are an exception. They were not hurting for a dollar to begin with. Ozzy has been releasing high selling CDs since leaving Sabbath and his concerts and Ozzfest make him a bundle in cash. Tony Iommi has been carrying on with Black Sabbath and Geezer and Bill have been kept busy with other projects. They make a very comfortable living on their record royalties alone.
Crimson Glory is a good example of a great reunion. A bit of a cult band in the 80s Crimson Glory released a few great CDs and then disappeared after a lackluster release. Jon Drenning had become a sports critic and was making his living by writing and being a sports analyst. The last few years have seen an upswing in the popularity of metal. What could be a better time for a band to make a comeback? Crimson Glory put out a new CD with a new singer and found great success. Did they do it for the money or the music? I think that the chance to make some money which gave them the freedom to make the kind of music that they wanted was the reason that they did it. I mean its not like they are going to sell 10 million CDs and become multimillionaires.
Money no doubt played a role in most reunions. Many of these musicians from other reunion bands such as Destruction, Jaguar, Venom etc have other "jobs" both inside and outside the music industry. There would be no way many of them could make a commitment to leave their other jobs, record a CD and do promotion and tours unless they were making some money. I'm sure the opportunity to make music and make a living doing it is the real reason for most of these reunions.
Band reformation...for the music or the money?
Most of the recent band reformations have interested me very little, primarily because I donít listen to many of the bands. Venom, Destruction, Armored Saint...you name them, I probably donít listen to them. Why? I donít know. Well then again, there was Metal Church, Artillery, and Exodus. Anyway, I am sure that in most or all cases, these bands have reformed because of the music and their love of playing, as opposed to the monetary aspect. Letís face it, most of these bands probably didnít make shit to begin with. They're not Kiss, who blatantly admitted to having reformed for the money. But that's Kiss...god damn it, I hate that fucking band!
But hereís a list of bands I would like to see reform and blow the shit out of everyone once again: Death Angel (I am still praying for Act IV), Forbidden (well known yet always underrated), At The Gates (with guitarist Alf Svensson because Alf rules), Pungent Stench (praise the names of the musical assassins!), Cynic (dream on), Atheist (with drummer Steve Flynn because Steve rules), Believer (damn those guys were awesome), Dissection (I hope Jonís been writing music), Exhorder (hate metal at its finest...I hear they did reform actually), Eucharist (sorely missed), Pan-thy-monium (because thereís not enough humorous, experimental death metal out there), Righteous Pigs (hell yes...and with the same lineup!), Violence (probably without Robb since heís too trendy nowadays), White Zombie (LaSexorcisto lineup because that album is the greatest Halloween album in existence), and last but not least Release (anyone know what the fuck happened to this band????????).
Since I don't have a strong opinion about this I'll keep it short this time around.
A number of bands have reformed recently and I feel that for the most part it's for their love of the music and the fact that they miss playing with people who they know so well and view as brothers. Take Armored Saint for example - it's not like the boys are raking in the dough hand over fist is it? This is just one band that's doing it for the music. There's also Crimson Glory who I think are doing it because they feel the music is what's important. They did wait until there was somewhat of a growth in the interest of their brand of metal and I can't blame them. Musicians have bills to pay like the rest of us, so if the band isn't making enough bucks then what's the point or the alternative? --> Sell out and play rapcore or some other shitty music that is the flavor of the month? Take it to the garage? Or, record self-financed demos and work your day job hoping that a decent offer might come along (that's kind of what Jag Panzer did during their down time).
Like it or not, music is a business and if a band is not profitable then having a professional career playing music is not possible. Hopefully some that don't "make it" will still plug away with music on self financed recordings on small labels. This is what Interzone did - this band features Rob Urbanati (ex-Sacrifice). Metal is something that is in you and whether or not you make millions, the most devoted metal musicians will find some way for their material to be heard and to express themselves musically.