We’ve spoken about band reunions on the BAMM blog before: sometimes they can seem to be a great opportunity for a group to reignite some creative fire, sometimes they can seem like cynical cash-ins worthy only of contempt, sometimes all they can elicit is an indifferent shrug. The news that post-hardcore El Paso rockers At The Drive-In are getting back together, however, should really really stoke your excitement – and here’s why.
It’s widely acknowledged that the tail-end of the 90s (say, ’98 to late 2000, roundabout the time ‘Kid A’ came out) wasn’t the best time for music. Pop stars – who nowadays are self-referential, ultra-ironic brand entities who can often carry a few decent tunes in their catalog – were drippy and insipid. Indie music was going through a wretched phase, particularly in the UK, where the likes of Crowded House tribute-act Travis were considered megastarszzzzzzzz. Electronic music was making great progress, sure – Aphex Twin, Squarepusher – but in an oddly clinical, often emotionless way.
If you were a teenager looking for someone to inspire you to, in the parlance of modern youth, ‘start some shit’, who would you look to?
Answer: these guys.
At-The-Drive-In were loud, frenzied and uncompromising – but also smart, literary, funny, and with a grasp of song structure and melody that can often go overlooked by someone who gave their work a mere casual listen. Their performance on the BBC’s ‘Later With Jools Holland’ remains the stuff of legend. Just look at Robbie Williams’ face at the end. If ever the meme-harvesters at Reddit need an image macro for ‘How Do I Top That?’, that’s the screengrab they need to get hold of.
And now? Now they’re reforming, in time for Coachella 2012. We wouldn’t suggest that it would be worth attending the festival solely to see these guys in action, but … well, actually, that’s exactly what we’re suggesting. History may see The Strokes as the rock band who kickstarted the 2000s, but a select few of us will always know, deep down, it was a bunch of skinny dorks with Afros and library cards who ushered in a new dawn …