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Lineup Changes, Live Shows and the Makings of a Band

One of my Shuffle Sunday columns to come out a few months back featured a song from the band Goldfinger. In it, I talked about how I would love to see Goldfinger in concert. They are definitely one of my bucket-list bands that unfortunately, I’ve never had the opportunity to see live.

To my surprise, Goldfinger announced that they would be playing a one-off show here in Denver this coming weekend (Feb. 2nd) at the Ogden Theater. When I first heard about the show, I was so stoked! I couldn’t believe my luck! I told myself that the Goldfinger dudes probably read my blog and decided that they shouldn’t ignore Denver anymore. In reality, they probably just had some reason to be in Denver and figured, fuck it, we might as well play a show too.

As I researched the reasoning behind the show, I discovered that the band had also recently toured Australia. As I was reading up about those shows, I found out that the “band” touring as Goldfinger in Australia wasn’t even Goldfinger. Turns out, something happened between the band members and the only member still in the band is John Feldmann, the singer and guitarist. The rest of the band positions were filled by other people from other bands.

I discovered that the Denver show was to feature other people behind John, playing songs as Goldfinger. Huh??? Did I miss something here? It doesn’t seem right to me that the singer of a band takes the name of a band they front and play shows without the rest of the group. In all honesty, it just feels kind of…..weird.

This got me thinking about lineup changes in popular music. Growing up, I was a huge fan of industrial music (and still am.) Some of my favorite bands changed lineups with nearly every album. Bands like KMFDM and Pigface didn’t so much as have a solid lineup as much as a revolving door. Members came and went, but that was something that I really liked. Each album was a new and special experience, without sacrificing the band as a whole. But where this works for a select handful of bands, there are numerous others that have gone through lineup changes that achieve mixed results at best. For example:

  • The Smashing Pumpkins: I figured this is the most prominent example of a band undergoing lineup changes in the past few years. In 2001, after the tour behind the Machina record, the Pumpkins disbanded. Billy Corgan introduced his new band, Zwan, which was pretty much a shit show. Shortly thereafter, Corgan decided to get the Pumpkins back together sans James Iha (guitar) and D’Arcy (bass), two of the founding members of the band. Jimmy Chamberlain, the groups drummer was on board for the first “reunion” record, but bailed after that (which is really a shame, cause Chamberlain is one of the best drummers of the last 20 years.) Corgan decided to continue on with all new members, a decision that he caught a ton of shit for. I for one don’t really see the big deal with his decision. Corgan wrote the majority of SP music and was/is the creative force behind the band. For better or worse, I’ve always seen the Smashing Pumpkins being Billy and Billy alone. Kinda like an alt-rock Trent Reznor.
Smashing Pumpkins (then)
The Smashing Pumpkins (now)
  • Sepultura: In 1996, lead singer and guitarist Max Cavalera took off from Sepultura, a band he fronted for over a decade. He started his new band Soulfly and never looked back. Sepultura enlisted the help of new vocalist Derrick Green, but none of the albums sounded remotely as powerful as when Max fronted the band. In 2006, Max’s brother Igor followed his lead and left his position as Sepultura’s drummer. With both of the Cavalera brothers leaving the band, is it even really Sepultura anymore? The band says yes, but I would have to disagree.
Sepultura (then)
Sepultura (now)
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Chili Peppers burn through drummers and guitar players like no one’s business. Granted, the drum throne has been occupied by Chad Smith for the better part of the bands career, but guitar players on the other hand never last for long. When John Frusciante took over for Hilel Slovak, it seemed like they found a match made in heaven. After only two records, Frusciante split. Dave Navarro filled in for an album, then Frusciante returned to the band for what is arguably their best period. Then, Frusciante went fucking AWOL again leaving the Peppers to recruit Frusciante’s friend Josh Klinghoffer (who by all means has done a good job with his new role.)
Red Hot Chili Peppers (way back then)
Red Hot Chili Peppers (then)
Red Hot Chili Peppers (now)

Those are just three examples that I could come up with off the top of my head. I’m sure there are countless other examples that exist out there. But looking at this info brings a couple of questions to mind for me:

  1. What makes a band a band? Is it the members of a group or the songwriter?
  2. Do we, as consumers of music react negatively to lineup changes because of an affinity to certain members, regardless of their role in the creative process? More importantly, is our reaction based upon a tangible gripe or is it simply our longing for nostalgia to see a band as we want to remember them?
  3. What does this mean for cover bands? If they do a good job playing other people’s music, then aren’t they just as “real” as a band that has gone through severe lineup changes?

This is the point where I ask for your help. I need to know the answers to these questions. I’ve gone over and over it in my head and I really just don’t know what to think? I want to go to the Goldfinger show, but I want to see Goldfinger. Not a bunch of dudes playing Goldfinger songs (in spite of the fact that, like Corgan, Feldmann is responsible for writing a big chunk of the bands songs.) Is it right of me to even have the pause to not see the concert?

So yeah….I’m confused. A little bit of help on the topic would be greatly appreciated. You can leave me a comment below or find me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you think.

Twitter: @Gutter_Bubbles

About the author:
Has 290 Articles

I am absolutely and unabashedly in love with music. If I could eat a huge bowl of songs for breakfast every morning, I totally would. I'm obsessive about categorization (don't mess with my chronological or alphabetical) and can't stand an unorganized iTunes library. Outside of music and writing, I love baseball (go Rockies), coffee, corgi's and going on fun trips with my girlfriend!

  1. td

    i’m a little late to the party here, but i wanted to chime in.. i used to see goldfinger play when i was in college in the 90s.. they would open for RBF two or three times a year. they used to kick. fucking. ass.. darrin, with his coconut ass, and feldmann would trade places and play each other’s instruments covering pop shit like britney spears. it was great. … then they went and REM’d out and it seemed that mr feldmann there used the stage to try to further his political stances. i wouldn’t be surprised if that was the reason behind the rift and the impetus behind the break. [though i had absolutely no clue] and though i would agree that it will not be the same, the show will have (er, would have) high energy and be worth twenty bucks.


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