Thursday, 10 February 2011

"Hello Cleveland, We Are....Trigger's Broom!"

I’ll tell you what I find oddly fascinating – Wikipedia band member line-ups and charts. Maybe it’s due to slow madness setting in; but there’s nothing I find more interesting than seeing who has been in what band over so many years. In my mind, a band is always seen as a unit – a team when it starts out; built around those core members that started and created the music, and seeing so many members leave, rotating around one or two permanent members (sometimes none) makes me wonder – is it still the same band? Or is it essentially now a covers band led by a sole remaining original musician. Also, how must that one remaining original band member feel? Are they lonely with having to play with essentially new people every five minutes? How long is spent on teaching 4 different drummers over 3 years your entire back catalogue? Why the constant line up changes? Is that guy (or girl) a complete twatfarm? Possibly; hey, look at how many people were in Guns ‘N Roses and The Fall (my Nan on bongos is a contender according to Mark E Smith).

Also, what happens if all the original band members leave? Who has control of the name? Is it better to just throw in the towel and realise that this just isn’t working out? I mean, you don’t want to end up like Billy Corgan playing with a bunch of 25 year olds who grew up listening to Siamese Dream.

Anyway, here are a selection of bands that have had some turbulent line-up changes over the last god-knows how many years that you may or may not know about:


American metalcore-types from Greenburg, Pennsylvania – once a Christian band, the message changed due to the huge rotating line-up of musicians that passed through Zao headquarters. The band have been going for 18 years and have had 5 different incarnations (all of which are considered different bands by both the band themselves and their fans) with original drummer Jesse Smith lasting only until 2004, before bailing out. The longest surviving members are vocalist Dan Weyandt who’s been with the band since 1997, guitarist Scott Mellinger (1999-onwards) and Russ Cogdell who’s left and rejoined more times than Wes Borland has with Limp Bizkit. Original vocalist Eric Reeder quit before recording ANYTHING (commitment mate) and was replaced by Shawn Jonas who did one album then quit to become a pastor at a New Life Church (hey, he got Christ, right?)

All in all, Zao have had a massive 16 members pass through their ranks, with another 5 temporary touring members who could actually form their own Zao tribute band, considering they consist of two touring vocalists, a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer.

Status: Zao are currently still together with Weyandt, Mellinger and Cogdell still present, joined by Jeff Gretz on drums and Marty Lunn on bass and are apparently working on new material. Let’s see if you can go a year without shedding any personnel eh lads?


It must be something to do with being Christian and into metalcore. Underoath from Florida can’t hold on to band members. Only one original member; drummer and co-vocalist Aaron Gillespie, remained with the band from it's inception up to 2010 when he "left to pursue other interests" (i.e. kicked out). Currently the member doing the most time in Underoath is keyboardist Christopher Dudley, who’s been with the band since 2000, first appearing on their second album ‘Cries of the Past.’ Current vocalist Spencer Chamberlain replaced Dallas Taylor and since then there’s been a steady rotating number of bassists and guitarists passing through (3 of each) with Dudley presumably, sitting at his piano wondering why no-one wants to play with him.

So that's 17 band members in 14 years! Good going lads. At least they managed to stick to the same line up for 3 albums between 2004-2008, something which Zao could only dream of.

Status: Obviously still together, now with former Norma Jean drummer Daniel Davison behind the kit. This chart makes interesting viewing.

Iced Earth

You thought the above line-up changes were extreme, wait until you see Florida’s Iced Earth and their revolving door of musicians. Since 1984 they’ve had a total of 28 members – Jesus wept. A total of nine bassists and nine drummers have played for them in that time, as well as seven lead guitarists. Their current drummer, Brent Smedley has left the band twice, finally returning in 2006 – the guy obviously can’t get enough of this sinking ship. Props to guitarist and primary song writer John Schaffer for continuing though – there must come a time when he sees this venture as primarily a solo project and a rotating rhythm section, plus whenever vocalist ‘Officer’ Matt Barlow can be bothered to turn up from saving lives, to rave about demonic overlords and scenes from the latest Warhammer codex.

Status: still together, obviously and recording new material. Holy moly look at those line-up changes; IT'S SO PRETTY.

Now, from studying this; despite being together for other 27 years and still counting, it appears that Iced Earth have not managed to keep the same line-up two releases on the trot, mainly due to the fickle and shakeable tenure of their rhythm section.

Reel Big Fish

So at the other end of the spectrum just to prove it isn’t just metal bands that can’t hold on to a line up for more than 1 album is those wacky, Hawaiian shirt-wearing misanthropes known as Reel Big Fish. Having been together since 1992; the band has had a fast and furious line up changes, mainly going through four different drummers and a wheel-of-fortune spin of trumpet and other assorted brass personnel. Only Aaron Barrett, guitarist and lead vocalist remains from the original incarnation of the band (bassist Matt Wong left in 2007 as he was starting a family, awww!) Trombonist Dan Regan has been with the band since 1994 and is pretty much considered a core member. Mulit-instrumentalist Scott Klopfenstein (owner of the best last name ever) quit the band in January 2011 (to also concentrate on the birth of his daughter, not very rock and or roll Scott, you dork) after a whopping 16 year stint; causing uproar in the Reel Big Fish fandom (i.e.e some sad acts on the punknews message boards crying into their checked hankies).

“Whatever happened to Reel Big Fish? Why did Scott quit? Please don’t go, Reel Big Fish, all the other bands are just shit.”

Drum-roll; there have been a total of 15 past members in this Californian skank-train, alongside the five that remain in the current line-up as of 2011.

Status: See here. I’m going to leave you with my favourite RBF quote from a message board; enjoy:

Unless Aaron decides to call it quits now that Scott's left, I can totally see him going slowly insane when the RBF crowds inevitably start to dwindle down to nothing and just having RBF banter with himself even if there's no concert happening. I'll gladly pay to watch him drunkenly play "Sell Out" on a "guitar" made out of pizza boxes in an alley behind an OC strip mall should the time come.... I'd let him f**** me, but I really, REALLY don't want to become a "Reel Big Fish groupie". That's reserved for fat, pimply girls with special carrying cases for Magic: The Gathering cards which conveniently attaches to their belt loops.” - Skibz777