The year is 2032. A row between Canadian President Rob Ford and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson over which nation invented the toasted ham and cheese sandwich escalates, and nuclear armageddon is unleashed. Entire cities are reduced to rubble. The human race is destroyed. Men, women and children the world over are eviscerated in the blink of an eye by brutal atomic blasts. What’s the bet in this situation, Smashing Pumpkins are somehow still going, Billy Corgan undimmed by the apocalypse around him? “All this destruction is great inspiration for the new 45-song wrestling-themed cosmic rock opera album I’m working on!” he exclaims to his latest band mates: three cockroaches and a mutated wood louse on miniature drums.
Smashing Pumpkins are one of those bands that appear indestructible. So much so, it feels like not even nuclear annihilation could stop them in their tracks. Lineup changes, drug addiction, deaths, arrests, new age concept albums, launching a spiritual religion, founding a wrestling company, starring in furniture commercials, dating Courtney Love: Billy Corgan has done everything in his power to kill this band, and still they survive.
They’re one of those bands who have never really gone away or split up since forming in 1988, a brief hiatus between 2000 and 2006 aside. Instead they plunder on. Are they the most indestructible band on the planet? And if not, who is? Here’s a few suggestions for acts who might also be around after the apocalypse strikes. You know, in case Corgan wants some company.
Keith Richards looks like he’s already lived through one apocalypse, so it’s safe to assume he could do another. In fact, compared to some of the debauchery he’s indulged in (in 2007, Richards told NME he once snorted a line of his own father’s cremated ashes mixed with cocaine), surviving nuclear winter would probably be a walk in the park for the guitarist and his well-weathered crew of rock veterans.
Years active: 1962 – present
Stuff they’ve survived: drug addiction, prison stints, death of founding band mate Brian Jones, lineup changes, having a fan murdered at their Altamont concert in 1969, numerous riots at their shows, owing a quarter of a million pounds in unpaid taxes to the British government.
Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses have had a total of 29 different band members since forming in 1985. That’s a lot of band mates who’ve jumped ship. You’d think Axl Rose – a man arrested on several counts of domestic abuse and sexual battery who once denied allegations of homophobia by clarifying he was simply “pro-heterosexual” – is a terrible person to be around or something. Insane thought, right?
Years active: 1985 – present
Stuff they’ve survived: drug addiction, witnessing two fans trampled to death at their 1998 Donnington show, delaying the release of an album (‘Chinese Democracy’) by 16 years, lineup changes, being late to most festival shows.
Metallica have been there, done that, seen it all – and still power on admirably. Arguably they owe it all to group therapy sessions, documented in their fascinating 2001 film Some Kind Of Monster. The band reportedly spent over $1m on therapy during the making of ‘St Anger’ – well worth the cashola, if you ask us.
Years active: 1981 – present
Stuff they’ve survived: drug addiction, lineup changes, alcohol abuse, the death of bassist Cliff Burton who was crushed by the band’s own tour bus, being vilified by music fans for opposing online music sharing platform Napster, the physical toll of 25 years of hard rockin’.
There’s simply no stopping Sabbath. Ozzy and co have overcome a list of obstacles as long and wild as one of Tony Iommi’s guitar solos in their time. They might currently be on their farewell tour, but we’re not too sure we believe Ozzy & Co. are ready to hang up their boots just yet. Must be some special nutrients in all those bats he’s munched on in his time keeping them going…
Years active: 1968 – present
Stuff they’ve survived: guitarist Tony Iommi being diagnosed with cancer, mental health breakdowns, drug addiction, lineup changes, Ozzy’s reality TV show threatening to kill their credibility, Ozzy leaving the band several times.
They had one hit. Almost fifteen years ago. How are audiences at festivals across Britain still being subjected to the painfully plodding Waitrose-rock strains of ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’? I’ve heard that song so many times that when I’m an old man, and I’m struggling to remember my own family’s names, I’ll still be able to recite every lyric. Will the earth ever rid itself of Toploader?
Years active: 1997 – present
Stuff they’ve survived: being one of the most critically panned bands in Britain, only having one song, being Toploader.
What bands do you see as indestructible and why? Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #IndestructibleBands.