Category: Breakups

Ween sets the table for the inevitable reunion

Photo: Aaron "Gene Ween" Freeman. Credit: Shore Fire Media

A world without Ween? We can only hope that some other band will step forward to write more songs about weasels, all the while attempting to reach across the genre aisle to unite fans of jam bands and sea chanteys. Ween is done, says principal Aaron "Gene Ween" Freeman, who, on his recently released solo effort "Marvelous Clouds," has apparently moved on to soft rock crooning.

Yet no breakup is complete with the airing of some public drama. "This is news to me," wrote Freeman's partner-in-Ween Mickey "Dean Ween" Melchiondo on Facebook.

So is Ween kaput?

Freeman was pretty direct in an interview with Rolling Stone, telling the mag that his alter ego of Gene Ween is retired. "For me it's a closed book," he said of the band, which is just a few years shy of its 30th anniversary. "In life sometimes, in the universe, you have to close some doors to have others open."

That, despite Melchiondo's online plea of ignorance, doesn't seem to leave much room for interpretation, at least for now. There's been no additional statement from either camp and no updates to Ween's official website or Facebook page. 

Yet beloved cult acts rarely disappear for good these days, and events such as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Outside Lands have given such artists a forever home. Ween (est. 1984) has continued to be a draw, even selling out the Wiltern in 2011 on a tour that had its share of on-stage catastrophies

The band, which used a jokey, smart-aleck exterior to mask plenty of catchy, complex music and thought-provoking psychedelia, has had its share of near breakups. 

"I liken it to more of a marriage between two people than a band," Freeman told The Times last year. "And with that comes its ups and downs and its times of intimacy and distance and miscommunication. But as long as we're still walking on the earth, Ween will still be there."

And if not today, we should reiterate that a 30th anniversary is but a couple of years away. 


Have $100,000? Bid on Elvis Presley's crypt

Gene Ween's 'Marvelous Clouds': Fans text reactions

An appreciation: Doc Watson, flatpicker, song stylist, messenger

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Aaron "Gene Ween" Freeman. Credit: Shore Fire Media

R.E.M. calls it quits



After 31 years in the business and 15 albums, R.E.M., the Southern rock band hailing from Athens, Ga., announced Wednesday morning on its website that it is calling it quits. In a brief statement, the band writes:

"As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening."

Following the brief statement are individidual sentiments from the three original band members, Mike Mills, Peter Buck and Michael Stipe (original drummer Bill Berry had exited the band some time ago, replaced by Bill Rieflin).

Photos: R.E.M. Through the years

"We feel kind of like pioneers in this -- there's no disharmony here, no falling-outs, no lawyers squaring-off," Mills writes. "We've made this decision together, amicably and with each other's best interests at heart. The time just feels right."

In other words, it's the end of the band as they know it, and they feel fine. But a piece in Rolling Stone does state, with an interview from Ethan Kaplan, owner of the R.E.M. fan community Murmurs and former senior vice president of emerging technology at Warner Bros. Records, that the band's decision was influenced by label politics.

"I suspected this was coming last fall," Kaplan tells Rolling Stone. "If you remember, they weathered a lot of storms in this business, and have always operated on their own terms. [Warner Bros.] changed starting last September, and I think the demands on a band now to get a record out were more than they might have wanted to commit. I can understand that after how hard they worked for how long, the thought of going back to 'paying dues' with new label staff, in a very weird industry, was too much."

R.E.M. released "Collapse Into Now" earlier this year to complimentary reviews. "The band doesn't engage in any current trends," Ann Powers wrote in her review for the L.A. Times. "Instead it returns to form, in detail, moving through the R.E.M. cookbook with the focus and precision of an Iron Chef."

Nearly synonymous with the phrase "jangly guitars," R.E.M. helped forge the jangle pop movement of the mid-'80s, a sound that braided together Byrds-style '60s pop and power pop's raw energy with folky overtones. Their influence has been charted far and wide, from Pavement to Wilco to the Athens-associated Elephant 6 collective to, most recently, the Decemberists, who collaborated with Buck on their celebrated album released earlier this year, "The King Is Dead."

No word yet on what any of the band members will do next but Pop & Hiss will keep you posted as we get news. In the meantime, check out R.E.M.'s 1983 TV performance of "Radio Free Europe," which David Letterman announces as their national TV debut. Holdng up a copy of "Murmur," Letterman also says, "The Los Angeles Times just named this album one of the five best released so far in 1983." R.E.M., we still feel the same way.

-- Margaret Wappler


Live review: The Decemberists at Greek Theatre

Album review: R.E.M.'s 'Collapse Into Now'

Twenty essential R.E.M. songs

Photo: The band --  Mike Mills, left, Michael Stipe, Bill Berry and Peter Buck --  in a 1994 file photo originally released by Warner Bros. Records. Credit: Warner Brothers / Associated Press

RX Bandits take a bow at final L.A. show at the Glass House

RX Bandits finish their final L.A. show at the Glasshouse

The Glasshouse in Pomona has long felt like a home base for the progressive ska sounds of the RX Bandits. Crowded in a thicket of floppy-haired, bearded twenty-somethings, the swelling chants of "RXB! RXB! RXB!" on Saturday night were loud enough to drown out the thought that this would in fact be the second to last show of the band's farewell tour, following 16 years, six studio albums and endless rounds of touring. This last L.A. County show came on the heels of a previous night at the Mayan Theater on Thursday.

Emerging from darkness and manning their respective battle stations with a hired horn section in toe, the sputtering drum line of "In Her Drawer" from their 2006 album "...And the Battle Begun" caused an irreversible seismic shift in the pit. Molten with excitement, testosterone and flailing dance moves, hordes of front row fans compressed into a cluster of whirling energy silhouetted by the glow of flashing stage lights. Off to the side, shards of brass from guest saxophonists added the kerosene, revitalizing the band's sound after the departure of saxophonist Steve Borth and trombonist Chris Sheets in recent years.

Following an introduction, the band delivered a comprehensive helping of its sound. Thick-bearded, guitar-wielding frontman Matt Embree kept a plastered grin on his face, standing alongside guitarist Steve Choi and bassist Joe Troy as drummer Chris Tsagakis backed them with back beats that propelled early material like "Consequential Apathy" and "Infection" from 2001's "Progress."

Continue reading »

RX Bandits announce breakup plans after summer U.S. tour


RX Bandits fans were shocked and saddened Tuesday to learn that this year's summer U.S. tour would be the band's last. A brief statement was released via Sargent House, RX Bandits' L.A.-based management company and record label.

This from the band via Sargent House's website:

Dear friends,
We would like to express our love and appreciation for all that you’ve done for us and how much a part of our growth you have been. We have all mutually decided that this summer will be our last tour. We love each other and love you all and hope to see you at the shows.


Continue reading »

So you say you wanna be a singer in Aerosmith?


No word on auditions, but you may want to bombard Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry via Twitter.

That's where he posted the above statement, all but confirming that the band has parted ways with original voice Steven Tyler. Either that or he's passively aggressively trying to reach Tyler. All's been quiet on the Tyler front, and Perry later posted that he would not be discussing the potential split with Tyler any further.

But if you're at all intimidated about replacing one of the most distinct voices in classic rock, know that the perks are great, and all those hours playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band shouldn't have been for naught.

Pop & Hiss will keep an eye on Craigslist classifieds to see if any info on auditions pops up. But really, how long before the effort to replace Tyler turns into a reality show?

-- Todd Martens


Curtains for a Steven Tyler-led Aerosmith?

Curtains for a Steven Tyler-led Aerosmith?


Classic rock band Aerosmith may be calling it a day.

Comments made to the media from Aerosmith principals Steven Tyler and Joe Perry cast doubt on the band's future, and the act's official camp is mum on providing any sort of clarification.

At this point, however, it doesn't sound as if the band knows much more than us down here at Pop & Hiss HQ. “Steven quit, as far as I can tell,” Perry told the Las Vegas Sun in an article posted online Friday. “I don’t know any more than you do about it. I got off the plane two nights ago. I saw online that Steven said that he was going to leave the band. I don’t know for how long, indefinitely, or whatever. Other than that, I don’t know.”

The online comments referenced by Perry are a recent Tyler interview with British magazine Classic Rock, in which the frontman discussed his previously announced solo project. Said Tyler, “I don’t know what I’m doing yet, but it’s definitely going to be something Steven Tyler: working on the brand of myself  -- Brand Tyler.”

Not exactly a damning declaration that Aerosmith is no more, but Perry's interview with the Las Vegas Sun sounds rather definite. He told the paper that Tyler hadn't returned his phone calls, and hinted at tension in the band over the numerous canceled gigs after Tyler fell off a stage and broke his shoulder at a concert in South Dakota.

Continue reading »

I Am One: Corgan now the last Pumpkin standing as longtime drummer Jimmy Chamberlin departs


Ladies and gentleman, Jimmy Chamberlin has left the building. According to a press release, the longtime Smashing Pumpkins drummer has “left the group.” Chamberlin joined the Pumpkins in the late 1980s and played on every release save 1998's "Adore." For those keeping track at home, the Smashing Pumpkins are now down to just one original member: chief songwriter and driving creative force  Billy Corgan. Per the same release, Corgan will “continue to write and record as Smashing Pumpkins with plans to head into the studio this spring.” No reason was given for Chamberlin's departure.

The Los Angeles Times' Randy Lewis spent time with Corgan and Chamberlin in December, when the band taped an episode of "The Chris Isaak Hour" in Hollywood.  According to Lewis, the two were getting along well and Chamberlin talked about those who would buy tickets for the group's concerts and then bad-mouth them. "A lot of people just need something to hate," Chamberlin told Lewis, "and they seem to have found it in us."

Regardless of why Chamberlin decided to walk away, the larger question now becomes this: Can there be a Smashing Pumpkins without Chamberlin?  His distinctive, powerful and damn-near perfect drumming helped define the band; arguably more than former member James Iha or original bassist D’arcy Wretzky.

But without Chamberlin, can you really call any forthcoming record a Smashing Pumpkins release?  Chicago Sun-Times music critic Jim DeRogatis wondered earlier this week "what's going on in Billy's head," a question many have been attempting to answer lately.  Sure, it's his band, but at a certain point, Corgan must know that older fans retain a strong connection to the original lineup. 

I, for one, wouldn't mind another Corgan solo record (his 2005 solo release, "The Future Embrace," is underrated), as long as it is billed as such. As much as I like the new band, especially Jeff Schroeder's guitar work, to continue on as Smashing Pumpkins without Chamberlin seems wrong somehow. Count on a heated weekend of discussion over at (some fans are already incredulous, others despondent).

Cry, complain and discuss in the comments below.

*Update/correction: Jim DeRogatis was incorrectly spelled as Jim DeRegatis in an earlier version of this post.

-- Charlie Amter

Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Phantom Planet is going on hiatus after show at the Troubadour tonight

Phantom Planet

Sad news for fans of snappy power-pop and snazzy fedoras: The L.A. quartet Phantom Planet is playing its last show at the Troubadour tonight, after 15 years (!) together. Music supervisors across the L.A. Basin will be extra bummed by this development, as they became something of a go-to act for any film or TV series that needed something "indie." I spent some time with them at a taping of, fittingly, Josh Schwartz's "Rockville, CA" a while back and everything seemed cool, but the band had this to say about it on their blog last month:

Continue reading »

Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts

Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.



Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: