Farewell - we hardly knew ye
As we come to celebrate the best of 2018 – if you haven’t checked it out yet, do hop on over to take a look at NME‘s verdict on the best albums and the best tracks of the year when you get a moment – it’s also time to take a look back and reflect on the bands who’ve chosen this year to bow out.
From prog-rock legends to the first band to ever be played on Apple Music’s Beats 1 – via a very disturbing break-up letter from the frontman of a little-known doom-metal band which somehow made international headlines – here’s a look back at the bands who bit the dust in 2018.
Formed: 2013 in Macclesfield.
Best Moment: Aforementioned Beats 1 fame aside, the Lancashire four-piece enjoyed a pretty fine career in the indie spotlight, releasing two well-received albums (2016’s ‘Tell Me If You Like To’ and 2018’s ‘A Better Life’) and building up a steady fanbase over their five years together. News of their split was greeted with plenty of disappointment, but the band hinted that they may not necessarily be gone forever: signing off their break-up letter to fans with a wink-worthy “until we meet again”.
Why They Split: While no specific reason for their termination was declared, Spring King did suggest in their statement that the spark had gone. Announcing the cancellation of planned January 2019 shows, they wrote: “We felt like it would be a disservice to the music and to all of you if our hearts weren’t fully in it.”
Formed: 1968 in Toronto.
Best Moment: Too many to mention, surely? The long-running group officially bowed out in 2018 after 50 years, 19 albums and countless (and very, very loud) live shows together. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll single out their induction into the esteemed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 as being among their very finest moments.
Why They Split: Well, given that the band finished their last-ever tour in 2015 and drummer Neil Peart subsequently announced his retirement from performing due to health issues, confirmation of the end of Rush has been pretty inevitable. Guitarist Alex Lifeson finally confirmed in January this year that Rush wouldn’t ever be returning, saying: “It’s been a little over two years since Rush last toured. We have no plans to tour or record any more. We’re basically done. After 41 years, we felt it was enough.”
Formed: 2010 in Chicago.
Best Moment: The Orwells’ debut album ‘Remember When’ was well-received back in 2012, leading to the band being invited to play on chat shows and touring the US with Arctic Monkeys.
Why They Split: The band announced their split in August following numerous allegations of sexual abuse against the Orwells members Mario Cuomo, Henry Brinner, and Grant Brinner. The band “emphatically” denied the allegations in a statement, and they announced that they had disbanded on August 29.
Minus The Bear
Formed: 2001 in Seattle.
Best Moment: Keeping the indie spirit alive – Minus The Bear’s strong allegiance to their Seattle indie Suicide Squeeze saw the tiny label rack up over half a million record sales from the four-piece alone. Good on ’em.
Why They Split: “I feel like we’ve accomplished what we’ve wanted to do,” guitarist Dave Knudson told Stereogum. “Sometimes it feels like a natural time to step away, and that’s what we’re doing right now as opposed to continuing on and maybe not having the same drive or enthusiasm that we once did. For all the fans that have seen and supported us, we won’t diminish that legacy or experience for them.”
Formed: 2002 in Kendal.
Best Moment: Of their five strong albums, 2009’s ‘Two Dancers’ may just have been their best full-length work – it earned the band a nomination for the 2010 Mercury Prize.
Why They Split: The band actually announced their split last year, saying in a statement: “The four of us have decided, for our own reasons and in our own ways, that it is now time to leave this orbit. We’re caretakers to something precious and don’t want to have it diminish as we move forward in our lives.” The curtain came down for good on Wild Beasts back in February as they played their final-ever show in London.
Formed: 2012 in Bristol.
Best Moment: The Ellis Jones-led project was lauded throughout its relatively short lifespan for its strong DIY ethos and its rotating cast of guest musicians, but Jones may never have been prouder of Trust Fund than when they were played on Frank Ocean’s BLONDED Radio show back in September 2017. “My use of autotune has been validated at the highest level,” he said. “Another genre mastered.”
Why They Split: Jones took to Twitter to announce the end of Trust Fund, writing: “For various non-dramatic reasons, it’s going to be the last Trust Fund record, and I’m happy that we maybe didn’t fuck it up at the end there.” Fairs.
Formed: 2010 in Cavan, Ireland.
Best Moment: The precocious, rock’n’roll-reviving four-piece were a bit of a revelation when they started to pick up attention in 2012, signing to Elton John’s management company, making a lively appearance on Later… with Jools Holland and garnering admiration from the likes of Roger Daltrey and Noel Gallagher.
Why They Split: After three albums, The Strypes announced their end on Instagram in November. “It’s been fun and exciting, dull and dangerous, easy, tough, frustrating, satisfying and amazing. It’s been a life and a living.”
Formed: 2010 in Leeds.
Best Moment: The band’s 2013 debut ‘Pearl Mystic’ was critically-acclaimed, and placed highly in numerous end-of-year lists that year.
Why They Split: Hookworms announced their split after frontman Matthew ‘MJ’ Johnson was accused of sexual and physical abuse in late October. Johnson denied the allegations in a statement, saying: “I have attempted in all of my work and private life to maintain good ethics. The image presented by Alanna [McArdle]’s statement yesterday is not one I recognise and and is untrue.” A statement issued on Hookworms’ Twitter account on October 31 confirmed that they had disbanded, saying: “We have cancelled all upcoming Hookworms shows and can no longer continue as a band”.
Best Moment: Probably the release of their debut album ‘The Golden Age of Not Even Trying’, which came out earlier this year.
Why They Split: “To those of you who have been here from the start, and those that have joined only recently, we love you all,” Dead! said in their farewell statement to their fans. “Thank you for allowing us all to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.” Very classy.
Formed: In the depths of hell, probably (but also: Toronto).
Best Moment: The doom-metal band’s absolutely mad break-up note, which you can see in full above.
Why They Split: While they later claimed that a) their drummer didn’t actually die and that b) they’d quickly done a U-turn on their initial decision to disband (thanks to the huge attention that the Facebook post received), Witchrot’s viral announcement gave the band more publicity than they’d ever imagined possible.
“We are going to use this attention to our full potential,” frontman Peter Turik told Alternative Press. “Of course, now we have big plans to tour extensively in the near future. No sense in waiting around, we have so many talented friends that can easily learn our songs in no time. I’ve decided to switch to guitar, that way the guitar will finally sound the way it’s supposed to. Stay heavy.”