They might be more known for their day jobs, but these musicians have got more than one trick up their sleeves. Here are 30 exciting side projects worth getting knowledgeable about.
30 Alex James (Blur)
When not chanting “Parklife” and spatting with Oasis, Blur’s members have kept themselves supremely busy. Bassist Alex James did his bit for football terraces with Fat Les – creating a monster with their ubiquitous lad anthem ‘Vindaloo’, joined up with Bernard Sumner on Bad Lieutenant and released one single as WigWam (also called ‘WigWam’).
29 Chris Baio (Vampire Weekend)
Bassist Baio is a keen DJ and has released his own electronic creations, like debut solo EP ‘Sunburn’. The project was born out of locking himself away and mixing all day while Vampire Weekend were touring their second album, ‘Contra’.
28 John Hassall (The Libertines)
His bandmates may have earned more attention from their various extra curricular endeavors (more on that later…), but Libs bassist John Hassall also put in some good work with his other band Yeti. Formed in 2005 they released one LP (2008’s ‘The Legend of Yeti Gonzales’) before disbanding in 2009.
27 Paul Hinojos and Tony Hajjar (At The Drive-In)
ATDI bassist Paul Hinojos and drummer Tony Hajjar formed their own band, Sparta, reaching out to ATD-I guitarist Jim Ward to take the role of frontman. In 2005, Hinojos defected to The Mars Volta and, three years later, the band went on hiatus before reuniting in 2011.
26 Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys)
World conquerers since 2006, Helders has helped give us plenty of great music as Arctic Monkeys. He’s also been busy on his own terms, too. Drummer Matt Helders was a part of the shortlived Mongrel, featuring Reverend & The Makers’ Jon McClure. They released one LP – ‘Better Than Heavy’ – in 2009.
25 Geoff Rickley (Thursday)
While Thursday were still operating, Rickly was also a member of screamo band United Nations. The group are still going, having released second album ‘The Next Four Years’ in 2014. Thursday fans can still see Rickly on stage in the meantime though, as he’s now fronting former Lostprophets’ members new band, No Devotion. So far the band have released two singles, ‘Stay’ and ’10,000 Summers’
24 Phil Selway (Radiohead)
It’s a wonder Radiohead have found any time to work on a new album with all the projects their individual members have got going on. Drummer Phil Selway has stepped out alone on two solo albums, including last year’s ‘Weatherhouse’ LP.
23 Daniel Kessler (Interpol)
Guitarist Daniel Kessler spends his time outside Interpol working with sound designer Joseph Fralioli as Big Noble. Far from his day job’s urgent, spiky songs, the duo make ambient soundscapes – like those on debut album ‘First Light’ – that are beautifully sparse, complex and fragile.
22 Saul Adamscewski (Fat White Family)
Warmduscher – toothless guitarist Saul Adamscewski’s other baby – may only be in their infancy, but considering Fat Whites are about the most exciting live band to come out of this country in years, we’d keep a keen eye on one of their lynchpins doing some more feral and exciting work on the side.
21 Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend)
Rostam Batmanglij, meanwhile, has put out solo material like the track ‘Woods’, while his other group Discovery put out an album of electro-indie-pop in 2009. The band also features Ra Ra Riot’s Wesley Miles and guest vocals from Koenig, Dirty Projectors’ Angel Deradoorian, amongst others.
20 Ryan Jarman (The Cribs)
Away from his day job with The Cribs, Ryan formed Exclamation Pony with girlfriend Jen Turner – formerly of Here We Go Magic. The pair played a few gloriously shambolic live shows in 2013 and are currently signed to Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records with an album reportedly finished. The wait for it continues…
19 Michael Shuman (Queens of the Stone Age)
One of the most notable QOTSA offshoot is Mini Mansions – bassist Michael Shuman’s pop trio. Completed by Zach Dawes and Tyler Parkford, the group have roped in Alex Turner and Brian Wilson for guest spots on their second album, which is full of glittery synth-pop.
18 Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead)
Guitarist Jonny Greenwood has opted for a more orchestral outlet away from Radiohead. Over the years he’s worked with the London Sinfonietta and the BBC Concert Orchestra, while scoring movies like There Will Be Blood and Inherent Vice.
17 Carl Barat (The Libertines)
When The Libertines split in 2004, Carl formed Dirty Pretty Things with drummer Gary Powell, stand-in guitarist Anthony Rossamando and The Cooper Temple Clause’s Didz Hammond. After two albums, DPT were no more and Carl released his first solo album. Last year he auditioned for a new band and assembled the Jackals – the new gang’s first album is out now.
16 Noah Lennox(Animal Collective)
All of Baltimore’s Animal Collective work on their own projects away from the main band. Most notably, however, is Panda Bear. Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear is the most prolific of the band, with five solo albums to his name since his self-titled 1999 debut. His latest, ‘Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper’, was recorded in Portugal with Sonic Boom.
15 Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear)
The men of Grizzly Bear are prolific types. Chris Taylor has released an album as CANT and Ed Droste has collaborated with Beirut and Fleet Foxes, but it’s Daniel Rossen who’s excited the most – with both a solo EP and a number of releases from other band Department of Eagles.
14 Paul Banks (Interpol)
Interpol frontman Paul Banks, meanwhile, has released one album and an EP under his own name, as well as a hip-hop mixtape ‘Everybody On My Dick Like They Supposed To Be’, plus another album under the moniker Julian Plenti.
13 Faris Badwan (The Horrors)
Cat’s Eyes were formed in 2011 and consist of Badwan and classical musician Rachel Zeffira. They’ve released one self-titled album, but this year are gearing up for two releases – a film soundtrack and a second album proper. Not so horrific at all.
12 Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr)
Barlow’s last two albums have come under his given name, but the Dinosaur Jr bass player also operated under the alias Sentridoh for three albums between 1991 and 2001. Most notably, however, he helms lo-fi heroes Sebadoh, who’ve released eight LPs to date.
11 Omar Rodriguez and Cedric Bixler (At The Drive-In)
Texan post-hardcore group At The Drive-In only released three albums during their eight-year career but there’s plenty of other treats to discover in all their other projects, including Omar Rodriguez’s Omar Rodriguez Lopez Quintet and Cedric Bixler’s Alavaz Relxib Cirdec. Rodriguez and Bixler formed The Mars Volta after ATD-I’s disintegration in 2001. They released six albums over their 11-year lifespan, before going on hiatus in 2012, and eventually breaking up in 2013.
10 Alison Mosshart (The Kills)
The Kills’ wild-eyed main woman is one of the few who probably achieved more success in her side project than her day job. While The Kills remain a relatively cult concern, The Dead Weather – featuring Mosshart on vocals and Jack White on drums – have released two Top 40 LPs. Mosshart has also guested on a number of tracks from the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Primal Scream and Placebo.
9 Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes)
Conor Oberst is best known for his folky output as Bright Eyes, but he’s also released music with a handful of other groups. Desaparecidos’ existence was shortlived first time round but recently reunited in 2012 and are still going. Meanwhile, Oberst was also part of Monsters Of Folk, with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, M Ward and fellow Bright Eyes member Mike Mogis AND Nebraska band The Faint, although he quit shortly after the group formed.
8 J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr)
J Mascis released his first record alone in 1986, called ‘Martin + Me’, and is still taking the time to indulge in solo material, too. His latest album, ‘Tied To A Star’, was released in 2014. Mascis also has a stoner metal group – Witch.
7 Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys)
In 2007, Turner teamed up with former Rascals frontman Miles Kane to indulge in some ‘60s Scott Walker fantasies as The Last Shadow Puppets. The duo released their album ‘The Age Of The Understatement’ and Kane joined Turner onstage at the Monkeys’ Finsbury Park gigs in 2014. His solo offerings, meanwhile, are so far just limited to the one EP – the soundtrack to Richard Ayoade’s Submarine movie. But what an EP it is.
6 Julian Casablancas (The Strokes)
Frontman Julian Casablancas released his first solo album, ‘Phrazes For The Young’ in 2009. Last year, however, he hooked up with The Voidz for the eccentric and eclectic, political terror of ‘Tyranny’. The rest of the band are busy too – Nikolai Fraiture, bassist, once formed his own Nickel Eye and has recently started a new band, Summer Moon, while drummer Fab Moretti founded Little Joy and guitarist Albert Hammon Jr has had a successful solo career.
5 Pete Doherty (The Libertines)
Pete Doherty’s non-Libertines pursuits have almost become as well known as his first band. Over the years Pete’s had his solo endeavours (including 2009’s ‘Grace/ Wastelands’ and recent single ‘Flags Of The Old Regime’) and a chequered history with Babyshambles – who’ve now released three LPs.
4 Thom Yorke (Radiohead)
Yorke has so far released two albums on his own. ‘The Eraser’ came in 2006, while 2014’s ‘Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes’ was released via BitTorrent and became the most torrented album of the year. He also, however, formed experimental supergroup Atoms For Peace in 2009, inviting Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, producer Nigel Godrich, REM drummer Joey Waronker and Brazilian instrumentalist Mauro Refosco to be part of the band. They released their debut album, ‘Amok’, in 2013 via XL.
3 Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age)
First there’s Eagles Of Death Metal, where he not only makes music under a different band name but adopts a new personal alias too. Baby Duck (Homme) and Boots Electric (Jesse Hughes) have released three albums, with the last – ‘Heart On’ – coming in 2008. The Desert Sessions, meanwhile, have involved a revolving cast of musicians at Homme’s Joshua Tree studio including PJ Harvey and Mark Lanegan, while Them Crooked Vultures – comprised of HOmee, Dave Grohl and Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones might well be one of the greatest supergroups of all time.
2 Jack White (The White Stripes)
Just one year after The White Stripes split, Jack White released his debut solo album ‘Blunderbuss’. A second, ‘Lazaretto’, followed in 2014, both released on XL and Jack’s own label Third Man. Jack’s first side project, though, came in the form of The Raconteurs, in which he joined up with Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler. The group, now on hiatus, was soon followed by another White-fronted band, The Dead Weather.
1 Damon Albarn (Blur)
What hasn’t Damon done? Sure Blur was the group that propelled him to fame, but Albarn has since been involved with so many other things that it’s not so much a case of side projects as just projects. Cartoon bands, supergroups, operas, solo work – you name it, he’s done it. Next is, apparently, a reworking of a children’s book into a musical (plus the none-too-small matter of Blur’s first new album in 12 years).