Earlier this week (June 1), Frank Turner announced a tour with a twist: he’ll be hitting the road not to play his own wares but with his hardcore side-project Mongol Horde, who released their self-titled debut album in May.
They’re a funny thing, side projects: there’s a tendency to regard them with a whiff of suspicion, as if they’re self-indulgent whimsy or an exercise in vanity. But the best extra-curricular activities gift a sense of freedom and creativity, unburdened by any notions of legacy or appeasing your fanbase.
Personally, my favourite side project (and it may be using the term loosely) is Karin Dreijer Andersson’s album as Fever Rey: a spooky, claustrophobic electronic listen that’s a creepy, brittle masterpiece to rival anything that The Knife have ever done. ‘Concrete Walls’ is one of the most disconcerting songs I’ve ever heard – a sort of aural Pan’s Labyrinth, the sound of a strange netherworld closing around you – but on the other side of the spectrum, ‘When I Grow Up’ is a magical thing which encompasses the wide-eyed wonder, terror and delight of being a child. You can listen below.
I’ve always loved Grinderman, too, mainly because it seems to unlock some priapic and primal Mr Hyde in Nick Cave, and the ‘No Pussy Blues’, ‘Worm Tamer’ and ‘Evil’ are all filthily satisfying.
Honourable shout-outs would go, too, to Bradford Cox’s oddball Atlas Sound project, Talking Heads spin-off Tom Tom Club and (if it counts) Josh Homme’s ‘The Desert Sessions’ get-togethers, which birthed one of my favourite collaborations ever (below).
But what we want to know is: what are your favourite side projects? Which artists do you think struck gold when exploring elsewhere? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter. Use the hashtag #bestsideproject.