What do you do if your band had a few hits a decade or more ago? This is a question a lot of bands have to not only ask them but have set their career path on the answer.
There are a few options as I see them.
Go out on the road, live on your past glories playing for smaller shows than in your heyday but giving the diehard fans what they want.
Make new music trying to adapt to the times with your sound. Odds are you’ll alienate those diehard fans and they will use that time during your set to get a beer.
Make new music that sounds like the music you made back in the day. You probably won’t alienate the fans but when they hear it live they won’t recognize it and go for that beer.
Call it a day. While this might be the honorable thing to do, being the musical martyr. There’s no money in it and those fans will be getting those beers, just at someone else’s show.
Now these options, don’t apply to the big boys and girls. Bands like Bon Jovi, U2, and Rush. Through talent, good business sense, a bit of luck, and the IT factor these bands have been able to stand the test of time. They can put out new music, go out on tour, and sell out the big venues.
For the next tier down it’s a bit trickier. How do you walk the line? It’s a big catch 22 for these bands. If you don’t put out new music you get labeled as a nostalgia act. If you put out modern sounding music the people ask, “What were they thinking?”
If you put out a release that sounds too much like the good ole days. You get hit with “They’re stuck in the past.”
The real crazy part about this is that so few people are buying new music anyway. As convenient and neat it is to have all your songs in your phone, I still think people want something they can touch.
Personally, I want to hear my favorite bands put out new music. There may not be an entire album full of great songs, but on most of them there are at least a few songs I like. This goes for those big boys too. While I love Bon Jovi and Rush their last couple of records aren’t my favorite but there are songs off them that I have no problem listening to at any time.
As always, there are exceptions to every rule.
Here it is: Make a record that feels like the heyday but with an updated sound. This is much easier said than done. But in the last year or so it has been accomplished.
Check out the Stryper record No Hell To Pay. In my opinion it’s the best album of their career.
Also the brand new release from Lynch Mob called Rebel.
Great rock songs with meaty guitars big vocal hooks, but not dated. Michael Sweet of Stryper told me in a Power Chord radio interview; it’s all in the drum sound. There’s more to it but that is the main ingredient.
Michael and George Lynch did a one of record about 6 months ago that also had the modern but familiar sound. Now George has taken that to his newest Lynch Mob record.
Could we be entering the Michael Sweet era for rock music? I don’t know about all that, but I will give a listen to anything he has his hand in because right now he’s got the Midas touch.