Tuesday Ten: 057: Side Projects

For this week's Tuesday Ten, I'm turning my attention to the side-project, an often-maligned pasttime for many artists.


For the avoidance of doubt, here is what Wiki has to say about what a side-project is:

A side project is a project undertaken by one or more persons already known for their involvement in another band. It can also be an artist or a band temporarily switching to a different style.

Usually these projects emphasize a different aspect of that person's or that band's musical interests that they feel they cannot explore within the boundaries established by their main project. Side projects can later become full-time endeavours, but shouldn't be confused with quitting a band for a solo career or another band.

So with that tidied up, I have no doubt that some of the bands/artists I include will be disputed as to whether they were side-projects or not. Feel free to argue your case or add others…

A Perfect Circle
a project involving Billy Howerdel, and Maynard James Keenan of Tool

Probably one of the biggest success stories in recent years in terms of a side-project, APC flickered brightly for a short while, almost filling in time between Tool albums from 2000 to about 2004. They only released two albums (as well as a covers album), the first album Mer De Noms being a near-perfect alt-rock album that had accessibility, power and above all some cracking songs, notable for in the main being an awful lot less cryptic than Keenan's work in Tool.

Keenan has also released work under the name Puscifer, too, which was an even more radical departure from his work in Tool.

The Breeders
initially a side project of Kim Deal of Pixies and Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses

This band began as a side-project (borne of Kim Deal's frustration of not being able to contribute much in the way of writing to the Pixies' output), and has since the dissolution of the Pixies became the "main band", albeit with very different personnel along the way, and release schedule that could be termed, er, "erratic". And even wierder, side-projects have spawned from this (in the form of The Amps) too, while Tanya Donnelly went on to form her own band in Belly.

Revolting Cocks
a long-term side project involving Al Jourgensen from Ministry, and initially Richard 23 from Front 242

The sleazy, beer-swilling and often downright filthy younger sibling to the raging and highly political Ministry, this was always the outlet that Jourgensen seemed to use for his more light-hearted side, often involving god-only-knows how many members of other bands in the industrial scene to help him out along the way. The sound of a party I'm not sure I'd ever want to attend, probably their best known tracks include the delightfully titled Beers, Steers and Queers and the cover of Do You Think I'm Sexy that is just plain wrong.

side-project involving Nick Cave from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

The release of the one Grinderman album so far last year seemed to herald something of a critical comeback for Nick Cave, with a more primal, "old school" sound that reached a long way back into his career, perhaps even as far back as The Birthday Party, and frankly was the best thing he'd done in years. Indeed, it clearly struck a chord, as the latest Nick Cave album (Dig! Lazarus Dig!!!) was at least in parts almost as chaotic and (whisper it) fun.

project involving Yann Faussurier from Iszoloscope

Talking of fun, tracks from this act's album How To Enlist In A Robot Uprising have been industrial dancefloor sensations this year, and with good reason – a light-hearted concept album of stomping dancefloor industrial that has a vague robot theme without getting too bogged down in it, and is a world away from the intricately constructed soundscapes that Yann has specialised in with his main project Iszoloscope.

Amanda Palmer
a side project of Amanda Palmer from The Dresden Dolls

Perhaps debatable that this is a side-project, but I see it as one – this album has been released in the down-time between DD albums, and is also something of a departure from the parent band's work. In the main, this is a collection of songs that thematically wouldn't work as DD songs, but as a collection here work very well indeed, but are still clearly the work of Amanda Palmer. In fact, in some respects this is vastly superior to DD material, and in a just world would make Palmer a star – but for now I think she's going to remain an underground star.

Ziltoid the Omniscient
one of the many side projects of Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad)

Often trying to work out what is Townsend's main project is difficult enough, particularly with the finishing off of SYL recently. SYL were, perhaps, his main outlet, but there have been vast numbers of other releases under various different names, of which this is the latest, and probably the strangest, being a concept album about (if I'm getting this right) an alien searching for the perfect coffee. One thing you can say about Townsend: he never takes things too seriously…

side-project of Richard Kruspe from Rammstein

In the now-long period since the last new Rammstein material, some of the members of the band have been involved in other things – the most high-profile being Richard Kruspe's Emigrate project. To be honest, though, musically it doesn't sound all that different to the "parent" band – the guitars sound the same, the huge, pounding beats are there, it's just not quite as interesting, really. Still, the wait for new Rammstein material may soon be over – the band's wiki page reports that the new album is finally nearing completion.

a project involving Jean-Luc de Meyer from Front 242 and Marc Heal from Cubanate, amongst others

Watch on YouTube

Another industrial project that had a number of different people involved along the course of the band's existence, I only really came to the band with their last release Cut, which appeared to my ears to be a pretty much perfect balance between the influences of 242 and Cubanate – and I always saw it as a shame that there wasn't more material released subsequent to that.

initially a side-project of Andy La Plegua of Icon of Coil

While the roles seem to have reversed now, with Icon of Coil being a live-only proposition from what we can tell right now, and Combichrist as the main vehicle for La Plegua's work, in the beginning Combichrist was a "powernoise" project and came to promience doing remixes. The first Combichrist album appeared while IoC were still current, but IoC appeared to be sidelined once Combichrist gained some serious success in the industrial scene. Combichrist is only one of a number of projects that have sprung up from IoC – in addition there are Panzer AG and Scandy (also La Plegua projects), then also Northborne, Zombie Girl and Moonitor!

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