I know MANY musicians. Very talented musicians that I am lucky to call my friends. I am also married to one of those talented musicians. Everywhere I turn, I am happily surrounded by music. Damn good music. It sounds pretentious, but it takes a lot to impress me. I am a former church-girl singer (hilarious, I know), and I married a music man. My ear and taste in music has evolved greatly over the years. When I interviewed Jonathan Bates of Big Black Delta, it was my hope to not only expose everyone to his amazing solo project, but also to get people to understand the workings of true musicianship. I greatly appreciate these things whenever I press play on my iPod.
So, why this entry? Well, it has been exactly two-weeks since my life changed a little. Consider this a “Throwback Thursday” post. On February 13, 2014, I was one of many (still a small core group) lucky enough to experience the reunion of a band, which has undoubtedly influenced the face of Rock music since the mid-1990s. No, it is not Nirvana. It is not Stone Temple Pilots. It is not the Foo Fighters, or even Rage Against the Machine. I suppose this influence can be considered a quiet injection in music. Yet, its impact remains heavily sewn within the threads of modern rock. Failure, currently composed of the great Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards and Kellii Scott, made the dreams of many come true on that unusually mild day in February.I realize that some of you might be thinking, “Who the hell is Failure?” Well, allow me to introduce you to who radio.com hailed as “the Greatest 90s Band You’ve Never Heard.” I would have to agree. As an Angeleno, I am downright happy that Failure was formed in Los Angeles. Just another notch in the belt for Los Angeles that I am proud to claim. Sadly, I do not think Failure graced the Eastern San Gabriel Valley with their presence. If I am wrong, someone please tell me, and I will HAPPILY document them being out 30 Miles East. Admittedly, I had no idea who Failure was until I began dating a hot guitarist (now my husband). The first song he played for me back in 2003 was “Another Space Song”, followed by “The Nurse Who Loved Me”. What immediately stood out about Failure is how different they were from the standard seattle-grunge rock that dominated the airwaves. This is probably the main reason why they flew under the radar. They were anything but cookie cutter grunge. Fortunately, they had a dedicated underground following, and their status among hardcore-music lovers and musicians became legendary as the years progressed. Their legendary status was due in part to their incredible musicianship and album production.
Although Failure had two albums in their arsenal, their third album “Fantastic Planet” is what catapulted them beyond what any other band had done in the 90s. Fantastic Planet epitomizes hypnotizing, space-age like melodies and masterfully written progressions. Every hook on that album grips you tightly. The musicianship is hard to describe, really. You have to listen for yourself to understand why many feel it is a work of art. Although, Failure did not have a massive mainstream following, Fantastic Planet cultivated a following all of its own. Many musicians were heavily influenced by this album, and you can hear the influences in mainstream rock albums to this day. Unfortunately, a little while after the release of Fantastic Planet, Failure called it quits. Being in a band is like being married to several different people all at once. In this case, it just became too much for the band.
What you may also not know about Failure is the post-band work of Ken Andrews. Aside from being the front man for Year of the Rabbit, ON and running a solo project, Ken Andrews went on to become a highly respected producer in the industry. Ken Andrews worked with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Beck, A Perfect Circle, Paramore, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and countless others. A Perfect Circle covered “The Nurse Who Loved Me” on their album “Thirteen Step”. Now, if a man like Maynard James Keenan is covering a Failure song, that should tell you something about the imprint Failure had left behind on all of us. Paramore also covered “Stuck on You” featured on their EP “Summer Tic”.
Let us fast forward to the day before Valentine’s Day, 2014. The reunion show was held at the amazingly intimate El Rey Theater in Los Angeles. 800 of us packed into the venue, eagerly awaiting the reunion 17 years in the making. While lining up outside the El Rey, I had conversations with other fans who just could not believe this day had come. We also realized one thing very quickly, we were all very much 90s kids. The anticipation in the air was thick. When the lights dimmed, we quickly realized there wasn’t an opening act. Instead, we experienced a cleverly composed montage of videos and tracks that influenced Failure. I would have never thought Ren and Stimpy had such a profound impact on one of the greatest rock bands ever. Then again, Ren and Stimpy had a profound impact on many of us. Anyway, after clips of the space-age cartoon “Fantastic Planet” rolled on, the curtain dropped, and Failure was front and center, gracing us with the sounds of “Another Space Song”. The crowd roared.
I really cannot describe the feeling that overcame the crowd at the El Rey. Elation? Wonder? Magic? Many of us were like giddy school children. There were not any quiet voices in the crowd. Everyone was cheering, everyone was singing along. Many may wonder how a band would perform after being apart for so long. The best word to describe their performance? Flawless. It is so incredibly hard to emulate recorded sessions live, much less the outstanding recording of Fantastic Planet. Well, they did it, and they did it damn well. The songs that just stuck out to me were Another Space Song, Heliotropic and The Nurse Who Loved Me. I can still feel the bass-lines resonate in my head and chest. They sounded so, big.
When the show ended, everyone exited the El Rey with a glow on their face, completely entranced by what just transpired. I don’t know about the rest of my comrades in the building, but I’m still entranced by that evening. I haven’t stopped listening to Failure since February 13th. Excessive? Maybe, but I realize how much of a privilege it was to be there. I absolutely cannot wait to see them again with A Perfect Circle in May. However, this show, my friends, will go down as one of the best shows I have ever been to. If any of the members of Failure, by some absolute miracle are reading this, I would like to say Thank you. Thank you for what you’ve done for music, and for coming back and giving us fans something to hold onto and admire.
Youtube videos and photo of the reunion show are property of 30mileseast.com
Featured image and Fantastic Cover Album artwork are not mine!